In his bestseller book, “A 4-Hour Work Weekend”, Tim Ferris divided the techniques we must follow to achieve a stress-free but productive existence into 4 major subjects, namely: Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation.
One technique leads logically to the next one. According to Tim, once we have defined what we really want in life, we can whittle down our activities to only those which are relevant and essential to the achievement of our goal.
Tim discusses “Elimination” as the 2 and activities that we could live without or remove from our lives to effectively lead a productive life, free of stress with plenty of personal freedom to pursue our dreams.
He summarizes them as follows:
List down your activities for tomorrow NOW. This way, you will have time to analyze the importance of the tasks even before you start doing them the next day. If you think your day will be productive without doing some of the tasks you have listed, strike them off the list and concentrate only on the necessary ones with the attention and effort they need.
Stop all multitasking. You are not some multi-armed Hindu deity. Contrary to common notion, multitasking is counter-productive. By busying yourself performing so many tasks at once, you get results riddled with mistakes and of poor quality, if ever you get results at all. Instead of saving time and effort, you end up doing things over again in a very bad mood!
Compress your productive time. Gradually shorten your working hour by one hour each day. If, for example, you have set to end your day at 4PM, switch off your computer (or whatever you are working with) and stop working when 4PM comes. At first, you may have some task left hanging. Work on them the next day. Once you get the hang of it, following your shortened work schedule becomes a habit and you complete all your tasks for the day on time.
This is true with your working days in the week. Set to end it on Thursday instead of Friday and enjoy a longer weekend doing what you really have fun doing — you owe it to yourself.
Take a one week media fast. Stay away from your TV set and the dailies for news (include magazines, the web, etc.) for a week. Instead, use the hours you normally spend with them concentrating on your work at hand or hobbies you enjoy.
At the end of your media information fast, you will notice that your world will go on without being anxious about the news (which seldom concern you at all) and get to accomplish more for yourself!
Limit your email to only twice a day. Not only email but personal calls are big time-wasters, too. Stay away from the temptation of checking your email every 10 minutes by disabling your email and set to automatic the time it will turn on. As for personal calls, do them only during your break times and advice your callers accordingly.
Excuse yourself from “unproductive” meetings. These are those meetings without clear agenda. Chances are, they are spent in useless discussions and personal socializing. Either you appoint someone to sit-in for you or just ask for a copy of the minutes of the meeting later.
Do not hesitate to use a “do not disturb” sign. This may seem rude at first but it is an effective way to avoid “pop-in” intruders while you are busy at work. But even if you are not that busy, the habit of some inconsiderate co-workers will be minimized, if not completely stopped.
These intruders can take a lot of your productive time and unless the problem is faced squarely, you end up the loser.
Tim Ferris’ “A 4-Hour Work Week” book will give you more insight on this topic. The gist of his message is to compress your activities so you squeezed out the unnecessary things in your work schedule and be left with an effective and productive use of your time.