iBooks and More Time Management for Entrepreneurs

Last week I bought an iBook. It’s my first Mac, but it won’t be my last.

It occured to me the biggest time drains in my day were a) E-mail, b) E-mail, and c) E-mail. Next comes the stacks of partially finished projects, the 4 full bookshelves, and my numerous areas of stuff needing attention. All in or done in my office.

The bulk of my income is derived from writing, and it has proven to be slow-going for me to write in my office. I’m an easily distracted person (the classic “hunter” profile a la Thom Hartmann). Ordinarily, I’d set about changing a trait that was an annoyance, but, in this case it is responsible for a large part of my success. I don’t want it gone, I just want better strategies for focus.

So, I bought an iBook.

It does not have E-mail set up and never will. When it’s time to work on important projects, I carry it into another office (that doesn’t have my stuff in it) to work; or strut over to Starbucks and down enough caffeine for the entire state of Virginia while pumping out the copy. In a sense, I’ve “ritualized” the entire process of writing including the tools I do it with. I’ve finished 3 major projects in the last 3 days that were dragging on for weeks. My productivity has soared. It’s great!

As for my main, office computer, I’ve made a life-changing shift there, as well.

I only check E-mail once per day, at the end of the day.

If someone has to get me quickly, they now know E-mail isn’t the way to do it. The dozen people who I want to have immediate access to me, have a private phone number. Everyone else goes in the queue.

We’ve been programmed to use E-mail as a cheap, easy, fast communication tool. Its strength is also a weakness, as people have gone away from the formality of putting thought behind a message (required for a telegram, FedEx, or letter). Today, we get momentary brain-burps of soundbite-like ideas and questions and random other stuff. Instead of getting everything you need to know in a message, you get a snippet and the promise of a dozen more exchanges before the thing is settled.

I’ve noticed many people are happier with the illusion of progress than they are with progress itself. You can spend an entire day “appearing” productive by banging out E-mail after E-mail, writing memos, and barely taking a break. But at the end of the day you are where you started. Low-value, low-return busy work took up your day, and you are confronted with the fact that high-impact projects aren’t done. Or much/any closer to being done.

Most folks happily lie to themselves at that point, saying “wow, was I busy”, and never thinking about it again.

Entrepreneurs? We can’t afford to.

P.S. I love my iBook. An absolutely amazing and beautiful machine.

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