When Do You Do Your Best Thinking?

How six innovators work through their work problems

Illustration: Tim Lahan

“In the morning around 7, after sorting through various issues via e-mail, I often opt for a hot aromatherapy shower. It helps relax my mind, and I’ve had some of my greatest epiphanies during this time.” —Mark Rosenzweig, chief executive officer, Euro-Pro

“My strongest ideas come when I’m in my house late at night, between 11 and 1. I always have jazz or country music playing in the background, and I often find myself at my stand-up desk or sketching on a large whiteboard, developing ideas I can flesh out with my team the next day.” —Kevin Reddy, chairman and CEO, Noodles & Co.

“Every morning I tell myself to just start writing, and the rest is automatic. I wear noise-canceling headphones, mostly to block the sound of my own talking. I use an app called Freedom to shut off the Internet. But I’ll sometimes do an hour of work, after my son goes to bed, with a glass of wine, no earplugs, and my husband nearby. Often that is when it goes best.” —Miranda July, author

Illustration: Tim Lahan

“I do best in the midafternoon after meetings, phone calls, and e-mails. This takes one to two hours. My desk is like mission control, with a folder for each of my direct reports, and I review each folder to make sure the team is executing the strategy we agreed upon. Over 20 years, I’ve tripled businesses using this approach.” —Michael Buckley, CEO, Robert Graham

“I’ve been tinkering since I was a child, taking apart all of my toys. I still make time to tinker every day. I spend one to two hours working on our innovations, usually in the morning to start the day or late at night.” —Mir Imran, chairman and CEO, InCube Labs

“I only have a certain amount of patience for my to-do list, so I do two to three things at home by midday, and then there’s a time in the afternoon when my internal sense just insists that I shift gears to working.” —Elisabeth Condon, painter

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