Over the holiday I blew through the book, The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss in about three days. It’s interesting because a great deal of what he talks about doesn’t apply to me. For instance, he gives rather compelling advice on how to create small businesses, automate them and then travel the world most of the time. Cool, but not something that I’ll be doing any time soon.

I did, however, grasp several concepts that I’m trying to implement in my life at the moment. Here they are:

Don’t let email control you. I’m bad about this. Since I read the book I’ve picked 2-3 times a day for email, blocked them out on my calendar and only done email during those times. I turned off email alerts on my phone and even moved the email icon (GASP) off of my homescreen. I have no idea if I’ll be able to stick to this, but so far I’m enjoying the freedom of not having to check email constantly.

It’s ok – in fact it might be better – for your “job” to be something that fulfills you immensely. With starting Dragon Army, one of my top goals was to not let my mind think about the company ALL THE TIME. In the past I attributed that to my job meaning too much in my life and that being a problem. Now, instead of trying to hope my job isn’t essentially also my hobby, I’m embracing that but I’m compartmentalizing the time I spend on it. This allows me to spend more, focused time with my family which is the most important thing to me. Not checking email all the time is making a big difference with this particular effort.

Observe the 80/20 rule. Ferriss talks a great deal about the 80/20 rule. Things like: You wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. 80% of the wealth is held by 20% of the population. 20% of the things you do at work produce 80% of the results. That last example is something I’ve started working on. I’m focusing on how I spend my time each day and trying to make sure the things I do are the important things, the things that produce the most value. It’s an interested exercise to evaluate how you spend your time and really assess which things are moving the needle and which efforts are just “busy work”.

Use my calendar to assess how I spend my time. This isn’t something Ferriss really talked about but his book inspired me to do it. I’m going to share more on this in a later post, but essentially I spend time looking at my calendar for the current week and the following week, noting the different types of activities I have slotted and making sure I’m spending my time efficiently.

Start each day not with email but with thinking about the big things I want to accomplish that day. Each morning I’ve tried to a) blog, b) look at my calendar and think about the big things I need to do, and c) read a little. I try to do all these things before I look at email or start doing “busy work”. So far I’ve been good about a) and b), but rarely have I found the time made sure that I read. I want to read some because I think it will help my mind start thinking rather than just reacting.

If you want to read more about Tim Ferriss and his inspiring stories and tips/tricks to be more productive, check out his blog.