The 4-hour Workweek Series: How to Eliminate Information and Interruption Overload

Up until know, I have been exceptionally liberal in my approach to plagiarizing summarizing Tim Ferris’s work. Most of what he discusses, albeit difficult to implement, is easy to understand. The key for my readers to gather is that up to this point if you haven’t clearly defined you goals/objectives/values and your nightmares and dreams, do so. Then come back to this point because we are now going to begin the process to ELIMINATE the dross.

I have already introduced you to 80/20 and Parkinson’s law. And if you have followed along so far, you know which 80% of your life to eliminate and which 20% to elevate for bench-marking time requirements. But neither 80/20 and Parkinson’s Law shows you how to ELIMINATE, they only show you what you might want to Eliminate.

To understand how to ELIMINATE, we are going to plagarize analyze Tim Ferriss’s core message for how to eliminate. Essentially, what you are going to do is “develop an uncanny ability to be selectively ignorant.” Or in other-words, unless it is either your dream or the nightmare you must ELIMINATE by my massive action or ignore it.

This idea is so freaking important that I am going to write it again in a way that my readers will unabashedly understand. If what has your attention is essential to your wildest dreams or forestalling your darkest nightmares: DO IT! Otherwise, ignore it.

I can almost hear you sniveling on the other-side of these words, “But but but… Alixander, I… I can’t simply ignore stuff.”

Yes, my dear reader, yes you can. And as if Tim Ferriss were Gawain the Green Knight, his words are going to cut off the two heads of the DREAM KILLING dragon: Information and Interruption.

Information

You, my dear reader, live in the perpetual flow of information that has become of our age. And this information is coming into your life seemingly from everywhere and it is a DREAMKILLER. If you intend to join the mobile elite and to ascend, as it were, into the New Rich, you need to eliminate most (if not all) sources of information in your life. That’s right: Books, TV, newspapers, magazines, social media apps, video games, blogs, websites, text messages, phone calls, emails, slack messages and so many more sources.

Don’t panic.

There is a reason for why Tim Ferriss is advising this. You and I both know that you could sit on your heinie and consume information all day long. And you know that nearly all the information that you consumed could be categorized with one or more of the following, “time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside your influence.” If the information was time-sensitive, you wouldn’t sit on your hands for hours would you? If the information was positive, do you really need 8 hours of it? If the information is irrelevant to your dreams/nightmares, what cock-a-mammy excuse are you making to prop up its importance in your life? And if you really can influence the information that you are receiving by taking action, why haven’t you?

I’ll give you a little hint: 80% of why anyone consumes negative, irrelevant, time-consuming, and uninfluencable information is on account of the gaping void that comes into view when not pursuing dreams.

“It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable […] Lifestyle design is based on massive action—output. Increased output necessitates decreased input.”

Just do what Tim Ferriss says in this instance: “Go on an immediate one-week media fast.”

  • No newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, or nonmusic radio. Music is permitted at all times.
  • No news websites (cnn.com, drudgereport.com, msn.com, 4chan.org, etc.). The only exception is alixandercourt.com
  • No social media (FACEBOOK/INSTA, SNAP, TIKTOK, LINKEDIN, MASTADON, LEMMY, REDDIT, etc.)
  • No television at all, this includes no video-games
  • No reading books, except for the 4 hour workweek and one hour of fiction pleasure reading prior to bed.
  • No web surfing at the desk unless it is necessary to complete a work task for that day. Necessary means necessary, not nice to have.

Assuming you can handle that, which I am sure you will, let’s attack the other half of all DREAMKILLERS?

Interruption

The second head of the DREAM KILLING dragon is interruptions. And Tim Ferriss has done such an incredible job of defining Interruption that it is best that I let the man speak for himself:

For our purposes, an interruption is anything that prevents the start-to-finish completion of a critical task, and there are three principal offenders:

Time wasters: those things that can be ignored with little or no consequence. Common time wasters include meetings, discussions, phone calls, web surfing, and e-mail that are unimportant.

Time consumers: repetitive tasks or requests that need to be completed but often interrupt high-level work. Here are a few you might know intimately: reading and responding to e-mail, making and returning phone calls, customer service (order status, product assistance, etc.), financial or sales reporting, personal errands, all necessary repeated actions and tasks.

Empowerment failures: instances where someone needs approval to make something small happen. Here are just a few: fixing customer problems (lost shipments, damaged shipments, malfunctions, etc.), customer contact, cash expenditures of all types.

Tim Ferriss The 4-hour Workweek

Interestingly enough, the remedies I have to offer for solving each of these categories of interruptions is a rather simple prescription: become accountable. And while this is a complete departure from what is advised from the book, I think you will enjoy the process of becoming accountable.

How to account for your productivity:

  1. Assume you are on a one week media fast and this is the only source of information you are allowed. (You will come to cherish self-generated data more than any other type of information.)
  2. Get a small memo pad and a pencil
  3. On the first page write down the names of your four most exciting dreamlines you have due in the next six months
  4. Then set an alarm on your phone to go off at 1pm everyday that says “Write down tomorrow’s three most important tasks”
  5. Then set a second alarm on your phone to go off at 3pm that says “State aloud tomorrow’s three most important tasks”
  6. Keep this memo pad near your writing hand at all times (you can put in your pocket, don’t leave it there)
  7. Whenever you take action towards your dreams be sure to log the time, what you did, and write “Pursued Dreams”
  8. When an interruption enters your life, jot down the time if possible and one or two words to describe the payee (ie checked email) and then account for it by categorizing it Time Waster, Time Consumer, Empowerment Failure
    • eg. 2021/01/07 08:15 * SON VOMITED – TIME WASTER
  9. At the end of the day, reveiw your memo pad and account for your actions/interuptions.
    • To do this you will need to create the following lists: CELEBRATE, NEGOTIATE, IGNORE, DELEGATE, BATCH, SCHEDULE, EMPOWER
    • For each task you have completed that furthers your DREAMS, add the description to CELEBRATE
    • For any entery labeled TIME WASTER, add them to either NEGOTIATE or IGNORE. If you cannot IGNORE a TIME WASTER because the downside would be too severe, NEGOTIATE a better outcome.
    • For TIME CONSUMER entries you need to decide which pile the interruption goes into: DELEGATE, BATCH, or SCHEDULE. Conveniently, these lists will help you automate later.
    • For EMPOWERMENT FAILURES: add entries to your list titled EMPOWER
  10. Then, keeping your dreams front and center with your most important tasks for tomorrow following, shred your logs.
  11. Repeat

In later posts of this series covering the 4-hour Workweek, we are going to leverage these lists to do incredible things. In the meantime, have fun catching all the interruptions while you pursue your dreams!

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