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20th Dec 2016

7 Ways To Eliminate Distractions And Turbo Charge Productivity


Sometimes it’s hard to focus, and prioritise so that tasks get completed in work and in our personal live. There’s always new fads and suggestions which crop up, with people claiming to have ‘cracked’ how to be productive.

One such person is Tim Ferriss who has invented the 4 hour work week, accompanied by the 4 hour body and the 4 hour chef. He espouses the benefits of outsourcing work to focus on the things that matter to us and his ‘lifehacks’ provide some useful time saving tips.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend trying to adopt all of these at once – somehow I don’t think cutting out all meetings and stopping answering emails within certain hours may not go down too well with colleagues. However with a staged approach, I think these hacks when adopted can really free up time.

Ferriss has taken his own advice and reduced his workload to enable him to learn kickboxing in thailand, play hurling in Ireland, learn five languages, teach in Princeton and become a national tango champion in Argentina. Here are a selection of some of his genius ideas, and if you want more be sure to check out his blog.

Reducing Email

Eliminate distractions so that you can complete your task from beginning to end. Limit your email consumption and production – don’t let emails consume you.

Check email twice a day, once at 12pm or just before to lunch, and again at 4pm. These are times that ensure you will have the most responses from previously sent emails. Don’t use it as a way to postpone important tasks. Tim Ferriss recommends creating an auto-response to let people know that you will only be checking at these assigned times. ‘Cite pending projects and frustration with constant interruptions as the reasons.’

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Cutting Down The Chit Chat

Ferris recommends a rather ruthless approach for phone calls by avoiding any sort of chit chat and aiming to get straight to the point. He prefers this kind of dialogue:

“Jane: Hi, John. I’m right in the middle of something. How can I help you out?” to a “Hi how are you?”


Avoid Meetings

Ferris regards meetings with absolute disdain and believes they should only be a five minute affair in which decisions are made. “Resolve to keep those around you focused and avoid all meetings, whether in person or remote, that do not have clear objectives.” Move people to a number of other communication methods instead of meetings including phone, so if someone proposes a meeting instead suggest they send an email instead and then use phone as a fallback.


Don’t Try And Be A Hero

If you are exhausted at the end of the day and find yourself just staring at the screen, put the laptop down. While not always possible better to take a break, put pen to paper on what you need to do and come back to it. “It’s more effective to plan for it than to simply try to work through it, or spend unproductive hours staring at a screen.”

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Don’t Be A Busy Fool

There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Measuring your successes as time spent in the office isn’t very effective, but rather measuring by tasks achieved instead can be. Don’t look at doing work for work’s sake.


Eat The Frog

Don’t put off what you are afraid of. Do it, don’t worry about whether it might be the wrong decision. You can always rectify mistakes afterwards but don’t wait for the perfect time to do something because there never will be.


A Virtual Assistant

Ferriss espouses the benefits of outsourcing and recommends looking at sourcing a Virtual Assistant. He provides proven templates on his site for how to ensure your interaction with VA’s is as efficient as possible and minimise back and forth emails. He talks about ‘economic arbitrage’ if you can hire somebody at say five to six euros an hour in another country that allows you to focus on something that earns you more than that, then it is worth doing.