Time Management Guru-itis: Mark Hurst vs. David Allen and Tim Ferriss

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You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

I once asked Po Bronson how he beats writer’s block. His answer was “write about what makes you angry.” It works like a charm.

If I had writer’s block, this quote from a recent Entrepreneur magazine blog post would surely make the words flow like water. What follows is an example of guru fatigue and an overview of some misconceptions and principles of Bit Literacy vs. Getting Things Done (GTD) vs. 4-Hour Workweek (4HWW)Read More

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5 Tips for E-mailing Busy People

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Even after outsourcing my e-mail to a virtual assistant, there are still a few messages that come over the transom.

Since the success of the book, I’ve been able to see some of the worst e-mail pitches out there. Here is an example of how to do it properly, with 5 tips and good template phrases bolded: Read More

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Is Technology Failing to Simplify Life? Tim Ferriss on Economist.com

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Do you think technology simplifies or complicates life?

I was recently invited to participate in a debate sponsored by The Economist, and it just went live.

The proposition: If the promise of technology is to simplify our lives, it is failing.

Do you agree or disagree?

There are some fascinating points made by both debaters, and I add a few observations of my own. Be sure to read their “opening statements,” which are what I focus on, before their later rebuttals. Here is the first part of my commentary as a “featured participant”:

I receive 500–1,000 e-mail per day.

To contend with this, I have virtual assistants in Canada and sub-assistants in Bangalore who filter my inboxes using processing rules in Google Docs. Connected via Skype and compensated via PayPal, this team translates a 10-hour task into a 20-minute phone call…

[Read the rest of this one-pager here]

It will be obvious why I voted “pro”.

In order to vote — and I find this ironic — you need to first “register” in the top right of the screen, then get a screen name, then click on “pro” or “con”. Simple. :)

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The Best (and Worst?) Autoresponders of 2007

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Reflecting or deleting e-mail can be an art form. (Photo: marinegirl)

An increasingly popular approach for escaping the inbox is the routine use of e-mail autoresponders.

Love it or hate it, reflecting or deleting e-mail can be an art form.

I’ve collected some of my favorite autoresponders of 2007 from Gmail and included them below.

The styles range from polite and hat-in-hand to direct and full-frontal, and include examples from both employees and business owners… Read More

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How to Stop Checking E-mail on the Evenings and Weekends

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[Reposted from Lifehacker, where I guest posted this article this morning.]

Investment bankers aren’t known for their impulse control.

Several global firms in Zurich don’t allow their bankers to check email more than twice per day. The reason is simple: the more they check email, the more compelled they feel to send email. Technologist Robert Scoble has said that for each email he sends, he gets 1.75 to 2 messages in return. This phenomenon highlights the unscalable nature of most time-management approaches: striving to do more just produces increasingly more to do.

Fifty email messages beget 100, which beget 200 and so on. It’s impossible to manage this with a results-by-volume (or frequency) approach. There are two cornerstone behavioral changes for reversing this trend Read More

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7 Tips for Fighting Information Overload (Plus: Competition Winners)

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Do you feel like this when you see your inbox?


[Watch the video first, but this is what caused it]

Here are 7 tips for avoiding information overload from Ron Geraci:

1. Spot the signs. Feel alone even as you communicate with people all day? That’s a signal technology is dominating your life.

2. Take baby steps. Try being inaccessible for short spurts to see what happens. The world probably won’t implode.

3. Repeat these four words: “I have a choice.” People who say, “My boss wants me to be reachable after 8 p.m.” are likely exaggerating the control others have over them.

4. Set limits. Rein in office e-mail and instant message traffic. Who truly needs 35 daily FYIs on the Henderson case?… Read More

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The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm

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Photo: CyboRoz

I was stressed out… over dog cartoons.

It was 9:47pm at Barnes and Noble on a recent Saturday night, and I had 13 minutes to find a suitable exchange for “The New Yorker Dog Cartoons,” $22 of expensive paper. Bestsellers? Staff recommends? New arrivals or classics? I’d already been there 30 minutes.

Beginning to feel overwhelmed with a ridiculous errand I’d expected to take five minutes, I stumbled across the psychology section. One tome jumped out at me as all too appropriate—The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen or read Barry Schwarz’s 2004 classic, but it seemed like a good time to revisit the principles, among them that:

-The more options you consider, the more buyer’s regret you’ll have.
-The more options you encounter, the less fulfilling your ultimate outcome will be.

This raises an difficult question: Is it better to have the best outcome but be less satisfied, or have an acceptable outcome and be satisfied? Read More

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