Daily Routines

Cal Henderson: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

Cal Henderson, the co-founder and Chief Technology of Slack — which to date, has over 12 million users and more than 119,000 paid customers across 150+ countries — only works seven hours a day, a far cry from most startup founders.

He manages this by constantly thinking about the best use of his time: “What are the things that are the most strategically important, and am I allocating my time to them correctly?”

I’m very calendar-driven. I get in, and my day is already laid out—and my week, to some extent.

Here’s how Slack founder Cal Henderson uses Slack to manage his time | Fast Company

Henderson wakes up at 7-7.30am every day, and told Lifehacker that he has a “very regular sleep schedule.” Mornings are spent scanning news from BBC and Reddit, checking any Slack messages that might have come in overnight, and spending time with his son.

“I get two to three hours a day with my 2-year-old son during the week (an hour in the morning and an hour or more in the evening),” Henderson told Inc in 2017. “I make a point not to do work during these hours.”

At 9am, Henderson will begin his 50-minute walk to work where he’ll listen to audiobooks on the way, “I switched almost exclusively to audio books about five years ago, so I could combine my walking commute with reading.”

Between 10am and 5pm, Henderson will be at Slack’s San Francisco headquarters, spending most of his time in meetings and interviews, “I have a desk in our headquarters, but I’m rarely found there. Most of my days are spent in meetings.”

“I schedule meetings on the half-hour or hour. It’s easy to let them fill the time,” he said in an Inc profile. “Having an agenda before you start is a huge help. Many recurring meetings have a single document with an agenda that we add to over the course of the week.”

To avoid getting stuck in back-to-back meetings, Henderson breaks up his day with lunch, “we cater lunch once a week, but encourage people to get out of the office on the other days,” and blocks out time in his calendar to catch up on Slack and email, as well as “read proposals, give feedback, or route information to the right people.”

At 5pm, Henderson will start his walk home, which doubles as exercise and a way to unwind from the day, “having the extra time to think or listen to an audiobook or podcast is a great way to decompress.”

Spending time with my family in the morning and at the end of the day brackets my work in a very strict way. I have to be a lot more intentional about how I spend my time.

Here’s how Slack founder Cal Henderson uses Slack to manage his time | Fast Company

Between arriving home at 6pm and his bedtime (10.30-11pm), Henderson spends time with his family. He and his wife will also try to have a date night once a week, “It can be hard to stick to, but making sure we take time away from work every week is really important.”

We didn’t set out to make Flickr, or start a company to make Slack, but finding a group of people that you trust and love to work with means that you enjoy what you’re doing, even when you pivot into something completely different.

I’m Slack CTO Cal Henderson, And This Is How I Work | Lifehacker

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.