From the BlogContact Me Today!

Small Business Productivity Advice: Reduce Distractions

Do you want to get more done?

email.jpgAccording to Tim Ferriss, that’s what the The 4-Hour work Week is all about.

Yesterday I was talking to my good friend Adam Kayce and he asked me if I’d read the book yet. I said no and that I had no plans too since I thought the book was all hype. I mean, who can really work a 4 hour work week?

So he suggested I watch Scoble’s interview with Tim Ferriss. Of course, being the Scoble fan I am, I had to watch it. And it turns out I was wrong. There’s some real depth to what Tim Ferriss is sharing.

I also watched a few other videos where Tim Ferriss makes a compelling statement around our information overload:

There is an epidemic, and I do mean epidemic, in this country of information abuse and information addiction where people have come to believe that checking email 200 times per day, having a Blackberry to your head or in your hand while you’re at dinner, or on the subway, in the car, with your friends is the path to becoming more productive and more successful.

Being someone that works inside information and its distribution for a living – I agree completely. There is far – I mean far, far, far, far – more information coming at us than we can possibly process.

One of his tips…check your email only twice a day – but not first thing in the morning. Why? Because often you’ll check your email and get stuck working on something that’s unexpected and perhaps not as important as the one to two most important things you need to do for the day.

4hourworkweek.jpgThink about it. How many times does it happen that you sit down with your daily to do list, only to be derailed by some ’emergency’ email that must be handled. Happens to me, I know that. And it can sometimes derail my plan for the day. Not a great way to get things done, huh?

So Tim recommends checking and responding to your email twice a day – once just before lunch and a once near the end of the day – where people are less likely to respond unless it’s absolutely necessary.

I’ve had to go a step further. I shut down my email client all together when I’m not actively checking email AND I close my feed reader. I’ve found that both can be great distractions to getting my work done.

Watch the video – it’s definitely worth it. If you want more, read interviews with Tim Ferris from Darren Rowse or LifeHacker, . Or reviews by Dave Seah or John Murch. I’m going to go buy the book.

What do you think? Can you check your email only twice per day?

Get My Free Guidebook…

Client Producing Websites:

10 Elements Your Website Must Have In Order To Get You More Clients, Sell More Products, And Make More Money.

See exactly how top coaches, healers & others service providers are successfully using their websites to create a following of people who buy their products and services.

Comments

  1. Jean Browman says:

    I watched about 20 minutes of the video because you recommended it. And I’m afraid parts of it really turned me off. Ferris talked about one person outsourcing as much of his life as he could…including having someone read his children bedtime stories. Granted, it was just an experiment, but going after the big bucks instead of simplifying your life and having real relationships, especially with your spouse and children, is not my idea of a “rich” life. I’m more of a Thoreau person: “Our lives are frittered away in details. Simplify, simplify.” Ferris claims to be advocating that, but in my opinion, he doesn’t go nearly deep enough.

    Please do me a favor and check out the picture on this week’s post at CheerfulMonk.com. It’s one of my favorite snapshots, and it’s celebrating a completely different set of values.

  2. Oh boy do I need this! I’ll definitely be checking out the video. Email is, by far, my biggest time leech!

  3. Ed,

    Me too. Closing my email client has helped me get more done. Really, truly…I’m a fan now.

  4. Jean,

    Yeah, I hear you. I can’t agree with that either. Yet, I don’t throw out the message to spite the messenger.

    What he was doing in the first 20 minutes of the clip was give Scoble (and his audience) some background as to how he came to think about time management. The second half is much better about some ‘how to’s.’

    I’ve also researched Ferriss a bit now and understand what he’s getting too – people working as effectively and as efficiently as possible toward their main business goals. And that there are many things that get in the way of our main goals.

    I think every approach to anything in life has to be integrated into our own ways – not dropped and taken at wholesale.

    I see the photo, it’s lovely. Thanks for sharing it. I don’t at all see it as setting a different set of values. Not at all. Ferriss’ approach is about simplifying our life so you can do more of what you love – family included.

    No matter, we see things with different eyes – as we should…we’re different people. And as you know, my family comes first, with my integrity and spirituality.

  5. Checking email twice a day is a practice I have used since starting my business. Why? It made sense.

    Jen – awesome picture and I agree – Simplify

  6. Here’s the link to CheerfulMonk. I suppose Ferris would have resonated more if I wasn’t already checking my e-mail only once or twice a day.

  7. CheerfulMonk,

    Great point. I have a feeling this is only a beginning. I ordered the book, so we’ll see.

    What other productivity tips can you offer?

  8. I have been following the Tim Ferriss phenomenon since he was featured on ProBlogger and have found much of what he has to say to be worth considering. I KNOW I need to check e-mail only twice a day, but I have such a hard time with that- still working on it. Definitely have to turn off the feed reader if I want to get anything done. In the end, most of us are gluttonous in our consumption of information, but it sure is hard to turn it off!

  9. Randa,

    I hear you. I’ve done this for a couple of days and I still feel the pull. Especially when it comes to responding to comments. Hard to turn email off.

    I think Ferriss is on to something AND I feel that he’s definitely riding a wave of sensationalism a bit. I mean the title of the book…he admits to Scoble that he chose it not because he necessarily works a 4-hour week himself, but because it tested best with Google Adwords. So a combination of a solid message, the right timing and some marketing prowess is what I think has made this so popular.

    Randa, do you use any of his other suggestions?

  10. Dawud–Uncanny timing for your post–in an unusual way. What flagged my attention was your initial response to Adam’s question: had you read Ferris’ book yet?

    In my own life, I’ve begun to recognize a tendency toward a “jerky knee” defensive response mode when folks ask if I’ve seen/read the latest blockbuster (especially if I have a pre-set opinion or judgment about the topic of the book/movie. After a similar conversation yesterday with a neighbor(about a recently-released movie), I suddenly became aware of how I want to learn to change my typical knee-jerk reaction to more of an attitude of: “You know–this is certainly a “hot topic” that I’m glad folks are beginning to recognize and talk more about. What are YOUR thoughts now that make you recommend it and what changes would you see bringing into your own life?”

    Who knows, I might even realize like you that there’s something more for me to learn :).
    me

  11. Jean Browman says:

    Dawud,
    Yes, I’m well aware that your family, integrity and spirituality are very important to you. That’s why I visit this site so regularly and why I spent 20 minutes watching the video. I kept asking myself, “Why did Dawud recommend this?”

    So tonight, continuing to trust your judgment, I spent a lot more time reading the interviews and reviews you linked to. They got to the “how-to’s” a lot faster. I can see how some of the ideas might be useful to you. Please let us know what else you try and how it works for you. I realize you do have to be very careful with your time, and I don’t want you to start feeling so burdened that you stop replying to comments!

    I certainly agree with Ferriss that the opposite of happiness isn’t sadness, it’s boredom. I figured that out when I was a kid and resolved to never be stuck in a job that I didn’t like. I was more than willing to live simply if I could spend my time doing things that excited me and fed my soul. It turned out fine financially, which was frosting on the cake.

    One of my favorite time-management strategies is to ask myself Alan Lakein’s famous question, “Is this the best use of my time right now?” His suggestion was if you don’t know the answer to that question you need to take time out and figure out what your values are. That’s very similar to Stephen Covey’s (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) approach: figure out what’s really important to you and make a four-element grid. The rows are labeled Important and Not Important, the columns, Urgent and Not Urgent. Write down your activities on the grid. Obviously we have to pay attention to the activities in Quadrant I—Urgent and Important, but we’re frittering our lives away if we don’t make sure we spend a lot of our time and energy in Quadrant II—Important but not Urgent. As he points out, “If you neglect Quadrant II prevention and opportunities, Quadrant I crises will disrupt your life. And if you plan daily instead of weekly, you will live in Quadrant I, and your ‘planning’ will only prioritize your problems.” It’s an easy and effective way of seeing what you’re doing with your life.

    Great topic! Thanks.

  12. Mary Elaine,

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Really, I just have to be careful with my time. From what I had read, it seems Ferriss was just capitalizing on a provocative title. However, when I saw him in the Scoble interview, I really understood more of who he is and the message he’s bringing forth. And while I can’t agree with everything he says/does, I do think there are bits to his ideas that can benefit my life – personally and professionally.

    You thoughts?

  13. I can’t check email just twice a day since my copywriting assignments come in at any time and I have a short turn-around time. But I’ve learned to ignore the emails that can wait and assign those to the later part of the day.

  14. Hey,

    Thanks for the shout out. I would HIGHLY recommend picking up this book and start living it! Check your email twice a day and plan 1 big thing to accomplish each day and work on it like your life depends on it!

    Keep in mind the 80/20 rule as well as think big and pickup that BMW, Porsche, etc car of your dreams!

  15. Jean,

    I will definitely keep you informed.

    And thanks for trusting me enough to follow through a bit more. I think Tim Ferriss has some interesting and useful ideas to increasing the quality of life. The key is to do it.

    I’ve loved Covey’s work. Used it in many ways. Thanks for adding that in. How have you seen the Covery work make the biggest impact in your life?

    Karen,

    That’s what it’s all about – learning to control our impulses to waste time. How have you managed this?

    John,

    Thanks John. It’s on the way from Amazon. Can’t wait. I’m definitely ready for a shift like this.

    What’s been the biggest shift you’ve made since finding Ferriss?

  16. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says:

    Right on — I’m glad to see how this is spreading, because I’m really enjoying what I’m learning from him so far… and my book just arrived today from Amazon.

    Disengaging from a lifestyle that doesn’t serve you to live your best life, and setting in motion the one that does — that’s his message, as I see it.

    (and by the way, he said he’d have titled the book, “The Two-Hour Workweek”, because that’s what he works… but he figured fewer people would take it seriously.)

  17. Adam,

    Well said, my friend.

    It is unfortunate that in that the Scoble interview begins with that example of a friend of his outsourcing everything – including mediation with his wife and story time with his kids – just to see how far he could take it. I figured it would be something people would focus on without considering that he’s really talking about:

    Pushing the limits of our beliefs around what is possible.

    Make sure you give us an update on your blog as you read it.

  18. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says:

    Yeah, the guy he talks about in the interview is a writer who likes to do extreme things, and took outsourcing to an extreme. So far, I haven’t seen much similarity between that guy and Tim’s points… just that they’re both talking about outsourcing.

    Updates? You got it.

  19. Adam,

    That’s what I figured. When you go on in the interview, I think more of Tim’s depth comes forward. And you just can’t knock someone with a great point…there is too much information coming at us to manage so we need to know when and how to unplug.

  20. Information overload…it’s beyond the truth. I think that everyone is walking around with ADD (myself included)…there is just too much coming in from all directions.

    I really like the idea of checking email only 2x’s a day…I’d add checking stats to that list, too!

    Thanks for the info on Tim’s video, also. I just read Darren’s most recent interview with Tim, and I want to read the book as well.

  21. JoLynn,

    Makes sense to me. I’ve been checking my email twice a day for the past couple of weeks and it makes a huge difference in my workflow. I get quite a bit more done. Let me know how it works for you.

Trackbacks

  1. The Top Ten Distractions for the Work at Home Mom and Dad - eMoms at Home - Blogging and Internet Marketing for Home Based Entrepreneurs says:

    […] when I find myself following a blog link to a news story to another news story… Solution :: Work offline most of the day (I don’t know if I am quite there yet, […]

  2. Too Much Information says:

    […] to be a more productive work at home Dad, Dawud is taking drastic measures. Follow his lead and Shut Down Your Email and Close Your RSS Feeder to eliminate some of the excess information […]

  3. Why You Should Be Filtering Your Email - eMoms at Home - The Internet Home Business Blog for Moms & Dads says:

    […] Yet seeing all those messages in your inbox takes time away from your work. Just looking at the personal or non-work related messages takes you out of your work flow. If you’re not tempted to respond, they’ll at least take your focus away from your work. That’s why in the past I’ve suggested shutting down your email. […]

  4. Evolving Times » Outsource Your Life says:

    […] new book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. Thanks to Dawud for the final […]

Speak Your Mind

*

css.php