Q&A with Claire Díaz-Ortiz

Q&A with Claire Díaz-Ortiz


Claire Díaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, and technology innovator who has been named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. She was an early employee at Twitter, where she was hired to lead corporate social innovation. Her books include Twitter for Good and the Barna FRAME Greater Expectations.

Q: Barna research increasingly shows that people rarely “turn off.” What kind of effect do you see this having on individuals and the public as a whole? 01

Every day, we wake up to our iPhones, and we go to sleep to our iPhones, and in the middle we sometimes don’t even remember to live. We spend hours of our week simply online, and not necessarily being productive or making meaningful connections or relationships with those around us. We are in a state of digital overwhelm, and we need to figure out how to get out of that.

One of the problems about living our lives online is that we are essentially under constant attack. If we think of what our ancestors would do—when they would wake up in the morning, go hunt something, drag it, and bring it home—they were experiencing adrenaline rushes as a result of their fight or flight response. The problem is, today, we feel that when we check our email. We check our email, thinking that there’s that one-in-a-million chance that something really amazing is inside. Maybe you won the lottery, or you got a job promotion. Something great could be there, so we consistently check email, Facebook, or Twitter in efforts to find that next high, essentially. We’re seeking the digital high, and as a result we’re burnt out and stressed out.

Q: What are some practical ways that people can resist the pull of the digital high?


I believe that one of the best ways that we can set ourselves up for success in a life of potential digital overwhelm is to create a positive, powerful morning routine. Of course, the idea behind a morning routine is to do the most important thing first, as soon as you wake up, so that you can then tackle your day.

There are a few key tips that I always recommend when I’m talking to people about how to make schedules that really work for them.

The first thing that you should really consider doing is, when you wake up and when you go through your morning routine, take out a piece of paper and write out everything that’s really on your mind. This isn’t everything that you need to do today, but it’s everything that’s on your mind and that’s weighing on you. Getting those things out on paper is a great first step.

Another key scheduling tip is to make sure that you have a plan. Once you see all those things that you need to potentially be doing, pick a few of those things that you should be doing today and put them into blocks of time when you should be doing them.

Another key tip is to work in blocks. Spend two hours writing if you’re a writer, spend two hours doing podcasts if you’re podcasting—and don’t do 15 minutes of each and keep switching between. Work in blocks as much as possible.

Finally, another key tip is to make sure that a percentage of your work takes place off-line. Very few people need to be online for everything they do in a day so you want to make sure that you can be off-line as much as possible to free yourself from distractions and to get done what you need to get done.

Q: Obviously, the internet and social media also bring us a lot of good things. What do you feel are the unique benefits of turning off? 03

We all want better lives, we want to feel closer to God, we want to be in more relationship with our family and friends, and we want to be more inspired on a daily basis, in our work and in our personal lives.

But we’re going about it all wrong. We’re trying to find happiness, we’re trying to find success, and we’re trying to find peace online, when really that peace can be found off-line, in spending some time in our real lives.

One of the problems with our online lives is that we end up working all the time, and ultimately I believe that the best creation happens off-line. After years of working in Silicon Valley, I find that the period starting Friday evening and ending about Saturday at lunch is dead time. I don’t get the 200 emails I typically get in a day, and it’s really a good time to potentially take off.

Think about your own life and think about what that time frame might be. See if you can grab it for yourself and take it as a digital Sabbath of sorts, so that you’re not online and instead you’re rejuvenating your soul.

Back to the Study


Read Section