Two E-Mail Autoresponses That Work

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E-mail is the single largest interruption in modern life.

In a digital world, creating time hinges on minimizing it.

The first step towards controlling the e-mail impulse is setting up an autoresponse, which indicates you will be checking e-mail twice per day or less. This is an example of “batching” tasks, or performing like tasks at set times, between which you let them accumulate.

In this post, I will share two of my own tried-and-true e-mail autoresponses, one short and one long.

Your success with batching — whether laundry, phone calls, or e-mail — will depend on two factors: your ability to train others to respect these intervals, and, much more difficult, your ability to discipline yourself to follow your own rules.

So what works?

Before my current examples, let’s look at a basic template from The 4-Hour Workweek. Readers have tested this one in 30+ languages:

Greetings, Friends [or Esteemed Colleagues],

Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail twice daily at 12: 00 P.M. ET [or your time zone] and 4: 00 P.M. ET.

If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that cannot wait until either 12: 00 P.M. or 4: 00 P.M., please contact me via phone at 555-555-5555.

Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

The above is simple but works. Furthermore, bosses respond better than you’d think. Here’s a real-world example.

Now, on to my current faves… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 18: James Altucher on How to Say “No”, Fail Better, and Build Businesses

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James Altucher

James Altucher

Listen on iTunes, download (right click “save as”), or stream it now below:

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest…

James Altucher is an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. He has founded or co-founded more than 20 companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr. 17 have failed, and 3 have made him tens of millions. He has published 11 books, the newest of which is The Power of No.

Join us in a conversation about just about everything, including: how to say “no” to requests, how to learn from failure, and how to build businesses.  More in the show notes below.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

For those who enjoy reading, here is the full transcript.

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show Notes and Select Links from Episode 17… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 16: Joe De Sena on Grit, Endurance, and Building Empires

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Spartan Race

Listen on iTunes, download (right click and “save as”), or stream it in the below player now:

This episode is brought to you by…you guys. To help keep this podcast going, please check out the Tim Ferriss Book Club, where, every 1-2 months, I highlight one book that’s changed my life. Here are the first four books.

Now, on to our guest…Joe De Sena.

Joe De Sena is the co-founder of The Death Race, Spartan Race (1M+ competitors), and more. Among other things, he has completed the famously grueling Iditarod dogsledding race…on FOOT. And what about the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles at over 120 °F/49 °C), Vermont 100, and Lake Placid Ironman? He did all of those in ONE WEEK. The man is a maniac, and he’s a very strategic businessman.

This episode covers his story, as well as his approaches to grit, endurance, and building empires.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

This show’s had more than two million downloads…but only 550 or so reviews!  WTF?! If you’d like me to continue doing these podcasts, please leave a short one here.  It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests.

Show notes and links (e.g. mentioned books, resources) can be found below.

Enjoy!

If you’ve missed previous episodes, here are two you might enjoy:


Show Notes and Select Links from Episode 16

  • The story of his entrepreneurial beginnings – pool boy to the organized crime figures of New York
  • Becoming an expert in women’s clothing
  • How he ended up on Wall Street, and why it led Joe to adventure races
  • What is the Death Race, and who enters a race with a name like that?
  • 3 races and a wedding (saying “yes” can get you in trouble)
  • How the Spartan Race became a global phenomenon
  • Behind the scenes of Spartan Up!
  • Much more….

LINKS FROM EPISODE 16

Books Mentioned in the Episode

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The Tim Ferriss Podcast, Ep 15: Neil Strauss, Author of The Game

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Listen on iTunes, download (right click and “save as”), or stream it in the below player now:

This episode is brought to you by…you guys. To help keep this podcast going, please check out the Tim Ferriss Book Club, where, every 1-2 months, I highlight one book that’s changed my life. Here are the first four books.

Now, on to our guest… Neil Strauss!

You asked for him as a guest, so here he is. We had a blast, and I learned a TON.

Neil has written 7 New York Times bestsellers, including The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. He’s also been an editor at Rolling Stone and a staff writer for The New York Times.  Not only that, but he’s built highly profitable companies and is an all-around hilarious guy.

Even if you *never* want to write, his thinking can be applied nearly everywhere.

In this episode, we discuss life, maximizing creativity (and creative output), and generally answer the questions:

  • How did he become a creative powerhouse? How does he consistently create amazing work?
  • How does he overcome writer’s block and other pitfalls?
  • What are Neil’s favorite books and movies?
  • How did Neil become a master conversationalist, and how can you?
  • What’s next?

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

When you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. This show’s had nearly two million downloads…but only 550 or so reviews! If you’re listening, please leave a short one here.

Show notes and links (e.g. mentioned books, resources) can be found below.

Neil is a close friend, and this is one of my favorite conversations we’ve had together. Please ping him on Twitter (@neilstrauss) to let him know what you thought.

Enjoy!

Teasers and Select Links from Episode 15

  • The story of Neil Strauss’s first rejection by publishers
  • Why he received hate mail from the great Phil Collins
  • Neil’s techniques for conducting engaging, one-of-a-kind interviews
  • Proof that writer’s block doesn’t exist, and what that feeling really is
  • A deep-dive into Neil’s creative process
  • How the art of empathy improves any creative endeavor
  • How to hater-proof your book, Eminem-style
  • The importance of figuring out what your “white tennis shoes” are and removing them from your writing space
  • The books that Neil gifts the most

LINKS FROM EPISODE 15

Books Mentioned in the Episode

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Why Can’t You Draw The Face of a Penny? Understand the Reason and Learn Spanish Twice as Fast

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Allow me to explain using a related problem.

Vocabulary lists in a run-of-the-mill Spanish textbook usually look something like the below, taken from real-world sources I won’t shame by naming:

  • La mano – the hand
  • El arbol – the tree
  • Las muñecas – the wrists
  • ¡Nos vemos mañana! – See you tomorrow!
  • Mande? – Sorry? Pardon? What did you say?
  • Ahorita vengo! – I’ll be back in a minute!

Pretty typical, right?

Sadly, this format is also priming students for failure.  Two reasons:

Spanish is listed first, so we’re training recognition.  If you want to be able to speak (produce) Spanish, you should list English first, then Spanish: cue and target.  For at least the first month, you will be translating from English in your head before most speaking.  Have your materials mimic this process, or you’re working backwards.

Incredibly, almost no textbooks get this ordering right.  If you train for recall, you get recognition automatically; if you train for recognition, recall is terrible, or as slow as molasses.

Think I’m exaggerating?  How many times have you handled or seen pennies and quarters in your life?  Tens of thousands of times?  Millions?  Try and draw both sides of either from memory.  Recognition does not = recall.  You have to train specifically for the latter.

A fixed list equals inflexible recall.  By illustration, answer this: what number is the letter “L” in the alphabet?  5th, 14th, which?  What is the third line of your national anthem?  Slow, isn’t it?  The answers depend on order – on the pieces before them acting as cues.  If you learn words in a fixed list, the preceding words act as a recall crutch for your target word.  You’ll eventually get it, but it’s plodding and haphazard.  This is a major problem.  This is also why, 10 years later, I can still sing (poorly) a few entire songs in Italian, but I could never recall those words independently for conversation.

We want RAM—random-access memory—where we can pull any word from memory quickly.

Mixing up flash cards accomplishes this, as does a software program like Anki or Duolingo (I advise), which does it automatically.

If you have a textbook with a fixed list, just practice doing them backwards and also in evens, odds, every-third item, etc.

¡Mucha suerte, ché!

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If you like these shorter posts (as opposed to my longer, monster posts), please let me know in the comments and I’ll do more of them!

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 14: Sam Harris, PhD on Spirituality, Neuroscience, Meditation, and More

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Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Listen on iTunes, download, or stream it in the below player now:

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest… Sam Harris.

Sam Harris is a neuroscience Ph.D. and the author of the bestselling books, The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, and Lying. His work have been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals.

In this episode, we explore the science of lying, uses and types of meditation, psychedelic drug uses and risks, spiritual experiences, and more. It’s really a discussion of the human experience, and how to optimize it without harming others.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Once you’ve listening to this episode, let Sam (@samharrisorg) know on Twitter what you found most valuable or compelling.

Enjoy!… Read More

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Not-To-Do Lists, Drugs, and Other Productivity Tricks

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This is a short post of things you may have missed.

First, three short (<15 minutes) podcasts I recently published:

The 9 Habits to Stop Now — The Not-To-Do List (iTunes or stream below)

Drugs and the Meaning of Life (iTunes or stream below)

Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) (iTunes or stream below)

Second, I’ve put up about a dozen highlights from other episodes — 1-3-minute clips on my YouTube page. If you enjoy them, I’ll put up more, so let me know in the comments!

Here are a few to start with:

Third, below are some podcasts with friends.  I had a blast on all of them, and all of them are different:

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 12: Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Life Extension, Performance, and Much More

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Dr. Rhonda Patrick

Dr. Rhonda Patrick

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest…

My guest this episode is Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick, Ph.D., who works with Dr. Bruce Ames, the 23rd most-cited scientist across ALL fields between 1973 and 1984 (!).

Dr. Patrick also conducts clinical trials, performed aging research at Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and did graduate research at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she focused on cancer, mitochondrial metabolism, and apoptosis.

What does that all mean? Time is precious, right? Long podcast needs to be worth it, right? Here you go…

Whether you want to extend life, inexpensively buy a stem-cell “insurance policy” (hint: related to the Tooth Fairy), or guard against cancer, she will have a surprise insight for you.

In this episode, we cover a lot:

  • Are there simple methods for extending lifespan? What looks most promising?
  • What are the easiest ways to minimize your risk of cancer?
  • What are the dangers of taking certain common supplements? What’s worth it and what isn’t?
  • How can diet change the expression of your genes? How can this can be passed on to offspring?

…and much more.

Click here to subscribe to the show on iTunes.  This is most helpful to me and the podcast, even if you listen elsewhere!
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

Or stream the show in the player below:

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show notes and links are below, and please find Rhonda on Twitter to say hello or ask questions. She’s very responsive.

Enjoy!… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 10: Brian Koppelman, Co-writer/Producer of Rounders, The Illusionist, Ocean’s Thirteen

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The writing duo: David Levien and Brian Koppelman

The writing duo: David Levien and Brian Koppelman

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest…

“Everyday, it’s about building a practice that enables you to try and forget that you’re afraid.”
- Brian Koppelman

My guest in this episode is Brian Koppelman.

Brian is a screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer. He is best known as the co-writer of Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders, as well as a producer of The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones. He has directed films including Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas.

In this episode, we explore how he got started, how he handles rejection, his big breaks, his creative process, and much, much more.

How does Hollywood work for writers?
How did he finally break through?
How did he discover singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman?
Will there be a movie for The 4-Hour Workweek?!?

His lessons and principles can be applied almost anywhere.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

Or stream the show in the player below:

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show notes and links are below, and please let Brian (@briankoppelman) know on Twitter what you found most valuable or hilarious. He’s a good dude and loves to teach.

Enjoy!… Read More

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Need to Borrow Some Strength Today? Watch This.

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People often ask me, “Who inspires you? Who do you look up to?” One immediate answer is Kyle Maynard.

I’ve been blessed to spend time with Kyle, who encourages you — in the most powerful, unspoken of ways — to do more, be more, and help more.

How do you compete in wrestling or MMA without arms or legs? How on earth do you climb Kilimanjaro on, not your hands and knees, your elbows and knees? How do you face the challenges no one thinks you can?

Life can be overwhelming. Hope can be lost. Whether you’re facing a little self-doubt, an extended depression, or the darkest of thoughts, I suggest you watch the above video.

Thank you to BJJ Caveman for reminding me to put this up. Damn, it’s powerful stuff.

Good luck, everyone, with whatever battles you’re fighting inside or outside of you.

You are not alone.

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