Tag Archives: email

4-Hour Work Week’s Not-To-Do List

I found myself taking a few hours to read the book 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. It was an interesting book that maybe one day I’ll write a full review on. Suffice it to say, I found things I liked about it and some thing I didn’t quite like about it as well.

One thing I felt I wanted to add my own comments to is what is listed in the book as The Not-to-Do List: 9 Habits To Stop Now. In Ferriss’ mind, by eliminating these things you not only improve your efficiency but you reduce stress as well. I’m going to list his topic, then add my own opinion, if you don’t mind.

1. Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. I adopted this one in full at the beginning of this year, but I’d actually started it for the most part late last year. I have two lines into my house, and for the last 3 or 4 years I never answer the personal line if I don’t know who it is; actually, I often don’t answer it if I do know who it is since it’s almost always for my wife. For the business line I didn’t answer if it was an 800-number of some kind but always answered other numbers, then realized that most of those are sales calls as well. Now I don’t answer any numbers I don’t recognize; my mind’s at peace with this policy; that’s why I pay extra for voice mail.

2. Do not email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This one I’m probably not going to change. In his book he talks about having to get used to losing some business for the sake of living the life you want to, and that you’ll find yourself enjoying your time more than what you might lose out on. Truthfully, I start every morning checking email since my hours are erratic, and I get all other work done during the day and love trying to get to the rest of my email in the evenings. I might work at some point to limiting late night email, since I’ve written some stupid stuff at 3AM, but my mornings are staying.

3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time. Working for myself I have a great handle on this one, which eliminates almost all early morning meetings. I do have to get better at other meetings that I know won’t produce income or contracts, though.

4. Do not let people ramble. In his book, he offers up suggestions for how to help people get to the point such as telling them you only have a few minutes for them. This works well, and is a technique I’ve often used. I think we all have to gauge when to use this or any other techniques and when to let the other person just talk.

5. Do not check email constantly – “batch” and check at set times only. I had to break this habit, and I’d say that I’m about 80% there. I plan my days with free time built in and that’s when I get to emails and other stuff I want to do instead of have to do. Of course he’s only checking email for an hour a week; I don’t see that happening.

6. Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers. This one is hard when you have a finite number of customers, but I understand his point. He loves talking about the Pareto Principle of 80/20, and it makes a lot of sense. Eliminating those people who give you the most grief and turning your attention to those people that give you the most benefit is not only stress relieving, but sometimes you find you don’t have to deal with the folks left all that often because they were satisfied to begin with. Any assistance you give them makes them better, and thus all you usually end up with is improvement and satisfaction.

7. Do not work more to fix overwhelmingness – prioritize. No, that’s not a real word, but he used it. lol This fits in with the principle that says if you know something’s broken fix it so you don’t have to keep fixing it and can get on with other things.

8. Do not carry a cell phone or Crackberry 24/7. He’s not saying don’t have these things at all; just limit your usage of them. I don’t have smartphone, so I’m good thing. And very few people have my cell number so I’m good there as well. But there are a lot of people we all know who seem like they’ve forgotten how to interact with people they’re with because they’re constantly messaging someone or talking on their cell phones, no matter where they are.

9. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should. Yes Virginia, there is a work/life issue, and I’m living proof of this. When I was an every day employee, I went until I was 37 without taking even a week’s vacation; the longest I ever took off was 2 days; isn’t that a shame. I only took a week off when I got married, then the next year on our 1st anniversary. It wasn’t until the middle of 2000 when I finally took 2 weeks off in a row and found how relaxing that was.

However, since I’ve worked for myself, I haven’t had a vacation or any time off. It’s harder when you work for yourself, but I’m going to be dealing with that issue this year in some fashion; more on that at a later time. The main concept here is that you need a personal life, and you should substitute your work life for it because work is just that, work.

Those are my thoughts; what are yours?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

My Gripe With WordPress.com Blogs

Some of you remember back in 2008 when I wrote about my gripe with Blogger blogs, which is owned by Google. Back then, I said my main gripe had to do with trying to write comments on those blogs, where you either had to register for the site so you could get notified of comments, or you could choose one of the other options and never know that someone had responded to a comment.

Now I’m going to gripe about WordPress.com blogs, and I have a minor gripe against them. Once again, it’s the commenting gripe. With WordPress.com, you can comment on the blogs and potentially get a notification. Why do I say “potentially”? Because if you click on the box that says you want to be notified of comments, like you’d do on my blog, you immediately get this email that asks you if you want to subscribe to comments. Well, if you didn’t why would you have clicked on the box?

On this blog, which is self hosted, I already have that selected, so if you get anything in the mail from me it’s because you commented, and you can decide to unsubscribe from comments at any time if you please. On WordPress.com blogs, you have to check the box, so one would assume there wouldn’t be any questions that you wanted the blog comments.

To be somewhat fair, I will say that I know why they do this. It’s a double opt-in system, verifying that the person whose name and email address that’s been used is the same person who actually wrote the post. It’s known as a double opt-in as opposed to a regular opt in because you initially had to check the box to tell the blog that you wanted to get comments. For some blogs where you don’t get a choice as to whether you want to check or uncheck a box, you might still receive a message asking you if you want to subscribe to comments, but in that case you didn’t really opt-in the first time, hence it’s not a double opt-in system. You really wanted to know that, didn’t you?

Anyway, with this system, if it gets a bounced email back, it knows to move the comment to spam. If someone else’s email address was used, certainly that person wouldn’t want to receive any more responses, but in this case the concept is somewhat flawed. At best, if someone forged a person’s email address and that person gets the response, they’d have to follow the link back to the blog, see the posting, and request that it be removed because they didn’t write it. I wonder how often that sort of thing really happens.

In my mind, one uses a double opt-in system if they have an automated email system set up for something like subscribing to a newsletter, since spam email can easily get into that, or some “friends” will do a drive-by subscription as a joke on a friend. But for a blog, I really can’t see the reasoning behind that.

Still, I have to admit that I’m more apt to comment on a WordPress.com blog than a Blogger blog because at least I can choose which of my 3 blogger personas I wish to use. But I must admit that I never subscribe to the opt-in email that shows up. Occasionally, if I’m so predisposed, I’ll pop back to a blog that I’ve commented on to see if it ever got a response, but that’s mainly only for friends of mine. For the rest… I guess it’s a one and done most of the time.

I wish WordPress.com would address that, or at least make it an option for their users. I get that it’s free, but does free mean it has to restrict what some people can do? The fix is probably in the paid version on that site; does anyone know for sure? I will say this; I’m glad it’s in the free software version for those of us who pay for our own hosting.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell

Clearing Away Irritations In 2010

Back in September on my business blog, titled Mitch’s Blog, I wrote a second post on the topic of tolerations. The original post on that topic was only about a paragraph long, so I wanted to boost it up some more. On that post there’s a link to a pdf file called 1001 Tolerations, which pretty much means things we put up with instead of getting them out of our lives and making us feel better about things.

Well, this is a new year, and I think it’s time for me to clear some things out of my life that have been irritating me in some fashion. Actually, most of us should think about doing that from time to time because we all tend to allow certain things to drag us down, even if it’s only occasionally. For instance, you have someone who you call a friend, yet you avoid them because they bring you down whenever you talk to them. All they talk about is themselves and their problems; they never ask you how you feel or even listen when you try to talk; it’s all about them.

I don’t have anything like that in my life, but I do have some things that I will be eliminating. One is going through my email address books and eliminating anyone who hasn’t responded to anything I’ve sent in at least a year. I think that’s not a bad place to start, but I might even go back further than that; I’m not sure yet. I go through my email all the time, and I see these email addresses of people I send stuff to that never write back. I tolerate that, but no more; they’re gone. Well, kind of gone; I’ll save the email addresses in a file, but at least I won’t be seeing them anymore.

Two, remember my post against Disqus? Well, I’m now resolving that any blogs I’m following that has Disqus on them, or any other blogs I go to that send me a message saying I have to subscribe to find out if someone has commented back to something I’ve commented on, I’m deleting from my blog reader and moving on. Any new blogs I come to that has Disqus I’m not even reading. Now, I know some of you have it on your blogs, and if I like you, I may not delete the blog, like our friend Peter; we go back a long way after all. But Peter, sorry, I’m not commenting anymore because I hate getting that email every time asking me to subscribe.

Three, I’m going through all the blogs in my reader and I’m going to make sure I’m following people who are talking about stuff I really care about. Also, I’m going to drop anyone who hasn’t written a post in 3 months. And, while I’m doing that, I’m going to find the time to get to Twitter and release people who I started following a long time ago, who either aren’t talking anymore or aren’t talking about anything I care about. I follow nearly 1,400 people, and I’m not going to say that’s too many, but I am going to say that I do listen to a lot of folks, rather follow a lot of folks, who aren’t really talking to anyone, but instead are always selling. Twitter isn’t supposed to be a one way conversation, just like blogging isn’t supposed to be a one way conversation either.

You know what? At a certain point, we all deserve to have more positivity in our lives. And sometimes, heck, all the time, it’s up to us to make our own happiness and get rid of those things that help to make us unhappy. It’s time for me to do that; what about you?

Colors Address Book

Price – $10.10


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2021 Mitch Mitchell

Hidden Messages In Email Images

What would your reaction be if you received spam email that began with something like this:

“I believe the Ku Klux Klan has been badly maligned in the history of the United States.”

What about:

“The Tyrians whom Pharaoh Necho sent down the Red Sea more than six hundred years before Christ, brought back after three years a story of their finding Africa an island,…”

Or even:

“To figure in drawing-rooms with the reflected lustre of her husband’s fame, and to find other women envious of her, was to Augustine a new harvest of pleasures; but it was the last gleam of conjugal happiness.”

I hear you now saying “I don’t receive any junk like that.” Well, I’m here to tell you that you do. Want to know how?

Any time you open up a spam email, or receive one, and it’s got a template image over it, you can bet that someone has written or posted something like that underneath it. You may never see it because the image template covers it all up, but it’s almost always there. I know this because I use Mailwasher to check my email before it gets downloaded to my computer, while it’s still sitting on the server.

Sometimes it’s amazing just how much stuff from a junk message is there. For instance, all three of these examples came with more than 2,000 word articles, though, if you ever deign to read any of them, most make no sense whatsoever.

Why do they do this? Because it makes it easier to get these messages through most spam filters, that’s why. Using a lot of text can sometimes overwhelm normal spam filters, which explains why these things sometimes get through to your inbox. Many of them look at the text, and the thing is that if they post a lot of stuff that at least, to a spam filter, looks just like a long email, it’ll go through. These people don’t care about SEO, and they’re not worried about repeating words over and over, which would trip a filter. They just want to get this stuff through to you in any way possible.

Of course, the other side of this is that sometimes this stuff brings malware and spyware to your computer also. It’s hard to hide a real virus in an image, though it’s been done, but the other stuff is pretty easy. Both of the emails my wife got contained malware scripts in them, and if she’d downloaded it, thought it was interesting and clicked on it, she’d have definitely had malware on her computer, and I’d be in there fixing the sucker right now.

I alert you to this if you’re wondering why you might keep getting this junk in your email. 🙂