It’s been four weeks since I first listened to and then read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. Since I detailed my results after the first seven days, I figured an update after a month might be in order.
The Low Information Diet
Previously, I woke up early every morning to read three newspapers (The Spokesman-Review, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington-Post). I would then watch the PBS Newshour at night with an extra helping of Washington Week on Friday evenings. Ferriss recommended going on a one-week “low information diet” to cut out this noise in my life.
Its impact was immediate and so powerful that I’ve continued it.
I no longer wake up and read those newspapers. Instead, I focus on writing. My output has soared this past month. Previously, it was a struggle to find time to clear my head and put words onto paper. Now, I’m doing it at regular intervals.
My mornings are met with a creative outlet and I arrive at the office in a completely different mindset. With creative juices already flowing, my days have been primed for better results and happier feelings.
I’ve also skipped the evening news programs for the past month. My anxiety level has never been less.
Why stress out on what’s happening in Washington D.C. when I can focus on the happiness in my life?
Email While in the Office
Immediately after listening to the book, I limited my email time to one hour in both the morning and afternoon. There were no issues caused by the modification and not one person complained about response time. Four weeks later, nothing has changed. I still handle emails at set times and I’ve never been happier or more efficient.
I haven’t turned the email auto-responder on as Ferriss recommended to let people know that I would only respond twice daily. It seems detrimental to point out how I am now handling emails. It would highlight something that might cause a sender angst. Instead, my lack of immediate response isn’t really anything new to those who understand my business. I’m frequently out of the office on a tour or in a meeting. Sometimes, it takes me a bit to respond so this change doesn’t seem to cause any new delays.
If I’m going to postpone responding more than a day (e.g. for a vacation), then the auto-responder will make sense. Until then, I think I’m going to operate as I have for the past four weeks.
Email While Out of the Office
I’ve almost entirely stopped checking emails on my phone. Unless it’s at the preordained times, I won’t check them at all now. The same has occurred with the iPad. No more checking emails unless it’s the preordained times.
Whenever I grabbed either device in the past, it was my habit to open up email no matter where I was. Out to dinner - check email. Getting a cup of coffee with my girlfriend – check email. Quiet Sunday morning- check email. You get the point. Regardless, the constant availability was never relaxing. Quite the opposite.
By limiting email access to a time I choose, email induced stress has evaporated.
As Ferriss suggested, I’ve made both devices look exactly like they’re coming from my computer now. No more “Sent from my Samsung phone” or “Sent from my iPad” which were dead giveaways that I was on the move.
Now, everything looks like I’m at the office.
Cold Calling & Canvassing
With emails under control, my days came back into focus. I started cold calling again in earnest and spent one day each week out canvassing (think cold calling, but in person). It was great to get back out on the street and talk with retailers and property owners. On my first day out, I found one tenant to relocate and wrote up a purchase offer for a client on an unlisted property that I cold called.
During my canvassing last week, I answered emails during the prescribed time using my cellphone. Most clients and prospects never knew I was out of the office. The only client who did know was one I called while eating lunch at a park (it was sunny out, by the way).
Personal reflection while at the park - Why wasn’t I doing this sooner?
The Biggest Time Suck in Your Office
Over the past four weeks, I’ve discovered the biggest time suck in corporate America. It’s greater than the quick peeks to your favorite social media platform. Can you guess what it is? It’s your co-workers. Throw yourself into that mix, too.
Please don’t take that the wrong way as I’m including myself as part of the problem.
Everyone is being nice when we want to chat about what we did over the weekend. We want to tell our story about going out to dinner with our spouse. Maybe there was something cool that we got to experience the previous night. Sometimes there’s juicy gossip that needs to be shared. All of this is just so much misused time.
I never realized how much was getting wasted until I started working towards more efficiency with my other processes.
Now, when someone walks into my office to talk, I start getting itchy. I want them to leave, but I hesitate because I don’t want to be rude. My office has a window so people can see when I’m on the phone. If they see me on a call, they often will leave, but occasionally someone will wait with important news (often, it’s not that vital).
I now feel bad when I walk into my business partner’s office to ask him a question. I start with, “I know I’m interrupting your time, but…”
I’m lucky I have an office where I can shut my door. I can’t imagine how bad it must be in a cubicle setting or an open office where you are exposed to the interruptions of everyone all day long.
The Home Office
I worked from home on Friday in the little office I’d set up a couple years ago. I’d thought of doing something like this before, but never carried through because I told myself that I needed to be at the office. I’m now convinced that my views were based on what I believed others expected of me.
My level of productivity on Friday was mind-boggling. I focused on several projects out of the gate, then answered my emails at the appropriate time. I soon found myself with plenty of open time.
No one was coming by my home office to tell me about their day or give me a status of a project that could have easily been emailed. There was no time wasted in my day by others.
I went outside for a bit and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine. I made some additional phone calls, read a book while I ate lunch and then went back to the home office in the afternoon. I later Facetimed with my partner to catch up on what I missed at the office (which wasn’t much) and signed off for the day.
Over the weekend, I thought about returning to the office on Monday morning and felt some dread. What happened to me? I never dreaded going to the office before. Because of this, I notified my partner I was working from home on Monday and I left a voicemail for my assistant, informing her of the same.
The exact scenario from Friday played out on Monday, although it seemed better. Why? Because it wasn’t as new and I could focus more on the actual tasks instead of the novelty of it. In the afternoon, I went for a 45-minute walk (without my phone) to recharge in the sunshine before returning to answer emails at the allotted time.
The realization then hit home that I love what I do but not where I do it.
I love commercial real estate and making deals and I can do that from just about anywhere. I’ve done deals while on vacation. I’ve resolved deal points while in the middle of a renovation project at my rental house. I continue working deals while attending the annual shopping center convention in Las Vegas. Surely, I can figure out how to complete deals on a weekly basis from the comfort of my home office.
Ferriss suggests to get started and make course corrections as you go along.
Well, the new plan of action is that Monday and Fridays will be worked from the home office. I’m going to get a little bit closer to owning the life I want - starting now.
Other Believers and Those Who Mock
When I told my business partner that I was going to try concepts from a book called The 4-Hour Workweek, he thought I was off my rocker. After the first couple of days, he saw how happy I was. I suggested he give it a try.
“I can’t,” he said.
My partner is the king of connectivity. He has an iMac, iPad, iPhone and iWatch. He’s connected to Facebook throughout the day. Every time something buzzes, he gets antsy. When a client calls, he drops everything to answer, even if we are in the middle of a conversation that involves an opportunity to make money.
I couldn’t change his behavior and I didn’t even try. I worked to change mine and left him to continue to deal with his own digital madness.
Then something happened – he turned his email off for a couple hours. It freaked him out. He didn’t like it. Until he tried it again. It was like a smoking addict weaning off nicotine. Now, he’s answering emails only twice a day as well.
He bought the The 4-Hour Workweek and is reading it and installing some of its wisdom into his own life now.
Three years ago, I moved to a standing desk. It was an awesome choice although I had sore legs for weeks.
Initially, when I raised my desk it was met with scorn. One of the owners of the company hated it. He especially hated how I raised it with a $4 concrete block from Lowe’s. Fellow employees mocked it. After a while, though, no one comments on it anymore. Everyone accepts it for what it is.
Then my partner followed suit and raised his desk. He’s a bigger fan of the standing desk than I am. Now, three others in the company have standing desks albeit with nicer, more expensive solutions than mine.
I believe the same thing is starting to occur with the search for lifestyle design. Word is leaking out about my moves toward efficiency and the scorn is in full affect. A fellow broker has mocked me several times for taking this seriously and even gossiped about it around the office. However, others have come to me quietly and asked me what I’m working on. Some have even heard of the book and know friends who swear by it. However, it’s always been met with the same response: “That sounds great, but I could never do it.”
It’s a case of business as usual because, “This is the way we’ve always done it before.”
Thinking that way is now weirding me out.
- I don’t want to work until I’m 70 years old because everyone before me did it.
- I don’t want to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year just because everyone before me did it and everyone is doing it now.
- I don’t want to be stressed out at home because people can reach me by emails 24/7/365.
It seems to me that we should find the examples of how smart, efficient people are living and learn to emulate that.
That’s where I’m going.
Because that’s the way we’ve never done it before.