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The Four Hour Body and You Like many of your Tim Ferriss fans out there, I've been very keen to try the Four Hour Body lifestyle change. I'm overweight by quite a few pounds, so I made a New Year's resolution to shed some pounds....

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Improvements and Fixes to WP E-CommerceImprovements and Fixes to WP E-Commerce Like many of you, I am a user of the WP E-Commerce plug-in for Wordpress as well as a Gold Cart upgrade customer. While WP E-Commerce has many excellent features and does wonders for the Wordpress-based...

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Credit cards: a lifeline for cash Hi all. It certainly has been a while since I've last posted. That's because in many ways the 4HWW concept has been shot given the urgency of making ends meet and scrambling to get whatever dollars are...

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Version 0.2 of Show User Level Content Plugin Now Available Making an update to the Show User Level Content Plugin ... finally on version 0.2 This version should allow multiple hide statements in the same post. This is a test of that functionality. The first...

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More on Banking... A while back I posted about business banking accounts, and asked the community what their thoughts were on the best ones for FHWW'ers. I never really did get a good response, but the post is out there,...

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DHFW Forums are Live!

Category : DHFW Site, Getting Started

The 4HWW community is getting more rich and vibrant by the day! As such, I’ve launched the DHFW Forums at: http://www.fourhourworkweekdiary.com/dhfw-forums/. Check them out! I’d love to know what you think… but more important — keep posting and keeping this community vibrant!

Muses vs. “Real” Businesses (A Guest Post from HilaryCat)

Category : muse, revenue

Editor’s Note: This post is a guest post from Hilary Catherall. Hilary Catherall is a co-founder and the president of technology startup DOMITECH, L.L.C., a revolutionary web development company. DOMITECH’s projects so far include www.city-dweller.com and www.saneliving.org. Hilary still holds down her day job for now, and just started seriously applying the principles from the 4HWW late last year in hopes of attaining a little Liberation. You can contact her at hilary.catherall@dom-itech.com and read more of her writing at hilarycat.blogspot.com.

As I recently posted in my hilarycat blog , I think I’ve wrapped my mind around what Tim Ferriss calls a “muse” in the 4-Hour Work Week. As Tim says, muses are automated vehicles for producing cash without requiring much time… but to put the complete explanation into a (densely packed) nutshell, they are automated & outsourced businesses that drop-ship quickly manufactured, moderately priced, substantially marked up, easily-understood specialty products with staying power to niche audiences we already understand.Whew. If you haven’t thoroughly read 4HWW, you may not grok that definition very quickly, but for those of us who are starting to internalize the system, I believe it’s a neat and tidy summary for easy reference. Contunue Reading

Making money from your muse… Blog Revenue — the Authoritative Guide

Category : muse, revenue

Editor’s Note: First, let me note that this is a very long blog post. I probably should have chopped it up into a few blog posts, but I didn’t want to lose the stream of thought.

Getting a bit more practical, one of the themes in the Four Hour Work Week is the idea that you can have a nice source of passive income from a short investment in time called a Muse. Hilarycat posted recently on what constitutes a Muse (or in her words, a Passive Income Generator [PIG]). But the gist is that it’s not necessarily your main “day job”, but rather something that allows you to earn the income needed so that your main job doesn’t consume you. You can be free to pursue the things you want because the lights can stay on and the kids can stay fed.

As a way to get things started, blogs themselves can be nice sources of revenue and could potentially be muses if they turned into something bigger. That does not mean that it has to consume lots of time, but you should definitely thing about all the ways to generate revenue from a blog and related media. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. If you know of other ways to turn blogging and writing activity into muse-worthy income, let everyone know by posting some feedback in the comments.

Contunue Reading

Learnings from my printer…

Category : life balance

On a somewhat random note, I have a habit of taping interesting fortunes that I get from fortune cookies to a printer on my desk. Why? Because the printer is right in my field of vision and whenever I glance in that direction I can see all these little bits of wisdom reminding me to stop and think about what I’m doing. Or at least give me something to think about (or chuckle).

Printer Wisdom

I’ll let you in on my little bit of printer-wisdom. Here’s the “fortunes” I currently have attached to my printer:

Contunue Reading

Results of the Time Audit and Next Steps (plus a revised spreadsheet!)

Category : productivity, time management

Well, it’s been a week since I decided to audit where my time was going and work to optimize my use of resources. Did I get the results I was expecting? Yes and no. First, I have a better idea of how I’m spending my time and which things I need to specifically focus on while other things I can either Trim, Eliminate, Automate, or Outsource. I also figured out how to effectively audit time without the auditing process itself taking much time.

Contunue Reading

Update on Time Audit: Send me your ideas!

Category : Uncategorized

Sounds like I got the pot stirring with my Time Audit posts. Some of my readers have suggested ways to improve the value of the time audit without increasing inefficiency. I was pointed by Jared Goralnick to a good software tool called TimeSnapper (http://www.timesnapper.com) that I’m going to check out.

In the meantime, some of you have suggested ways to improve the worksheet itself. Download the 4HWW Time Tracking Worksheet and make your mods and email them back to me at rexreedrexreed (at) gmail.com and I’ll be sure to check it out. If it makes sense, I’ll tweak my 4HWW spreadsheet and then upload it again for the rest to review — and give you credit, of course!

Update: I neglected to mention that I’ll recognize all the help I can get on my site! I’ll definitely give you credit for helping… I’m not sure that came across above. So, Hilarycat, Jared, Brick, id_bob, Mr. Anonymous, and anyone else — feel free to pitch in and create some more 4HWW value and make the Internet go-round.

Comment about 4HWW Time Audit: Defeating the purpose?

Category : productivity, time management

I received an excellent comment from id_bob on yesterday’s post about my new 4HWW Time Audit worksheet. His comments, which are right on point are: “hey, isn’t this missing the point? You’re task switching too much. You’re being inefficient by even recording the tasks. Will you waste more time in time auditing then recover from focusing.” There’s greater details in the comments, and of course, he’s exactly right!

But that’s missing the point a bit about why I’m doing this (and why I have a feeling other 4HWWs are also trying to audit their time). I’m trying to find out where I’m losing my time. I am nowhere near my 4HWW time goals, and in part that’s because I’m running around doing so many tasks that at the end the day, I wonder where all the time went. The 4HWW Time Audit tool is not meant to be something to be used if you are already time efficient, nor is it meant to be an operational tool… it is a diagnostic / auditing tool only.

The point is that I’m still working 12+ hour days and not getting any closer to my 4HWW goal. Part of the problem is that I’m already doing too much… I’m already task switching, so I’m not making the problem any worse by doing some analysis. Just like a doctor needs to do some tests, perform some scans, or do some blood work to figure out what’s ailing the patient, I need some analysis to figure out what’s ailing my time. The bloodwork / tests aren’t meant to solve the problem — they are purely diagnostic. Similarly, the 4HWW Time Audit is not meant to govern the way you spend your time, but rather audit the way you have been spending it. Once that has been identified enough to determine the patterns and trends… toss the 4hWW audit tool! It’s time to Eliminate, Automate, Outsource, and Repeat.

This is an analysis tool, not a management tool. If you already know where your time is going, then don’t use this sheet! This sheet won’t help you, and in fact, it will be a hindrance For those who are already cramming a hundred tasks into a single day, this 4HWW Time Audit sheet aims to find out what tasks are the time-wasters, which tasks are the ones to accentuate. This is purely an analysis tool, not a tool for running something once you’ve already achieved the efficiency point.

In any case, the question was how much time to spend on this worksheet. The answer: as little as possible. I spent 2 minutes on this spreadsheet first thing this morning assigning tasks and allocating time, and then 30 seconds on this spreadsheet after each task recording how much time it took. No more time than that. No need to put “work on the spreadsheet” in the spreadsheet. I had 10 tasks total for the day. I think 5 minutes aggregate invested in determining my time wasters goes a long way to getting me to 4 hours a day!

Thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree?

Make sense?

The 4HWW Time Audit Spreadsheet

Category : Getting Started, productivity, time management

I’m starting to be convinced, after spending another set of 16 hour days, that the only way to make progress on the 4HWW goals is to become ruthless about how I spend my time. Just like grazing throughout the day is not an effective way to lose weight, aimlessly working through the day is not an effective way to maximize use of time.

While Tim Ferriss talks about Elimination and Automation as two of the 4 cornerstones to making the Four-Hour a Week lifestyle happen, he provides no real techniques for going from a 40+ hour workweek to a 4 hour workweek other than starting to outsource things and manage your email and phone habits. What first needs to happen is an effective observation of how time is being spent and how to wrangle it.

My 4HWW blogging buddies (BTW, welcome new buddy id_bob at Four-Hour Work Week and Customer Support!) have all talked about doing a time audit and focusing on time management, but I can’t stress its importance enough. Rather than going cold turkey from 60 hours to 4, I think anyone serious about reducing their ineffective time needs to do a proper running analysis of how they spend their work day.

On that note, I’ve created a spreadsheet that I use every day to figure out where my time is going, plan what I hope to accomplish that day, determine if my time estimates are right or wrong, and then make a decision how I will handle future such tasks. I want to share that timesheet with you and get your opinions of it. Here it is below, with an example of how it is filled in:

Download 4HWW Time Tracking Worksheet

Let me explain the columns in this time management spreadsheet:

  • Task — A quick description of the task to be done. Most Important Tasks (of which there should never be more than 3 in a day) should be identified by bold, italics, and red-colored font.
  • Category — Some tasks might be work related, some might be muse related, others personal, some in pursuit of a dreamline activity, or what have you.
  • Planned Start and Planned End — When are you planning to start and end this task? Be specific and get ‘r done.
  • Time Allotted — A calculated field that tells you the obvious… how much time you were planning for this task
  • Actual Start and Actual End — When you managed to start this task and end it
  • Actual Time — How long did it really take?
  • Actual Cost — If you noticed, this spreadsheet also tries to calculate your hourly cost. It takes into account your salary (what you want to be making on a yearly basis), divides it by 50 weeks and then by 5 working days in a year to determine your daily rate (2 weeks of non-work and 2 days of non-work per week are normal). Your hourly rate is calculated by dividing this by eight. Now, of course, we aren’t going to work eight-hour days, but neither are we working 24 hour days. Your cost should be a cost that can be easily compared with outsourcers. So, this is a good way to do it. Anyways, based on that hourly cost, the cost of performing this particular task is calculated. “My goodness! It really cost me that much to do that??” Now, you might not care about all the costs. Personal tasks, in particular, don’t have costs because you want to spend time on those. However, it’s worth seeing how much you’re “investing” in those personal activities and thus make sure you are deriving some benefit from that time investment.
  • Interrupted? — Was this task interrupted by something else (especially something not on your planned to-do list)? If so, it’s possible it took longer than it should. Next time around, what can you do to eliminate unplanned, unproductive, unnecessary interruptions?
  • Dreamline Goal — Does this task fulfill any 4HWW Dreamline goal? If so, indicate which dreamline it addresses (6, 12, or 18 month), and which activity. For example: “6mo – Doing – Become a Great Cook
  • LM Quadrant – My buddy Brick at Life Sutra wrote recently about the idea of the Life Management Quadrant — focusing tasks on the Essential, Unessential, Forgettable, and Unforgettable. For me, this is a vital column in any time management spreadsheet. By itself, it’s not enough to manage tasks, but used in combination with everything else, I think it’s quite potent (thanks, Brick)! For this exercise, I’d like to use the classification EF, EU, UF, and UU to denote Essential / Forgettable, Essential / Unforgettable, Unessential / Forgettable, and Unessential / Unforgettable tasks. The idea is that core 4HWW tasks should be Essential and probably Unforgettable. Those Essential tasks that are Forgettable should probably be Eliminated, Outsourced, or Automated. Essential tasks that are Unforgettable should be focused on and optimized / repeated. Unessential Forgettable tasks should definitely be eliminated. Unessential, Unforgettable tasks should probably be part of your long-term dreamline activities. Not to be eliminated, but something to get better focus on.
  • Next Action — What should you do next time around if this task creeps up on your schedule? There should really be only four possible answers: Eliminate it, Automate it, Outsource it, Repeat it.

Also, remember to include breaks, scheduled phone calls and appointments, and lunch. These are all tasks…hopefully you’ll have more time for those and less for those needless UF tasks!

I’m going to be using this spreadsheet on a daily basis… religiously. I want to see how with careful time auditing, I can get to more effective use of time and closer to my 4 Hour goals. I will also be continuously tweaking this spreadsheet since I’m sure there will be things to add or change. I hope you will also put this to use and suggest ways to make it better.

As Peter Drucker says, “that which is measured is managed”, and that means time management just as much as anything else. Be ruthless in your use of time and the rewards, hopefully, should multiply.

Download 4HWW Time Tracking Worksheet

Another great post… 20 Things Learned in Life

Category : life balance

I also came across today another great post that has more to offer to those seeking a 4HWW-enriched life. From the Dumb Little Man blog comes “20 Things I’m Glad Life Taught Me“. Some of the nuggets:

  • You must create and look for opportunities: Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them. You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself. You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  • Negativity will only bring more of it: When you focus only on negativity, obviously that’s all you will see. You will not seek out positivity, and even when positivity comes into your life, you’ll look for the negative part of it.
  • Where you are does not determine where you can go: It doesn’t matter if you’re homeless or living in a mansion, poor or rich, or if you have a 4.0 grade point average or “failing”, it won’t make any difference in the future. There are countless rags to riches stories to back this point up. If you have the drive and talents, you can go anywhere. You create your own limitations and horizon.

Check it out!

50 Tricks to Getting Things Done… Faster, Better, and More Easily

Category : productivity, time management

I stumbled across a great resource online that seems remarkably consistent with the ideals of the 4HWW. Check out the post at Lifehack called “50 Tricks to Get Things Done Faster, Better, and More Easily“. Some of the ideas mentioned:

  • Most Important Tasks (MITs): At the start of each day (or the night before) highlight the three or four most important things you have to do in the coming day.
  • Big Rocks: The big projects you’re working on at any given moment. Set aside time every day or week to move your big rocks forward.
  • Inbox Zero: Decide what to do with every email you get, the moment you read it. If there’s something you need to do, either do it or add it to your todo list and delete or file the email. If it’s something you need for reference, file it. Empty your email inbox every day.

Sounds like the ideals of dreamlining, eliminating, and automating, eh? 47 more ideas at the link!