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These tips will make you a better human being in my opinion, but you have to stay on topic, so let’s focus on business.
Over the past few months I’ve experimented with some lifestyle changes. Not all of these changes were specifically about improving my business or working life, but they have enabled me to become more efficient at what I do during the day with my work. I suspect they will have a similar effect on you if you do them too.
Some of these tips, at least on the surface, might seem a bit dramatic to some people, others will laugh and say they have been doing these things for years. Either way, please read this advice with a mindset of how you could possibly implement them to help your life and your business.
Mid this year I moved into a new house – my first home. As you do when you get your first home, you have a lot of stuff to buy. Furniture, dishes, cutlery, fridge, washing machine and of course – the TV.
I went out and bought a new flat-screen television – not a super big one, but a bigger TV than I have had before (see the picture to the left – that’s my TV). Australia, in recent years, rolled out a digital broadcast free-to-air service (cable is not that big here) and having never purchased a digital television or digital receiver I didn’t know much about the technology.
I was over a friend’s place and she had a digital set-top box and wow – she had perfect picture but not only that, she got an EXTRA channel for free. That was cool I thought, so I decided I wanted a digital television too, so I bought one.
When buying the TV the packaging said it had an in-built digital tuner, which I took to mean it had an in-built digital receiver. Turns out I was wrong and it didn’t even come with an aerial, so after taking it out of the box I couldn’t receive any television channels.
I wrote down on my very large to-buy list (you know how big this thing gets when you move into a new place) to purchase an aerial or digital receiver box, however I never got around to it.
Instead I started watching DVDs. I still had a lot of StomperNet DVDs to get through and I also had Mike Filsaime’s 7 Figure Code product to watch too (which is excellent by the way), so I began watching one DVD at lunch while I cooked and ate.
A few weeks went by and I didn’t have any commercial television. I admit it – I had Simpsons-withdrawal and I also missed music video clips, but I definitely wasn’t missing all the horror stories that the news constantly dishes out, the celebrity following, the brain-draining commercials and all the mindless shows that today’s society calls entertainment.
It’s amazing the emotion television stirs up and how pervasive it is in your life – it’s so easy to just turn it on and chill for a while, where in reality you are sucking up a lot of unhealthy junk. It’s now been several months with no TV and I’m not going back any time soon, although I might need to do something when the Australian Open tennis comes in January.
Besides just feeling better, not having TV means you turn to more productive things to do, like reading books, exercise, working on your blog/business and actually creating output, studying other resources, or if you do want some entertainment, you can grab a DVD of your favorite television series and not have to watch commercials. I’d pay a few dollars to watch Lost and The 4400 with no ads – that is for sure!
Honestly, I’m surprised how good this change has been and I bet you try it you will be blown away by how much more you get done and how much better you feel. There are some things in life you don’t need to know and 99% of television falls into that bracket – you can get the 1% you need to know in a much better format by going online, or reading a book or magazine or talking to other humans.
I’ve wanted to do this one for a long time and when a flyer popped into my mailbox with a nice bold headline stating your home can be cleaned for $20 a week I thought yeah, I like the sound of that!
I now have a cleaning lady come in every two to three weeks, do a once over of my house and it costs about $40 in total (I have a three bedroom house).
If you value your time and don’t enjoy cleaning then get this job outsourced.
I can sit down in the two hours it takes to clean my house and write a blog article, or respond to email or work on a new report or record audio or do all kinds of things that are worth a lot more than the $20 an hour it costs to get my house cleaned. This really is a no-brainer decision and I can’t believe it took so long to arrange it.
You have to remember I’m a bachelor living by myself presently, so that means I have a different environment to say having a family. My place is pretty clean in general, but after a few weeks the mess starts to build up. I might let it go for as long as a two months sometimes without cleaning and then finally do it. Now it stays clean, I don’t have to devote any mindshare to it and it costs about the equivalent of ten minutes of my time since I get a much higher leverage hourly rate doing other things.
I doubt there is anyone reading this who doesn’t know that sugar – the unnatural refined kind (not the good stuff in fruit etc) is bad. I’ve know this for ages, however I still would eat some kind of “treat” at least once a day. Chocolate was (is) my weakness and if there is something chocolate in the house I eat it – no amount of willpower can save me.
I’ve had some friends recently read through an old book called Sugar Blues and they’ve passed on to me how unbelievably toxic sugar is to our bodies – it’s basically poison – an addictive poison (hmm, does that remind you of another type of poison drug some humans use on a regular basis that is 100% legal?)
Regardless of how bad sugar might be, I didn’t like that I was addicted to chocolate and experienced cravings after lunch and dinner, so I decided to eliminate sugar from my diet as much as possible.
Bear in mind sugar is in a lot of things – if you live in the USA, Australia or Canada in particular you will have a hard time finding anything that doesn’t have sugar in it. Most processed foods have sugar added, certainly things like soft drinks, colas, and fast food have plenty of sugar added and if you just spend some time reading labels at your supermarket you will be amazed that EVERYTHING has sugar in it.
If you look at things from a business perspective this makes complete sense.
Sugar makes things taste sweeter, which means tastier to most people and of course it’s addictive as well. Hmm…so if we add this ingredient to our foods more people will want to buy it? I smell profit! Sometimes there are aspects of the corporate world that I really hate, and this is one of them.
Regardless of anything else I wanted to test this no-sugar theory and see if there are any tangible results. If you read Sugar Blues you will find a list of symptoms a mile long that sugar can be responsible for, but in my case I’ve noticed one big change – I don’t experience a mid-afternoon lull anymore.
Previously I’d crash around 2-4PM each day. I’d get tired, sluggish and feel like napping. As I type this it’s almost 3PM, I recently had lunch and I feel 100%. In the past I’d have lunch and much down on something chocolate with sugar in it and possibly have a drink with sugar in it too, with lunch. My glucose levels were all over the place, flying high then dropping down again, hence causing my sleepiness. Now with no sugar, things are more stable.
These are the sort of tangible results that I take notice of and I expect if you try to cut sugar from your diet you will be blown away by the improvements to your health. Remember you have to eat some sugar – our bodies need it – so get stuck into fruit instead of cake.
With the extra energy I’ve been able to get more done each day, including both work and exercise, and I haven’t had an afternoon nap in a while. I can’t conclusively conclude that eliminating sugar from my diet is responsible for the change, but it certainly makes a lot of sense to me, so I’m going to try and stick with it.
As an alternative to sugar you can try things like Xylitol if you absolutely need something white, sweet and powdery.
Haha! – You might laugh at this – how can you NOT respond to email?
Okay, of course you can’t completely ignore email, but you need to recognize how much of a constraint it is to actually getting things done.
If you asked me what is the biggest thing that holds my business back, it’s email. Email sucks time, most of it relates to treading water activities, yet you have to give it *some* time. The problem is, most of us give it an inordinate amount of time given what it provides for us in return.
In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss teaches a good technique for handling email by leaving it for certain times of the day and suggests batch processing. Mike Filsaime leaves email to the end of the day. I’ve tried both these techniques and they don’t work for me straight out of the box, however I’ve taken these ideas and come up with my own system.
Batch processing is great and I’ve done that with my email for years, so this is the first step you need to take. Create specific periods were you knuckle down and get your email processed. As David Allen of Getting Things Done notes, there will be emails you can answer in two minutes, so you sit down and bang these out the door. Then you go through and sort the rest of the emails into project and action folders for when it is time to work on those projects.
I’ve taken to quickly scanning my email, deleting the messages I don’t need, responding to the two minute emails and then just ignoring the rest until my next batch process period. Sometime I don’t batch process for many days. This is what I mean by ignoring your email. You just let it sit there, knowing that you will batch process them in a day or three. If people can’t wait that long, then too bad, some things are just more important than replying to an email.
Of course you scan your email at least once a day to make sure nothing critical is there, but most email can be left for several days without reply while you knuckle down and do the things that actually move you forward. You might upset a few people, but most of the time people learn how long it takes for you to reply and as long as you watch out for any “hot” time sensitive things so you don’t miss them, this system can alleviate some of the pressure.
I’ve yet to come across a perfect system for email and it’s just going to get worse as the amount of email we receive increases, but you have to set things straight – email should not dominate your attention – your moving forward tasks should. To help deal with this, push email to the back of your priorities, batch process it, use a folder system to manage and prioritize it and let it ride for a few days if there is nothing pressing to respond to.
You’ve got some unique tips from me today, which are not quite your typical Internet marketing style advice. Please take these as suggestions and experiment with them in your life and see how you go. You don’t have to everything listed here all at once and for some of you these ideas might be quite challenging (giving up sugar for example), so pick the one you think could have an immediate positive impact on your life and test it out.