Jack Dorsey was named CEO (again) of Twitter last week, and he'll continue to hold the same title at pre-IPO Square.
How can Dorsey run two companies when most of us struggle to keep up with one job? What's his secret to getting it all done?
I recently interviewed over 200 billionaires, millionaires and successful entrepreneurs for my new book, 15 Secrets Highly Successful People Know About Time Management, and one of the unique habits of many I interviewed was creating themes for different days of the week. In fact, this was so prevalent I listed it as Secret #12 in the book.
Dorsey himself explained his secret to being productive while working eight hours a day at each company, in a 2011 interview at Techonomy:
The way I found that works for me is I theme my days. On Monday, at both companies, I focus on management and running the company...Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships. Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting. Saturday I take off, I hike. Sunday is reflection, feedback, strategy, and getting ready for the week.
This idea of daily themes is powerful for two reasons. First, it establishes a cadence--a rhythm--of focus and attention. Members of the product divisions at both Twitter and Square know that they have only seven days before Dorsey follows up on the questions he asked the previous week, and only seven days before they will have to show forward progress.
Second, daily themes are powerful because of efficiencies associated with grouping like tasks together. Many doctors who work in busy group practices will have one day a week that they schedule all their patients who have diabetes. That day, the nurses and physician assistants consistently tell each patient to take his socks off (in order to check for sores and other complications), to check certain blood levels, ask certain questions.
John Lee Dumas is another ultra-productive entrepreneur who has benefited from daily themes. Dumas built a multi-million dollar business in a few short years on the success of his daily podcast, EntrepreneurOnFire. His colleague, Kate Erickson, wrote a 2014 year in review blog post in which she described the impact daily themes have had on their business.
Something that we also both found success with doing is creating themes for each day of the week. For example, John's podcast day is Tuesday: that's when he does all of his podcast interviews for EntrepreneurOnFire. Another example: Wednesdays are our webinar days. This is when we schedule our Live Podcast Workshops, our Webinar Workshops, and our exclusive community webinars.
Steve Jobs was legendary for his consistent schedule. Mondays were for executive team meetings, Wednesdays were for advertising and marketing. Most afternoons were "themed" with design visits to Jony Ive.
How can you apply "Secret #12: Daily Themes" to increase your productivity, even if you don't have complete control of your own calendar?
- Pick one day of the week to hold all of your recurring internal meetings. For the last twenty years, every Monday I hold a one-on-one meeting with each of my direct reports. Sometimes they only last 10 minutes, other times up to an hour. I'm always asking what happened big last week, what's big on this week's agenda, review key metrics and how can I help. This Monday internal check-in theme actually saves me time as it reduces miscommunication and mistakes, holds people to weekly accountability, and eliminates all those "got a minute" meetings.
- Pick one day a week to ban all internal meetings (at least on your team). In an interview for my book, Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of team productivity app Asana, shared his policy of "No Meeting Wednesdays". It's the one day a week dedicated to creating, making and doing--not meeting.
- Pick one day a week to be Administration Day. This is the day to fill out expense reports, complete performance reviews, read committee reports, catch up on old emails, and to schedule any random meetings that aren't directly related to your key objectives.
- Pick one day a week to focus on your customers (whether internal or external). Common advice from successful CEOs is to get out of the office. Make some phone calls, take your top customers to lunch, and listen to the feedback they're giving you.
While you may not be the CEO of two separate companies, daily work themes is one of the secrets that highly successful people use to achieve extreme productivity.