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Home Work

A weekly advice podcast for people who work from home, whether freelancer or telecommuter. We address listener-submitted questions, comments and concerns about all aspects of working from home. Hosted by Dave Caolo. You can submit your questions here.

Hosted by Dave Caolo.



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202: Season 2: Episode 9 - Mike Schmitz from Asian Efficiency

March 28, 2016 at 7:00AM • 54 minutes • Wiki Entry

Dave and Aaron are joined by Mike Schmitz from Asian Efficiency to talk about email discipline, learning to build mental boundaries, and finding freedom in a world of distraction.

This week's episode was sponsored by FreshBooks. To get FreshBooks free for 30 days, go to FreshBooks.com/homework and enter 'Home Work' in the “How did you hear about us?" section.

This week's episode is also sponsored by Squarespace. Be sure to use offer code HOMEWORK to get 10% off your subscription!

Lastly, this episode was made possible by Wealthfront, making smart investment management available to everyone. 5by5 visitors get their first $15,000 managed free. Be sure to visit that link today!




Show Notes & Links Presented by CacheFly

Home Work 202 Mike of Asian Efficiency

Mike Schmitz is the self-proclaimed "app nerd" at Asian Efficiency, a productivity website that we've enjoyed for a long time. We asked him to be a guest because of his association with the site, but because he's also a "email nerd" (his words, not ours). This week, we have a fantastic discussion about email on mobile, the addiction of "just checking" over and over plus strategies to get you out of that habit and much more productive with your email workflow. Here are some show highlights.

Show highlights:

4'38": Mike answers the question, "When did you start working from home?" The short answer: Mike's work with a family business inspired him to write and publish his first book. Setting aside an hour to write each morning before his day job led to an eventual full-time position at Asian Efficiency. Eating the frog was a big part of that.

8'53": Mike describes the work he does from home. Nutshell: writing, podcasting, creating how-to videos.

13'41": A recent survey noted that people spend 6.3 hours per day in email. Many people check email as soon as they pick up their phones, which is not a great practice. How can people break this habit?

Shawn Blanc discusses the "just checks,", "We know constantly unlocking our phones throughout the day, every day, hinders our ability to focus," Shawn says, "but I think it also hinders our ability to rest and unwind." He also discusses some alternative behaviors here.

Meanwhile, Asian Efficiency advocates a "Touch it Once" principle.

If you see an email in your inbox early in the morning, before you can get to your desk, etc. to act upon it, you end up perseverating on that task. This distraction robs your focus. Don't become a slave to the ding.

18'32": "I found myself tired already from a full day of work, and then going home and staring at my phone for hours instead of spending time with my family. Suddenly it hit me in the face that this is not OK: these are the people who mean the most to me and they're getting the leftovers."

21'13": Strategies and boundaries. "When you recognize that I'm not in a place where I can touch this just one, fight that urge." The once-a-day approach is effective: only look at email for 30 minutes a day. More extreme: the once-a-week approach. Also, don't trust yourself. Will power is weak.

28'35": Training the people you communicate with to understand that you don't respond to email every 5-10 minutes or even every 12 hours.

33'40": Favorite tools:

MailMate Dispatch

44'03": Effective systems. When looking at an email messages, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Ask "what is this?" Trash, something you'll need later (reference), something that needs action (a task).
  2. Am I the right person for this? Sure it's a task, but is it something you should be doing?
  3. Does it need a due date?
  4. What do I need in order to actually do this (context, tool, people, etc.).

App mentioned: SaneBox

Clearing to neutral: the one habit that stops procrastination.