Productive Magazine #4
Fourth issue of Productive! Magazine featuring an exclusive interview with top simplicity blogger Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame. This issue's theme is working from home, efficient traveling and outsourcing tasks and projects. Enjoy and make sure to bookmark this one and share with your friends!
� Leo Babauta � Michael Hyatt � Stephanie Dickison � Mike Vardy � � Art Carden � Steven Aitchison � Michael Sliwinski � www.ProductiveMagazine.com #4 (April 2010) magazine Leo BaBauta Exclusive Interview on Zen, Habits and Minimalism 4 Zen To Done 4 Working from Home 4 Delegating without a staff 4 Review of Four Hour Workweek Sponsored by magazine From the Editor Working Effectively from Home, making Dreams Come True By Michael Sliwinski, Editor I t is my great pleasure to give you this fourth issue of Productive! Magazine. I know, I know, we have procrastinated with this one and from home, including yours truly. That's why there's always a challenge of balance between work and private life. The two boundaries blend and very often it's hard to draw the lines between the two. popular blogs on the Internet, Zen Habits The main rationale behind working from directly from his home office on the beautiful island of Guam or from San Francisco (OK, not yet, but he is moving there this year!). We also have Stephanie Dickinson, one of the most famous homeoffice workers on the planet, author of ,,The 30-Second Commute:A Non-Fiction Comedy about Writing and Working From Home". To cover the theme of productivity of the self-employed home-worker, we've got First off, we've got �ber-blogger Leo Babauta who writes one of the most Art Carden's review of the New York Times bestseller ,,The Four-Hour Workweek" home is not a way to save money. It is mostly a lifestyle choice and I love it. I fell in love with the concept when I was in college writing my final thesis on Teleworking (Telecommuting). This is why the theme of this issue of Productive! Magazine is ,,working from home" and we have great experts to help me tell more about the subject. released it later than expected, but it is finally here, on your screens. Enjoy. Because of so many things happening in my private life, ie. my responsibilities as a father and our move to a new apartment, the time I had left to work has been used to focus on my company, my web app - Nozbe and the new web app that we are going to release this year. Let's hope it's the last delay in the Productive! Magazine history. Now on to this issue's theme. Let's start with my own company - no, we don't have a physical ,,central office". Everyone works #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine and great articles by regular contributors. Michael Hyatt, my personal role model, will tell you how to delegate even when you don't have anyone working for you. Similarly, Mike Vardy, our laughter guru, will tell you how to outsource... in a very humorous way and Steven Aitchison will tell you how to make irrational thoughts go away. I will also contribute twofold - with my personal take on Leo Babauta's Zen-To-Done methodology and my continued efforts to bring you the best productivity tips and tricks in less than two minutes. On video. Hope you will enjoy this issue of Productive! Magazine as much as we have preparing it. We'll try to make the next one happen sooner rather than later and if you have any comments or feedback, feel free to post it on our web site. Yours productively, Michael Sliwinski (@MichaelNozbe) Founder, Nozbe � Simply Get It Done! #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Table of contents Productive!Magazine www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsor: www.Nozbe.com 05 08 10 12 14 15 Michael Sliwinski Zen, Habits and Minimalism Interview with Leo Babauta Michael Sliwinski Zen To Done � 2 weeks to instill a habit � early rising and blogging Michael Hyatt How to delegate if you don't have a staff? Stephanie Dickison How to Be Productive and Balanced When Working from Home: A Field Report Mike Vardy Poutsourcing: Outsourcing EffTD Style! Your Online tool for Getting Things Done � available in your computer browser, mobile phone and on your iPhone. Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski firstname.lastname@example.org Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich email@example.com www.blog.mediafun.pl Editorial Team: Lori Anderson Delfina Gerbert Dustin Wax 16 18 Art Carden Reflections on a Publishing Sensation: The Four-Hour Workweek in Retrospect Steven Aitchison 7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life Tribute: Marc Orchant (1957-2007) The Productive!Magazine is dedicated to the memory of a productivity guru, great blogger and a very close friend, Marc Orchant who passed away on 9th December 2007. All articles are copyright � by their respective authors. Productive!Magazine is copyright � by Michael Sliwinski. Getting Things Done� and GTD� are the registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Michael Sliwinski Early rising, 2010 resolutions and traveling #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Productive! Magazine interview with Leo Babauta Habits and Minimalism Be passionate about what you're doing. If you're not, it'll be hard to motivate yourself. If you're excited about your work, you'll jump out of bed to do it. Zen, Michael Sliwinski: Let's start with your blog � you launched it about the same time I launched Nozbe (early 2007) and I've been tracking it from the beginning and the growth over 2007 has been incredible, from just a couple of hundred of subscribers to tens of thousands by the end of the year, how did you do it? What were the key components to your success? Leo Babauta: The main thing I've done is try to produce extremely useful posts, perhaps 4-5 times a week. I experimented a lot by doing different types of posts and posting schedules, and I've found what's optimal for my readers, for growth, and for my schedule. The key part of this strategy is giving away really useful content that solves readers' problems. If you keep doing that, they'll keep coming back, and once you get a decent reader base these types of useful posts also tend to get popular on social media sites such as delicious, stumbleupon, digg and twitter. Of course, you have to let people know you're out there, so my second winning strategy has been to write as many guest posts as possible. When you write a guest post for another blog, preferably one that has a lot of the type of readers you're going after, you'll reach a lot of new readers and you'll show them just how great your content is. Then they'll go to your site, and if you've created a lot of great content there too, they're likely to subscribe. I've tried other strategies as well, but these two strategies are what have been most effective for me. Michael: Your blog is more than 2 years online now and it's one of the top blogs on the Internet (not just among productivity blogs), I see you've changed your design to be more ,,zen" like, what is your next by Michael Sliwinski step? Next action? What plans do you have for your blog this year and beyond? #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Leo: I don't really plan too far ahead -when I do that, the plans tend to fall apart. I prefer to just focus on what I'm doing right now and see what opportunities come up, going with the flow as it were. I'm really enjoying how things are going with Zen Habits right now, and I don't have plans to ,,improve" the blog. I hope to keep writing about this stuff and having fun doing it. However, I'm working right now on a couple of seminars to help people achieve their goals - similar to what I'm doing on the blog, but more hands on. Michael: Your book, ,,The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential...in Business and in Life" has become a bestseller, when did you manage to write it and what did the process look like? Was it hard to get the book published? Did the success of your e-books help? What would you advise wannabe-authors based on your experience? Leo: I tell you, it's tough to write a book and run a busy blog at the same time. The next time I do it, I will probably set up a bunch of posts in advance and take 23 week ,,vacations" to focus on the book writing. I tried to do both at the same time and I had a difficult time. I would write my book in the morning and then do blog things in the late morning and afternoon. Sometimes I'd get lazy with one or the other and they'd suffer.:) Surprisingly, it wasn't hard to get published - what really helped was that my blog was finding some amazing success, really resonating with readers. As a result I had some agents and publishers approach me about doing a book on similar topics, and I jumped at the chance. I'd advise potential authors to build up a blog, and find a topic and angle that is different from whatever else is out there something that really resonates with you personally, and with your readers. That's what worked for me, and once I found some success, it was an easy sell to publish the book. Leo: It's tough if your spouse doesn't support you, or if you have different Michael: I'm struggling to become an early riser myself but I always fail (after several attempts). The main problem is family support (lack of it � my wife likes to stay up late) and even if I do wake up early, I struggle to get anything done, I'm sleepy... can you help? Michael: Talking about your family life, you have a house full of people, wife and six kids � I have just one daughter and she is a very lovely distraction, but I sometimes struggle to get anything done because of her (or thanks to her!) If you write from home, how do you mange to get stuff done and separate family life and professional life? me is asleep, when I can enjoy the quiet and read or meditate or exercise or write, and really focus. My morning routine changes frequently, as I like to change things up. Also, I should note that I wake at different times sometimes 4 a.m., sometimes 4:30 or 5, sometimes as late as 6 or 7 if I stayed up late for some reason. Right now, my morning routine is: wake, have coffee and read, meditate (sometimes) and give gratitude, write, exercise, then do email and Twitter, then write again. [Editor's note: after the interview I actually tried again and succeeded to become an early riser, you can read all about it in my article about Zen To Done in this issue of the Productive! Magazine] by waking (say) 15 minutes earlier until I adjust to that, and then another 15 minutes earlier and so on. If I'm really sleepy, it helps to get some coffee in me and have a gradual period where I wake up and read and allow my mind to activate before trying to work. Also, getting to bed earlier helps. Leo: I really love the early morning hours - a time when most of the world around Michael: I know from your blog that you're an early riser and you're waking up at crazy 4.30 am. What do you do that early in the morning? What does your morning look like? sleeping schedules. It's really important that you enlist her help, tell her what you want to do and why and ask for her to help you succeed. She shouldn't have to change her pattern, but maybe she can help you somehow. As for being sleepy when you awake... what helps me is adjusting gradually, I'd advise potential authors to build up a blog, and find a topic and angle that is different from whatever else is out there. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Leo: Waking early is the first thing I do I let my wife and kids sleep in and that allows me to get my most important work done while the house is still quiet. When the house is noiser, I do things that don't require as much concentration, such as email or Twitter. I'm also good at getting into a zone and tuning out the noises. Also, I'm lucky to have a wife who is very good at helping me to focus by getting the kids to quiet down or play or do schoolwork in their rooms. Finally, I like to get out of the house, if not every day then several times a week, by walking to a coffee shop and really allowing myself to focus on writing for a couple hours. Michael: My application, Nozbe, was initially inspired by the GTD (Getting Things Done) method by David Allen and I'm a long-time GTD advocate. You seem to have come up with a derivative method called ZTD � Zen To Done. How does it differ from GTD and why is this method superior in your view? on, and really pour yourself into it. Leo: Zen To Done was conceived as a way to take the most useful concepts of GTD but address some of the main problems I and others found while implementing GTD: that it's hard to stay on the system for long, that things tend to stay complicated even if you're organized, that the system doesn't distinguish between what's important and what's not. I combined some of the best concepts of GTD with principles from Stephen Covey as well as my own philosophy of simplifying and forming new habits. Zen To Done shows you how to form new habits, one at a time, which habits are most important, how to simplify, and how to focus on the important. Zen To Done isn't necessarily superior to GTD, but it's an alternative for people like me who have a hard time implementing the entire system at once, who want to find simplicity in a complicated life, who want to focus on the important things rather than everything that comes at us. Leo: I went a good 6-7 years without traveling, as I was trying to live more frugally. However, now that I've eliminated my debt, I've traveled to a few places in the last year or so: Thailand, Hawaii and Japan. I loved those places. I hope to visit the States soon - definitely the West Coast, where I have family, but if I can visit the Michael: You live on a small island of Guam but now with the success of your blog and book, you've travelled ,,virtually" to every corner of the planet. Do you plan to do any travels physically as well? Any plans for the future? After all, your job of writing can be done anywhere there is a laptop and an Internet connection. 3. Be passionate about what you're doing. If you're not, it'll be hard to motivate yourself. If you're excited about your work, you'll jump out of bed to do it. When you find yourself dreading something, you either need to find a way to get excited about it, or find something else that excites you more. a deeper part of me wants to move away from productivity and talk about simplicity, about living a life of less, about living a more sustainable life, about finding true happiness. In the end I will probably let my readers decide for me.:) Leo: Sure � there are many things I've shared on Zen Habits and in my book, `The Power of Less', but here are three simple tips that really work for me: 1. Focus on the most important tasks: pick three Most Important Tasks each day and do those first. It will make you much more effective than trying to tackle everything. 2. Single-task. Don't try to do email and write and phone and Twitter and surf the web all at once. Close down everything else, pick one important task to focus Leo: I've been doing some soulsearching, trying to figure this out. Part of me wants to write a second book in a similar vein to the first book - productivity methods simplified, but to add a whole new dimension to it. But Michael: OK, now that your book is a bestseller, is there going to be a sequel? Or a completely new book? Any early scoop to the Productive! Magazine readers? Michael: Can you share with our readers your best productivity tricks? Tricks that keep on helping you be productive and that you wouldn't live without? Things that keep on coming and make the difference? Anything? [Editor's note: Some time after we had the interview Leo announced he'd be moving to San Francisco with his family mid 2010.] East Coast and places in between while I'm in the states, that would be great. And Europe has always been a dream of mine I hope to go there in the next year or two. Single-task. Don't try to do email and write and phone and Twitter and surf the web all at once. Leo Babauta Leo Babauta lives in Guam (soon moving to San Francisco) and is married with six kids. He's a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and he loves writing Zen Habits - his blog that in a couple of years became one of the top blogs on the Internet with 100K+ readers subscribed and counting. He's a published author of a bestselling book ,,Power of Less". Leo's blog: ZenHabits.net Mnmlist.com, WriteToDone.com Leo on Twitter: @Zen_Habits #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Zen To Done � 2 weeks to instill a habit � early rising and blogging I started waking up at 5 am in the morning to start off my day with at least 2-3 productive hours before my ladies (my wife and my 1-year old daughter) woke up. Two weeks later I started blogging regularly and if you're a subscriber to my blog you know that I post almost daily (resulting in 3-5 posts a week) and I love it. I Michael Sliwinski To learn more about my new early riser habit, watch this short 2-minute video. we move into our new apartment near a beautiful park, perfect for runners. It's time to lose some weight and get in shape now that the winter is almost over. Fingers crossed � wish me luck! t all started after I carefully read the ZTD (Zen To Done) course by Leo Babauta where he explained that it's impossible to develop all the habits Blogging every day about stuff that matters (for me at least) I always wanted to blog more and I felt I always had something to share with the community... but never got to it. It was too much work maintaining my Nozbe blog, Productive Magazine blog and Productive Show blog. So what did I do? I went with the easiest blogging platform possible � Posterous � I just send emails to my blog and they are being converted into blog post. It's really easy � I just have to write we want at once. Instead we should focus on one habit at a time and try it for 30 days and later pick up another one. Start your 30 or 14 day trial on one habit now! Start today! That's right, if I can wake up at 5 am and blog every day, it means it's really doable. You can do it, too! Take the 30-day trial if you have the patience, or 14-days if you feel confident enough. Remember, one habit at a time and you're good to go! Godspeed! Question: Which habit did you want to cultivate but never got to doing it? What do you want to start with? Why not today? I'm not that patient � I bent the rule to two weeks, I'm sorry Leo. See, I'm not a patient man. I want to be and feel better right now. So I bent the rule a little and started introducing new habits as soon as I felt the old ones already moreor-less put in place. This resulted in 2-week intervals of introducing new habits. Early riser waking up at 5 am every morning OK, it wasn't that easy. I'm not an early riser by design, I used to go to sleep at 2-3 am. But I managed to change that and I finally got the support I needed from my family, too. My wake-up time depended upon when I went to sleep, so when I went to sleep around midnight, I'd wake up at 6 am. Then I'd try to go to sleep around 11 pm to be able to wake up at 5 am. Most of the time I succeeded. The best part is, that right now I'm used to waking up early and I get really productive in the mornings with all my email, IM, Twitter etc. closed and I focused only on tasks I planned the evening before. I sleep on average 56 hours per day and on weekends I sleep around 8 hours so I guess it's pretty good for my body too. one more email message each day. And this one's to my blog. It usually takes me between 15-30 minutes. And when someone posts a comment, I reply via email too! This way I totally eliminated the psychological barrier to blogging for myself and after two weeks, this habit is set and I keep on writing blog posts. Cool! Michael Sliwinski Michael Sliwinski is your chief editor of the Productive! Magazine and now a host of the new Productive! Show site. Every day he's trying to help people get more done with his web (and iPhone) application Nozbe.com Michael's Blog: MichaelNozbe.com Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe Now what? Let's start running! I want to start jogging now. Did I put on weight recently due to lack of sports? Check. Did I always want to be a runner but never got to it? Check. Did I buy a red iPod nano with Nike+ for my wife and myself? Check. Do I have a nice big park near my house where I can run? Check. So what's stopping me? Nothing. I'm going to start running. I'll start just after #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by Evernote.com � your external brain and perfect caption tool Integrates with Nozbe's Projects & Contexts Use Coupon code EVERNOZBE to save 10% and start getting things done with Nozbe and Evernote magazine How to delegate if you don't have a staff? Whenever I write or speak on the topic of delegation, I always get a question from someone who says, "But what if you don't have a staff? How can you delegate?" This question typically comes from staff people, technicians, stand-alone professionals, or start-up entrepreneurs. It's a great question. Michael Hyatt I 10 recommend seven strategies to those who feel the need to delegate but have no one to whom they can delegate: Believe it or not, some people may actually like the work you are not good at or don't like. Now completely delete your D-level tasks. Then go through and see how many of the C-level tasks you can delete. Should I file that email from Bill about the ABC account and the XYZ account in Bill's folder, ABC's folder, XYZ's folder, or all three? Instead, just move every processed email to one folder called "Processed Email" or, more simply, "Archive." When you need to refer back to the email, let your software's built-in search function do the heavylifting. It will find the email in less than a second. 1. Triage your to-do list. Go through each item and assign it one of the following four letters: A � tasks that are urgent. B � tasks that are important but not urgent. C � tasks that are somewhat important. D � tasks that are neither urgent nor important. 2. Use technology more efficiently. Many people don't avail themselves of the technology that is already at their fingertips. For example, why struggle with trying to setup a complex system of email file folders and then determine where each email goes? You think, #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine If all else fails, you may have to decline taking on other assignments and suffer the fallout. like the work you are not good at or don't like. (This is what makes the world go around.) Sometimes you can barter some work with a friend or colleague: "How about if I design your new blog in exchange for you preparing my taxes?" This is a little bit of the I'll-scratch-yourback-if-you-scratch-mine strategy. You might also consider interns or students who are desperate for the experience and a letter of recommendation. I have see this work very well, provided you are clear with the expectations up front. 7. Muster the courage to say "no." If all else fails, you may have to decline taking on other assignments and suffer the fallout. This comes down to priority management. You have to establish your boundaries and then (graciously) enforce them. There is too much at stake - your health, your family, your legacy, etc. - to do otherwise. Doing this has never hurt my career. In fact, I think it enabled me to get where I am today. It demonstrated to my boss that I had clear priorities and am willing to pay the price to live by them. I know this just scratches the surface, but I firmly believe in the principle that "he who is faithful in little is also faithful in much" (see Luke 16:10). If you are a good steward with what you have been given, you will eventually be given more. 5. Use variable cost alternatives. This is a phrase your bottom-line boss will appreciate. Good leaders and managers are loath to add "fixed overhead" (i.e., permanent positions). For starters, it doesn't provide enough flexibility if the workload is seasonal or there is a downturn in the economy. Instead, you should attempt to outsource specific projects or entire processes. Tim Ferriss, in his fascinating book, ,,The 4-Hour Workweek", describes in detail how to use a personal virtual assistant. He recommends GetFriday.com, a company in India that specializes in this. I used them a while back as an experiment. I liked their system, but found that my own real Michael Hyatt Michael Hyatt is the President and CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. Michael has written four books, one of which landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Hyatt serves as Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). He has been married to his wife, Gail, for twenty- eight years. They have five daughters and two grand daughters and live outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Michael's blog: MichaelHyatt.com Michael on Twitter: @MichaelHyatt 3. Negotiate out of previous assignments. Yes, you may have agreed to take on a certain project, but when your boss comes back with another one, you can say, "I'd be happy to do that. Is this project more important than the previous assignment you gave me? I honestly don't think I can do both. Which one would you prefer I do?" If she insists on both, you can at least insist she prioritize them and thus set her expectations so that you won't have to do both of them simultaneously. assistant was all I needed. 6. Appeal for more resources. Eventually, you may need to make the case to your boss (or yourself, if you are an entrepreneur) that you simply must hire someone. Before you can persuade your boss, you need to think like your boss. What is important to him? How does an additional person help him achieve his goals? I have written previously on the topic of "How to Get Your Boss's Approval When You Need It." While it doesn't address this need specifically, the principles and methodology still apply. 4. Ask for some volunteer help. Believe it or not, some people may actually #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 11 magazine How to Be Productive and Balanced When Working from Home: A Field Report Many people find it a challenge to work from home. It's full of distractions, they say. How do you work and not watch television or clean or spend the day at the movies, they ask. Stephanie Dickison Many people I know who work at home forget to eat. I too am guilty of this. I t's easy, I say, when you're your own boss � if you don't hustle for the work, you don't get paid. The dirt that's been tracked in from outside all It's only 8 a.m. and already you're feeling overwhelmed. But it is possible to be productive and balanced while working from home. Here's how: week, the dishes from last night's dinner party and the laundry that needs to be put away, gets left behind for an interview you've got to do and write an article, all by 5 o'clock today. That, on top of someone coming in to replace your bathroom faucet, and oh, two editors just emailed to say that they need major changes (read: complete rewrite) by 3 p.m. 1. Stick to your schedule Plan out your day and follow it, just as you would in a big office. Just because you're physically closer to the television doesn't mean that you should plunk yourself down for a dose of "reality" shows. You may 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Just because you're physically closer to the television doesn't mean that you should plunk yourself down for a dose of "reality" shows. Knowing that each day at home will be different and accepting that will get you through most of the frenzy. That and a pair of noise cancelling headphones. the day, organize your schedule around it and you'll see your productivity fly. And this way, you can work AND watch all the late-night TV you want. Sweet. 3. Eat something Many people I know who work at home forget to eat. And though I am a restaurant critic, food writer and avid cook, I too am guilty of this. Perhaps it's that we don't have coworkers to ask us to lunch, or a set time like noon or 1 p.m. to get us up out of our chairs. Office workers get two 15 minute breaks and at least half an hour for lunch. Give yourself at least the same courtesy. You'll be so much more productive. And hey, at least your sandwich won't be all squished and soggy. 6. Reward yourself Working from home, you may find yourself getting all wound up about stuff. Maybe it's the lack of coworkers to commiserate with or a little cabin fever (you've been inside working on this presentation for 3 solid days). The problem is often that because your office is at home, you can work any time and thus, you do � nights, weekends, in your "spare" time. The way to be productive and balanced is to reward yourself with something that you enjoy and isn't work related. It helps if it's out of the house too. Just a half an hour away from your desk can make a world of difference. Go for a walk, visit a library, take a class, meet a friend, whatever (However: skip getting blotto at the neighborhood bar, gorging yourself on a pint of ice cream or going to a strip club. We both know there's no work getting done after that). 4. Get comfortable One of the bonuses of working at home is that you can cater your space to you. Want to have a huge desk with nothing on it? Go for it! Want a cozy little rolltop? Sure thing. Candles, music � whatever puts you in the mood! The other thing to remember is that you don't have to be a slave to your desk, afraid that your boss will wonder where you are. If you're rocking a laptop, take it to a coffee shop, library or friend's condo's lush lobby. The change of scenery will do you good, as will the walk - it will boost your energy and productivity. Plus, there are people out there. Go � Monkey Business - Fotolia.com Stephanie Dickison Author of ,,The 30-Second Commute: A NonFiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home" � works at the end of her bed at a little rolltop desk in her 1bedroom apartment that she shares with her fianc�, a television writer, and their 18 pound cat. Despite all of that, she manages to write a number of articles a day, blog, tweet, interview celebrities and cook and eat for a living. Her web site: StephanieDickison.com Stephanie on Twitter: @sdickison mingle for a bit - you haven't talked to anyone all day. have to have a talk with family, friends and colleagues to let them know that just because you're at home, it doesn't mean you can go out for a matinee � you are working. Of course, if you work in your pajamas, you can see how it might be confusing... 5. Choose your workday Despite having been conditioned by the working world, nothing says that you have to work 9 to 5 like everyone else. If you like greeting the day at 5 a.m., then start early. It means that you'll be finished early and have the rest of the day to do what you like. Many writers I know get up late and work late. They follow their body's natural rhythms, they tell me (not playing Assassin's Creed , ahem). Think about when you're most energized throughout 2. Expect the unexpected As much as you plan your day, you're bound to deal with many unexpected events � the city digging up your sidewalk for ethernet cables, visitors (see above), couriers, etc. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine Poutsourcing: Outsourcing EffTD Style! Outsourcing has become a huge time-saver in the last few years, utilized by high-falooting executives, jet-setters and professional wrestlers . For those of you who don't know what outsourcing is, it's basically a means of farming all the tasks that you don't want to do to someone else, normally overseas. The question I pose to you is: Why send your work overseas when you can keep it right here at home AND save money? Mike Vardy A nother element of Effing The DogTM is learning how to keep everything close to home so you can watch as your work gets on. He can do this because he has long standing tenure at his job (although if you work in a union environment your reasoning won't need to be as extensive, especially if the shop steward/union representative has the workstation next to yours � more on unions in a future post) and has seniority. Soon enough, Mr. Meany realizes his efforts are futile, and he moves on to the previously mentioned "alternatively-addituted" employees. A common misconception is that I strongly urge you to begin poutsourcing today. Start at home, maybe with the housework. As you get better at it, start doing it at work. Soon enough, you'll find yourself watching others scramble to get all the things done that you've managed to offload. And once you get tired of watching that, there's always those John Hughes' movies. done, and not have to lift a finger. This method is called poutsourcing. Simply put, poutsourcing is merely a way for you to offload some of the work you don't want to do to someone in your immediate vicinity. Here's an example of poutsourcing in the workplace: A worker (let's call him Mike for argument's sake) is given a task to perform by his boss (let's call him Mr. Meany, for argument's sake) that he simply does not want to do. Mike is aware that others in his workplace have far more of an attitude (let's call it ass-kissing, for argument's sake) that would make them more ideal to do this very task. Mike then begins to whine and moan about all of the things he has piled up, how he likely won't meet the deadline, how he doesn't quite comprehend the assignment � and so poutsourcing can't be utilized in the home. Not true. Teenagers and children do it all the time. As a parent myself with questionable disciplinary skills, I find myself watching my wife doing all sorts of activities that my daughter has poutsourced while I practice Effing The DogTM. I suggest you watch movies like Bratz and most John Hughes' films to get a better indication of what I'm talking about if this seems unclear � and watching movies is an Effing The DogTM hallmark. And Mr. Hughes has a lot of films, so that's an excellent place to start. Mike Vardy Eventually self-professed productivity expert, founder of the new productivity ideology: Eventualism. Mike's Blog: EffingTheDog.com Mike on Twitter: @MikeVardy 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Early rising, 2010 resolutions and traveling I Michael Sliwinski Efficient Traveling - Switching planes keep having fun recording the short 2-minute productivity videos and in theme with this issue of Productive Magazine I'd like to share some of my tips and tricks that make me a little more productive and/or efficient: Early Risers get things done I recorded this one between planes in the London airport. My tricks to move around airports with lots of security checks. Efficient Traveling - Double-backup This is a game changer, and anyone can do it. Even ,,owls" like me can make it happen. Michael Sliwinski Michael Sliwinski is your chief editor of the Productive! Magazine and This is what I do to make sure I have all of my data with me at all times... I can work like this on every mac. Hope you've enjoyed my videos, make sure to rate them and any comments or now a host of the new Productive! Show site. Every day he's trying to help people get more done with his web (and iPhone) application Nozbe.com Michael's Blog: MichaelNozbe.com Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe New Year's Resolutions GTD style I don't call them resolutions anymore, I create 12 milestones and try achieve each of these month after month. feedback are very welcome! Subscribe to this video podcast with iTunes or RSS reader. #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine Reflections on a Publishing Sensation: The Four-Hour Workweek in Retrospect Four-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss lives the dream. As far as I can tell, he coined the term "Lifestyle Design". I read the first edition of his book shortly after it was published, and I look forward to reading the new "revised and expanded" edition at my earliest opportunity. For those of you who haven't yet had a sip of the Kool-Aid, here's a summary and a few thoughts. As an economist I found the book absolutely fascinating and extremely instructive. I hope you agree. O Art Carden is oddly refreshing. He has said before in an interview that he abhors sloth, and you can tell from the way he writes the book. He is ferocious about guarding his time and making absolutely certain that none of it is wasted. He summarizes this on page 32: ,,(d)oing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is not laziness." The first element of his program is ,,Definition." Here is where the process will resonate with devotees of David Allen and Getting Things Done. Exploration is fun, but there are a lot of projects out It's easy to just be "busy," but busyness is not necessarily correlated with production. Ferriss notes that it is often the very opposite: ,,(b)eing busy is a form of laziness--lazy thinking and indiscriminate action" (p. 73). To address this, Ferriss proposes a useful thought The second part of his program is ,,Elimination." Here is where things get really interesting, and I especially enjoyed something that is near and dear to my economist's heart: his application of Pareto's Rule, which suggests that 80% of output comes from 20% of input. It's very easy to hide behind a ,,busy" screen--I know I certainly have--but often the things with which we are busy are, at best, unproductive and at worst, counterproductive. It's deceptively easy to go from task to task without doing anything important. Thus, Ferriss suggests a ,,low-information diet" based on the fact that ,,(m)ost information is time consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of experiment, asking what one would do if you had a heart attack and could only work for two hours a day. Or for two hours a week. This brings the relevant trade-offs into high relief. there that take more time and energy than they're worth. Before making a commitment, we should always ask ,,what is the desired outcome that makes all the effort worthwhile?" (p. 51). So what should we do? Once again, Ferriss suggests that we think hard about what we're doing and eliminate projects of relatively low yield in order to focus on projects of relatively high yield. In Ferriss's case, he saw that most of his revenue was coming from a few customers, while the bulk of his customers provided a lot of headaches and very little in return. He was able to improve his effectiveness by focusing his attention on the good customers and cutting the bad customers loose. ne of his most important contributions is philosophical, yet practical. Ferriss asks how we would live if retirement weren't an option and suggests what economists will instantly recognize as a pattern of consumption-smoothing. Ferriss trades off future income for present satisfaction in the form of ,,miniretirements" and suggests taking time now, while we're young enough to enjoy it. Mixing labor and leisure rather than bringing on either can probably raise our lifetime satisfaction levels. Let's dwell on this. First, he isn't being short-sighted. He is recognizing an important tradeoff. Second, he isn't giving us an airy exhortation to stop and smell the flowers. Rather, he's offering a concrete examination of what it means to really live. Finally, he isn't lazy. Far from it: Ferriss packs a lot of living into the 164 hours every week when he isn't working. Every business or personal development book worth its salt comes with a clever acronym. This book is no different. On pages 10-11, Ferriss offers his program for a New DEAL. Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation as the keys to his system. There is a certain ruthlessness about the whole thing that 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine Ferriss offers his program for a New DEAL. Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation as the keys to his system. your influence" (p. 83). Deciding what does and what does not need to be known is a skill that takes time to acquire but that pays high dividends in the form of (again) time to do things that we find useful and interesting. Further, information differs from knowledge. It is one thing to know facts. It is quite another to know how to use them. ,,Selective ignorance" allows you to filter your information input and ensure that only the really important stuff gets through. He doesn't use this terminology specifically, but Ferriss recognizes the irrelevance of sunk costs when he exhorts us to ,,Practice the art of nonfinishing" (p. 88). Just because you start something doesn't mean you should finish it. This runs directly counter to that noble advice we've always gotten about finishing what we start and it doesn't apply if it involves leaving someone in the lurch. A better habit would be to avoid starting things that aren't going to be worth finishing. Obviously, there is no way to know for certain which things these are, but it is worth trying to find out and to be diligent about making sure that something will be worth finishing before you agree to get involved. In the best-case scenario, you develop the habit of only starting things that are worth starting and then finishing them in a way that exceeds people's expectations. Ferriss's program complements other organizational programs like Getting Things Done and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Ferriss encourages a certain ruthlessness in deciding what and what not to do, discussing three kinds of tasks that get in the way of effectiveness: ,,time wasters," ,,time consumers," and ,,empowerment failures". The third aspect of Ferriss's DEAL is automation. Stuff has been defined, that which can be eliminated has been eliminated, and now it is time to automate what can be automated. Here he offers an important piece of advice and an important principle about organizational effectiveness. ,,Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined" (p. 122). He further notes that ,,(u)sing people to leverage a refined process multiplies Everything that comes across your desk will fall into one of three categories: things you should do, things someone else should do, and things no one should do. On page 122, Ferriss argues that ,,...unless something is well-defined and important, no one should do it." This stands in contrast to our normal ways of doing things. Deciding who should do something is a convenient rationale for meetings, but meetings are a fantastic way to waste time; Ferriss points out that ,,(m)eetings should only be held to make decisions about a pre-defined solution, not to define the problem" (p. 98). This is precisely the last thing we should do, but it provides an example of what happens when responsibilities are poorly defined. The third of these is important in any organization. ,,Empowerment" is a popular buzzword, but sometimes it fails to go beyond the buzzword stage. Empowerment that aligns people's costs and benefits with the decisions they are supposed to make is meaningful. We are surrounded by competent, intelligent people, and we need to be diligent about training them to make independent decisions. production; using people as a solution to a poor process multiplies problems" (p. 122). His last element is what he calls ,,liberation." The Four-Hour Workweek is a great book for the twenty-first century because this is a time that is by all measures historically unique. People have more discretionary time than ever before, and our social capital infrastructure is so far poorly-equipped to handle it. We can stop and smell roses, or we can write that book we always wanted to write, or we can...you name it. Our ancestors had no such luxury, as Deirdre McCloskey points out in her ongoing series of books on The Bourgeois Era: extremely low productivity meant that almost every waking hour had to be devoted to producing enough calories to stave off death. Thinking and choosing are difficult and sometimes unpleasant. The long-run benefits outweigh the short-run costs, however, and this is one of the core messages of The Four-Hour Workweek. Tim Ferriss offers a handy step-by-step guide to lifestyle design and to having what we want out of our short time on this rock. It's worth at least one reading-probably two, or maybe three--because it lays out principles and practices that bring us closer to the dream, whatever that dream may be. Art Carden Art Carden is Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and an Adjunct Fellow with the Oakland, CAbased Independent Institute. He is a regular contributor to Lifehack.org and Division of Labour. Art's page: ArtCarden.com Art on Twitter: @ArtCarden #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 1 magazine 7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life A lot of us suffer from irrational thinking which can affect our lives in a dramatic way. It can seperate the successful people in life from the unsuccessful ones, it can mean the difference between loving someone and hating someone, it can be the difference between peace and war. All wars, yes I mean ALL, are caused by irrational thinking. Steven Aitchison I � Liv Friis-larsen - Fotolia.com n this article I will look at seven common irrational thoughts and hopefully if you suffer from irrational thinking it will help you to change. 1. If someone criticizes me there must be something wrong with me There are many reasons why people criticise each other but it does not mean there is something wrong with you if they do criticize you. It means they have a differing opinion to you which is fantastic as without differing opinions in the world it would be a terrible place to live. 1 #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by magazine shit on his car his car would be floating It does not mean there is something wrong with you if people criticize you. 2. I must always seek approval in order to feel good about myself Many people have thought this at one time or another in their lives, however it becomes damaging when it is an entrenched belief. There is no way you can please everybody all the time so there is no point in even trying. Seek approval from yourself and if you're happy and feel good that's all that matters. Yes it's nice to have other people's opinions but don't go out of the way to please other people. recognizing that somebody else is better than you at something. in the stuff. So catch yourself with untrue statements such as: "always" e.g. I always get caught in the rain (If that were true you'd be a fish) "I never........................" e.g. "I can never get a parking space." (If that were true you wouldn't be able to go anywhere in your car without stopping). "I couldn't......" e.g. "I couldn't walk a mile" (have you tried?). "I'm hopeless at..............."e.g. "Oh, I am hopeless at talking in a group." (usually said while talking to a group of friends). "It's terrible......" e,g. "Isn't it terrible that it's raining?" (Eh! No, it's not terrible). There are a lot more irrational thoughts out there and you have to be conscious to catch yourself thinking them. I hope this article helps you to catch your irrational thoughts and brings your life into perspective. 6. I was rejected which means there is something wrong with me This is over generalizing like the person who was rejected in a relationship. They think it always happens to them and they must somehow be unworthy of love. People reject others due to differing ideals, just like you do, but it doesn't mean you are in any way unworthy it just means your ideals don't match someone else's ideals. 3. I won't try anything new unless I know I will be good at it Many people suffer from these types of thoughts. Trying new things in your life is a way for you to grow and learn more about yourself. You don't have to be good at everything in your life but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy new experiences even if you are not good at them. 7. If I feel happy about life something will go wrong Another common irrational thought. You deserve all the happiness you make for yourself; your past is your past. If there are still issues lurking from your past that is blocking you from feeling happy about today speak to someone about it. Do not tinge your present and future thoughts with bad memories or else your present and future thoughts will get infected and your life will always stay the same. 4. It's not my fault my life didn't go the way I wanted I have news for you; it is your fault. This doesn't make you bad and it doesn't mean you are a failure. You have control over your thoughts and therefore your actions. Your thoughts and actions will determine your life. If you constantly blame others for the way your life has turned out you have given all your power away to other people. Take the control back and take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. How to stop your irrational thoughts Simple! Just catch yourself every time you have an irrational thought or selfdefeating thought and replace the wording of your internal thought. For example, you are driving on a beautiful day and a bird decides to shit on your car. You might think: "That always happens to me, why do they always shit on my car?" To "It's about time I got the car washed". Look for the keywords in there "always", this is an untruth. If birds always Steven Aitchison Steven Aitchison is a personal development blogger. He currently works with the homeless dealing with issues such as drug addiction, and alcoholism. He has a degree in Psychology and has been a counsellor to alcoholics. Also an affiliate marketer and writer he has penned 3 books on personal development and making money online. Steven's Blog: Change Your Thoughts Steven on Twitter: @StevenAitchison 5. I am inferior to everyone else That's just the way you feel, which doesn't make it true. You have qualities that nobody else can touch and other people have qualities that you can't touch. Recognizing your strengths will build your self confidence; recognizing others strengths will build their self confidence, but don't put yourself down when #03/2009 www.ProductiveMagazine.com Sponsored by 19 Get the bestselling book by Leo Babauta... ...and live a simply efficient life!