Jack Dorsey

What would Jack do?

Recently, I wrote about my 16 hour working day and how I was carving out a new routine. A few weeks have since passed and I find myself wanting to dig deeper into the wins and losses, as well as explore a couple of ideas I have for further improvement.

Good morning

Hauling myself out of bed at the crack of dawn has been surprisingly good. Some mornings have been tough, sitting at my laptop barely awake, but knowing I have an early handle on my inbox is nothing short of awesome. I might still be getting used to the early starts but there is already a sense of them becoming habitual. Rather than fighting against them, they are becoming a firm part of my routine and the pay off is just too great to give them up.

Not so good afternoon

On the flip side, my grand plan for an upside down evening isn’t quite hitting the same mark. Believing I could switch off for a few hours at the tail end of each afternoon, before revving up again in the evening, is much more difficult than it would appear. It turns out Buffer Co-Founder Leo was right, multi-tasking really can kill you [or at least drive you crazy].

Room for improvement

So, what to do? Things are good, improved. Productive, but not perfect. Tweaks are still required.

So who better to be inspired by for how to pull off a 16 hour day than Jack Dorsey? As Executive Chairman and CEO of two tech companies – Twitter and Square respectively - Jack is also known for putting in 8 hours a day at each company, back-to-back. While his long day is admirable enough, there’s one particular aspect of his routine I find myself now wanting to try: theming.

Monday is for…

Listening to Jack describe his routine during this Techonomy session in 2011, it seems he pulls off his 16 hour days with a whole heap of discipline. Theming his days – on Monday he focuses on management and running the company, Tuesday on product – allows him to quickly recapture his focus if he ever finds himself pulled away by the unexpected.

Focusing on one aspect of business each day prevents his week from drifting along in a blur of micro-management and ensures each area receives a guaranteed degree of attention each week. This, I love.

Full tweaks ahead

With this in mind, my plans for further improvement are two-fold.

First: core adjustments to my schedule. I will of course maintain my super early call time to get the jump start on my day I’ve come to love, but I need to find a way to reconfigure the support I have in place for the remainder of my day. This greater freedom will allow me to be fully switched on and then fully switched off. To work before play, rather than living in the blurred middle-state I often find myself in right now.

As an extra bonus, increased support will also grant me freedom of movement – productivity while working from Google Campus last week was through the roof and also gave me a shot of much-missed startup buzz. I’m really looking forward to making this a regular part of my routine.

Second: introduction of themes to my working days. While my core tasks for Buffer are very rhythmic, there are less time-sensitive aspects which can be over-looked. It’s surprisingly easy to reach the end of another day, another week, and find I’ve been swept along in awesome conversation with customers who have reached out via email, Twitter or Facebook.

In an effort to prevent drift, instilling similar discipline and theming into my schedule will create focus and the opportunity to ship in areas where it’s all too easy to bob along in an open sea.

What day is it?

If, like Jack, I ever find my day is getting pulled away from its end goal, all I need to do is think about what day it is and I can quickly snap my day back to plan.

And if I ever really drift off plan, I simply need to ask myself: what would Jack do?

Do you split your working week into areas of focus? Do you carve your working day into an unusual schedule? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

  • http://twitter.com/ihatehandles Sam Takunda

    The theming strategy is indeed interesting. Eager to see how it pans out for me. I think it has a better satisfaction loop, moving one load at a time to the end of the line instead of pushing them all comparatively slowly at the same time a.k.a multi-tasking.

    • alyssaaldersley

      Hey Sam. Thanks for hopping over to comment! I think you’re spot on about the satisfaction loop. Theming should hopefully give regular tasks a fair chance to stay on track and give that sense of completion, of shipping, that can be missing when trying to do too much at the same time! Would be great to hear how things pan out for you? I’ll be sure to update on my own wins and losses too :)

  • http://twitter.com/Mishaal Mishaal AlQurashi

    I’ve been thinking about this approach a lot lately after it struck me that I have been doing the same with my exercise routines for 20 years. Specific days for specific movements or types of exercise. I wouldn’t dream of going to the gym and randomly picking exercises on any given day so why wouldn’t I afford my work day the same kind of structure?

    Your post has reminded me that I need to stop thinking about it and start implementing it!

    • alyssaaldersley

      Thanks for you comment Mishaal. Awesome to know the post was food for thought!

      I think there’s a lot of sanity and focus in having a plan and a lot of drift in just wading in. It’s a great analogy with your gym routine and makes even more sense when thought about in that context!

      Let me know how you get on with putting structure in place and if it helps at all.

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