9 Ways to Distract Yourself with Work

January 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

There are a million things you can do right now instead of doing something important. How do you choose?

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

We are faced with unlimited choices in modern society.

There are millions of paths we can go down. One of the biggest questions inevitably is: which path do I choose?

Choose the one that is most important.

The most successful people I know aren’t on Twitter for two hours a day, they don’t watch TV three hours a day, and they certainly don’t own a Wii.

If you know what your important priority is, good. I applaud you.

If you don’t, your first priority needs to be figuring out what your priority is. Go on a vision quest. Lock yourself in a room. Read books. Anything until you have some idea, because until you’ve figured that out, it’s really hard to find an excuse to turn Lost off and do something worth your time.

What is important to me.

I have a little important project that I want to share with you: I’ve been working on a e-book on being minimalist.

Around a month ago I realized that I was writing too much material for this site, I had to publish it somewhere more important to me. An e-book seemed like a good choice. I hope you’ll agree.

I’ve never been a published author before, so I’ve been a bit nervous about how this e-book would turn out. So far I’ve been very surprised though. The words are just flowing out of me.

The e-book basically covers the minimalist journey that I’ve undertaken over the last year. It explains in detail the experiences I had ridding myself of my possessions, quitting my day job, and beginning to live and work from anywhere.

I hope this e-book will help a few more people take this rewarding journey.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be sure to give you updates as the e-book progresses.

Obviously working on an e-book is hard. I’ve spent countless hours (probably in the hundreds) writing, designing, copyediting the final text. I want it to be perfect.

The constant threat of distraction.

Seth Godin writes in his new book, Linchpin, (aff link) which comes out Wednesday, the following:

“By forcing myself to do absolutely no busywork tasks between bouts with the work, I remove the best excuse the resistence has. I can’t avoid the work because I am not distracting myself with anything but the work.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this paragraph as I spend the hours making my e-book happen.

Many people would find something else to do, but I choose not too. I choose to make something important, a text that I hope will help people.

I could have watched TV, gone shopping, or had another cup of coffee. I could have complained about how hard it was to come up with ideas, or asked a dozen people to give their opinions on whether I’d fail or not. But I didn’t.

None of these things would have helped make this e-book a reality.

Here are a few techniques I’ve put into play to avoid distracting myself from the work.

  1. Incentives. Finish X before you’re allowed to have another coffee. When the going gets tough, I like give myself a little somehing that I’ll get once I’ve spent two hours working. Like I can’t have another coffee until I finish this blog post.
  2. Sitting in silence. Force yourself to sit in silence until your work is done. This is very difficult for many modern people, who are constantly updating the Twitter and digesting information. Don’t let yourself fiddle with a random thing until an idea comes to you, because it won’t come if you fiddle. Sit in silence until the idea comes, you’ll find that they come far more frequently.
  3. Continuing to do the work. When no ideas are coming, It’s important to keep on creating. There’s a common myth that creativity comes in waves, and you just have to catch the next one when it comes. Creativity doesn’t work like that though, so most people sit staring out a window waiting for the daemon to strike. It doesn’t just strike, you have to work for it. Sit and work for 30 minutes, and eventually your work will transition from crap to magic over that time.
  4. Take yourself away from distractions. If you’re having a hard time concentrating, consider moving away from distractions. I’ve been doing this by going to a coffee shop in Brooklyn, but there are endless other ways. Sit out in the back yard. Go work on a mountain top. Disconnect your Internet.
  5. Make everything else done first. I have two things that need to be done before I start working, the dishes and my email. I clean all of my dishes, and answer all of my email before I work. This is harder if you have a bottomless to-do list. I’ve programmed my life to have very few things that I’m required to do every day, so this works for me..
  6. Don’t allow multitasking. Don’t allow yourself to flip between Twitter and Facebook and chatting with your friend while you’re working. When you are creating something great, there is no way that randomly tweeting during the process will help make it better. Dividing your attention is project suicide.
  7. Recognizing the importance. I honestly can’t work on projects that don’t care about anymore. I’d rather starve than make another widget. The promise that I’m creating a work that is important in this moment in time has really kept me going. Are you working on what something that you feel is important?
  8. Deadlines. I’ve set the expectation that this my project must be done by the end of next week. I could have given myself an open deadline, but I feel like I’d then spend endless hours aiming for perfect. There is no perfect, there will be flaws, there will be things I wish I had said differently. The most important thing is to ship this project: 1, so it can start making good in the world; 2, so I can start on my next project.
  9. Off time. I don’t let myself do any work between 5pm and 10am. I know that sounds rediculous, but I’m convinced that workdays are too long, and we spend a good portion of them wasting time by procrastination and pointless busywork. I limit my work day, so I feel that I can barely get the goals I’ve set out to do. I finish the work without distraction, and then I stop. I read a book, I spend time with my girlfriend, I go for a walk, I cook dinner. The next day I can work again. The one exception is that I let myself write material at any hour of the day. Ideas come to me, I can have them finished and into Evernote in 15 minutes.


Here’s one more thing that occurred to me recently, I thought I’d share:

We’ve been taught over and over again that great work comes from thinking incredibly hard for a lot of hours. This doesn’t make sense to me.

I don’t think great work comes by thinking really hard about things that are hard to think about.

To be honest, this upcoming e-book is based on my experiences. The techniques that I’ve learned and employed. They are natural to me, because I’ve mastered them. If I was writing a book about something I didn’t know about, it would be difficult and I’d have to think really hard. I would make my brain hurt. But I know this stuff, so it comes naturally.

Great work doesn’t come from overworking the picture box in your pre-frontal cortex. It should just flow out of you without prior contemplation. It just comes out of you onto the page.

Important work should come naturally.

I have a guest post coming up on Zen Habits, in a few weeks (not sure exactly, Leo has a long guest post cue because of his site’s popularity) which deals more with creative flow. It’s quite a privilege to have a post up on Leo’s blog, I can’t wait until it posts. I hope you’ll subscribe to Zen Habits, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss my post.

Anyway, it’s really important to remove anything that will stop you from achieving flow with the creation of your project. Distractions kill great work.

How do you remove distractions? What great work are you creating?

If this was helpful for you, please help spread the word in any way that you can. The buttons below are two good options.

Thank you.

14 Simple Methods to Help Firewall Your Time

January 18th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Your time is the most valuable commodity that you have. Don’t give it away.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

In the modern age we’ve managed to find hundreds of thousands of ways to use as much time as possible.

We’ve come to a point where people cannot slow down. When they do, it is uncomfortable for them to sit still.

It’s impossible for some people to dwell in the present moment, without fiddling with a distraction.

We think we need to be constantly connected. We think we need to answer every email as soon as it arrives or society will leave us behind.

We think we need to madly dash from the subway, to the coffee shop (red-eye please), to the office every single day, or someone will think we’re not valuable enough.

None of this is true. In fact, it’s becoming readily apparently that the people who decide to opt out of this system of constant stimulation are far more effective people than the ones who are constantly plugged into the matrix.

Right now, in this moment, we need to reclaim our time.

Some of the most effective people I know, such as Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss, have realized that being constantly connected is counter productive. They’ve both written in great length in their books The Power of Less, and The 4 Hour Workweek [aff links], about how blockading your time can generate far more intrinsic worth than by not.

The reason for this is simple: if you’re constantly connected, you’re also constantly reacting. Every single request that comes in needs to be answered immediately. This means you’re dividing your time between the important projects you’re working on, and little stupid things that come in.

For instance, I may get two @evbogue requests on Twitter in the time I take to write this. They will be simple questions, or requests to promote things. If I answered all of these requests immediately, wouldn’t have written these last couple of paragraphs.

Alternatively, if I wait until an hour from now, my work on this story will be done. I’ll be able to answer 5 @evbogue tweets and any emails all at once.

Constantly flailing from one activity to the next is only making our lives less valuable.

Time is probably the most valuable asset that we have left in this world, and it is rightfully yours.

This is the moment to take a stand, regain our valuable time for yourself.

How to firewall your time: 14 ways to save your valuable time, so you can use it appropriately.

1, Set dedicated work hours. Many people let there work hours extend into every odd hour of the day. Freelance web workers, like myself can fall into this trap even easier than someone who works at an office. There’s always something else to do, and never enough time to do it all. Set specific times when you will work on work, and stick with them. For instance: today I’m working from 1pm-5pm. After that time, I’m going to go enjoy the lovely weather and read Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin.

2, Pretend you’re not here. Lock the door, don’t let anyone in. Hide under the desk. This is easier if you work from anywhere, or have your own office, but there are many ways to pretend you’re not here. Be creative!

3, Answer emails decisively. I write about this often. Don’t sit at your computer hitting the send/receive button over and over and over again. Work is not about how many emails you can reply to, it never has been. Work is about thinking about unique solutions to problems, unless you’re a widget maker, which many of us aren’t anymore because all of those jobs are in China now. You need dedicated time to work on solutions, you can’t do this if you’re constantly waiting for a new email to come in your box.

4, Make dedicated Twitter time. Just like email, stop hitting the update button on Twitter. Trust me, it does no one any good if you stay constantly up to date on the 50 140 character messages that flew into your box in the last 30 seconds. Actually, while I’m on this topic, don’t follow 50,345 people on Twitter. I can’t take people who do this seriously. There is no possible way they will ever see my Twitter messages if they’re following that many people. Follow 150 people max. Dunbar’s law applies to Twitter too. Follow people who interest you, unfollow people who don’t interest you. It’s that simple.

(If you want someone to follow you on Twitter, try retweeting a few of their stories. That’s usually the best way to get them interested in your own personal work. There are many ‘bots’ on Twitter, and it’s hard to tell who to follow sometimes.)

5, Refuse to put out fires. I wrote about this last week two. There will always be non-urgent work emergencies, but you aren’t the fire department. These fires usually drop onto your desk at 4:49pm, and can take hours to deal with. Most of the time these emergencies could have been dealt with before they became emergencies if someone had just got in touch before they spiraled out of control. Make it clear you don’t deal with these. When ‘emergencies’ come, unless they’re actual life or death situations (these don’t happen often, but recognize when they do.) Handle them just like an other work request. Don’t panic, just do the work. If it’s 5pm and you’re going home, it can wait until tomorrow.

6, Make yourself unavailable. Some people make themselves always available at the office, or online. This is a trap, because people expect that you will be available at all times if you usually are. A better approach is to avoid broadcasting when you’re online and when you’re not. This might mean keeping your office door shut, or always keep headphones on if you work in an open office. It might mean finding more time to work from home, so you can get important projects done.

7, Always take a day to respond to everything. Make people assume it will take a day or two for you to get back with a request. You can always give a better response to a question or a problem if you have time to consider it. Make a commitment to not respond to requests for at least a day. Make your response incredibly valuable to your client, colleague, etc. This doesn’t mean that you should procrastinate, it’s just a way to consciously slow down the work cycle, so that everyone does better work.

8, Select two primary modes of communication. Make a choice as to which applications you’ll use to communicate with online. There are so many communications platforms available, and it’s incredibly important to select only two that you actually use. I use gmail and twitter. I do use Facebook, but it forwards everything I receive there to my gmail. I don’t check my Facebook, constantly, I don’t check my Wave constantly. Think about which communications platforms you use, and consider how to opt out of some. If you have three email addresses, (your Yahoo, your Gmail, your AOL) consider consolidating them into one email. Most of these services will forward, but if they don’t set up an auto-reply that informs people who email you that you no longer check this email and they should email you a the correct address.

9, Don’t use instant message. Always-on instant messaging is the ultimate enemy of firewalling your time. People expect an instant response to an instant message, and will usually become frustrated if you leave your instant messaging on but do not reply. Just don’t use AIM, Facebook chat, Gchat, etc. If you need to communicate with someone in real time, consider using one of these services on Invisible mode, and contact the person you’re working with.

10, Let the phone go to voicemail. When the phone rings, 9 out of 10 times you have no idea what the person on the other end wants from you. It’s good policy to let the message go to voicemail, and listen to the message. Let it compost in your brain for a bit and then give them a call back. This will give you time to consider a proper response to the problem, and not act in a reactionary manner. Respond once you’ve finished whatever you’re working on. Again, I’m not advocating procrastination, just having the ability to respond decisively.

11, Hire an assistant (or an Intern). In this economy, it’s pretty easy to find someone who can be your first line of defense. Timothy Ferris has an entire chapter in his book about outsourcing all of your boring tasks to India, maybe this can work for you. I don’t personally have anyone working for me, but I also have a very manageable workload. If you find yourself either doing a lot of remedial tasks that don’t challenge you, it can a good idea to hire someone to do them for you. Obviously, this only works if these tasks produce more value for your business than the assistant costs. If they don’t, consider whether it is necessary for you to complete them at all.

12, Take a timeout. Go for a walk in the park. Take an hour lunch break. There are a million ways you can disconnect, and I feel strongly that you should do this more than you are now. Leave your cellphone at home. Take a moment and think about your favorite way to take a break, and then find a way to implement it.

13, Take your work out of the office. If you can’t get any work done in the office, consider doing it at a coffeeshop or at home. This obviously depends a lot on the type of work that you do, and the freedom that you have to do it. I often find that a change of location can increase my productivity.

14, Only read information that contributes value. Unsubscribe from everything that is boring or you don’t have time to read. Many people subscribe to entirely too many blogs and other methods of incoming communication. Information is so accessible in this day in age, I promise you that you won’t run out. Consider each and every blog feed that you’re subscribed to, does it contribute value to your life? If you’re just reading it because you always have, maybe consider unsubscribing to these blogs. I used to check the front page of the New York Times constantly, just out of habit. I eventually realized that this wasn’t helping me. The news would still be there tomorrow, you don’t have to constantly stay up to date. Which blogs are you subscribed out of obligation instead of usefulness?


I hope you found these methods to firewall your time helpful. How do you firewall your time?


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I hope you’ll use it, because the sharing is incredibly important for independent content like my own.

Your single click takes less than 10 seconds, and can help my story be read by hundreds of people.

Thank you for your help, it means so much.

How to Focus on the Important

January 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Success often comes down to priorities, why have only a few of us decided we have them?

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

I asked many people over new years what they would like to do in ten years. I got a lot of ‘I don’t know…’ answers.

I know one woman who wants to move to France. She’s wanted to move there for a number of years. I asked her if she would make it there by 2020, and she wasn’t sure if that was enough time. She’ll be nearly 60 in 2020.

I told her she could do it in less than a year.

Why not just go to France, if that’s where you want to be?

Many people spend so much time talking about what they wish they had the will power to achieve. If these people spent half as long talking and more time doing the work to get them to their goal every single day, eventually they might just get there.

Achieving your goals ultimately comes down to focusing on your priorities. However, many people seek simply to avoid setting them.

Instead of starting a business, a person continues to work at Starbucks.

Instead of traveling the world, a person buys an SUV.

It’s also important to realize when you have handicapped yourself by using a ‘when this happens, then I’ll do this.’ statement. Like, ‘if only I had a million dollars, I’d start my own business and travel the world!’

Realistically you’ll never earn a million dollars, so you’ll never achieve your dream.

My biggest goal right now is to support myself by writing this blog. This naturally means that my daily focus is writing incredibly valuable articles for this blog.

It is absolutely essential that you take a moment and think about what your ultimate goal is, in this moment, and prioritize it. Make this single goal the most important activity of every day. — Even if you are working at Starbucks, your day doesn’t revolve around Starbucks. It’s just where you go to work, but meanwhile your brain is thinking about photography.

How to focus on your priorities to achieve greater success.

  1. Select one overall priority that you care about intrinsically.
  2. Break down the priority into manageable steps that are actionable.
  3. Spend at least an hour (more if you can) every day working towards it.
  4. Be accountable. Tell everyone you’re moving to France by 2011.
  5. Map your progress in the short term and what you’ve achieved in the longer term.
  6. Reward yourself when you’ve made sufficient progress.


It’s okay to have other interests, but only give yourself one priority.

Now, there’s no reason why you can’t have multiple interests (minor priorities) at any one time, but I think it’s important to just focus on one over-arching priority. If you have seventeen priorities it’s really hard to find the time to do one thing every day to further them.

Jane, left a comment a few days ago listing her many priorities: writing, photography, web design, and teaching.

She recognized that she couldn’t focus on all of them at once, and she is totally right. You can’t master all of these things at one time. I recommended that she pick one to work towards mastering, before investing too much time in the others.

But it is also worth noting that she can be all of these things that she listed.

In fact, all of these skills compliment each other in significant ways. A web designer/photographer/writer/teacher is a very different professional than just a photographer. A photographer who cannot write will have difficulty communicating with her subjects and gathering contacts. If she cannot design a website, she will have to pay a web designer to put her work online. Teaching photography is one of the best ways a photographer can network with clients and other photographers.

Priorities change over time.

At various times in my own life I’ve invested thousands of hours in the very same skills Jane listed. Earlier in my life (probably between the ages of 12-16) I wanted to be a web designer, so I built many websites. Later I choose to concentrate on photography (18-23), so I spent thousands of hours taking photos. This eventually led to a job as a photo editor (21-24) where I spent thousands more hours making photos look brilliant on stories which were published on websites.

It’s perfectly acceptable to shift your priorities, and I think it’s only natural that they will change over time.

We are human beings, not robots, and our interests morph as we achieve various levels of skill. If you force yourself to stick with one path, when you really want to change it, then you’ll end up being incredibly unhappy.

Let the other priorities become less important until you’ve attained some level of mastery in the first.

I’ve spent many years with maintaining writing as passive activity, while I was focusing on art directing and photography.

I didn’t stress about writing. I still wrote as often as possible, but not on a schedule. Two summers ago I filled two Moleskins with a novel, without even making it a priority. That novel still isn’t a priority, but it was a big passive step towards being a better writer, as I was focusing on larger priorities.

Now that writing is my ultimate focus, all of that passive work behind the scenes has come to the forefront. The pieces are fitting together, and the results I’m seeing are extraordinary.

What are your priorities? How are you working towards them?


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The Minimalist Workweek: 6 Ways to Liberate Your Drawers

January 6th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

This is a guest post written by Dave Damron of The Minimalist Path.

On the path to becoming a minimalist, it’s important not to overlook your desk drawers.

I have already discussed my issues with desks and desktops over at The Minimalist Path, but drawers are another clutter-control area that has been glossed over many times.

Drawers, you ask?! Yes, drawers. They hide away the stuff we want to ignore for days, months, and even years. Drawers are an intimate part of the procrastination in all of our lives.

Drawers are the devil. Okay, maybe not the devil, but they can be a great way to hide things that you actually need to deal with, or part with.

I currently have two drawers in my desk and they only hold writing tools, scratch paper and computer/electronic cables. Other than those objects, these drawers are empty.

I do not have an abundence of unorganized old bills or miscellaneous love letters from Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Biel. I actually keep the latter under my pillow, but that is a discussion for a different post.

Drawers were the arch-nemesis of my attempts to organize at work, when I worked at a 9-5. I always just threw random papers from the boss into them and rarely acknowledged their presence until the last minute. Unfortunately, during my almost 2 year tenure in my 9-5, I never learned from my clutter until the end.

But since then I’ve developed a number of helpful solutions to the proverbial drawer problem.

I would love to help you minimize your workplace by attacking those drawers with all your might.

6 Ways to take control of your drawer situation.

1, Limit unnecessary filing. It’s important to recognize the difference between filing and “filing”. Filing is the process of putting useful material that you will need in a drawer, so you can use it later. “Filing” is putting stuff in a drawer that you will never need to see again. Learning to differentiate between the two is a valuable skill.

2, Surrender your knickknacks. How many knickknacks do you need? I had a few knickknacks as conversation pieces at my desk, but it’s was important to keep the number limited. Unnecessary knickknacks can build up in drawers, when you don’t really need them. Trash those knick-knacks hiding in your drawers now.

3, Deal with the work on your desktop, don’t hide it. The more you see an item on the desk, the more likely you are to complete that task. So don’t bury projects in the drawers. Deal with projects that appear on your desk immediately, and then dispose of them. Skip the drawer section of your workflow entirely.

4, Keep the pen supply simple. Do you really need 30 Bics, 2 staplers, 5,000 paperclips, and markers representing all the colors of the rainbow? Most likely not. One simple pen can usually do the trick in most modern offices.

5, Food goes in the fridge, not the drawer. This may help you on another resolution, if you know what I mean. Keeping food in your drawers can promote constant snacking during your workday, snacking plus extended periods of sitting can cause obvious health side effects. Forgetting perishable snacks in drawers can cause obvious smell side effects.

6, Don’t let others fill your drawers. You would be surprised by what others ask you to keep for or from them. That includes your boss. Just say you can only handle what is on your desk and nothing that needs to be stored away. If they have something that needs to be done right then, then do just that. If it can wait, have them give you the project or file when you have time to address at that time.

Hopefully, these will shine a light on the problem hiding in the closet…or should I say drawers.

David Damron is the brilliant blogger behind The Minimalist Path and Life Excursion. He was interviewed previously on Far Beyond The Stars on being Minimalist.

The Ultimate Guide to the Minimalist Workweek

January 4th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

21 ways to save yourself from workplace oblivion.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

This is the first of a series of three articles on minimalist workplace philosophy. Check back on Wednesday for a guest post by David Damron of The Minimalist Path.

Don’t miss out on these posts! If you enjoy this writing, sign up to receive free updates by RSS and EMAIL.

Metaphor for workplace oblivion.

Americans work too much. Did you know that the average American worker spends 47.1 hours at the office per week? Some even work up to 70 hours. That’s insane, we’re killing ourselves. No wonder we never have time to cook breakfast and dinner, let alone exercise and spend time with our families.

The great recession has exacerbated this problem, because people are afraid they’ll be laid off if they don’t spend extra hours on the job.

The problem with delayed gratification.

The worst part about this whole equation is that we’re expected to slave away our youth for a far off goal of someday retiring to a nice beach somewhere when we hit our 70′s.

I’ve got some news for you, you probably won’t make it to 70 working 70 hours a week.

Now, I’m not saying you should quit working. Everyone needs to work in order to make money to survive, but an outrageous amount of time at the office is a good sign that you are working in a fear-based environment.

It’s time to start working less.

The best time to start working less was five years ago, if you missed that opportunity the time to start is now.

You’re afraid you’re not good enough, so you end up working long hours to prove to yourself and your employer that you’re being useful. This is the opposite of what your approach to work should be. You need to prove to yourself and your employer that you’re so useful that they can’t survive without you, and in order to do that, you and them need to value yourself enough to let you go home at a decent time of day.

But the truth is, you are good enough. Your employer needs you to do your job, because what you do is valuable. If what you do isn’t valuable then you need to go work for a company that you’re passionate about.

Why it doesn’t matter whether you’re self-employed or an office drone.

I’ve been self-employed since August, but before that I did a three year stint at a magazine office in New York. While I was there I developed a number of strategies to take control of my work schedule. I hope you’ll find these strategies useful, and you’ll apply them to your own work life.

This tips apply whether you’re working in an office, or from your living room.

While I might be working from anywhere these days, I wouldn’t be here without the solid work ethic I developed while I was working at the magazine.

You are probably more in danger of overworking when you’re self-employed than when you’re working in an office, because all of the money you make hinges on your ability to bring in the cash.

Be aware of your freelance work schedule, because if left unmonitored, the flexibility can be more dangerous than any day job.

If you get yourself fired, it’s your fault not mine.

Any of these suggestions below can be abused. You have to approach the modification of your work schedule with a decisive and yet conscious attitude. The idea behind most of these suggestions is to do your job better, make yourself indispensable, and go home at a decent hour.

Do not use these suggestions to be a slacker and not accomplish what you’re paid to do at your job –this approach can be a one way ticket to a pink slip if you’re not conscious of how others are perceiving what you’re trying to achieve.

Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t do all of these suggestions all at the same time. Be sure to retreat if your colleagues (and especially your boss) get defensive.

Use these tips wisely and you’ll be working thirty hours a week in no time, use them poorly and you’ll be working 0 hours a week in no time. I am in no way responsible if you lose your job if you blow your cover or act inappropriately.

The warning being said, I’ve put all of these techniques into play in both an office and working from home, and I’ve had huge success with all of them.

21 ways to take control of job with the minimalist workweek.

1, You can probably do your job in less time than you do. There is this prevailing idea that you need to do your job for 8 hours a day. The problem with this mentality is that you stretch your daily tasks until they fit into the 8 hours. I know some people who fill the down time with idle time surfing Myspace or blogs. That might be wasted time, and you could be going home earlier. Make a list of all of the tasks you have to do on a regular day. Now estimate how long it takes you to do those tasks. Cut each of these estimates by 25% and try to make everything fit. Now you’re only working 6 hours a day! Hurray!

2, Set a go-home time. Projects will always land at your desk at 4:59pm. This is an inevitability, because colleagues will spend a day working on a problem and then present it to you right before they go home for the night. By setting a go-home time people will start to understand that they can’t keep you longer, so they’ll give you stuff they need to be done earlier. You have to make the decision that work can wait until tomorrow.

3, Make yourself indispensable. One of the best ways to work less is to make yourself so important to your workplace that they just can’t do anything without you. You do this by being remarkable, by being awesome, by being so effective and intelligent at your job that no one can do anything close to the level of work that you achieve. Does this sound difficult? It’s really much easier than you think. The secret is focusing on what is important to succeeding at your job.

4, Become a leader. No one questions when the boss takes a two hour lunch break, or goes home at 5pm. This is because they’re a leader, and you need to become one too if you’re going to escape workplace monotony. Start taking the lead on projects, make decisions quickly and show initiative. People will start to look up to you, and they will let you work less because they know when you are working you’re doing a remarkable job.

5, Learn to delegate. One of the most important skills anyone can learn is the ability to let other people do work for you. If you have people working under you, learn to trust them to do their jobs. There are endless tasks that would be better done by someone who isn’t you. Outsource stupid repetitive tasks to an intern or a less experienced employee. Give yourself time to work on the hard problems. The important thing is to concentrate on the work that you have to do, and let everyone else concentrate on the work that they have to do. If you can’t trust someone who works under you to do their job, then maybe you should get someone else to do that job.

6, Eliminate unnecessary tasks. Every job has stupid tasks that someone assigned someone to do once a week five years ago, and they just keep doing them. Make a list of every stupid task you do and try to either automate them, delegate them, or simply stop doing them. Maybe no one will notice, maybe you didn’t have to do it anyway.

7, Learn to live on less. Many people work too much because they live unsustainable lifestyles. They have two mortgages and two cars, and they eat out every night, and then go drinking and pretty soon they need to be making $100,000 a year to sustain the lifestyle. By learning to live on less, you will be able to work less. If you only need $2,000 a month to survive you only need to make $24,000 a year from working, and that can free you for a world of other opportunities which will inevitably grow to providing much more than a dead-end job ever will.

8, There will always be tomorrow. Most jobs have projects that will take months or years to achieve. Recognize that you will be working on a task for a very long time, but that you need to take time off to rest and recuperate before the next day. Everyone needs balance, or else you’ll burn yourself out. So go home at 5pm, come back in at 9am, and you’ll start over with working. The project won’t go anywhere overnight, trust me.

9, Refuse to put out fires. There will always be colleagues who have problems that ‘have to be dealt with now! It’s an emergency!’ Don’t buy into this, nothing is an emergency. Just tell them you acknowledge their problem, but you’re very busy right now and need to finish your current project. Check in two hours later, and I bet that most emergencies have been dealt with by those who started them. If you run around solving other people’s problems all day, you won’t get anything done on your own projects.

10, Isolate yourself. Lock yourself in your office and don’t come out until your work is done. When people call, tell them to drop you an email and you’ll reply when you have time. If people are constantly dropping by your desk to ask questions, or have idle chit-chat you’re not getting work done. Questions should be asked via email. Small talk is for the bar after work once a week. If you have a cubicle, put headphones on.

11, Avoid meetings like the plague. Meetings are endless time suckers. No one ever accomplishes anything at meetings, so stop going to them. People hold meetings because they don’t know what to do, they have no ideas, so they rely on other people to develop them. If something important needs to be discussed, that’s great, call a meeting. But meeting every day to go over TPS reports is useless, and there are better ways to approach workplace optimization than disrupting everyone’s schedule so they can sit on their blackberries and zone out as everyone else talks.

12, Take the initiative on important projects. Learn to be a leader when important projects come your way. Be discriminatory on which projects you are willing to take on, and which you will simply refuse. In most offices there will be ideas pitched that just ‘must be completed’ which are in reality just dead ends. Avoid these projects. When you see a project that is going to lead to amazing results, dedicate all of your available time to making these results a reality.

13, Let unimportant projects die. Like above, but different. Don’t get involved with projects that are stupid. Let stupid people do these projects and focus on the ones that will lead to results. No one ever got promoted for finishing a stupid project that no one cares about.

14, Don’t associate with the water cooler gang. Do you know the guys who stand around the water cooler bitching and moaning about how hard life is? They always find a way to shoot down your idea, or tell you that it’s impossible. Stop talking to these people. They are everywhere, and they are mostly useless. These are usually corporate lifers, or people who are just so sick and tired of themselves and their job that all they can do is be negative. Cut these people out of your life.

15, Stay positive. Being optimistic can do a world of good in many situations. When you’re discussing a remarkable project –one that everyone thinks is going to bomb,– and you’re willing to go out a limb and be optimistic, people will start to see you as a natural leader. Don’t be a downer when people come to you with ideas that just won’t work, point them in a direction that will help them succeed.

16, Don’t check email every five seconds. Sitting at your computer and hitting the send/receive button is pointless. By checking email every five minutes you are disrupting your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Set specific four specific times a day when you check and respond to email, the rest of the time you must be on radio silence working on remarkable projects. See my post on Inbox Sub-Zero.

17, Stop using voicemail on your work phone. Checking work phone voicemail is a ten minute process, so just stop using it. People should be using email to ask you questions, not spending time talking to you on the phone. Go ahead and put a voicemail message up saying that you don’t usually respond to voicemail messages in a timely manner, and request that an email message be sent instead.

18, “I’m too busy to do that right now.” This is the best defense against any lame project that comes your way. Just say you’re too busy, you’re overwhelmed, you’re on deadline, you can’t help right now, but you can in a day or two. Most projects will go away in a day or two, or go to someone else. Be sure to differentiate between awesome projects and lame ones though, you don’t want to use this excuse for things you really can make a difference with.

19, Give yourself 20% of your work time for your own projects. Have you heard of Google’s famous 80-20 workplace rule? Well, let me give a quick rundown if you haven’t. Google lets it’s employees work on their own pet projects for 20% of their time. Gmail was born out of this philosophy. Make it a priority to give yourself this time to work on your own projects at work, even if your boss isn’t down with the idea. You’ll birth some really awesome ideas during this time.

20, Gradually transition to working from home. Some people see huge productivity boosts when they work from home. When I was working at the magazine, I eventually transitioned into working from home for half the day. I was working on a blog network, so this just seemed natural to let the employees work from home during the morning (in their PJs, heh). I was able to do so much more during that time at home than I was at work, and I was also able to sit in the kitchen and make breakfast, and sip coffee while I was doing it. Convince your boss to give you a 3 week trial period where you work from home one day a week, then show your boss that your got 200% more work done during that time. Maybe they’ll let you work from home permanently?

21, If you hate your job… Can you honestly say that you like your job? A lot of people are working dead end jobs, because they think they have to. Just stop, if you can. Make the decision now to transition into a new field, or start your own business from home in your spare time. You spend half of your life at work, and it’s not worth hating yourself for half of your life. You can do better, you can do anything.


I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of genius workplace philosophers. I highly recommend that you check out these authors, if you’re interested in taking control of your work life.

These are not affiliate links, I’d rather you check them out at the library. If this information helps you, and you’re interested in helping me write this blog, read how to support my writing.

Leo Babauta, The Power of Less
Timothy Ferriss, The 4 Hour Work Week
Hugh McLeod, Ignore Everybody
Seth Godin, The Dip

These books helped me leave my job, and learn how to work from anywhere. I highly recommend them all.


If you enjoyed this post I’d love it if you could retweet it on Twitter or your favorite social network of choice. Or email it to a colleague who works too much!

How to Liberate Your Email with Inbox Sub-Zero

December 21st, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

One of the most important changes you can make in your life, to reclaim your time and get important things done, is to adopt Inbox Zero is a regular habit when dealing with your email.

For those who don’t know, Inbox Zero is a system that was invented by productivity guru Merlin Mann a couple of years back. Now he’s working on a book by the same name, which I’m incredibly excited about.

I won’t go into the fundamental details here, because those are Merlin’s domain.

Check out Merlin Mann’s guide to Inbox Zero.

Here’s the basics for Inbox Zero, just in case you don’t have time to read Merlin’s stuff right now, or you just need a refresher coarse.

Information overload is ruining your email productivity.

With information overload being what it is these days, it’s incredibly important to be able to know in a single glance what emails you have to deal with, when you sit down to do email.

You just want the emails in your inbox to be emails you need to deal with now. The rest need to go.

I’ve been a huge believer in Inbox Zero for a number of years. I’ve worked out an extremely minimalist email system that reduces the number of emails I receive to around 5-10 a day.

By taking control of my Inbox I can spend more time writing and less time answering emails that don’t benefit me. I’d like to share this system with you.

Are you harboring an inbox with 500+ email messages that you need to reply to? Or worse, do you just leave any message you’ve replied to in your inbox?

If you approach email this way, you have to mentally sort through 500 messages every time you look at your email. This is a very ineffective approach. Inbox Sub-Zero will save you from wasting hours of time on email, I promise.

It’s 2010 people, let’s get a grasp on this stuff.

I’ve taken Merlin’s ideas one step further: I don’t want any useless emails entering my email box at all.

Every unimportant email needs to go, because it’s probably harming my ability to do important work like writing this blog, creating stories for other people’s blogs, and doing freelance work for important people.

I assume that 80% of the emails I receive are probably not worth reading, and I create filters so I never have to see these emails again.

In honor of how cold it is outside right now, I call this philosophy Inbox Sub-Zero.

Inbox Sub-Zero hinges on Gmail’s filter and archive functions, so if you don’t have gmail this will be a little harder to achieve. I’m just going to assume you have gmail, but if you’re unwilling to make the switch you can probably adapt these ideas to other email clients, they just won’t be as effective.

The fundamentals of Inbox Sub-Zero:

  1. Every email that I receive must create value for you.
  2. Unsubscribe to anything unimportant.
  3. Filter everything that is questionable.
  4. Read, act, and archive remaining emails immediately.

Simple enough?

Prep work for Inbox Sub-Zero

If you have 500 emails in your box, I want you to just select them all and hit archive now. Put them away, don’t deal with them.

Sorting through that many emails is going to take you hours or days, which probably means you’ll never get around to it –you haven’t already, have you?

If there is anything important in there, they will probably email you again or give you a call when you don’t reply. Use the excuse “Oh, sorry, I’m so busy I must have overlooked that email.” and you should be fine.

Making the decision to archive all your emails now will instantly liberate you from your past email overload.

Once you’ve learned the techniques outlined below, you can apply them to any new incoming emails.

Don’t go back and do this to all 167,054 emails in your archive. Just apply these techniques to new emails.

Archiving everything now makes reclaiming your inbox manageable. I want you to actually achieve Inbox Sub-Zero. The easiest way I can think of to do that if you have 500 email messages in your box, is by archiving everything and just dealing with incoming emails.

Got it? Okay, archive them. Thanks!

Every email you receive must create value for you.

I use my email primary to communicate with clients, my friends, and my social network. So these are my priorities. When I glance into my email box in the morning, I just want to see messages from people who I am working with, or who I enjoy talking to.

These are emails from real people, who are writing emails to me. These are not from robots, I don’t want to hear from machines.

Decide what your priority emails are. Chances are they are emails coming from real people.

Here’s a mostly complete list of the emails I want in my inbox in the morning:

  • Emails from my girlfriend
  • Emails from my friends
  • Emails from clients I am currently working on projects with
  • Emails from clients that want to work on projects with me
  • Emails from real people who have enjoyed or want to comment on my work

These are the only emails I want to see in the morning. You’re probably thinking “but what about all of the other emails?” We’re so used to receiving 300-900 emails a day, it’s become kind of comforting to know that we’re so popular. But in actuality, we don’t need to read 80% of these emails.

We’re just reading them out of habit, they’re not contributing anything to our lives.

Unsubscribe from anything that is unimportant

You archived everything that was in your inbox already, right? Good. Because this rule applies to incoming emails.

Whenever you receive an email, ask yourself this powerful question:

Do I need to read this? Answer:

  • Yes
  • Maybe
  • No

If you answered ‘yes’, then continue to the filtering routine I’ve outlined below. If you answered ‘maybe’ or ‘no’ I want you do one of two things immediately.

Do not WAIT. Do not let the email sit in your inbox and collect dust while you deliberate for three days over the merits of whether or not you need to read this email. By that time you’ll have 500 emails in your box again. Just decide now and take an action.

  1. Unsubscribe from the email. If there is an unsubscribe button, go ahead and hit it right now. Follow the instructions to stop receiving that email.
  2. If you can’t unsubscribe, (or really can’t bring yourself to) create a filter in gmail to archive the email. This will send the email to the ‘all mail’ folder, where you can search for it if you happen to need to read it at any time.

DO NOT create a label for any of these ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ emails. Remember, this is Inbox SUB-Zero, which is my approach and is a little harsher on the emails than Merlin’s approach. Any email that I have the slightest doubt about wanting to read, I don’t want to see anymore.

Filter every other email that you receive.

Use filters to labels for emails you actually want to read, that are sent by real human beings.

Why this is important: I want to spend the least amount of time and effort on emails as possible. I imagine if you’re reading this, you want to do that too. My intention with this article is to give you the skills to liberate yourself from email, so you only have to spend 30-seconds to twenty minutes on email a day, instead of 4 hours.

For many of the regular emails that you receive that you actually need to read, you need to create a filter.

Here are the regular emails I receive that I actually need:

  1. Requests for edits from a copywriting client that I work for sometimes
  2. Social networking messages
  3. Emails from useful blogs and newsletters that I subscribe to, that I actually read.
  4. Financial emails from my bank and payment receipts

I’ve created filters, using gmail’s ‘filter emails like this’, which sends these emails into specific labels.

I use the labels ‘work’ ‘social’ ‘reading’ and ‘financial’, you are free to develop your own system based on your needs. Just remember, keep it simple.

Emails from my girlfriend and friends are not labeled and go straight to my email box.

In the future, if any of these labels is piling up with unread emails you really need to consider changing the label to send these emails to the trash.

Take action on creating the labels NOW.

DO NOT WAIT, do not deliberate for seventeen days on which label to use. Just send them to a label, you can always change this later if it’s the wrong one.

Read, act, and archive all remaining emails immediately.

Now that you’ve dealt with the email you don’t need to read, you need to deal with the emails you do receive.

After you’ve read an email, ask yourself this powerful question:

Do I need to reply to this? If no, hit the archive button and send it away.

If yes, reply to it now. Then hit archive.

Sometimes there are emails that are more important than most, like ‘hi Everett, can you send a proposal to redesign and relaunch my internet magazine with 300,000 subscribers. We want to pay you $80,000 to do this’. I haven’t received an email like that, but when I do, I want to take a few days to come up with a solid business plan.

At this point though, I want to take this out of my email. I put this on my to-do list. My to-do list isn’t long, because I deal with most of my projects and emails immediately in the morning when I receive them.

For important life-altering emails like the one above, send a brief note thanking the sender and tell them that you will get back to them in a few days. Make a note on your to-do list. Hit archive.

Repeat these steps for every email that you receive.

Eventually you will have only important emails entering your inbox. At this point congratulate yourself, you’ve achieved Inbox Sub-Zero!


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Minimalist Blogging 101: How to Blog Less With More Impact

December 11th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a friend who recently started a blog. She eventually wants to take her blog to a professional level, but was getting distracted by all of the bells and whistles that surround the platform.

She inquired as to why the workflow for my blogging was so effortless. Why it seemed like my blog posts just seem to go out, without hours of labor on my part.

I don’t spend a lot of time blogging, because I don’t need to.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the social networking options, WordPress widgets, let alone deciding on what topic to write about.

This is why I subscribe to a minimalist approach to blogging: do only what you need, when you need to do it. This is a philosophy that I stand by.

There are far too many ways to get distracted while blogging. It’s important to stay focused and not waste timing taking actions that aren’t productive. You should be out in the world living your life, not spending hours in front of a computer gaming the blogging industry.

Focus on what is important for your blog. Don’t worry about what is important for other people’s blogs.

I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people trying to make money blogging. I think this approach to blogging might help them find success. If you know an upstart blogger who is spending too much time blogging, perhaps send them this article?

This is my minimalist philosophy for blogging.

I hope these observations can help you with your blog.

  1. Make each tweet important. I only Tweet when I feel that it’s contributing to my reader’s lives. I don’t tweet about my stories multiple times a day, because I assume if my readers are interested enough in what I have to say they will find my Tweet or subscribe to my RSS feed. The most important aspect of Twitter, for me, is sharing stories with my readers that other bloggers in my niche are writing. I never tweet about what I ate for breakfast.
  2. Automate what you can. Many aspects of blogging can be done automatically. Why tweet your morning story, when you can have WordPress do it for you? I have as many plugins as I can enabled that share my blog stories with the world. This way I don’t have to manually share each story on every social networking site.
  3. Set aside time for writing. I make time to write my posts, usually this is around 5pm. I have the biggest ideas around that time, so this time works for me. Other people work better in the early morning, or later at night. Write at a time when your brain works best. During my writing time I turn off everything and just write. I use a program called WriteRoom, which turns my computer into a simple word pressor. I don’t turn off WriteRoom until I’m done writing for the day.
  4. Do your research before you write. If I need background information for my stories,  I make sure to fetch it before my dedicated writing time. This way I don’t get sidetracked during my writing process.
  5. Check stats once a week. I know, stats are addictive. I try to check my blog stats only once a week, on Monday morning –okay, sometimes I’ll cave midweek and check in just in case, but I’m trying to be better. I take a quick inventory of which stories did well in the previous week, and which did not. You don’t need to stress over stats, they inevitably fluctuate, there’s nothing you can do about that. Spending the time you use on stats on writing, and I promise you the stats will get better.
  6. Write only posts that are valuable to your readers. I sometimes have bad ideas. Just because I wrote something, it doesn’t mean I need to actually post it. As a blogger, you are responsible for your reader’s time as well as your own. Ask yourself if the story you’re writing is valuable to your readers. If it’s not maybe there is a way to make it more useful. If there’s no hope, scrap it. There will be other ideas for blog posts.
  7. Don’t mess with the template. Once you get a good template set up, don’t change it! I’ve struggled with this in the past, because I love tweaking a design until it’s perfect. I spent a week at the launch of my blog making the template perfect and now I just leave it. When you make changes be sure to think them through and execute them decisively. Don’t change your entire template unless absolutely necessary, this will confuse your readers.
  8. Don’t write about your frustrations with monetizing your blog. Making money from your blog is hard. Instead of venting your frustrations, maybe consider spending that time writing up a business plan, visit Problogger for tips on making money blogging, or check out some of the tips at Leo Babauta’s A-List Blogging Bootcamp.
  9. Keep posts short. Long posts take time to read. Try to condense your information into the smallest space possible. A short post that conveys an equal amount of information as a long post will do many times better.
  10. Blog less. I find that three posts a week on Far Beyond The Stars is plenty. Sometimes I might have a big idea and just want to get it out there though, but most of the time three posts is more than enough. If you need to post twelve times a day to keep the traffic coming, that’s a sure sign that you’re not contributing value to your reader’s lives.
  11. Let your value do your marketing. I don’t spend time marketing my blog. I don’t spend hours commenting on other people’s blogs in the of chance their visitors will take an interest in me. I don’t add 10,000 people on Twitter and hope they add me back. I see people doing this, and I don’t understand why they would want to. They may get followers this way, but few of them will really care about the content. Instead, spend as much time creating insanely valuable content. This way your content will do your marketing for you. When your writing helps people, they will share it for you.

This is how I blog. I can get all of my blogging done in under an hour (or two, if it’s a particularly challenging post) a day. Because I get the blogging over quickly, I have more time to spend cooking dinner for my girlfriend, exploring the world, and generating ideas for my blog while sipping coffee and people watching.


If you enjoyed this post, please send it to a blogger that you know. Thank you!

How Being Less Productive Can Generate Big Ideas

November 27th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Productivity is such a popular concept. Everyone is trying to streamline their lives so they can get more and more done during their 40-60 hour workweek.

Funny, that, because being productive is the exact opposite of what everyone needs to be doing to get ahead in the modern workplace.

Productivity is a trap.

You’ve bought into this idea of a safe productive workplace, where everyone does their part and the company gets ahead, and so you get a raise, right?

Doing 60 hours a week of mundane productive work is useful, if you’re a cubicle-bound widget pusher. Large industrialized corporations reward workers for how many ticks they tock in the collective board every day.

I know, I’ve been to cubicle-nation. It ain’t pretty.

If you work in a cubicle, take a moment and think about the last person who got a promotion at your company. Was it a widget pushing productivity master? Probably not. I bet it was someone who either:

  1. Had a big idea.
  2. Brought in a lot of money because of a big idea.

I bet you want to know what the secret to having big ideas is… it’s simple really.

Let me propose a minimalist way of working: be less productive.

Big ideas don’t drop into your head for no apparent reason, you have to take time to cultivate them. Just as you can’t grow an avocado tree in a desert, you can’t grow big ideas in a brain that is dumbly moving from one mundane task to the next as fast as possible.

Big ideas need a lot of space to grow up in, they need vast open fertile fields in which to frolic. You need a minimalist mindset towards your brain in order to start thinking big.

If you make space in your brain for big ideas to form:

  1. You will be respected by your peers
  2. You will rise to the top of your organization
  3. You will have more spare time for yourself, your friends, and your family.
  4. You will make more money

If you’re not making time for big ideas to form, it’s time to start now.

Be careful though, many cubicle nations aren’t happy when their lower-level employees stop pushing widgets and start dreaming. Big idea generation is like hunting for wild game in the forest, you need to be quiet in order to discover them –before your boss finds out you’re thinking and sends you packing!

Remember, you are on your own. I cannot be held responsible for big thinkers who blow their cover before they have a good idea to defend themselves with. Be sure to ‘look busy’ whenever your manager is looking over your shoulder.

How to be less productive and think of big ideas.

  1. Be less productive. Take inventory of everything that you have to do in a given day, write down a list. Chances are that you’re trying to spread out the work you do over an 8-hour day, because you feel that you’re supposed to work that way. Organize your day into specific sections. For instance: TPS reports get done between 1:00-1:30pm, sales calls between 9:00-11:00am. Stick to a schedule and don’t let tasks bleed over into non-scheduled blocks. The idea here is to get work done so you can have time to think of bigger things.
  2. Use communication consciously. A lot of people roll into the office (or out of bed!) and check their email immediately. This is a bad policy, as you’re going to be immediately inundated with multiple tasks that ‘need to be done now!!!’. You probably have more important things to do than reply to email emergencies that happen in the morning. Finish one important task in the morning, before you check email. When you get emails from colleagues requesting that you put out fires, wait 30-45 minutes before replying. Fires have a way of going out by themselves if you don’t step in to save people. Go a step further: only check communications devices at set intervals daily.
  3. Delegate stupid repetitive tasks. Do you have a lot of unengaging work assignments that has to be done every day? Find a way to get these out of your domain. There are three places stupid mindless work should go: 1, send it to someone who works under you, like an intern or an assistant; 2, make a computer do it; 3, don’t do the task at all. Just stop doing the task and see if the company falls apart, did it? No probably not.
  4. Firewall your time. Once you’ve delegated stupid tasks and started completing important work quickly, don’t let anyone suck you away from your big idea generating time. Lock your office door, put on the headphones if you work in a cubicle. Go for regular breaks outside and enjoy the morning air. But DON’T let people pull your attention away for mundane reasons. Tell people you are very busy, there are vast deadlines that are approaching. “Sorry, I wish I could help you, but I’m swamped with work right now.” Even if you’re simply generating big ideas, this is an effective response.
  5. Stop going to meetings. These gatherings are often fruitless wastes of time. They’re fine once a month to make sure everyone is on the same page, but hours of endless unproductive meetings are a sign of weak management. When people insist on hosting meetings for nonsense reasons, there are a few strategies for avoiding them. First try telling your colleagues that you have too much work to do, you can’t fit in the meeting. If that doesn’t work, ‘accidentally’ forget about the meeting. Ask forgiveness later, use the time wisely to generate big ideas.
  6. Don’t listen to anyone. There are always people at work who will try and squash big ideas. These are the people who are negative about everything, who have worked in cubicle nation for so long they don’t know there’s a world outside their cardboard walls. You can identify these people easily, they cluster around the water cooler and complain about their sad lives and gossip about other employees. Don’t engage in these types, get as far away from them as possible. They will drag you and your big ideas down. Don’t believe me? As a test try asking any of their opinions about your big idea. Chances are they will reply with ‘oh, that’ll never work.’ or ‘That’d be great if it was a perfect world.’ or something similarly not-helpful.
  7. Go home early. The best way to make big idea thinking time is to get out of the office as quickly as possible. Don’t stay a minute past 5pm, have your bag ready and get the hell out of cubicle-nation. Don’t take work home with you. When I was working a desk, commonly I would receive the biggest requests of the day at 4:59pm, which was insane. Do what I did, tell these people the work will get done tomorrow, and go home. Work has a way of filling up as much time as you give it, if you tell your work day that it will only exist for 8 hours a day, you will only have to work that much.

Please keep in mind that the above suggestions are for people who want to dedicate their spare time to generating big ideas. Not for people who want an excuse to be lazy.

Generating and executing big ideas will get you promoted, being lazy will get you fired. These suggestions will have very different results for people who want an excuse to slack off.

For more on this subject, you should check out Hugh McLeod’s book Ignore Everybody. It’s an excellent collection of short ideas about being creative and avoiding cubicle nation by a man who spent a lot of time in advertising. You can also check out Hugh’s blog, Gaping Void.

The Revolution Will NOT Be Televised: How to Destroy Your TV

November 23rd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

I just read a story over at Get Rich Slowly about a frugal man who is trying to live a minimalist life, but was being made fun of by his peers for not owning a TV.

“My colleagues at work tell me that I live a miserable life, and I don’t give my family “materialistic life pleasures”. Those sort of words hurt me a lot. We don’t have a TV at our house and my colleague makes fun of this thing all the time.”

Am I the only one who thinks that’s silly?

J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly had a little to say about the situation:

“…I don’t see how the lack of television is something to mock. If anything, it ought to be praised. The most productive, least materialistic people I know are those who watch little or no television. This site would never have been built if I were a TV-watcher.”


The most productive people I know don’t watch TV.

Think about it. Television is by nature an all consuming direct form of marketing. It’s supported by advertisements trying to get you to buy the next biggest thing, the shows on it are filled with product placement and supported by ad revenue.

Companies are spending billions of dollars on psychologists and ad companies trying to get you to buy buy buy. The television shows are complacent in this scheme. — Obviously PBS is an exception, but when was the last time you watched PBS?

98% of TV is crap.

Basically, if you have a TV, you spent a lot of money on a machine that is poisoning your life. You might also be spending tons of money on cable TV, because if you think if you do that you’ll get more quality.

The average American household spends $60 on cable a month. That’s $720 a year.

Add on any On Demand movies, and that can quickly shoot past $1000. It’s so easy to order a $5 movie now, humans are stupid when they’re tired and want to watch a movie, so we just hit ‘buy’. Instead of waiting for the Netflix, or going to the library. Or maybe just reading a book?

Also, think about how many things you’ve purchased because you saw them on TV?

If you’re not outraged, I don’t know what else to tell you.

We’re being taken advantage of by the big companies marketing us products, the television companies, and the cable companies. They want us to buy and keep paying for a product that costs too much and isn’t adding anything to our lives.

In the past we had no options, but the internet has changed everything. You can now stream your favorite TV shows directly from Hulu.com and other sources. I watch The Office once a week online, it’s easy and free.

You also have free access to real information about many topics that add value to your life. Why spend an hour sitting in front of the tube when you can spend an hour conveying a revolutionary idea to an audience?

This is a call to arms. It’s time to get rid of that TV.

If you had no TV you’d be:

  • Smarter
  • Slimmer
  • Happier
  • More productive
  • Richer because you’re not paying your cable bill
  • Richer because you sold your TV and didn’t buy a new one
  • Richer because you’re getting more work done

It’s like a win-win situation, that TV has to go.

In fact, I challenge you to get rid of it now.

How to get rid of or destroy your TV.

  1. Sell your TV. Take a picture of it, fire up craigslist, and post a listing offering your TV for less than you bought it for. Try searching for your TV’s model and make on Ebay to get an approximate offering price. If you have a high quality plasma screen, you should be able to sell it in no time. If you can’t sell it within a week, reduce the price by 25%. Still nothing? Half off.
  2. Give your TV to someone who needs it. If you can’t sell your TV for money, find someone who needs a TV. Maybe a homeless shelter, or school? Donate that TV!
  3. If you can’t sell your TV, destroy it. You can do this with a sledgehammer, tying it to the back of a car, or dropping it from a five story building into a dumpster. Don’t drop it on someone, that would be bad. *Be careful, there can be residual charge on the back of the inside of screen, this can be dangerous!
  4. Turn your TV into a work of art. A painter friend of mine in New York painted the screens of three televisions we had sitting around our house. When you turned them on they did that static thing that TVs do, and we had illuminated art work. We eventually got tired of this and resorted to the sledgehammer technique.

Also, to reader Rob over at Get Rich Slowly:  Get new friends, those guys who were making fun of you for not having a television are not going anywhere in life. They’re losers.

Surround yourself with people who are intelligent, productive, and don’t watch television. You’ll be surprised how your life will change for the better. By ridding yourself of your TV you will get more done, be happier, slimmer, healthier, and have bigger ideas.


Think I’m crazy? Let me know on Twitter.

Destroyed your TV? Post a picture somewhere and leave the link in the comments.

The Minimalist Week: 5 Days 5 Ways to Apply Simplicity

November 16th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Writing and photography by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Wow, crazy, this year flew by. To clear time for all of the festivities, –so I can spend time with my family during the holidays without constantly thumbing my iPhone,– I’m trying to wrap up as many projects as I can before I can dig into the turkey –or tofurkey, whatever you’re into.

I like to up my dosage of simplicity for the week, when my life is busier than usual.

One way that I do this is by setting daily goals for myself.

Here are five minimalist goals that I have set for myself for the week. I hope they’re helpful to you. If you’re interested, maybe follow along with me. Let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

If you apply these daily goals, and they work for you, let me know how it went!

Monday: Start the week with a simple and healthy breakfast.

Beginning your week with a healthy breakfast is so important, I can’t stress this enough. On the days that I skip breakfast and just drink a coffee, I get less accomplished and feel drained. Maybe you’re already doing this, I know I am, but take a moment to consider what you’re eating this morning.

I suggest whole grains, a fruit or two, and some protein. Peanut butter on whole wheat toast, and a banana, could be one option. Another, two eggs, an orange, with whole-bran muffin. Perhaps drink some orange juice with that coffee. Yum! I’m going to be sure to shop on Sunday (tonight, when I’m writing this) so I don’t have to go out to get breakfast.

Tuesday: Take time to think before checking email in the morning.
When you take the time to have 30 minutes to an hour of genuine time to contemplate before you delve into the morning pile of email, the pieces just come together smoother.

I’m really aiming to do take time in the morning more regularly, since the days that I roll out of bed and start tapping my iPhone immediately are always just a little bit more overwhelming. I like to start the day either with yoga, or if I’m not feeling it, just brewing coffee and spending some time waking up before I start working. –I’m a freelancer, so I have no commute. It’s just me and my desk, or me at the coffee shop.

Wednesday: Write a hit-list of work priorities to complete.
Lay out your schedule in a minimal manner, so you know what needs to be done. Isolate yourself and then do these priorities.

I like to take a pad of paper, or Evernote on my iPhone if I can’t find paper, and list the five priorities that I have to knock down during my work day. Instead of meandering through my work day not knowing what I’m doing next, I’ll work on one priority until it’s done. I won’t work on anything until I’ve finished a priority, because that would be splitting my focus and I won’t get as much work done.

Try setting your own priority list. List the five goals you have for a day, and block out the rest of the world. The world can wait, your priorities can’t. Once everything is done on your list tell yourself that you’re done for the day, don’t just keep needlessly busy with tasks that you don’t really care about. Your work day is for getting important priorities done.

Thursday: Take a break from work to study of an unrelated subject.
I like to get away from my work for at least a few hours a day and study something unrelated to the material that I’m working on. Like pick up a book on a subject that interests me, or do some research on a project I’d like to start someday.

On Thursday, after I get my work done, I’m going to be alternating between reading An Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. These are two books that I’ve been dying to read, but haven’t had time. I’m also going to be on a train to Chicago, at this point, so I’ll have a lot of time to do reading.

Make time for your own independent reading and research. It’s important to minimize your work schedule in order to take time to explore subjects that you’re interested in, and have quality time to generate big ideas.

Friday: Check out from work early.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about four day workweeks lately (no, not Four Hour Workweeks, though if you can get there, good luck.) and it seems to be that it might be a good idea to start trying to get all of my work done in four days. Do you think that’s possible?

One aspect of being minimalist, at least as far as I see it, is optimizing your work week for maximum potential.

I’ve observed that a lot of people just go to work, they work eight to ten hours a day, and they just keep busy most of the time. Either that or they’re checking blogs repeatedly every five minutes and hopping back to the spreadsheet when their boss is looking. Have you noticed yourself doing that? I know I did when I was working a full time job. Just getting by, waiting until the day is over.

On Friday I’m going to skip work, if all my work is done.

So on Friday, I’m hoping to have all of my work done for the week.  I’ll just be able to spend time doing what I enjoy. I figure if I work at 100% during the week, I should be able to finish my projects and be ready for the weekend a little bit ahead of time.

I won’t need to do anything. I won’t need to answer emails or calls, because everything will be done. I’ll talk more about my progress, and the steps I’m taking to achieve this, as this blog progresses.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve this, and sometimes goals aren’t achievable.

Maybe you can try it too?


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