Leadership

How Jack Dorsey runs Twitter and Square without using a computer

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square Inc., holds an Apple Inc. iPhone while standing outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.
Yana Paskova | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square Inc., holds an Apple Inc. iPhone while standing outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Jack Dorsey runs both Twitter and Square without cracking open a laptop. How is this possible?

It's simple: He does it all from his smartphone.

For Dorsey, it's a matter of focus. On a phone, he's able to disable notifications and use just one app at a time. "I can really focus on what's in front of me instead of everything coming at me as I would a laptop," Dorsey recently said.

The practice also helps him and his team be more mindful during meetings. When phones are down and laptops are closed, the team can discuss any issue at hand without distraction. "We can actually focus and not just spend an hour together but make that time meaningful — and if that time is 15 minutes, then it's 15 minutes, we move on with our lives," explained Dorsey.

To make it work, Dorsey uses dictation and voice typing tools instead of a keyboard.

He also has said he spends much of his day in Apple's free iOS app Notes, something he's called one of the best free productivity tools on the market. Screenshots he's posted demonstrate that there are some days he uses Notes three times more than apps for text messages or even email.

Dorsey said he relies on Notes to brainstorm and plan ahead. He said he also uses it jot down talking points for people with whom he meets regularly.

Most recently, he used Notes to pen a heartfelt note to his employees announcing the departure of Square's chief financial officer Sarah Friar.

Dorsey tweeted several screenshots of his entire message last week and in doing so, confirmed that he does not use a computer or laptop. He won't even use a tablet. To further prove it's a matter of preference, not availability, he also turned down a free laptop from Microsoft.

The CEO is known for simplifying his life to save time. He located the Square and Twitter offices across the street from each other in San Francisco so he can zip back and forth between them on foot.

He organizes his time carefully, building repetition into his schedule. He walks five miles to work daily, themes each day and applies detailed agendas and goals to each team meeting. The repetition guards against chaos and time loss, he told Fast Company in 2016.

These strategies for simplication seem to have worked. Snapshots of his phone from August and July shows his phone usage averages between 9 and 10 hours a day or up to around 50 hours a week, mirroring a typical work week.

By contrast, the average American manages to spend around 24 hours a week online for both work and play, all without running two multi-billion dollar companies simultaneously.

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