The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss is a manifesto for the “New Rich”, as the author calls them, “those who abandon the deferred life plan [see my post here] and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.” Tim spends much of the book telling us how to leverage those two (time and mobility). In a previous post, I discussed two tactics for increasing time, the 80/20 rule and Parkinson’s Law.
This post will discuss another productivity tactic; what Tim calls the “Low-Information Diet”:
Just as modern man consumes both too many calories and calories of no nutritional value, information workers eat data both in excess and from the wrong sources.
Lifestyle design is based on massive action–output. Increased output necessitates decreased input. Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence. I challenge you to look at whatever you read or watched today and tell me that it wasn’t at least two of the four.
Tim encourages readers to go on a one-week media fast. Avoid any media that falls into at least two of the categories above. Limit information consumption to data that is needed to accomplish your goals. So, how does Tim stay a responsible citizen if he doesn’t read the news?
His idea here is truly brilliant. He says to ask others to inform him on the news. To learn about day-to-day news, use it as an ice-breaker with strangers. It’s a great conversation starter. Say to someone, “I wasn’t able to read the paper this morning, what’s happening in the world today?”
For more important issues, like presidential elections and other things that you have a responsibility for and will affect you, Tim says to have a network of trusted information providers:
I let other dependable people synthesize hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of media for me. It [is] like having dozens of personal information assistants, and I [don't] have to pay them a single cent.
Remember, the goal with lifestyle design is to increase your productive output. One of the best ways to increase output is by decreasing useless inputs. I know I use the media to waste time every day. I’ll check my feed reader and Drudge Report every few hours, just to see what’s new. After reading this book, I limit it to mornings and evenings, never during the day. I’m sure Tim would prefer that I read the news even less. But it’s a hard addiction to break!