- Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO of Twitter this week. He will remain CEO of Square, now named Block.
- He said mediation helped him manage the stress of running two companies at once.
- I tried meditating in 15-minute blocks for one week and felt calmer but less productive.
Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO of Twitter on Monday after almost 16 years at the company’s helm. Dorsey will remain CEO of Square, which changed its name to Block two days after his departure from Twitter.
The move follows concern from activist investors over Dorsey’s dual CEO gigs, claiming his attention and time were divided.
Dorsey said that he was able to manage the stress of running two companies at once by adopting a strict wellness schedule that included walking five miles to work, meditating for two hours, and eating one meal a day. The lifestyle allowed him “to stay above water” at work, he said.
“When I went back to Twitter and took on the second job, I got super-serious about meditation.” he said during an appearance on “The Boardroom: Out of Office” podcast.
I couldn’t realistically dedicate myself to following his entire routine, so I tried meditating for 15 minutes twice a day to see how it might impact my work-life.
Dorsey has specifically practiced Vipassana meditation, an ancient Buddhist meditation technique that frequently involves 10 days of silence. Also known as “insight meditation,” its guiding principle is non-judgment.
Unlike other meditative practices that focus on a specific mantra or visualization, you’re not supposed to consciously control your thoughts during Vipassana. Instead, you acknowledge any wandering thoughts and immediately return to your breath, ultimately seeking a calmer and more focused mind.
Dorsey isn’t the only tech CEO to swear by the technique as a secret to professional success. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff became so convinced of its benefits that the software giant added a meditation room on every floor of its San Francisco office.
Here’s how meditation impacted my performance at work after setting aside 15 minutes twice a day over the span of one week.
I found the best times to meditate were immediately after waking up and between switching tasks
I had read online that Vipassana meditation works best first thing in the morning but was nervous the calming ritual would put me right back to sleep. I have never been a morning person and rely heavily on coffee to jumpstart my day.
So I was genuinely surprised that meditating immediately after I woke up made me feel highly alert, no caffeine necessary. Despite having my eyes closed for 15 minutes longer than I usually would, the focused breathing helped clear away any brain fog that normally lingers for the first hour at my desk.
I experienced similar effects when I meditated in between switching tasks, which usually fell around lunchtime. The moments when I feel the least focused at work are when I have to shift gears from one article to the next, or from writing to interviewing. Meditating in between created a buffer and allowed my mindset to refocus on my next task.
I felt noticeably less stressed, but not necessarily more productive
While I noticed that meditating helped lower my anxiety levels, I found it was more beneficial in regards to high-level problem solving than completing short-term assignments.
Usually, a healthy dose of stress and adrenaline is what gets me through breaking news and daily deadlines. Vipassana meditation doesn’t allow you to react to the checklist in your head and forces you to see things from a birds-eye view, something I found helpful in creative idea generation and goal setting.
Sitting still without distractions for 15 minutes was much harder than I thought
On the first day of this experiment, I didn’t think I could make it through the week. Part of Vipassana is observing — but not reacting to — sensations such as the urge to fidget, stretch, or even itch. Fifteen minutes of sitting up straight and engaging my core forced me to become highly aware of any physical aches or pains.
But after the first five minutes, focusing on my breath felt much more natural and intuitive. The hardest part was putting away my phone, closing my laptop, and convincing myself that I could spare 15 minutes in the middle of the day.