Increasing Proficiency by Eliminating Distractions

I picked up Tim Ferriss’ recently updated book, The 4-Hour Workweek and it is completely changing the way I run my WordPress design business day-to-day.  No, I’m not cutting everything back so I can actually work only four hours per week, but by implementing a few of Tim’s suggestions I am doing a much better job at maximizing my time.


Many people know that Tim suggests outsourcing your email in order to allow you to focus on the important tasks.  As I’m in a service-orientated business, that’s not exactly a viable option.  I can see how it could be done but I don’t see myself eliminating it as he suggests.

Instead, I’m scheduling set times to check and reply to emails.  Three times a day I download and reply to emails requiring my immediate assistance.  Ones that list tasks for projects I’m working on get a reply when I complete the requests.

Sure, I might spend the same amount of time reading and replying to my emails as I have always done, but what I am doing is eliminating the distraction of getting a new email and stopping what I was doing to read it.  It takes a while to turn your brain back on to the previous task and you are much more efficient if you finish what you are working on without taking a break.

I always took pride in replying to most of my clients emails within an hour, but now I am realizing that there is very little that requires that kind of attention.  99.99% of emails are not an emergency and can wait a few hours.

Social Media

I am a total Twitter addict.  There, I said it.  I’ve also been known to hop on Facebook to kill time and see what my friends are up to occasionally.

I’m taking a similar approach with my social media usage as I am doing with my email.  The main difference is that I’m not receiving anything that is time-sensitive through these networks.

When I’m working I turn of Tweetie and make sure any Facebook windows are closed.  I’ll hop on a few times a day and see what’s happening, and like my email, I have realized there is not much that needs my constant attention.

Text Messaging

Just like Twitter, I’m turning off my text message sounds when I’m focusing on work.  When I’m away from the computer my iPhone is always in my hands and my thumbs are getting a workout like usual though.

TV and Games

I love me some good TV.  Luckily my DVR records everything I want and I’ll take one night a week to relax and catch up on my favorite shows rather than an hour each night to find out what the hell is going on with Lost.

The Gym

No, I’m not eliminating the gym.  My workout routine is something that keeps me both sane and healthy.

I used to bring my iPhone in with me and check mail, surf the web, and post random tweets in between sets.  During a kickboxing session a few weeks ago, I ditched the iPhone and pulled out my old iPod Shuffle from my desk since it was smaller and lighter so I wouldn’t have to worry about breaking it.  What I noticed was that I flew through my workout in about 2/3 the time.

Now the iPhone stays in the car.

What about you?

Do you have any productivity tips? What things have you eliminated from your life or learned to manage better in order to be more productive and efficient?

Photo by ihtaho

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