The New Yorker has called Tim Ferriss “Silicon Valley’s self-help guru.”
It’s easy to see why.
His “4-Hour Workweek,” “4-Hour Body,” and “4-Hour Chef” each made the New York Times bestseller list. He speaks five languages. He’s the only American to be a world tango champion. Wired declared him “self-promotor of the year.”
At the center of Ferriss’ productivity philosophy is an emphasis on doing only what’s most important and casting aside all other distractions.
Of course, it’s harder than it sounds. For a little inspiration, here are 10 insightful quotes from Ferriss on how to improve your focus and productivity.
1. “Decision is related to the word incision, it means ‘to cut off.’ It means to cut away other options and to commit and to focus.”
If you’re going to do something well, you have to discard your other options.
2. “When people think of mental activity, they tend to think of it as an ethereal zapping of electricity that has no cost to the body. That’s not true, the brain is a massive blood and oxygen sink. You need stimulus and recovery in mental work in the same way that you need stimulus and recovery for sports.”
3. “As a business owner, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of being busy, and being busy is not necessarily productive.”
Recognise the difference between what’s urgent and what’s important, like President Eisenhower says.
4. “Email eats so much time. First, because it’s everyone else’s agenda for your time, often including manufactured emergencies. Second, email allows you to fool yourself into thinking you’re being productive.”
Only check it a few times a day, he tells us, and use an organisation app like Boomerang is streamline the process.
5. “If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.”
Don’t take it on faith that the “received wisdom” has any wisdom in it, Ferriss says, test and hone the process.
6. “My quota is two crappy pages per day. I keep it really low so I’m not so intimidated that I never get started.”
Making goals ridiculously easy to reach defuses procrastination. Ferriss tells 99u that he’ll start his writing session at just two pages — and then crank, crank, crank until he can write no longer, until 4 or 5 a.m.
7. “Massive elimination is the most important step and the most neglected step for entrepreneurs.”
Ferriss holds to the 80-20 rule: You get 80% of your value from 20% of the things you do. Applied to your working life, that means taking an inventory of the activities, clients, and projects that are most fruitful — then discarding the rest.
8. “The most important commonality is that the people who really are the best at what they do are very experimental and meticulous about tracking their variables. It doesn’t matter if they’re working with athletes or space shuttles. The principles are the same.”
9. “I’ve interviewed everyone from gold medalists to CEOs who make $US100 million a year, and their one common characteristic is the ability to ‘single-task’ without interruption.”
The more you multitask, the less you can focus. The less you can focus, the less you can advance your career.
10. “In the world of behavioural change, simple works.”
To make lasting changes to your daily routines, Ferriss recommends starting small. If you want to start running, just put your sneakers on every morning. If you want to start writing a book, just put in two crappy pages a day. Make it easy for yourself.
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.