How Does Tim Ferriss, the King of Productivity, Handle His Email?

Tim Ferriss.

He’s an angel investor, kickboxer, and marketing consultant.

He holds a world record in tango.

He outsourced his dating.

He experimented with brain-enhancing drugs.

He’s the bestselling author of “The 4-Hour Workweek,” “The 4-Hour Body,” and “The 4-Hour Chef.”

Timothy Ferriss is, in so many words, someone who bites his teeth into the ass of life.

And he gets a lot of email. Want to know how he manages it?

1. Only check twice a day

Graphic -- Check email twice per day.

Problem: Email, as Ferriss puts it, is “the largest single interruption in modern life.” That’s probably an understatement.

Solution: Check email twice a day: once before lunch, once at the end of the day. This turns your email from a constant distraction into a to-do list.

When you first adopt the habit, though, set up an auto responder with your email schedule in it to set expectations for friends and co-workers.

2. Create rules

Problem: You get a ton of automated email — like alerts from social media sites, promos from stores, newsletters from marketers, etc.

Solution: Keep these emails in one place until you’re ready to deal with them. (See No. 2 in this Ferriss blog post.)

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Set up filters to automatically move these types of emails into a standby folder where you can view them all, keep what you want, and delete the rest.

Doing this allows you to stay in work mode while at work and relax mode when you’re not.

3. Don’t email late at night or first thing in the morning

Person asleep at computer.

Problem: You check email before you turn the lights off and go to bed. Then you check it first thing in the morning.

Solution: Don’t, and don’t. As Ferriss explains, “The former scrambles your priorities and plans for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia.”

If you start your day at 8 or 9 a.m., wait until 10 or 11 a.m. to check your email.

Get the one thing done that will most significantly move your life and business.

4. Keep emails to 5 sentences max

Problem: The greater the content the less the clarity.

Solution: Keep it short. How? In an interview with Inc. Magazine, Ferriss suggests a tool called five.sentenc.es, which gives you a footer for your email signatures that helps recipients understand why your emails are so short.

5. Prioritize, Fight Urgency

Problem: Everything in your inbox is important.

Solution: Prioritize the work and get it done as you need to.

As Ferriss says, ” The answer to overwhelm is not spinning more plates — or doing more — it’s defining the few things that can really fundamentally change your business and life.”

Use time as you see fit, not as others see it for you.

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