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Time Management ala Tim Ferriss and the 4 Hour Work Week

December 05, 2013

If someone asked you what you thought about Tim Ferriss’ block buster book, The Four Hour Work Week, I bet you wouldn’t talk about his perspectives on time management.  You’ve read the book, right?  But… he’s got some great suggestions on time management that will definitely shake up some of your rules for that area of your life.  I’ve made a short video for you at the end of this blog to capture the key points, just in case you’re wondering what his suggestions are, but as long as you’re this far in the blog, I’ll write out some things you might find helpful.  It’s a quick read, here we go.

So what does Tim want to challenge, well probably everything, but I should have been more specific.  What does he want to challenge in your belief and practices about managing time?  Here’s 3 concepts I enjoyed from his book.  See if any or all of them break anything free for you.

Effective Time Management means Time for Goals:

1. The timing is never right; just do it and course correct along the way!  Let’s live now, or as Nike’s slogan prompts, “Just do it.”

2. Be effective… not efficient.  Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task in the most economical manner possible. Efficiency is important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.

3. Time management is irrelevant unless you apply it towards… a goal, something that excites you, grabs you… otherwise it is one more dry exercise in trying to be more efficient with usually never enough recognition or payoff in return.

Beyond the admonition, the encouragement, the challenge to just get on with it,  Tim’s “system reset” comments rearrange time management to serve your goals, really nothing else is as high a priority.  You got that, right?  Now what’s your goal again?

Less is More:

Think about this.  What if Tim is right and most of what is coming at you to spend time on is useless, and time is wasted in proportion to the amount that is available.

If that’s correct, then you understand why it is not only possible to accomplish more by doing less, it is mandatory as he puts it.  He suggests it will improve your personal productivity by 100- 500%.  I realized in reading that statement that I don’t have a way to measure my personal productivity.  Do you?  But anyway the carrot out there is that it’s going to get better.  It would be cool to be 100% more productive, right?

So in keeping with the less is the way to get more theme, I enjoyed these challenges, see if they are helpful for you:

1. Simplicity requires ruthlessness.

2. Ask yourself each day, “if this is the only thing I accomplished today, will I be satisfied with the day?”

3.  There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day.  Never.  This will force you to limit based upon your priorities.

4. Speaking of priorities, When you think you don’t have enough time, reframe that thought as an indicator of a lack of defined or applied priorities.

5.  Use the 80/20 rule  both ways.  That is to both focus on the 20% that produces 80% of the results and cut out the 20% that creates 80% of your hassle factor in life.

Interrupt Interruptions:

For most of us, more than 28% of our work day is consumed by interruptions.  Ugh.  That even beats time spent in commuting!  Here’s the interesting part.  Tim suggests a significant part of it is self induced, e.g. we can control it by how we manage information and interactions.  Here’s just 3 quick ones to throw at you, see if any of them help you get you into that “rethink” process:

1.  We repetitively consume too much information.  Start getting this under control by limiting e-mail consumption and production, the greatest single interruption in the modern world.  Check email only twice a day, and never check email  first thing in the morning, instead complete your most important task before 11am.  Oh, and be sure to send out a notification to others that you are checking email twice a day and for them to call you if they have an emergency that needs to be handled before then.

2. Manage your phone differently.  Screen incoming and limit outgoing phone calls.  Use two phone lines, one that everything goes to voice mail with a message that you’ll be checking twice a day, and the option, if it is an emergency, to call you on your 2nd line, your cell.   And, oh yea, don’t chit-chat on phone calls.  Get them to the point immediately.  Try prefacing with “I’m right in the middle of something, how can I help you in the next couple of minutes

3.  Master the art of refusal and avoiding of meetings.  Resolve to keep those around you focused and avoid all meetings, whether in person or remote, that do not have clear objectives.  If someone asks you to meet, ask that person to send you an email with an agenda to define the purpose, and ask for a defined end time.

Before we wrap up, check out the video below, I cover more material there, plus show you how to use ManagePro’s time management tools to help you get a leg up in the game.

Bottom Line:    Time management is all about practicing the 80-20 rule to prioritize time to achieve your goals and avoid the interruptions that so easily impact our schedule.  Manage your time, set the rules in your favor, or more specifically, in favor of your goals and the activities that generate the big results… and do not let people interrupt you from that mission.  You will like the results… and it will mean you’ll change some of your thinking, assumptions and practices when it comes to what you do with your time.


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