Teashop Takeaway

Recently, I watched a video of a panel disscussion that was shot in a San Francisco teashop. It was a public talk about “life management” featuring the shop owner and three guest speakers. Two of the guest speakers were Leo Babauta and Tim Ferriss and they provided the bulk of the interesting ideas.

Both of these guys have very popular blogs, generally addressing how to optimize your life, although each has a different presentation style. Looked at from a high school yearbook voting perspective, Leo would’ve been voted most likely to become a writer; and Tim would’ve been pigeonholed as most likely to succeed. You could imagine one is a tea drinker and the other a coffee drinker.

With success, they’ve risen in prominence and demands on their time have increased forcing them to more tightly focus on what works best to enable them to be productive while living non-harried lives.

Leo recently moved to San Francisco from Guam with his wife and six kids. Tim is a single San Franciscan and self-described as hyperactive in many endeavors with a penchant for traveling. They manage very different lives, plus each has to control their time eaters.

The video is an hour and a half long and most people won’t geek out for that long; so I’ll present what I think are some of their top takeaway ideas for making their lives better.

-Low Info Diet – To confront information overload, Tim deals with info on a “just in time” (only when info directly affects him) basis. This is in contrast to a  “just in case” style (taking in as much info as possible). Most situations covered by  high info consumption rarely arise. He says he “tries to get to the bottom of things, not stay on top of things.” If they miss something that’s important,  it’ll be brought to your attention as it bubbles to the surface in conversation.

– Keeping Up – The need to keep up with everything and everyone is self-created. If the expectation from other people is that you probably won’t get back to them generally they will not harass you unless it’s important.

-Single-tasking – You will have a saner and calmer life if you single-task. Do one thing end to end.

-Prioritizing – On getting things done, they both single-task, concentrating on getting the one, most important thing for that day done before doing anything else on their to-do-list. What is the most important thing to do? Probably the most uncomfortable one. Another test for importance is: if that one thing is the only thing you get done, you’ll feel your day’s still a success.

-Worrying – Worrying is not the same as preparing. The things most people worry about don’t usually even happen.

-Control – Everything is always changing, so try to give up trying to control things and be flexible instead.

-Slowness – Build-in or schedule slowness into your week and have those blocks of time become fixed, with other activities coming second. For example, Tim will not change a hike or dinner date if there are three or more friends getting together. These built-in times also act as a bracket, creating an ending point for the day.

-Big Shots – With success, Tim found he’s been welcomed into rarefied business circles,  there he’s been surprised how most of the hyper-successful individuals are relaxed and casual in most of their life dealings, able to concentrate on “the one most important” task in a day and accomplish it. These people weren’t the frazzled people you might imagine; being overwhelmed doesn’t fix anything, you need to have clear priorities.

-Routines – Develop routines, rituals, and routines to simplify your life. Routines will save your limited decision-making time since you won’t have those routine decisions to make.

-Habits – You’ll need to do something new at least five times before it will set in  as a habit, and stop just being an experiment. People generally respond to a better habit.

-Motivation – Rather than having to depend on discipline, motivation works as a better incentive. If you know your friend is waiting for you to go for a walk, you’re more likely to do it.

-Focus – Focus on your breathing to help you see what’s going on right now since your breathing is a constant and an easy thing to latch onto to bring yourself back to the present.

Lots of good stuff here I think. Too much for one post, so Tuesday I’ll post the second half.  If you like the ideas so far, give the video a look in case I missed some points that might mean more to you.