In one of those articles that is supposed to make all of us wonder if we are living as productive or glamorous lives as we should be, the New York Times spends a Sunday with Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs.
The economist Jeffrey Sachs, 58, is such a citizen of the world — especially the crowded, hungry and malarial parts of the world — that it may be hard to imagine him among the creature comforts of the Upper West Side.
Not that hard, actually, because Columbia pays Sachs an awful lot of money and provides him with a townhouse in the west ’80s—plenty of space between Sachs and the grit of Morningside Heights.
Sachs gets up at 5 AM or earlier every day to answer emails from Europe and Asia. He emails and Skypes for a while, then he reads the paper for an hour. (Good man!) Then he takes a walk with his daughter, making his way through Zabars (on a Sunday morning? huge mistake). In the afternoon he works on his book about JFK’s speeches (sort of an odd topic for an economist, though perhaps an appropriate one for a citizen of the world), then goes out with his family to dinner (Ocean? oh, dear), then goes to the movies—he never watches TV—and then “very often” he “gives a speech at 10:30 or 11:00 at night” for Asian consumption.
If this doesn’t make one feel inadequate….
That is followed by four, maybe five hours of sleep.
I always wonder if people really get by on that little sleep, or if the ability to sleep that little contributes to productivity and accomplishment levels. Or if people are just lying to sound like Davos uberachievers.
I do admire Sachs’ discipline. (And, though I tease, I think Sachs really has his heart in the right place.) Yesterday I got up at 5 AM because, well, my son woke up at 5 AM. We played together for a few hours, during which time I changed a couple diapers of varying contents, and we shared a bowl of Rice Krispies, a relatively recent morning ritual. (The little guy loves them, though about 50% of his mouthfuls wind up on his jammies.)
While consuming about five cups of coffee—I know, it’s a problem—I read several articles in the newspaper, none of which I can remember at present, then paid some bills and cleared up some credit card snafus. (A $95 annual fee? Just to get American Airlines frequent flier miles which you can never actually use. Are you on crack?)
Then I went to meet my wife and son at children’s storytime at Greenlight, the local indie bookstore—quite good!—and picked up some a few things—cilantro, lime, Russett potatoes—for the dinner I was cooking later that night. Back at home, I changed into tennis gear and drove the Tiguan out to the National Tennis Center in Queens; $66 for an hour of court time, which is pretty darn good by New York standards. Alas, I got crushed, but it was still good fun. Returning home, I watched about five hours of football with a couple friends and made a dinner of ribeye, baked potatoes, salad and some awesome cookies from Green Grape, the outrageously priced but very tasty local market. I also fed my son dinner, gave him a bath and rocked him to sleep.
During which time I also worked on my book about George W. Bush’s speeches.
Wait, sorry—that last part isn’t true.
So, no Skyping with Eurobrokers (that’s a word I made up) and no speeches for Asia. All in all, though, not a bad Sunday. (WTF, Patriots?) I await the Times’ call.