The last week has been surreal.
It all began with an e-mail from a reader last Thursday at 11:34pm tipping me off to the impossible. Fumbling for the remote, I caught it just in time — Jay Leno spoofing The 4-Hour Workweek! [Update: the link I had here has been deleted or exceeded bandwidth, so please post a new link in the comments if you find one!]
12 hours later I received a call from my publisher and was, 24 hours later, on a plane to NYC. Enter the Tim Ferriss and Donny Deutsch death match, moderated by Matt Lauer on the Today Show! It couldn’t have been better, and I ended up looking — comparatively — as calm as a Hindu cow. Warning: the videos seem to take eons to load.
Despite Donny’s aggressive style, and the many funny responses to it, he was actually very encouraging and nice both before and after the show. That evening, I was called to CNBC for “On The Money,” and I’m now booked solid with traditional media for tomorrow, at which point I’m disappearing to Costa Rica to purge my mind of massive media overdose. I’ve had enough. No mas!
I actually canceled Thursday and Friday in NYC to make this escape, and I’ll be doing the few radio shows that remain from beachside in Central America, after which it’s off to tour an active volcano and drink mojitos. The flights, which I bought three hours ago and include the return to CA, were the same cost as two more nights in my NYC hotel. Which would you rather have?
Better yet–what’s the worst thing that could happen if you arranged to take Thursday and/or Friday off?
Don’t answer now, but give it some thought. Those who dare (I encourage you) can give it a shot and share their results here.
Free Live Q&A with Tim Ferriss:
Due to the overwhelming number of e-mail my poor virtual assistants have been receiving, I’ll be holding my first ever live public Q&A to answer some of the most common questions about the 4HWW, some never-before-answered questions about origins and mistakes, and also questions from listeners! Sign up and send us your question here: http://www.timferrissbooktour.com/
“I must create a System, or be enslav’d by another Man’s.”
Forget the paperless office — it’s aiming too low.
Let’s take a look at the bigger picture: a paperless life. While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate three other nuisances: answering the phone, checking voicemail, and returning phone calls.
Is this possible? It is. The key to finding means to accomplish the “impossible” is asking the right question: “How would you do ____ for a week if your life depended on it?” Most things considered impossible just haven’t been looked at through the “how” lens of lateral thinking. Here are a few exercise questions for Paperless Life 101:
What would you have to do to never again touch mail?
What would you have to do to never touch another check?
What would you have to do to never touch another dollar?
Consider these questions as real questions. If I offered you a million dollars to do each of these things for a month, could you do it? Here are a just a few potential strategies for doing all three, then we’ll move on to phone games:
1. No more mail:
First, we need to cut out the crap — reduce volume. To begin, get removed from junk mail lists and common commercial mailing lists. There are a few ways to do this: 1) Get remove from the most common junkmail lists (this costs a few dollars in some cases) and check alternative strategies at www.stopjunkmail.org, 2) Use LifeLock, or another identity protection service, which automatically removes you from large mailing lists, one of the most common vehicle for identity theft. Last, we’ll have your mail forwarded to special processing centers, where it is all scanned and emailed to you. One popular service is called Remote Control Mail, and there are two big benefits to the time-focused and mobile-minded: relevant postal mail is funneled into e-mail, so you can check both email and postal mail at once (“batching” both at the same time); you can travel freely whenever and wherever without ever missing a letter.
2. No more checks — this is the easiest and most familiar:
-Set up online banking so you can issue checks directly from your bank, and set up automatic recurring payments
-Give your accountant power of attorney to sign specific checks (for tax documents, etc.) on your behalf. Power of attorney is no joke, so do your homework, but it can be used — as I do — with little risk. This approach not only cuts down on checks but also finance-related mail, which you can then forward to your accountant for handling start-to-finish.
3. No more cash — easier than you think:
I hate cash, and I hate coins even more. Why don’t men’s wallets have pockets? In all cases, getting rid of physical wampum is more about breaking personal habit than overcoming external resistance. For the last several months, I’ve replaced a brick of a wallet with a razor-thin money clip holding four credit cards (Business Platinum AMEX, business Chase Continental Mastercard, personal AMEX, personal Mastercard), one debit card for emergencies, and health/car insurance. I haven’t had a single problem. Some smaller shops will prefer that you cover coffee with cash, for example, but credit is accepted.
Paper cuts fingers and kills forests, but what of the damn 9-to-5 headaches? How can you eliminate the need to answer the phone, check voicemail, or return phone calls? Here are a few quick fixes:
1. No more answering the phone:
Use a service like GrandCentral to listen to voicemail as they’re being left. Each caller is required to announce their name before the call is dialed, and you are able to preview the name and send them to voicemail, where you can listen to their message as they leave it. If you want to speak with them, you can jump in. If not, let them leave a voicemail and — at the set times when you batch — go to step 2.
2. No more voicemail:
Get your voicemail delivered to your e-mail inbox, which then serves as your single communications “funnel”. This would be our single “bucket” in the parlance of David Allen, and our remote control postal mail joins the voicemail here: e-mail, postal mail, and voicemail all in one place. GrandCentral can e-mail audio files, but for those who want text, Simulscribe is a popular option with near 90% transcription accuracy. Stop managing separate inputs from office phone voicemail, cell phone voicemail, and multiple email accounts. Consolidate. To further encourage all people to communicate with you via e-mail, there are two approaches that I’ve used effectively: indicate in your voicemail greeting that people must leave their e-mail address, and respond to them via e-mail; use Jott to send a voice message to them as an e-mail.
3. No more returning calls:
Pinger enables you to send voicemail to people without calling them. Why would you want to do that? From their website:
We’ve all been there-you make a call and think to yourself, “please don’t pick up”, or you call and think “I hope I’m not interrupting…” With Pinger you leave the message at your convenience, and they get it at their convenience. Unlike voicemail, there is no ringing, no annoying prompts, no lengthy greetings — just your message.
None of these strategies are perfect, but they do demonstrate that none of our impossible questions are impossible to answer. Once you frame the question in terms of “how would I…?”, it is entirely possible to stop tolerating most of life’s annoyances and eliminate them altogether.
Did you like this? Please take a second to Digg it here and I’ll focus on more of doing the impossible, tech lifehacks, etc.
The news in brief: Google has come to a special arrangement with The 4-Hour Workweek to help readers test and improve the book’s core ideas. Before I give the details, let me explain why this is significant.
From Printing Press to Oligarchy to Digital Democracy
The dead-tree world is no more. Digital word-of-mouth — the most efficient and diffusive in history — fundamentally changes not only the marketing of books but their purpose altogether.
The publishing oligarchy has long had a top-down (guru endorses, minions purchase) push (paid advertising) model of information dissemination. The book was a self-contained product, and small offline communities were paid lip service but but viewed as consumers, not contributors.
In Publishing 2.0, books are manifestos — big idea seeds that pair naturally with global online communities that grow organically, not only spreading the “big idea” but improving upon it.
These distributed think tanks will want tools to test and explore their own variations, and it will be one of the forward-thinking author’s new responsibilities to find the best partners to cultivate this innovation. Harnessing the massive intellectual power of this “army of Davids” (quoting Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.com) will allow authors to initiate massive business and social change with speed and precision impossible even three years ago.
Here is the first set of tools to experiment with.
Google will provide a free $25 Google AdWords trial offer to all readers of The 4-Hour Workweek, allowing each person to experiment with the ideas and concepts in the book. I do not receive any commission or compensation for this. [NOTE: This offer is now expired]
“We’re excited by this arrangement because it allows 4-Hour Workweek readers to apply the ideas in the book immediately — and even improve them. This is really a glimpse into the future of book publishing,” says Trevor Claiborne, Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google. “Ideas are no longer confined to the printed page, and it’s the communities of readers who individualize the idea, repurpose it, and grow it.” Read More
I spend a good amount of time at the offices of Podtech, usually stealing their Diet Dr. Pepper and hanging out on their bean bags. A few weeks ago, however, I managed to do something resembling “work”: an interview with uberblogger Robert Scoble. This time, I was the interviewee! The camera work is much better than my Blair Witch Project attempts in previous posts.
The first interview below is 50 minutes in length and my favorite version by far — lots of goodies from both me and Robert, including everything from e-mail and personal outsourcing to the book launch and how to combine 4HWW with Getting Things Done (GTD). It’s a very fun conversation. The second version is just an 8-minute appetizer but still a fun diversion. Here are both options, the longer version first, and you might need to turn up your computer volume, as we had no lavalier mics:
Work only four hours a week with Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss wrote a New York Times best seller. Why is it so hot? Because it lays out how you can work less and enjoy life more. Here, I sit down with Tim and talk about some of the ideas he discusses in his book.
Editor’s Choice: Some insightful highlights of Tim Ferriss’ interview
If you’re really following Tim’s plan, you’ll just watch the highlights of the interview I did with this New York Times’ best selling author. He wrote the book on the 4-hour Workweek, and here you get the highlights of an interview I did with him recently.