This is Part II of a series of posts following SXSW in Austin, where I issued a challenge to attendees: implement at least one principle from my presentation (“The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World”) and report back on results in 48 hours.
Here are two e-mail of close to 100, edited for length, that show how life can be redesigned if you ask a few uncommon questions. The first highlights the importance of defining a target monthly income (TMI) for your ideal lifestyle to avoid excess hours, and the second highlights the importance of avoiding “crutch activities” and following a low-information diet.
Subject: You changed my life… my response to your challenge
Thank you profoundly for your presentation (which I immediately felt the need to share with everyone). I am insanely exhausted and jetlagged: flight got postponed overnight, just got in today, picked up my son, hung out with him, then off to a theater rehearsal. So I have neither time nor energy to fully explain the radical ways I am implementing many of your suggestions. However, I did want to respond before the midnight deadline! So, here’s the brief outline:
* My business partner and I are going to quit our jobs in the immediate future
* We’re starting a new company (the one we were about to start before we got sweet-talked into being employees)
* We have defined the lifestyles we want to live
* We have figured out how much those lifestyles will cost us
* We have determined how many hours we need to bill per week to get there (currently it is only 16 each)
* We are figuring out how to decrease those hours and increase our profits by outsourcing some of that work
* We have already lined up a freelancer to outsource to
* We have identified our goals for our company
* We have set up a time to meet together with both of our spouses to discuss our exit strategy from our jobs and to get their buy in
* And we are insanely excited and can’t wait to free ourselves!
Of course, we have not had time in the last two days to implement all these decisions, but we absolutely will. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
First, thanks for a great presentation at SXSW! I took your message to heart and put it in action immediately… below is a brief description of what I did as a result of your presentation and the results I enjoyed.
During your presentation I had my laptop on and Outlook active. I had several other windows open too. Not long into the presentation I realized what I was doing and put it away to focus on your presentation. As soon as the presentation was over, I started putting what I learned into action by first analyzing what I had the rest of the day on my schedule.
But before I left, I created an autoresponder for my email account to let everyone else know that I was getting serious about my time too. I went to my next presentation and quickly realized that I wasn’t getting what I expected and rather than toiling on my computer or suffering through the presentation, I left. This meant I had an extra hour in my schedule which came right before lunch. My first reaction was to go to a bar I know with wi-fi to get lunch and “work.” But of course, “work” was just an excuse to stay “busy.” On the way to the bar I realized where I was headed and what I was doing again.
The problem I had was identifying what I should do if I wasn’t “working.” What could I do with a 3 hour break in the middle of my day? Well, this also happened to be the most beautiful day during SXSW and I realized that what I wanted to do most in Austin at that moment was go for a run on the river trail near my hotel. It was the first time in years that I went for a run because I wanted to enjoy my day and not because I had to do it as a task on my schedule. It was then that I realized with a little more effort I could do this every day! How cool would that be?
Today was my first day back to work. It was also the first time I didn’t check my email prior to heading to the office. In fact I set 11am as my first time to check email for the day and I stuck to that. In return for not checking my emails, I completed a long awaiting task that I had been reprioritizing for the past two weeks. I also wrapped up a proposal that I had more than a week to work on and scheduled lunch with one of my employees to discuss his professional growth in the agency and how I wanted to use ideas from SXSW to get him to teach to the rest of the agency. Just before going to the lunch I checked my email, answered the important ones and planned my afternoon. I didn’t answer email again until 4pm which is just before I left â€“ an hour and a half early!
Tonight I went for a jog, unpacked my things and got caught up around the house. I then worked on a pet project for a bit which I haven’t had the time to do in the past.
I’m just getting into this and can’t wait to see how the results pan out over the next several months. Thanks again and I can’t wait to read your book!
Coming next: How do bosses and customers respond to autoresponders? Samples that worked and extreme e-mail detox.
Posted on: March 19, 2007.