Successful people may be a bit delusional. It's coming out that Steve Jobs felt he was in some ways special and I think this is something you find on a personal - or professional - way in many successful people. One such person is Tim Ferriss, author of the book The Four Hour Work Week. Without getting into too much of what he says in the book I decided to try his suggested "Media Fast" where I check email only twice a day, allow myself one hour of leisure reading and one hour of television each day, read no newspapers, blogs, tweets or allow any undo web surfing. Here are my thoughts on how it went.
Monday 4PM - I'm beginning my media fast and it seems like it won't be too much of a problem, my inbox is down to four emails that I can deal with later. Shutting my laptop makes me feel free and allows me to get dinner ready.
Monday 7PM - My old iPhone has binged three times, I feel like Pavlov's dog looking for a treat. I wonder when the iPhone email ding will occupy the same space as AOL's you've got mail.
Monday 11PM - I spent two hours working on some projects instead of reading a book I had gotten from the library and feel better for it. I really enjoy reading non-fiction but I won't remember even the best written stuff if I don't talk about it. Which often doesn't happen.
Tuesday 6AM - Normally I crack open my laptop for some news and "undo web surfing". Instead I write in my journal and get ready for the day with a nice breakfast. By doing this I'm more prepared for my kids when they get up.
Tuesday 12PM - This is one of the times Ferris suggestes checking email - the other is 4PM - but I've got my hands-full feeding two kids so I don't check.
Tuesday 2PM - I run the fifteen emails I had down to 2 that need my attention and I'll deal with tonight. Those thirteen others make me realize how much junk mail I've signed myself up for.
Tuesday 5PM - I check email now and each time my iPhone bings because we're waiting for some information from our mortgage generator - this is a really important email!
Tuesday 7PM - The mortgage company calls because it was important, oddly Ferriss predicts this will happen.
Wednesday 7AM - I'm into my computer - working - and can't help to see if any mail has arrived. None that needed my attention now instead in the afternoon.
Wednesday 2PM - I've been on the computer working for about an hour and finished everything I wanted to do. It would be really easy to check Reddit, Facebook, Twitter or my Reader feed but I won't. The hardest part of this media fast is having a list of things that needed done. So far I've gotten good work done on my projects - a lot more than I had done lately - but if I had a checklist of sorts to rip through I think my time would be even better spent.
Friday 7AM - I've violated the Do Not Check Email principle so many times that it would be easy to forget about this system, call it unusable, and shift back to whatever I was doing before. BUT. I do seem to be checking email less and if it wasn't for one specific thing going on I wouldn't be checking as much. I have avoided following my twitter followees, reading my reader, and staying up to date on the most up to date news. My email inbox also morphed into a GTD inbox where if it takes less than two minutes I reply or complete some task and if I can't it goes on my task list which I have more time for because I check email less.
As a stay at home father it's hard to judge how applicable this might be for someone with a more traditional job but I have enough personal and family projects and tasks to believe that it would work in some way. My GoodReads review said to skim it and grab the best part and the email fast may be one to keep.
I've slimmed my list of twitter followees, google reader reads and check facebook far less often. I've also got better at having my list of things to do at the ready.