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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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Working at home in style

Category : time management

One of the best advantages of the Four Hour Work Week lifestyle is that you get to work when you want, where you want, and the results or benefits are yours to gain or lose. Of course, for many that are used to a structured work day and work environment, this can be particularly challenging. Some have a hard time working at their own at their home because their personal lives merge too much with their work lives.

Well, I’ve done a few things to counter-act this potential downside of the work-at-home lifestyle. First,  I’ve created a “work zone” for myself that is completely separated from the rest of the non-work home. I did this by finishing a basement that was unused. You’ll see a post or two about that coming up soon for those who want to learn how to really mold/waterproof a basement to make it work.

Another thing you can do is make your work environment really be a work environment. Don’t have clothes hanging around that need to be washed, or toys that need to be put away. Make the work environment one in which you can be productive and one that shouts “work” rather than “play” and you’ll be tempted to make your time efficient… not the opposite.

To do that, I’ve invested in some good quality office furniture. My source of choice is Henriksen Butler office furniture. This Utah office furniture design and supply house has some really interesting and work-productive furniture that will really help you make that work/life balance effective.

They even offer to help design effective workspaces for the design-challenged:

Henriksen/Butler brings a unique blend of knowledge and technology to solve workplace challenges for business. Whether you have one location or one hundred, we can help create workplace environments that solve problems and boost productivity. The technology we use helps — from initial design through procurement and well beyond installation. We can manage any and all aspects of your workspace transition to ensure everything goes smoothly. From space planning and design to installation, maintenance and on-going support, Henriksen/Butler is creating great places to work, learn and heal.

On their website, you can see office furniture examples and the sort of interior design work they do. The company has multiple locations, mostly in the Southwest / Rocky region, providing solutions for those looking for Nevada office furniture and locations in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, St. Geroge, and Boise, Idaho.

And for companies larger than one, they setup cubicles, chairs, desks, meeting rooms, counters, etc. for medium to large corporations.

I’d love to see what sort of work environments you FHWW’ers have set up. Anyone want to share some photo galleries?

One other quick note: time and weather

Category : time management

How to know what time it is when you don’t even know where you are.

Following up on the previous post on efficiency, I just want to point one other item out. I travel a lot. I mean a LOT. At one point, it was cheaper and easier just to fly around the world for 4 weeks straight than to return home between trips. I have to say, this is one area that the 4HWW doesn’t have quite figured out. How can you get to four hours a week when the plane flight itself (for business, mind you) is 12 hours long? Go figure.

One of the tools that I use while I’m traveling is the website at Weather and time. It’s often that I don’t know what time it is in my own city, but to know what it is when you are traveling is tough. Even more important is to know the time difference so that when you set up a call, with say, India, you realize that it’s 10 and a HALF hours ahead of the East Coast of the US. That’s right — it’s off by a half-hour increment. Some countries adjust their time zone up by 45 or 15 minute increments. Who came up with that?

Anyways, the website I mentioned above allows you to check not only the time and date, but also the weather in the some of the most important cities of the world. They have a particular fixation with Spain, and you can see all the time and date in all Spanish cities. But even better, when you get that information, you can print it so it appears on just one page. Slip it into your itinerary, and off you go.

Just make sure to miss the monsoon season in Mumbai. It ain’t pretty for us east coast US folks. Any other good tools or tips for the world traveler (or even for those that spend their time talking on the phone to other time zones)?

You Can Do it Faster, Better, and Cheaper… so why do it at all?

Category : outsourcing, productivity, time management

Like many of you, I struggle to get things done on time that I really need to get done. I get bogged down in the grunt work when I should be focusing on the bigger picture items. You know the drill, focus on the important but not urgent, but all the while the urgent things eat up your time. If you did a Time Audit, you’d find that much of the time is being taken up by short-term activities that can easily be reduced, eliminated, or outsourced. Yet they stay on your to-do list anyways.

Why is that? I believe it’s because of the psychology of delegation. Anyone who has been doing something for a while believes that they can do a task faster, better, and less expensively than a third party. And in many ways this is absolutely correct. I have found, through my own experience, that I can perform better in at least two out of the three criteria (faster, better, cheaper) than anyone else I can get to do the task. But that is NOT the point!

Contunue Reading

An excellent read — “Urgency is poisonous”

Category : time management

I just read an excellent post on 37Signals called “Urgency is poisonous”. For those already familiar with Covey’s quadrants, and my previous posting on the Time Management spreadsheet, the content contained in the post might not come as a surprise. The point being made is that urgency is not only dangerous, but unnecessary, and probably a figment of our own imaginations. Are things truly urgent as they seem?

Rather than summarize what I believe is an excellent post, I encourage you all to read it. And then think, how can this be applied to the 4HWW? Clearly, Tim Ferriss shares the opinion that nothing is truly urgent. And if it is, just outsource it.

Excellent Post on the 4HWW Workflow

Category : revenue, time management

I read a fantastic post by Jed @ the Newly Rich called “Our 4HWW Workflow, Part I“. Without stealing his thunder (and idea), I encourage you to take a look at the post that diagrams a ludicrously simple, but very effective way of looking at your tasks.

Here’s a quick thumbnail of the flow. Click on it to view it at the original post location:

Workflow diagram for basic 4HWW process

Thanks, Jed!

So, what did I actually eliminate?

Category : time management

I got a good comment yesterday from Jennifer @ LifeMuncher in response to yesterday’s post on more effective time management. Rather than reply as a comment (and leave it buried for everyone to find), I though it would make a good follow up post.

The question simply was: “What were some concrete examples of things that you’ve eliminated to get from 60+ hours to 20?”. The answer, in my case, pretty basic, but perhaps has to do with my specific work style, activities and business. But, here’s the details.

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How a spreadsheet and a kitchen timer eliminated 40 hours of my work week.

Category : life balance, time management

In a few past posts, I mentioned that my primary task towards achieving the goals of the Four Hour Work Week is to reduce my 60+ hour work week down to 20. As evidenced by my recent trip to Denmark and Sweden, I was able to successfully do so. Of course, the big question is “how”?

First, in order to reduce your total work week, you have to find out where the time is going. Using a combination of my Time Audit Spreadsheet and the Personal Task Manager (PTM) application, I realized that much of my time was going towards tasks that could easily be eliminated, trimmed, or outsourced. I resolved that I would at that point force myself to focus on my “day job” from 9AM to 1PM only, freeing up the rest of the time for my new muse and new-business tasks.

Contunue Reading

Time Management: Sometimes Things Change (A Guest Post from Brick)

Category : life balance, time management

Editors Note: This is a guest post from Brick Andrews of Life Sutra: The 4-Hour Workweek Journal. Brick Andrews is the founder of Life Sutra: The 4-Hour Workweek Journal. The Life Sutra questions old assumptions and socially reinforced illusions about how to live a fulfilling life while exploring new ways to live and work smarter.

Inspired by both the principles of time management and The 4-Hour Workweek, I had developed the Life Management Matrix. This matrix classifies the activities we perform into four categories which I will summarize here:

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

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?