I’ve been enjoying Daniel Pink’s travel tips series, but one bit from tip number 7 about how to zip through airport security really spoke to me. I’m both ashamed and proud to see myself here:

Men are crazy. We are hyper-competitive. So, every opportunity we have to best someone else, we will take it. What this means is when men get in a security line, they do not want to move more slowly than the guy behind them because that would compromise their masculinity.

And that is why you should get in the line with the male business travelers. Our tacit competition will keep things moving quickly.

A long essay on why crunch mode doesn’t work. The gist is that productivity peaks within the first 4, 5, or 6 hours of the day, then starts dropping. Eventually it dissolves completely. In the long run, that continuous overtime isn’t helping you or your company.

Projects.txt

It’s amazing what a 9k text file will do for your peace of mind. I finally got around to making a list of Projects like I’ve been meaning to. While I’m nearly religious about keeping a task list, I’ve never bothered to capture those multi-step projects in one place. What bothers me is why I waited so long.
For one, it’s not as fun. Friends see me all the time whipping out my notepad to jot a little tidbit down. I admit, there’s an addictive element to it. I’m writing shit down. Then I go and check them off. It’s enjoyable. I’m on top of things. But when I’m faced with all my Great Ideas that I can’t do in 2 minutes… Eek. I’m basically procrastinating on a larger scale. I’m choosing workiness over fulfillment.

David Allen talks about this in Productive Talk on procrastination that he recorded with Merlin Mann. Allen paraphrases some ideas from the book The War of Art. Listen to it, right around the 2:30 mark:

The thing that is closest to your soul is the thing you’re going to avoid the most. The thing that will tap into the part of you that has not yet come to the fore but wants to be expressed but you’re so afraid of it: you will absolutely find every single thing in your life to avoid doing that… You might actually have to show up.

It’s just plain embarrassing to see what I’ve neglected. About 85% of what I have on my Projects list is over 2 weeks old. Ouch. While none of it has blown up, it’s still broken promises to myself. It’s just me and Projects.txt and the Deep Truths™ of my existence.

The upside is, while Projects.txt is currently a chronicle of failure-to-date, it can also be a manifesto. Onward and upward.

The 4 Hour Workweek (review: 3/5)

Good book. I posted a while ago about my initial doubts and then how excited I became about this book as I began to read it. It all turned out fairly well, though I think the glow is gone.
Despite the hokey title, 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich seems to be pretty well grounded. It isn’t so much about the nuts and bolts of financial managment—you won’t find a lot of financial info about IRAs or 529 plans or whatever. It’s more about what author Tim Ferriss calls lifestyle design. Here’s how it boils down:

    Find ways to minimize interruptions and maximize time for what you want.
    Don’t stay in a crappy job.
    Don’t wait to retire—take mini-retirements along the way.
    Start a business selling products online.
    Outsource or automate most of the business.
    Use currency arbitrage to live well elsewhere.

The business side all sounds easy enough—and he lays out the steps pretty clearly—but as with most of these schemes, the magic doesn’t happen until you… y’know… actually do the work. The sections on respecting and maximizing your productive time are solid, though. Those are the parts that got me the most excited, and probably the most worth re-visiting.

If I have one reservation, it’s Ferriss’ nonchalance about lying. It has to be at least a half-dozen times that he suggests prevaricating to some degree, whether it’s used to avoid interruptions, to work from home or elsewhere, or to take some other step towards the long-term goal in lifestyle design. I don’t mean to taint his character—I don’t think he’s dishonest—but to someone like me who prefers to just shoot straight, it seems like careless advice.

I just started reading The 4-Hour Work Week. I admit, in the beginning, I didn’t want to like it. Part of me wanted Tim Ferriss to be some shallow, cocky blowhard with a couple hundred pages of motivational fluff. But… he won me over by page 11 with a passing reference to J.B. Say, and it’s been all good ever since. This book has me fired up.

If you cut up a large diamond into little bits, it will entirely lose the value it had as a whole; and an army divided up into small bodies of soldiers, loses all its strength. So a great intellect sinks to the level of an ordinary one, as soon as it is interrupted and disturbed, its attention distracted and drawn off from the matter in hand; for its superiority depends upon its power of concentration—of bringing all its strength to bear upon one theme, in the same way as a concave mirror collects into one point all the rays of light that strike upon it.

From Arthur Schopenhauer’s essay On Noise. I think maybe he might have appreciated GTD, were it around in his day.