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Pimp Your Work - Improving Your Work Day Efficiency

How I Got to the 9-Hour Workweek (Part 1)

by Celine on May 13th, 2008


“The 4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss has been all over the blogosphere and mainstream media for the past year. The title sounds like a scam or a gimmick, and you half-expect that the official website will be a lengthy one-page sales letter that starts with “Dear Friend”. Thankfully, the reality is different: the official blog has an active community and has some additional ideas that aren’t discussed at length in the book.

The book captivated me, gave me a lot of dangerous ideas, and made me want to try it on my own. In this series of blog posts called “How I Got to the 9-Hour Workweek”, I tell the story of how I took some of the ideas from the book, used whatever applied, and created my own rules. If you’re a fan of the book or simply curious about it, you might be interested in my personal story. So here’s how I got to the 9-hour workweek:

Step 1: I figured out what my work was supposed to be.

This means the work that I love. I love writing, but I don’t like the marketing, client support, and other stuff that comes with it. At the same time, I don’t love all my writing jobs. I had to list the top writing gigs that I loved (regardless of pay) and I defined those as my work. The rest were nonessentials that I had to deal with indirectly.

Step 2: I became ruthless with my email.

What was the leading time sinker of my workweek? Email. It’s a time sinker because I knew that I didn’t have to spend hours a day on it, but that’s exactly what I did. I already wrote about how I conquered my email, so if you want to read about it, click here. Here are some changes I’ve made to the system since then:

The Inbox Zero approach. This is Merlin Mann’s baby (you know, that guy from 43 Folders). To learn more about inbox zero, click here.

Using Gmail as my sole interface. This only applies to 2 major email accounts that I use for people who are trying to contact me personally - not my company or my business partner, etc. The company-related emails are still handled by a virtual assistant.

Why Gmail? Because the search feature is kickass, and it’s web-based. I had to reformat my computer two-times recently, and restoring the Outlook stuff was a bit stressful. I realized that I needed email that I can access from anywhere at anytime and still have the same, comfortable interface. Switching between Outlook and my webmail (whenever I wasn’t at my home computer) drove me nuts.

Minimized rules. My email rules are now for archiving purposes only - like I label all PayPal notices as “paypal” if I want to read all the PayPal payments I received for a certain time period. Plus, some rules direct non-essential emails straight to the archive instead of my inbox, so I won’t feel pressured to read them ASAP.

These were the first steps I took.  Of course, there’s more.

Watch out for part 2 of this series, where I’ll talk about how I applied the 80/20 principle and used outsourcing.

 Photo Credit: Image by Rendy Aryanto  and lusi from sxc.hu

POSTED IN: E-mail, Email, General work pimps, Productivity, Software tips, Worklife Balance, Workplace hacks

4 opinions for How I Got to the 9-Hour Workweek (Part 1)

  • Laura Spencer
    May 13, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    I’ve been fascinated by the Tim Ferriss concept (from a distance) for some time now.

    My (admittedly incomplete) understanding of his premise is that it involves outsourcing.

    SO, I would have two questions:

    1) Do you outsource a lot of work?

    2) Do you earn a full-time income in your nine hours?

    I’ll certainly be back to check on the progress of this series.

  • Celine
    May 13, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Laura :) Thanks for dropping by.

    1) Not so much, since most of my writing contracts require that I write things myself. What I outsource are often the tasks that I don’t have to do myself but they take up so much time if I did them myself. This includes some research work, customer support , and other repetitive tasks.

    2) Yes, I earn a full time income, roughly 2x more than what I need to live on. It helps that I’m pretty frugal and that I live in an area with a lower standard of living. I’ll discuss this at length throughout the series.

  • BadAssBilly
    May 14, 2020 at 8:03 am

    I’m reeled in….. where’s part II??????

    Hurry up already ;-)

  • How I Got to the 9-Hour Workweek (Part 2)
    May 15, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    […] the previous installment of this series, I talked about how I defined work and modified my e-mail habits as my first two-steps to a 9-hour […]

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