Everyone has their own way to unwind at the end of the day, and Bill and Melinda Gates are no exception. So what do a couple of billionaires do to de-stress? Thanks to some new insights from Melinda, we now have a better idea. (Spoiler: It doesn’t involve having Enya perform private concerts in their living room.) As it turns out, the evening routine of the Gates family is actually pretty normal — and involves things anyone can do. Here are three relaxing strategies, straight from Bill and Melinda’s playbook:
Connect with the people you love
Despite their hectic schedules, the Gates Family — including Bill and Melinda’s 16-year-old daughter, Phoebe — all try to have dinner together as often as possible, Melinda recently told The Cut. They usually sit down between 6 and 7 p.m., and eat a mix of what each person likes — from Mexican or Asian food, to steak or fish dinners, she says. At a time when so many people are glued to their devices, spending facetime (to clarify: not FaceTime) with loved ones and discussing the events of your day is a great way to de-stress.
And if you’re wondering who does the dishes, it’s all Bill. In a 2014 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” he said that he does them every night. ”[O]ther people volunteer, but I like the way I do it,” he wrote. Not only does mean that all the silverware is up to his standards of cleanliness, it also gives him the opportunity to meditate, if he so chooses: A 2015 study found that washing dishes was the perfect time to practice mindfulness.
No work after dinner
Speaking of dinner, that’s the cut-off point for doing work for the day, Melinda noted in the same interview. “I try not to work after dinner — that was kind of a mantra I made for myself about four years ago,” she said. “I’ll often read, talk with Bill, and then, generally, I’ll watch something relaxing before bedtime with Bill or Phoebe.”
Their show of choice at the moment is the royal period drama Victoria on PBS. And like dinnertime, this must-see TV is a group activity: Gates told The Cut that they had to binge-watch the last three episodes of the third season before going on her book tour because they don’t watch the show without each other. “If we’re in separate locales, we’ll agree to both watch the same episode at the same time so we’re caught up with each other,” she added.
Get to bed as early as possible
When it comes to our bedtimes, most of us have the best of intentions, but somehow never manage to make it under the covers as early as we’d like. And like our Thrive founder and CEO, noted “sleep evangelist” Arianna Huffington, Melinda makes getting enough sleep a priority. “My aspirational time to go to bed is 9:30 p.m.,” she told The Cut. “Realistically, it’s between 10 and 10:30 p.m. I go on about a dozen [work trips every year] — give or take — and if I’ve been on an international trip, I’m literally in bed by 9:30 p.m.”
Though Melinda didn’t address Bill’s bedtime, in a previous interview he stressed the importance of getting at least seven hours of sleep each night in order to be creative. Plus, we know that sleep deprivation leads to poor decision-making, which is, of course, key to performing at our best.
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