President Donald Trump.
Saul Loeb/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump is perhaps the most unorthodox commander in chief in modern US history, and this even appears to extend to how he schedules each day.
- According to a recent analysis from Axios, based on months of leaked private scheduling, roughly 60% of Trump's time is unstructured.
- How presidents schedule each day can tell you a lot about their approach to leadership by revealing what they tend to prioritize.
Every president in US history has taken a different approach to what many would describe as the most difficult job in the world.
How presidents schedule each day can tell you a lot about their personality, their approach to policy, and the task of leading the country more generally.
Here's a look at the daily White House schedules of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.
Former President Bill Clinton typically started his days around 09:00, meeting his chief of staff in the Oval Office.
Clinton would also frequently kick off the day with a long early-morning jog, sometimes to McDonald's.
Cynthia Johnson/Getty Images
Typically, Clinton spent most of his day in the Oval Office, reading policy briefings, meeting with staff, and making phone calls.
Ralph Alswang/Getty Images
Clinton was known for his lack of punctuality. He was apparently fairly unpredictable and quite a night owl, but still had a lot of structure to most of his days in the White House. He'd work long days and sleep about five hours a night.
Jeffrey Markowitz/Getty Images
Source: The New York Times; Axios
Former President George W. Bush lived by a very strict schedule, waking up at roughly 05:15. most days.
Normally, Bush would start off his day drinking coffee and catching up on the news with former first lady Laura Bush.
Bush tried to arrive at the Oval Office by 06:45 most days and typically had his first meeting by 08:15.
Bush would finish the workday early in the evening, around 17:30 or 18:00, and then use the rest of his day to work out, eat dinner, and catch up on any briefing materials. He was typically in bed by 21:00.
Former President Barack Obama had a strict schedule like Bush but was also known to work extremely late, much like Clinton.
Astrid Riecken/Getty Images
Most days, Obama headed to the Oval Office around 09:00 and usually had six meetings scheduled throughout the workday in addition to intelligence and economy briefings.
Obama would wake up early and start his day with a workout.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
President Donald Trump's daily schedule differs significantly from his predecessors. A recent analysis of months of Trump's private schedule, which was leaked, suggests roughly 60% of his time is unstructured.
According to the analysis, Trump typically wakes up early — around 06:00 — and spends the first five hours of his day in unstructured "executive time."
The White House schedule places Trump in the Oval Office from 08:00 to 11:00, but the president is rarely actually in his office during that time, according to what sources told Axios. Instead, Trump reportedly spends that time in the residence tweeting, watching television, making phone calls, and reading the news.
Trump's first official meeting of the day, usually an intelligence briefing, is typically around 11:00 or 11:30.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's unorthodox schedule. In a statement to Axios, she said, "President Trump has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves."
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sanders added, "While he spends much of his average day in scheduled meetings, events, and calls, there is time to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive President in modern history."
Sanders also said Trump's morning is usually a mix of Oval Office and residence time.
Trump's book "The Art of the Deal" appears to offer some insight into why he seemingly prefers less structure in his day. He wrote, "Most people are surprised by the way I work. I play it very loose. I don't carry a briefcase. I try not to schedule too many meetings. I leave my door open. You can't be imaginative or entrepreneurial if you’ve got too much structure. I prefer to come to work each day and just see what develops."
Source: Penguin Random House
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