I read the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss when I worked in a “regular job” and thought, I want my own business so I can do whatever I want whenever I want too! Damn, I was in for a surprise, after co-founding a business, work days turned into nights with gym or dinner breaks to punctuate pauses in the day. I didn’t get to do what I wanted whenever because of deadlines.
I would spend all hours on the computer, setting up WordPress, analytics, blogging, working on spreadsheets or reading legal docs. I also checked Facebook, followed people on Twitter, commented on mommy blogs as part of my social media business responsibilities.
In between was constant instant messaging (IM) or texting with friends and colleagues to ask advice, get feedback or catch up. When I had a deadline, I would put myself on a timeout, which means I didn’t allow myself to login to IM or text until after I finished the project. Magically the project would get done in about a third of the time it normally took when I was IMing, texting, or fielding phone calls. Often times, I would switch from email and IM to Skype in quick succession and before I knew it, lunch had past and my to do list was only getting longer.
Time Management Learned from Tim Ferriss:
- Plan and block times for doing important work. I modified this to focus on activities that bring in customers or revenue for the business as the top priorities.
- Do the important strategic stuff before delving into email.
- Delegate or outsource non strategic, time consuming activities, this is different for every business or person.
- When you delegate, give guidelines about what should be escalated to you and then give space for them to execute. No one likes a micro-manager.
- Schedule times to check and respond to email. I know that a lot of people treat email like instant messaging to hold a conversation about a topic. It’s often a time-sink if you respond to email as it’s happening because it’s never ending and sometimes a 5 minute call could resolve the issue with a follow-up email summarizing the actions you agreed upon. When you check email at specified times and you’re the decision maker you can read the entire thread with everyone’s input and give the final decision without being distracted with the real-time play-by-play.
- Schedule times to return phone calls or call people to clarify cryptic email.
- Turn the mobile phone silent without vibration during conference calls to stay focused.
- Schedule a morning during the week to catch up with friends using instant messaging. You have to have fun at work too.
These are some of the lessons I’ve learned around time management, so I would have more free time to enjoy the day and still stay super-productive. What are some of your favorite tips from the 4 Hour Workweek?
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