They don’t sleep. It’s not because they can’t, they just claim not to need to. I’m talking about “top bosses”. They all get up early 6-ish and work out. They do a 12-hour day, come home, read the kids a bedtime story and have a civilised dinner. On a weekend they do sports and walk the dog. They read a few emails on Sunday evening when everyone else has gone to bed.

‘From my experience of senior managers in the public sector, long hours is the norm’

They also lie. Do we really believe they don’t watch TV or eat takeaways? That they never fall asleep in front of the TV after a bottle of wine? What about the big trip to the supermarket? What about the washing of all that sports kit? Who does the cleaning and the gardening? And what about clothes shopping for the kids, for the holidays, for work? No lie-in on a Sunday?

If we are to believe the top business people interviewed in The Guardian they organise their time outside of work with the same discipline that they apply in the office, operating a rigid and punishing timetable. They build in quality time with their children and partner, but the impression is of rather selfish people who fit family and friends in around the demands of work, who see their daily workout to be as important as time with family and are rather glad when everyone else is a sleep and they can catch up with their emails.

Taking work home

These are highly effective people, very focused and very successful but surely not typical of senior managers? Well, yes and no. From my experience of senior managers in the public sector, long hours is the norm. Routinely taking work home – whether reports to read for the next day’s meetings or reading emails in the evening – is common place. Being somewhat preoccupied with work and finding your thoughts drifting to a work issue when you’re with the family or lying awake at night happens a lot.

I would take my son to school in the morning on my way to work. I frequently drove past the school, my mind already in work, only for my son to say: “Are you going to drop me off?”

Being too tired to do much on an evening except watch TV. Falling asleep on the sofa on a Friday night after a bottle of wine. Having every intention of going to the gym at least three times a week to justify the membership but mostly lacking the energy and certainly not able to go before work. Needing that lie-in on a Sunday morning. And yes, selfishly putting the job first but being totally unaware of this because most of the time you like work, you enjoy the status and you have the trapping of success.