How many emails or IMs will you get by the time you finish reading this post?
Timothy Ferriss is a 29-year old, lighting-blond web entrepreneur who's become the guru on time management. His book, The 4-Hour Workweek, topped the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestseller lists, a testament to the current epidemic of information-overload and time starvation.
Tim shares with the Tech Observer how he went from a 90-hour workweek to becoming a globe trotting business owner. His secret? Cutting back on emails and information in-take and outsourcing the majority of his tasks--both business and personal--to virtual assistants overseas.
We caught up with Tim somewhere in Bulgaria, as he was in Europe for the rugby world cup, and chatted via Skype. He explains how his best-selling book and freedom to roam the world all started with the motivator of many a great venture: a misery inducing job.
Back in 2001, doing sales for a San Jose start-up, Tim, using Google as his personal assistant, was able to develop during his free/sneaked time on the job, an online business selling a performance enhancing drug called BrainQuicken, inspired by being an athlete himself and from studying neuroscience at Princeton.
Soon BrainQuicken took off and Tim, as the only full-time employee and shareholder, was selling to 15 countries and logging in 14-hour days and working most weekends, for three years. "That schedule ended three relationships and caused every type of problem imaginable," he says, adding. "I think it's important to mention that I was juggling many different time zones."
Tim hit what he calls an "overload threshold" in June 2004. On the verge of losing his mind, he went to Europe to take three weeks off to figure out whether to redesign his business or close it down completely. Instead, he began an experiment with email. "This initial experiment led me to check email once per week and was the genesis for The 4-Hour Workweek."
For just some of Tim's tips to managing email and information overload and for making the most of your time, read blow, check out Tim's Tips
Cut Back On Email: Have an auto-response for your emails letting people know how often you check your inbox. Provide a number or some other way to contact you for emergencies. And, if you have a virtual assistant, let them go through your email and respond when necessary
. Outsource Everything: From paying bills to creating spreadsheets to checking email, hire a virtual assistant at GetFriday.com, Elance.com, and Workaholicsforhire.com.
Strategize And Plan Out Your Time: Figure out what tasks and responsibilities can take up only 20% of your time to produce 80% of your desired results.
Schedule Your Life: If you role out of bed on Saturday and check email, if only for a second, it will turn into three hours surfing the web. Keep that in mind when you need to be productive.
Cut Back On News and Magazines: Eliminate information instead of trying to consume it all.
Batching: To get things done more efficiently, perform similar tasks at the same time.
Kevin Maney covers technology for Portfolio.