To managing time, few could match Douglas...

WHEN IT CAME

August 03, 1992

WHEN IT CAME to managing time, few could match Douglas Southall Freeman, the legendary newspaper editor and Pulitzer-Prize winning historian.

In the commemorative magazine issued by the Richmond News Leader on the day it ceased publication after 95 years, two pages, and then some, were devoted to "the Doc."

Here is Charles Henry Hamilton's description of Dr. Freeman, who obtained his Ph.D. in history from Johns Hopkins at the age of 22, and then served as editor of the News Leader for a whopping 34 years while simultaneously establishing a reputation as a respected historian of the American South:

"He devised a daily working schedule that stretched over 17 hours. Every minute was planned, but he operated so methodically that he never seemed hurried. He simply made sure that as the sands of time passed through his hour-glass, each grain meant an advance in his program.

"He cut out smoking early in his adult life because he found it took slightly more than eight hours a week.

"He set aside at least 14 hours each week for literary composition. He kept account of his time in a small ledger, in his meticulous handwriting, and he knew to the minute how much time he devoted to his various books. If he had to make a speech, or had important guests in his home, he took care of his work in advance.

"His normal schedule called for a 3:15 a.m. start each day, a light, self-prepared breakfast and arrival at the office at 4:40. After reading the wire-service reports and the morning paper, he settled down to produce the day's editorials -- an average of almost three columns. The writing finished at about 7:58, he would walk leisurely across a catwalk to the radio station, arrive on the dot of eight and discuss the day's news for 15 minutes. . . ."

"At 8:17 he was back in his office to greet the managing editor, city editor and key newsmen for a 15-minute conference. Next he went over proofs of the day's editorials at his desk.

"Then came a trip to the composing room where he personally saw to it that the editorial page was correct. After this there were the day's mail, dictated replies, a visitor or two. Sometimes there were conferences with the News Leader's publisher. . . .

"Shortly before noon the city desk filled him in on all important local news -- and off he strolled to the microphone again. By then he had been on the job for eight hours. He wound up any stray details at the office, went home for lunch, then dropped off to sleep 'just enough to lose consciousness.' He awoke refreshed, and concentrated on his literary labors until six o'clock.

"Then came the only time normally allowed for his family. . . . By eight o'clock he was usually in bed, in his own small room adjoining a study on the third floor of his stately white-columned home."

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