Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, often works long days to fulfil his responsibilities.
According to a 2015 Product Hunt Q&A, he finds balance by having “a lot of consistent routine,” part of which is his morning ritual.
This involves a 5 a.m. start, followed by a 30-minute meditation, a seven-minute exercise repeated three times, and then coffee.
I attempted to follow Dorsey’s morning routine for a week to see how it would affect my mood, productivity, and energy level.
During the experiment, I gained a number of insights about myself. The most surprising was realising the amount of time I spend thinking about trivial things.
I learned this during my daily meditation, when noisy mind chatter would run through my head. Frequently, I would have to remind myself to focus on my breathing.
Similar thoughts came up again and again, both during meditation and during idle moments throughout the day: What am I going to eat for breakfast? Should I start my free gym pass and do a second workout after work? Do I need to stop at Trader Joe’s on my way home from work?
Like Dorsey, at work I like having a predictable routine so I can be more efficient and avoid distraction.
But when it comes to little things in my life, like cooking, exercising, and what I wear — I enjoy variety. But making decisions about those things, as small as they are, takes up a chunk of
valuable brain space that I probably could use for more important things.
As psychologist and coauthor of “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength,” Roy F. Baumeister told the New York Times in 2011, making decisions requires you to draw from a finite supply of willpower.
“Your ability to make the right investment or hiring decision may be reduced simply because you expended some of your willpower earlier when you held your tongue in response to someone’s offensive remark or when you exerted yourself to get to the meeting on time,” he told the New York Times.
This rationale explains why people like Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama wear the same outfit every day. Minimising decision fatigue prevents them from getting bogged down in minutiae and leaves room for bigger decisions.
Most of the time, I can handle the chatter in my head without hampering my concentration, and meditation has helped reduce its frequency. But it does make me wonder whether I’m wasting valuable brainpower and missing out on premium productivity.
I might change my mind when I reach a stage in my life where my responsibilities leave me with less time to think about the small things that make life worth living.
But until then, I’ll probably keep the variety and keep meditating to minimise the noise in my crowded mind.
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