Page 1

• Leo Babauta • Michael Hyatt • Stephanie Dickison • Mike Vardy • • Art Carden • Steven Aitchison • Michael Sliwinski •


L eo 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

#4 (April 2010)


From the Editor

Working Effectively from Home, making Dreams Come True By Michael Sliwinski, Editor


t is my great pleasure to give you

from home, including yours truly. That’s

this fourth issue of Productive!

why there’s always a challenge of balance

Magazine. I know, I know, we have

between work and private life. The two

procrastinated with this one and

boundaries blend and very often it’s hard to

released it later than expected, but it is

draw the lines between the two.

finally here, on your screens. Enjoy.

popular blogs on the Internet, Zen Habits The main rationale behind working from

Because of so many things happening in

home is not a way to save money. It is

beautiful island of Guam or from San

my private life, ie. my responsibilities as a

mostly a lifestyle choice and I love it. I fell in

Francisco (OK, not yet, but he is moving

father and our move to a new apartment,

love with the concept when I was in college

there this year!). We also have Stephanie

the time I had left to work has been used to

writing my final thesis on Teleworking

Dickinson, one of the most famous home-

focus on my company, my web app - Nozbe

(Telecommuting). This is why the theme

office workers on the planet, author of „The

and the new web app that we are going

of this issue of Productive! Magazine is

30-Second Commute:A Non-Fiction Comedy

to release this year. Let’s hope it’s the last

„working from home” and we have great

about Writing and Working From Home”.

delay in the Productive! Magazine history.

experts to help me tell more about the subject.

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

directly from his home office on the


Sponsored by

To cover the theme of productivity of the self-employed home-worker, we’ve got

First off, we’ve got über-blogger Leo Babauta who writes one of the most

Art Carden’s review of the New York Times bestseller „The Four-Hour Workweek”


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!


Sponsored by


Table of contents

05 08 10

Productive!Magazine Sponsor:

Your Online tool for Getting Things Done – available in your computer browser, mobile phone and on your iPhone.

Michael Sliwinski Zen, Habits and Minimalism Interview with Leo Babauta

Chief Editor: Michael Sliwinski Technical Editor: Maciej Budzich

Michael Sliwinski Zen To Done – 2 weeks to instill a habit – early rising and blogging

Editorial Team: Lori Anderson

Michael Hyatt How to delegate if you don’t have a staff?

Delfina Gerbert

Dustin Wax


Stephanie Dickison How to Be Productive and Balanced When Working from Home: A Field Report


Mike Vardy Poutsourcing: Outsourcing EffTD Style!


Art Carden Reflections on a Publishing Sensation: The Four-Hour Workweek in Retrospect


Michael Sliwinski Early rising, 2010 resolutions and traveling


Steven Aitchison 7 Irrational thoughts that disrupt your life


Sponsored by

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.


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.

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?


Sponsored by

magazine Michael: I know from your blog that

sleeping schedules. It’s really important

when I do that, the plans tend to fall apart.

Leo: I don’t really plan too far ahead --

you’re an early riser and you’re waking

that you enlist her help, tell her what you

I prefer to just focus on what I’m doing

up at crazy 4.30 am. What do you do that

want to do and why and ask for her to help

right now and see what opportunities

early in the morning? What does your

you succeed. She shouldn’t have to change

come up, going with the flow as it were.

morning look like?

her pattern, but maybe she can help you

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

somehow. Leo: I really love the early morning hours - a time when most of the world around

As for being sleepy when you awake... what helps me is adjusting gradually,

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:

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.

The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the 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

me is asleep, when I can enjoy the quiet

by waking (say) 15 minutes earlier


and read or meditate or exercise or write,

until I adjust to that, and then another

and really focus.

15 minutes earlier and so on. If I’m really

I tried to do both at the same time and I had a difficult time. I would write my

My morning routine changes frequently,

sleepy, it helps to get some coffee in me

book in the morning and then do blog

as I like to change things up. Also, I should

and have a gradual period where I wake

things in the late morning and afternoon.

note that I wake at different times -

up and read and allow my mind to activate

Sometimes I’d get lazy with one or the

sometimes 4 a.m., sometimes 4:30 or

before trying to work. Also, getting to bed

other and they’d suffer.:)

5, sometimes as late as 6 or 7 if I stayed

earlier helps.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to get

up late for some reason. Right now, my morning routine is: wake, have coffee

blog was finding some amazing success,

and read, meditate (sometimes) and give

tried again and succeeded to become an

really resonating with readers. As a result

gratitude, write, exercise, then do email

early riser, you can read all about it in my

I had some agents and publishers approach

and Twitter, then write again.

article about Zen To Done in this issue of the Productive! Magazine]

me about doing a book on similar topics, Michael: I’m struggling to become an

and I jumped at the chance.

early riser myself but I always fail (after

Michael: Talking about your family life,

a blog, and find a topic and angle that is

several attempts). The main problem is

you have a house full of people, wife

different from whatever else is out there -

family support (lack of it – my wife likes

and six kids – I have just one daughter

something that really resonates with you

to stay up late) and even if I do wake up

and she is a very lovely distraction, but

personally, and with your readers. That’s

early, I struggle to get anything done, I’m

I sometimes struggle to get anything

what worked for me, and once I found

sleepy... can you help?

done because of her (or thanks to her!) If

I’d advise potential authors to build up

you write from home, how do you mange

some success, it was an easy sell to publish Leo: It’s tough if your spouse doesn’t

the book.

support you, or if you have different

[Editor’s note: after the interview I actually

published - what really helped was that my


Sponsored by

to get stuff done and separate family life and professional life?

magazine Michael: Can you share with our readers

East Coast and places in between while

I let my wife and kids sleep in and that

Leo: Waking early is the first thing I do -

your best productivity tricks? Tricks that

I’m in the states, that would be great. And

allows me to get my most important work

keep on helping you be productive and

Europe has always been a dream of mine -

done while the house is still quiet.

that you wouldn’t live without? Things

I hope to go there in the next year or two.

When the house is noiser, I do things that don’t require as much concentration,

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

such as email or Twitter. I’m also good at getting into a zone and tuning out the

Leo: Sure – there are many things I’ve

Francisco with his family mid 2010.]

noises. Also, I’m lucky to have a wife who

shared on Zen Habits and in my book, ‘The

is very good at helping me to focus by

Power of Less’, but here are three simple

Michael: OK, now that your book is

getting the kids to quiet down or play or

tips that really work for me:

a bestseller, is there going to be a sequel?

do schoolwork in their rooms.

1. Focus on the most important tasks: pick

Or a completely new book? Any early scoop

Finally, I like to get out of the house, if

three Most Important Tasks each day

not every day then several times a week,

and do those first. It will make you much

by walking to a coffee shop and really

more effective than trying to tackle

allowing myself to focus on writing for


a couple hours.

to the Productive! Magazine readers? Leo: I’ve been doing some soulsearching, trying to figure this out.

2. Single-task. Don’t try to do email and

Part of me wants to write a second

write and phone and Twitter and surf the

book in a similar vein to the first book

Michael: My application, Nozbe, was

web all at once. Close down everything

- productivity methods simplified, but

initially inspired by the GTD (Getting

else, pick one important task to focus

to add a whole new dimension to it. But

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

Single-task. Don’t try to do email and write and phone and Twitter and surf the web all at once.

superior in your view? on, and really pour yourself into it.

a deeper part of me wants to move away

Leo: Zen To Done was conceived as

3. Be passionate about what you’re doing.

a way to take the most useful concepts

If you’re not, it’ll be hard to motivate

about living a life of less, about living

of GTD but address some of the main

yourself. If you’re excited about

a more sustainable life, about finding true

problems I and others found while

your work, you’ll jump out of bed

happiness. In the end I will probably let my

implementing GTD: that it’s hard to stay

to do it. When you find yourself dreading

readers decide for me.:)

on the system for long, that things

something, you either need to find a way

tend to stay complicated even if you’re

to get excited about it, or find something

organized, that the system doesn’t

else that excites you more.

distinguish between what’s important and

from productivity and talk about simplicity,

Leo Babauta

Michael: You live on a small island of

Leo Babauta

Guam but now with the success of your

lives in Guam

GTD with principles from Stephen Covey as

blog and book, you’ve travelled „virtually”

(soon moving to

well as my own philosophy of simplifying

to every corner of the planet. Do you plan

San Francisco)

and forming new habits. Zen To Done

to do any travels physically as well? Any

and is married

shows you how to form new habits, one at

plans for the future? After all, your job

with six kids.

a time, which habits are most important,

of writing can be done anywhere there is

He’s a writer

how to simplify, and how to focus on the

a laptop and an Internet connection.

and a runner and a vegetarian and he

what’s not. I combined some of the best concepts of

important. Zen To Done isn’t necessarily superior

loves writing Zen Habits - his blog that Leo: I went a good 6-7 years without

in a couple of years became one of the

to GTD, but it’s an alternative for

traveling, as I was trying to live more

top blogs on the Internet with 100K+

people like me who have a hard time

frugally. However, now that I’ve eliminated

readers subscribed and counting. He’s

implementing the entire system at

my debt, I’ve traveled to a few places in

a published author of a bestselling

once, who want to find simplicity in

the last year or so: Thailand, Hawaii and

book „Power of Less”.

a complicated life, who want to focus

Japan. I loved those places. I hope to visit

Leo’s blog:

on the important things rather than

the States soon - definitely the West Coast,,

everything that comes at us.

where I have family, but if I can visit the

Leo on Twitter: @Zen_Habits


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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. Michael Sliwinski


t all started after I carefully read the ZTD (Zen To Done) course by Leo

To learn more about my new early riser habit, watch this short 2-minute video.

Babauta where he explained that it’s

we move into our new apartment near a beautiful park, perfect for runners. It’s time to lose some weight and get in shape

Blogging every day about stuff that

now that the winter is almost over. Fingers

we want at once. Instead we should focus

matters (for me at least)

crossed – wish me luck!

on one habit at a time and try it for 30

I always wanted to blog more and I felt

days and later pick up another one.

I always had something to share with the

Start your 30 or 14 day trial on one

community... but never got to it. It was too

habit now! Start today!

I’m not that patient – I bent the rule

much work maintaining my Nozbe blog,

That’s right, if I can wake up at 5 am and

to two weeks, I’m sorry Leo.

Productive Magazine blog and Productive

blog every day, it means it’s really doable.

See, I’m not a patient man. I want to be

Show blog. So what did I do? I went with

You can do it, too! Take the 30-day trial if

and feel better right now. So I bent the rule

the easiest blogging platform possible –

you have the patience, or 14-days if you

a little and started introducing new habits

Posterous – I just send emails to my blog

feel confident enough. Remember, one

as soon as I felt the old ones already more-

and they are being converted into blog

habit at a time and you’re good to go!

or-less put in place. This resulted in 2-week



impossible to develop all the habits

intervals of introducing new habits. It’s really easy – I just have to write

Early riser waking up at 5 am every

one more email message each day. And

to cultivate but never got to doing it?


this one’s to my blog. It usually takes

What do you want to start with? Why not

OK, it wasn’t that easy. I’m not an early riser

me between 15-30 minutes. And when


by design, I used to go to sleep at 2-3 am.

someone posts a comment, I reply via

But I managed to change that and I finally got

email too! This way I totally eliminated

the support I needed from my family, too.

the psychological barrier to blogging for myself and after two weeks, this habit is

My wake-up time depended upon when

set and I keep on writing blog posts. Cool!

I went to sleep, so when I went to sleep

Michael Sliwinski Michael Sliwinski is your

around midnight, I’d wake up at 6 am.

Now what? Let’s start running! I want

chief editor of

Then I’d try to go to sleep around 11 pm

to start jogging now.

the Productive!

to be able to wake up at 5 am. Most of the

Did I put on weight recently due to lack

Magazine and

time I succeeded. The best part is, that

of sports? Check. Did I always want to be

now a host

right now I’m used to waking up early and

a runner but never got to it? Check. Did

of the new

I get really productive in the mornings

I buy a red iPod nano with Nike+ for my

Productive! Show site. Every day he’s

with all my email, IM, Twitter etc. closed

wife and myself? Check. Do I have a nice

trying to help people get more done

and I focused only on tasks I planned

big park near my house where I can run?

with his web (and iPhone) application

the evening before. I sleep on average 5-


6 hours per day and on weekends I sleep around 8 hours so I guess it’s pretty good for my body too.

Question: Which habit did you want


Michael’s Blog: So what’s stopping me? Nothing. I’m going to start running. I’ll start just after

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Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe – 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


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


recommend seven strategies to those who feel the need

Believe it or not, some people may actually like the work you are not good at or don’t like.

to delegate but have no one to whom they can delegate:

1. Triage your to-do list. Go through

Now completely delete your D-level

the ABC account and the XYZ account in

of the C-level tasks you can delete.

Bill’s folder, ABC’s folder, XYZ’s folder,

each item and assign it one of the

or all three? Instead, just move every

following four letters:

2. Use technology more efficiently.

processed email to one folder called

A – tasks that are urgent.

Many people don’t avail themselves of

“Processed Email” or, more simply,

B – tasks that are important but not

the technology that is already at their

“Archive.” When you need to refer

fingertips. For example, why struggle

back to the email, let your software’s

C – tasks that are somewhat important.

with trying to setup a complex system

built-in search function do the heavy-

D – tasks that are neither urgent nor

of email file folders and then determine

lifting. It will find the email in less than

where each email goes? You think,

a second.




Should I file that email from Bill about

tasks. Then go through and see how many


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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

7. Muster the courage to say “no.”

don’t like. (This is what makes the world

If all else fails, you may have to decline

go around.) Sometimes you can barter

taking on other assignments and suffer

some work with a friend or colleague:

the fallout. This comes down to priority

“How about if I design your new blog in

management. You have to establish your

exchange for you preparing my taxes?”

boundaries and then (graciously) enforce

This is a little bit of the I’ll-scratch-your-

them. There is too much at stake - your

back-if-you-scratch-mine strategy. You

health, your family, your legacy, etc. - to

might also consider interns or students

do otherwise. Doing this has never hurt

who are desperate for the experience and

my career. In fact, I think it enabled me

a letter of recommendation. I have see this

to get where I am today. It demonstrated

work very well, provided you are clear with

to my boss that I had clear priorities and

the expectations up front.

am willing to pay the price to live by them.

5. Use variable cost alternatives.

I know this just scratches the surface,

This is a phrase your bottom-line boss will

but I firmly believe in the principle that

appreciate. Good leaders and managers

“he who is faithful in little is also faithful in

are loath to add “fixed overhead” (i.e.,

much” (see Luke 16:10). If you are a good

permanent positions). For starters, it

steward with what you have been given,

doesn’t provide enough flexibility if

you will eventually be given more.

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,

3. Negotiate out of previous

Michael Hyatt

in his fascinating book, „The 4-Hour

Michael Hyatt

Workweek”, describes in detail how

is the President

to use a personal virtual assistant. He

and CEO of

recommends, a company in

Thomas Nelson,

India that specializes in this. I used them

the largest

a while back as an experiment. I liked


their system, but found that my own real


assistant was all I needed.

company in the world and the seventh


largest trade book publishing company

Yes, you may have agreed to take on

6. Appeal for more resources.

in the U.S. Michael has written four

a certain project, but when your boss

Eventually, you may need to make the

books, one of which landed on the

comes back with another one, you can

case to your boss (or yourself, if you

New York Times bestseller list. Hyatt

say, “I’d be happy to do that. Is this

are an entrepreneur) that you simply

serves as Chairman of the Evangelical

project more important than the previous

must hire someone. Before you can

Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).

assignment you gave me? I honestly don’t

persuade your boss, you need to think

He has been married to his wife,

think I can do both. Which one would you

like your boss. What is important

Gail, for twenty- eight years. They

prefer I do?” If she insists on both, you

to him? How does an additional person

have five daughters and two grand

can at least insist she prioritize them and

help him achieve his goals? I have

daughters and live outside of Nashville,

thus set her expectations so that you won’t

written previously on the topic of “How


have to do both of them simultaneously.

to Get Your Boss’s Approval When You Need It.” While it doesn’t address this

Michael’s blog:

4. Ask for some volunteer help.

need specifically, the principles and

Michael on Twitter: @MichaelHyatt

Believe it or not, some people may actually

methodology still apply.


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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.


t’s easy, I say, when you’re your own boss – if you don’t hustle for the

It’s only 8 a.m. and already you’re feeling overwhelmed.

work, you don’t get paid. The dirt that’s been tracked in from outside all

week, the dishes from last night’s dinner

But it is possible to be productive and balanced while working from home.

party and the laundry that needs to be put away, gets left behind for an interview

Here’s how:

you’ve got to do and write an article, all by 5 o’clock today. That, on top of someone coming in to



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1. Stick to your schedule Plan out your day and follow it, just as you

replace your bathroom faucet, and oh, two

would in a big office. Just because you’re

editors just emailed to say that they need

physically closer to the television doesn’t

major changes (read: complete rewrite) by

mean that you should plunk yourself down

3 p.m.

for a dose of “reality” shows. You may


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

the day, organize your schedule around it and you’ll see your productivity fly. And this way, you can work AND watch

of noise cancelling headphones.

all the late-night TV you want. Sweet.

3. Eat something

6. Reward yourself

Many people I know who work at home forget

Working from home, you may find yourself

to eat. And though I am a restaurant critic,

getting all wound up about stuff. Maybe it’s

food writer and avid cook, I too am guilty

the lack of coworkers to commiserate with or

of this. Perhaps it’s that we don’t have co-

a little cabin fever (you’ve been inside working

workers to ask us to lunch, or a set time like

on this presentation for 3 solid days). The

noon or 1 p.m. to get us up out of our chairs.

problem is often that because your office is at

Office workers get two 15 minute breaks and

home, you can work any time and thus, you

at least half an hour for lunch. Give yourself

do – nights, weekends, in your “spare” time.

at least the same courtesy. You’ll be so much

The way to be productive and balanced is to

more productive. And hey, at least your

reward yourself with something that you enjoy

sandwich won’t be all squished and soggy.

and isn’t work related. It helps if it’s out of the house too. Just a half an hour away from your

4. Get comfortable

desk can make a world of difference.

One of the bonuses of working at home is that you can cater your space to you. Want to have

meet a friend, whatever (However: skip

a huge desk with nothing on it? Go for it! Want

getting blotto at the neighborhood bar,

a cozy little rolltop? Sure thing. Candles, music

gorging yourself on a pint of ice cream or

– whatever puts you in the mood! The other

going to a strip club. We both know there’s

thing to remember is that you don’t have to

no work getting done after that).

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

have to have a talk with family, friends

Stephanie Dickison

friend’s condo’s lush lobby. The change of

Author of

scenery will do you good, as will the walk - it

„The 30-Second

will boost your energy and productivity.

Commute: A Non-

Plus, there are people out there. Go © Monkey Business -

Go for a walk, visit a library, take a class,

Fiction Comedy

mingle for a bit - you haven’t talked to

About Writing &

anyone all day.

Working From

and colleagues to let them know that just

Home” – works at the end of her

because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean

5. Choose your workday

bed at a little rolltop desk in her 1-

you can go out for a matinee – you are

Despite having been conditioned by the

bedroom apartment that she shares

working. Of course, if you work in your

working world, nothing says that you have

with her fiancé, a television writer,

pajamas, you can see how it might be

to work 9 to 5 like everyone else. If you

and their 18 pound cat. Despite all of


like greeting the day at 5 a.m., then start

that, she manages to write a number

early. It means that you’ll be finished early

of articles a day, blog, tweet,

2. Expect the unexpected

and have the rest of the day to do what

interview celebrities and cook and eat

As much as you plan your day, you’re

you like. Many writers I know get up late

for a living.

bound to deal with many unexpected

and work late. They follow their body’s

events – the city digging up your sidewalk

natural rhythms, they tell me (not playing

Her web site:

for ethernet cables, visitors (see above),

Assassin’s Creed , ahem). Think about

Stephanie on Twitter: @sdickison

couriers, etc.

when you’re most energized throughout


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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


nother element of Effing The

on. He can do this because he has long

Dog™ is learning how to keep

standing tenure at his job (although if

poutsourcing today. Start at home, maybe

I strongly urge you to begin

everything close to home so you

you work in a union environment your

with the housework. As you get better at

can watch as your work gets

reasoning won’t need to be as extensive,

it, start doing it at work. Soon enough,

done, and not have to lift a finger. This

especially if the shop steward/union

you’ll find yourself watching others

method is called poutsourcing.

representative has the workstation next

scramble to get all the things done that

to yours – more on unions in a future

you’ve managed to offload.

Simply put, poutsourcing is merely

post) and has seniority. Soon enough, Mr.

a way for you to offload some of the work

Meany realizes his efforts are futile, and

you don’t want to do to someone in your

he moves on to the previously mentioned

that, there’s always those John Hughes’

immediate vicinity. Here’s an example of

“alternatively-addituted” employees.


And once you get tired of watching

poutsourcing in the workplace: A common misconception is that A worker (let’s call him Mike for


poutsourcing can’t be utilized in the

Mike Vardy

argument’s sake) is given a task

home. Not true. Teenagers and children

to perform by his boss (let’s call him

do it all the time. As a parent myself


Mr. Meany, for argument’s sake) that

with questionable disciplinary skills,


he simply does not want to do. Mike

I find myself watching my wife doing all


is aware that others in his workplace

sorts of activities that my daughter has

expert, founder

have far more of an attitude (let’s call

poutsourced while I practice Effing The

of the new

it ass-kissing, for argument’s sake) that

Dog™. I suggest you watch movies like


would make them more ideal to do this

Bratz and most John Hughes’ films to get


very task. Mike then begins to whine

a better indication of what I’m talking


and moan about all of the things he

about if this seems unclear – and watching

has piled up, how he likely won’t meet

movies is an Effing The Dog™ hallmark.

Mike’s Blog:

the deadline, how he doesn’t quite

And Mr. Hughes has a lot of films, so that’s

Mike on Twitter: @MikeVardy

comprehend the assignment – and so

an excellent place to start.


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Early rising, 2010 resolutions and traveling


keep having fun recording the short

Michael Sliwinski Efficient Traveling - Switching planes

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

New Year’s Resolutions GTD style

Michael Sliwinski is your chief editor of the Productive! Magazine and This is what I do to make sure I have

now a host

all of my data with me at all times... I can

of the new

work like this on every mac.

Productive! Show site. Every day he’s trying to help people get more done

Hope you’ve enjoyed my videos, make I don’t call them resolutions anymore, I create 12 milestones and try achieve each of these month after month.

with his web (and iPhone) application

sure to rate them and any comments or

feedback are very welcome!

Michael’s Blog:

Subscribe to this video podcast with

Michael on Twitter: @MichaelNozbe

iTunes or RSS reader.


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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. Art Carden


ne of his most important

is oddly refreshing. He has said before in

contributions is philosophical,

an interview that he abhors sloth, and you

Ferriss suggests that we think hard about

yet practical. Ferriss asks how

can tell from the way he writes the book.

what we’re doing and eliminate projects

we would live if retirement

He is ferocious about guarding his time

of relatively low yield in order to focus on

weren’t an option and suggests what

and making absolutely certain that none of

projects of relatively high yield. In Ferriss’s

economists will instantly recognize as

it is wasted. He summarizes this on page

case, he saw that most of his revenue

a pattern of consumption-smoothing.

32: „(d)oing less meaningless work, so that

was coming from a few customers, while

Ferriss trades off future income for

you can focus on things of greater personal

the bulk of his customers provided a lot

present satisfaction in the form of „mini-

importance, is not laziness.”

of headaches and very little in return.

retirements” and suggests taking time now, while we’re young enough to enjoy

He was able to improve his effectiveness The first element of his program is

by focusing his attention on the good

it. Mixing labor and leisure rather than

„Definition.” Here is where the process

customers and cutting the bad customers

bringing on either can probably raise our

will resonate with devotees of David Allen


lifetime satisfaction levels.

and Getting Things Done. Exploration is fun, but there are a lot of projects out

Let’s dwell on this. First, he isn’t being

It’s easy to just be “busy,” but

there that take more time and energy

busyness is not necessarily correlated

short-sighted. He is recognizing an

than they’re worth. Before making

with production. Ferriss notes that it is

important tradeoff. Second, he isn’t giving

a commitment, we should always ask „what

often the very opposite: „(b)eing busy

us an airy exhortation to stop and smell

is the desired outcome that makes all the

is a form of laziness--lazy thinking and

the flowers. Rather, he’s offering a concrete

effort worthwhile?” (p. 51).

indiscriminate action” (p. 73). To address

examination of what it means to really live. Finally, he isn’t lazy. Far from it: Ferriss

this, Ferriss proposes a useful thought The second part of his program is

experiment, asking what one would do if

packs a lot of living into the 164 hours

„Elimination.” Here is where things

you had a heart attack and could only

every week when he isn’t working.

get really interesting, and I especially

work for two hours a day. Or for two hours

enjoyed something that is near and dear

a week. This brings the relevant trade-offs

to my economist’s heart: his application

into high relief.

Every business or personal development


So what should we do? Once again,

book worth its salt comes with a clever

of Pareto’s Rule, which suggests that

acronym. This book is no different. On

80% of output comes from 20% of input.

pages 10-11, Ferriss offers his program

It’s very easy to hide behind a „busy”

to task without doing anything important.

for a New DEAL. Definition, Elimination,

screen--I know I certainly have--but

Thus, Ferriss suggests a „low-information

Automation, and Liberation as the

often the things with which we are busy

diet” based on the fact that „(m)ost

keys to his system. There is a certain

are, at best, unproductive and at worst,

information is time consuming, negative,

ruthlessness about the whole thing that


irrelevant to your goals, and outside of


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It’s deceptively easy to go from task


Ferriss offers his program for a New DEAL. Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation as the keys to his system.

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

your influence” (p. 83). Deciding what

because this is a time that is by all

The third of these is important in

does and what does not need to be

any organization. „Empowerment” is

measures historically unique. People have

known is a skill that takes time to acquire

a popular buzzword, but sometimes it

more discretionary time than ever before,

but that pays high dividends in the

fails to go beyond the buzzword stage.

and our social capital infrastructure is so

form of (again) time to do things that

Empowerment that aligns people’s costs

far poorly-equipped to handle it. We can

we find useful and interesting. Further,

and benefits with the decisions they are

stop and smell roses, or we can write that

information differs from knowledge. It

supposed to make is meaningful. We are

book we always wanted to write, or we

is one thing to know facts. It is quite

surrounded by competent, intelligent name it. Our ancestors had no

another to know how to use them.

people, and we need to be diligent about

such luxury, as Deirdre McCloskey points

„Selective ignorance” allows you to filter

training them to make independent

out in her ongoing series of books on The

your information input and ensure that


Bourgeois Era: extremely low productivity meant that almost every waking hour

only the really important stuff gets through.

had to be devoted to producing enough

Everything that comes across

calories to stave off death.

your desk will fall into one of three He doesn’t use this terminology

categories: things you should do, things

specifically, but Ferriss recognizes the

someone else should do, and things no

irrelevance of sunk costs when he exhorts

one should do. On page 122, Ferriss

and sometimes unpleasant. The long-run

us to „Practice the art of nonfinishing”

argues that „...unless something is

benefits outweigh the short-run costs,

(p. 88). Just because you start something

well-defined and important, no one

however, and this is one of the core

doesn’t mean you should finish it. This

should do it.” This stands in contrast

messages of The Four-Hour Workweek.

runs directly counter to that noble advice

to our normal ways of doing things.

Tim Ferriss offers a handy step-by-step

we’ve always gotten about finishing what

Deciding who should do something is

guide to lifestyle design and to having

we start and it doesn’t apply if it involves

a convenient rationale for meetings, but

what we want out of our short time on

leaving someone in the lurch. A better

meetings are a fantastic way to waste

this rock. It’s worth at least one reading-

habit would be to avoid starting things

time; Ferriss points out that „(m)eetings

-probably two, or maybe three--because

that aren’t going to be worth finishing.

should only be held to make decisions

it lays out principles and practices that

Obviously, there is no way to know for

about a pre-defined solution, not

bring us closer to the dream, whatever that

certain which things these are, but it is

to define the problem” (p. 98). This is

dream may be.

worth trying to find out and to be diligent

precisely the last thing we should do,

about making sure that something will be

but it provides an example of what

worth finishing before you agree to get

happens when responsibilities are

involved. In the best-case scenario, you

poorly defined.

Art Carden Art Carden

develop the habit of only starting things that are worth starting and then finishing

Thinking and choosing are difficult

The third aspect of Ferriss’s DEAL

is Assistant

them in a way that exceeds people’s

is automation. Stuff has been defined,

Professor of


that which can be eliminated has

Economics and

been eliminated, and now it is time

Business at

to automate what can be automated.

Rhodes College

organizational programs like Getting

Here he offers an important piece

in Memphis,

Things Done and Seven Habits of Highly

of advice and an important principle

TN and an Adjunct Fellow with the

Effective People. Ferriss encourages

about organizational effectiveness.

Oakland, CAbased Independent

a certain ruthlessness in deciding what and

„Never automate something that can be

Institute. He is a regular contributor to

what not to do, discussing three kinds of

eliminated, and never delegate something and Division of Labour.

tasks that get in the way of effectiveness:

that can be automated or streamlined” (p.

Art’s page:

„time wasters,” „time consumers,” and

122). He further notes that „(u)sing people

Art on Twitter: @ArtCarden

„empowerment failures”.

to leverage a refined process multiplies

Ferriss’s program complements other


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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


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

Š Liv Friis-larsen -

criticise each other but it does not mean



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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.

magazine shit on his car his car would be floating in the stuff. So catch yourself with untrue

It does not mean there is something wrong with you if people criticize you.

statements such as: “always” e.g. I always get caught in the rain (If that were true you’d be a fish)

2. I must always seek approval in

recognizing that somebody else is better

order to feel good about myself

than you at something.

“I never……………………” e.g. “I can never get a parking space.” (If that were

Many people have thought this at one

true you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere

time or another in their lives, however

6. I was rejected which means there

it becomes damaging when it is an

is something wrong with me

entrenched belief. There is no way you

This is over generalizing like the person

can please everybody all the time so there

who was rejected in a relationship. They

is no point in even trying. Seek approval

think it always happens to them and they

from yourself and if you’re happy and feel

must somehow be unworthy of love.

good that’s all that matters. Yes it’s nice

People reject others due to differing

I am hopeless at talking in a group.”

to have other people’s opinions but don’t

ideals, just like you do, but it doesn’t

(usually said while talking to a group of

go out of the way to please other people.

mean you are in any way unworthy it just


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,

means your ideals don’t match someone

3. I won’t try anything new unless I

“It’s terrible……” e,g. “Isn’t it terrible

else’s ideals.

know I will be good at it

that it’s raining?” (Eh! No, it’s not

Many people suffer from these types of

7. If I feel happy about life something

thoughts. Trying new things in your life

will go wrong

is a way for you to grow and learn more

Another common irrational thought. You

about yourself. You don’t have to be good

deserve all the happiness you make for

out there and you have to be conscious to

at everything in your life but it doesn’t

yourself; your past is your past. If there

catch yourself thinking them. I hope this

mean you can’t enjoy new experiences

are still issues lurking from your past that

article helps you to catch your irrational

even if you are not good at them.

is blocking you from feeling happy about

thoughts and brings your life into

today speak to someone about it. Do not


4. It’s not my fault my life didn’t go

tinge your present and future thoughts

the way I wanted

with bad memories or else your present

I have news for you; it is your fault. This

and future thoughts will get infected and

doesn’t make you bad and it doesn’t mean

your life will always stay the same.

you are a failure. You have control over

terrible). There are a lot more irrational thoughts

Steven Aitchison

your thoughts and therefore your actions.

How to stop your irrational thoughts

Your thoughts and actions will determine

Simple! Just catch yourself every time

Steven Aitchison

your life. If you constantly blame others

you have an irrational thought or self-

is a personal

for the way your life has turned out you

defeating thought and replace the


have given all your power away to other

wording of your internal thought. For

blogger. He

people. Take the control back and take

example, you are driving on a beautiful


responsibility for your thoughts and

day and a bird decides to shit on your car.

works with


You might think:

the homeless dealing with issues such as drug

5. I am inferior to everyone else That’s just the way you feel, which

“That always happens to me, why do they always shit on my car?”

degree in Psychology and has been a counsellor to alcoholics. Also an

doesn’t make it true. You have qualities that nobody else can touch and other

affiliate marketer and writer he


people have qualities that you can’t touch. Recognizing your strengths will build

has penned 3 books on personal “It’s about time I got the car washed”.

your self confidence; recognizing others strengths will build their self confidence, but don’t put yourself down when

addiction, and alcoholism. He has a

development and making money online.

Look for the keywords in there

Steven’s Blog: Change Your Thoughts

“always”, this is an untruth. If birds always

Steven on Twitter: @StevenAitchison


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Get the bestselling book by Leo Babauta...

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Productive Magazine #4  
Productive Magazine #4  

Fourth issue of Productive! Magazine featuring an exclusive interview with top simplicity blogger Leo Babauta of Zen Habits fame. This issue...