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As CEO of both Twitter and Square, 18-hour days are regular occurrences for Jack Dorsey.
According to a 2015 Product Hunt Q&A, Dorsey keeps balanced by following a uniform schedule.
“I look to build a lot of consistent routine,” he said. “Same thing every day.”
Dorsey said in the Q&A that this routine enables him to maintain a state that allows him to be effective when he has to deal with situations that get out of hand.
One of these “consistent routines” is his morning ritual, which, he told Product Hunt, consists of waking up at 5 a.m., meditating for 30 minutes, and a doing a seven-minute workout three times – all before getting his caffeine fix. Dorsey reportedly ends his day at 11 p.m.
Jack Dorsey is a successful guy, so he must be doing something right. If it’s his daily routine that makes the difference, I was going to find out. I followed his routine for an entire work week, from Monday to Friday, to see what it did for my energy levels, mood, and productivity.
- Bradley Morris/Omvana
I’m no stranger to meditation, but I generally can’t keep my focus for too long. The longest I’ve meditated in silence is probably five minutes, but with someone telling me what to do, I’ve managed to last for 20.
I chose a 32-minute guided meditation from Omvana, a meditation app where you can purchase guided-meditation and hypnosis tracks.
I chose “Breath of Life Practise,” a series of breathing exercises that is supposed to cleanse the body and mind and increase energy.
I planned to follow that on the days that I was scheduled to work out, which were Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, I planned to do The New York Times’ 7-minute workout, which Dorsey has tweeted about.
The tiny size of my studio apartment has dissuaded me from doing any sort of workout at home before this experiment, so I was interested in how I would fare.
With Dorsey’s early hours, doing the workout at the gym was not an option since my gym opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays – not enough time to get a decent workout before I have to get ready for work.
Morning: I woke up pretty optimistic and didn’t hit the snooze button – a surprising feat since I didn’t sleep that well the night before.
Despite purposely tiring myself out on Sunday by going on a four-hour hike, I made the mistake of reading the news and catching up on some grad school assignments until 10 p.m., which left me unable to sleep until about 11 p.m.
Once I got up, I tried the 32-minute meditation. I didn’t fall asleep, and I managed to last 26 minutes without looking at the screen to see how long I had left. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed the exercise, though my mind did wander a few times. I had to really focus to bring it back to “the breath.”
Once the meditation was over, it was time for the workout. It was brutal, but not too brutal.
Next came my favorite part of my morning: coffee! I skimmed the news while I sipped and ate my eggs and avocado toast. I even managed to finish the grad school assignment I’d been working on the night before, all before 7:30 a.m.
I was at work by 9 a.m. – half an hour earlier than I usually arrive. Hello productivity! Let’s hope this lasts.
Work day: I was on fire. I didn’t even feel the post-lunch slump that usually prompts a second cup of coffee. I did have one at about 3 p.m., but I think it was because I had writer’s block and needed coffee for a mental boost.
Evening: Once I left the office, I was spent. I made dinner, cleaned up, and by 8:30 p.m. I already felt ready for bed. I don’t know how Dorsey works those 18-hour days.
I tried catching up with the news, but got a headache looking at the screen before even reaching paragraph two of a New York Times op-ed. I moved to reading a nonfiction physical book (“The End of Power” by Moises Naim), but that also proved to be too much for my brain.
My last reading attempt was a chapter of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” before finally shutting my eyes at 9:30 p.m.
- Anisa Purbasari
Morning: I rose at the sound of my 5 a.m. alarm, and my first thought was “I really don’t want to do star jumps and pushups without coffee.”
I found the meditation a lot easier the second day, although my mind still wandered a few times, mostly around my work to-dos.
I downloaded the 7-minute workout app and did the exercise three times. I got sweaty and a little out of breath, but I wanted to make it more challenging, so I substituted lunges for jump lunges. I felt a little bit sorry for my neighbors below but convinced myself that jumping on a yoga mat makes it a little quieter.
Morning coffee and breakfast were again a godsend. I noticed that I began to see coffee and breakfast as a treat rather than fuel.
Work day: I was at work by 8:57 a.m., happy to get a head start on my tasks for the day ahead. I got very hungry at 9:45 a.m. and had to fix myself a snack, despite having a large bowl of oats and a hard-boiled egg at 7 a.m.
My morning was productive, but my afternoon was not. I needed a second coffee post-lunch, and I caught myself almost falling asleep on my desk a few times. My resolution for the day was to go to bed earlier that night.
Evening: I didn’t even attempt to engage my brain after dinner. I was in bed by 9:30 p.m. and asleep not long after. Clearly I’m not cut out for a 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. work day.
- Anisa Purbasari
Morning: I woke up dreading the burpees and plank jacks of that day’s workout. I did it anyway, and afterwards looked like I went swimming in my exercise clothes. After breakfast (eggs, flatbread, sauteed kale, and coffee), I managed to get to work by 8:47 a.m. I was determined to win the rest of the week.
Work day: At 11:42 a.m. I began to get sleepy and started thinking about a second cup of coffee. (I didn’t get one until after lunch.) On the whole, not a productive morning. My afternoon was a lot more productive though, strangely.
On my walk home from the train station, I found myself humming the meditation music, which signaled that it might be a good idea to switch up my meditation so I don’t get annoyed by the tunes. I really didn’t want to begin hating meditation by association.
Evening: I was at an outing after work until about 8 p.m., so I went to bed a little later than usual – around 10:30 p.m. I still set my alarm for 5 a.m.
- Anisa Purbasari
Morning: I decided to try a new seven-minute workout I found on Greatist the night before. After the workout, I realized that variety motivates me, particularly when it comes to somewhat unpleasant endeavors like exercise.
The workout drained me physically. I was unable to do some of the routines (like spider push-ups), so I had to modify them (normal push-ups). That might be because I only got about six hours sleep instead of my preferred seven or eight.
The amount of jumping required in the workout also made me extremely self-conscious about waking my neighbors. For the first time that week, I was beginning to miss my gym.
I decided to ease the heat by taking a cold shower, a supposed productivity hack. I stayed under cold water for what felt like a minute (in reality it was probably 40 seconds) before turning it lukewarm.
On my commute I found my thoughts wandering to the day’s tasks instead of focusing on Naim’s “The End of Power.” I think that I might need to do a focus meditation instead of a breathing and relaxation one.
Work day: It was a productive morning, and at 10 a.m. I was as hungry as I’ve ever been. I overloaded a bit on the snacks. After lunch, however, I started to lose steam, and I needed another cup of coffee because I found myself dozing off again. My productivity increased toward the end of the work day.
Evening: I went to a gym class after work. After working my muscles harder than anticipated, I began to fear for the workout I needed to do the following morning.
I didn’t sleep well that night – probably because I was reading about all of the depressing things going on in the world just as I was getting ready for bed. The combination of screens and negative information late in the evening did not make for a great night’s sleep.
Morning: I was jolted awake from a bad dream at 4 a.m. and half-slept until my alarm went off at 5 a.m. The soreness in my entire lower body indicated that I should probably rest my muscles. The grogginess told me that if I didn’t get another two hours of sleep, I would be extremely grumpy and unproductive.
For a moment, I thought, “I’ll just get up for the sake of finishing my experiment.”
But then I remembered that I still had an entire work day ahead of me, with articles to research, write, and edit. Feeling sleepy all day was not an option.
So I went back to bed and got two more hours of snooze. Experiment fail No. 1.
I still meditated, but opted for a 20-minute one, “Breath Connection,” which I enjoyed much more than the previous programs. I didn’t manage to fit in the workout. Experiment fail No. 2.
Work day: I got to work at 9:19 a.m. – later than I had arrived all week. Despite my restlessness the night before, I didn’t feel too shabby, but I was glad that I chose to go back to bed. Habitually, I went to the kitchen around 10:20 a.m. to get a snack, but I realized I wasn’t as hungry because I got up later and didn’t exercise.
My morning was relatively productive, but from 3 p.m. onward felt a bit slow. The routine was starting to tire me out.
Evening: At 6 p.m., I felt exhausted and ready to catch up on sleep. I felt a bit peeved at myself that I wasn’t able to complete the full five days. I was so close!
I reassured myself that missing one day out of five didn’t make the experiment a complete failure. Glitches are bound to come up whenever you try to introduce new habits into your life.
- Anisa Purbasari
What I learned
I spend a lot of time thinking about small things.
The thoughts that distracted me during meditation were small things, like what I was going to have for breakfast, what skirt I would wear that day, or when I was going to go grocery shopping. When people talk about eliminating decision fatigue, this is probably what they are talking about.
I am motivated by variety.
Variety is my best motivation for maintaining habits that are hard to keep, like exercising regularly and eating healthy on a limited budget. While I see the value of eating the same meals and wearing the same clothes so you don’t have to think about them, I think that would make life less enjoyable for me.
Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial to my productivity.
I’ve tried many times to hack my way to needing less sleep, using apps like Sleep Cycle, trying various (modified) versions of the polyphasic sleep method, and testing out the old trick of drinking more coffee.
But at the end of the day, I’m much more productive when I’ve gotten that seven or eight hours than when I don’t. I might be able to “hack” it for one day, but after two days in a row, bye-bye focus.
The most difficult thing about exercising is making the decision to go.
Even though I dreaded the exercise, because I decided I was going to do it the night before, it was easy to make myself put on my gear and work up a sweat.
Waking up early and going to bed early puts me in a better mood.
Something about early mornings makes me excited to start my day. I noticed that I don’t get as irritated with small things, like subway delays or footpaths overcrowded with tourists, provided that I’ve had sufficient shut-eye the night before. The 5 a.m. start is probably a bit too early, but I think I could do 5:30 a.m.
Meditation takes practice and patience.
I’m convinced that people who try meditation and say they can’t do it just haven’t practiced enough. I got better toward the end of the week when I made the conscious effort to do it every day, and I intend to keep this in my morning routine.
Part of what makes a morning routine successful is the act of sticking to it and enjoying it.
I enjoyed knowing what I was going to do each morning. And regardless of how I felt when I woke up, Jack Dorsey’s routine did prepare me for the day ahead.