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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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Happy New Year! Lots of upgrades…

Category : DHFW Site

Happy New Year DHFW Readers! It’s been about a month since the last post, since there have been lots of upgrades, both technically and in life.

First, the site is now upgraded to WordPress 2.7, and I’m looking at fixing a number of glitches in the site, including missing downloads, incorrectly functioning tickers, etc. If you spot a problem that needs fixing, please let me know.

Second, I’ve been making lots of progress on personal goals and especially around the FHWW. May “main job” has now been pared down to 4 hoursĀ  a day (I know, not a week, yet), but this year I will be paring it down even more. I will spend more time thinking about and writing on muses and microsourcing, so if you have any thoughts, please let me know.

I have a few posts queued up, so I will be uploading them over the course of the next few days. Stay tuned!

What happened to the 4HWW community?

Category : book, DHFW Site

Update: You’re alive! So, i’ve made this post a touch more positive ;)

When I first started blogging on the 4HWW topic, there were quite a few bloggers… but now it seems they have (mostly) all stopped blogging and their blogs are idle. What has happened? Has the bloom fell off the 4HWW flower? Have folks determined that the 4HWW is mostly hype, or have they had reasonable success and squeezed 50% of out of your schedule, as I have?

I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I want to reach out to the community, and especially to you 4HWW bloggers. What happened? Has anyone else seen any success with the concepts in the book? Do you want me to keep on journaling my experiences?

Comment and let me know if you’re alive!

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

Amazon.com reviews… shills?

Category : book

There have been some comments in the Amazon.com forums that seem to imply that many of the reviews of the 4HWW Book (especially the five-star positive ones) are posted by paid shills, fake reviewers, or otherwise are unrepresentative of the actual reader population. Is this true? I have no idea. It’s hard for me to verify. I for one posted a 4-star review, but it never appeared on Amazon.com (grumble).

I feel that the book does its purpose: help change the mindset that 40 hours a week is necessary to run a successful business and maintain high income. However, I can easily see how many of the ideas in the book are shallow and immature, and as well, one can tell that Tim Ferriss does prefer to bend the rules rather than follow them (the win-by-default kickboxing incident, anyone)? However, is this truly bad? While breaking the rules in an unethical or immoral (or illegal) way can never be condoned by anyone, any good entrepreneur knows that the “conventional wisdom” or common knowledge is rarely wisdom and is too common.

Sometimes it pays to break the rules and play outside the lines. However, is this the case with the Amazon.com reviews? Is it fair to use Amazon.com as a marketing tool (rather than a reader-led consumer-oriented site)? Is it ok to pay reviewers in the way that many are paying bloggers? Are we facing an ethics battle for the soul of the Web?

Also, I was pointed to the PodTech interview with Tim and comments that are less than favorable. I posted a comment on the blog, but not sure if it will appear. Here it is:

    “Wow. It sure looks like the tide is turning against Tim Ferriss (or am I just noticing more of the skeptical posts). I for one have found the book interesting enough to try it myself and see if it will have any impact on my life. I am even baring my experiences for the world to see on my blog (at http://www.fourhourworkweekdiary.com). If it is a hoax, if it is a sham, if it is a failure, the world will see, and I will be responsible (and ethical) enough to show it. If it has merit, however, I want to find that and share it too.I believe that the core lesson in the book is one of time management and rethinking the 40-hour workweek. I think there’s merit in that. As for the rest and Tim’s claims about himself, that’s for Tim to defend. Just like you all, I take self-motivated claims with a grain of salt. ”

I don’t want to pass judgment here. If the reviews are all real, then we have to acknowledge the popularity of this book. And if you believe me, I’ve contributed to some of the positive Amazon.com reviews. I am NOT a shill. I haven’t received a penny or any sort of back-scratching from anyone to say diddly poop about this book. And if I get ticked off or bored, I’ll just drop the site altogether.

Just comment on this blog and let me know. Do you think the Amazon.com reviews are real? Do you care? Does it matter? What do you think of folks that game the blogging / web-based economy for their marketing purposes? Is this to be expected? commended? frowned upon? worth penalizing? I’d like to know.