Gary Vaynerchuk’s long awaited book, Crush It – Why Now Is The Time to Cash In On Your Passion, is here…well almost! Due to start shipping next week, October 13th, I was fortunate enough to get a copy which I’m going to be forwarding on to local Universities and Colleges who may be interested in using “Crush It” in their curriculum.

I almost couldn’t get myself to open the package as I along with many others have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of what is sure to be a jam-packed book filled with useful information.

Enjoy the unveiling and I’ll be doing a few follow up posts over the next few weeks on what I’ve learned from the book and where things are heading.

Keep up the AMAZING work Gary and can’t wait to see this book skyrocket to #1 on Amazon, The NY Times and every other chart!



The planning is in full force for next year’s Big Omaha event…

Yep, we’re doing it again.  Keep your eyes on the Big Omaha site or follow us on Twitter where we’ll be making annoucements as things come together.

Cranking through next year’s sponsorship document and looking at photos of last year’s event reminds me of the power of an idea and a strong community.

Almost 500 people came to Omaha, NE for two and a half days of intense energy, motivation and creativity that won’t soon be forgotten, and honestly, I’m still clicking from last year’s event and will make sure 2010 is even better.  Thank you.


I wanted to include a link to our latest, 99% comprehensive, article on Why We Love Omaha and the reason I’m doing what I love through Silicon Prairie News, Big Omaha and more…

Take a read and let me know what you think.

So I was able to resurect Marc Andreessen’s stellar post on Personal Productvity and in the interest of never losing it again, I’ve decide to post it in its entirety.  Enjoy and there’s some great nuggets in there…

The Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity

One of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures is indulging in productivity porn.

Productivity porn (or, for those really in the know, “productivity pr0n”) consists of techniques, tactics, and tricks for maximizing personal productivity — or, as they say, “getting things done”.

Having enjoyed such fine purveyors of prodporn as Merlin Mann, Danny O’Brien, Gina Trapani, David Allen, and Tim Ferriss, I’d like to return the favor with the following: the Pmarca Guide to Personal Productivity.

The techniques that follow work together as an integrated set for me, but they probably won’t for you. Maybe you’ll get one or two ideas — probably out of the ideas I stole from other people. If so, I have succeeded.

And here we go:

  • Let’s start with a bang: don’t keep a schedule.He’s crazy, you say!

    I’m totally serious. If you pull it off — and in many structured jobs, you simply can’t — this simple tip alone can make a huge difference in productivity.

    By not keeping a schedule, I mean: refuse to commit to meetings, appointments, or activities at any set time in any future day.

    As a result, you can always work on whatever is most important or most interesting, at any time.

    Want to spend all day writing a research report? Do it!

    Want to spend all day coding? Do it!

    Want to spend all day at the cafe down the street reading a book on personal productivity? Do it!

    When someone emails or calls to say, “Let’s meet on Tuesday at 3”, the appropriate response is: “I’m not keeping a schedule for 2007, so I can’t commit to that, but give me a call on Tuesday at 2:45 and if I’m available, I’ll meet with you.”

    Or, if it’s important, say, “You know what, let’s meet right now.”

    Clearly this only works if you can get away with it. If you have a structured job, a structured job environment, or you’re a CEO, it will be hard to pull off.

    But if you can do it, it’s really liberating, and will lead to far higher productivity than almost any other tactic you can try.

    This idea comes from a wonderful book called A Perfect Mess, which explains how not keeping a schedule has been key to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success as a movie star, politician, and businessman over the last 20 years.

    Want to meet with Arnold? Sure, drop on by. He’ll see you if he can. But you might want to call first. Sorry, he doesn’t schedule appointments in advance.

    As a result, for 20 years he has been free to work on whatever is most important in his life at any time.

    Those of you in California may recall how, once Arnold decided to run for Governor, he went into a blaze of action and activity that resulted in a landslide victory. The book attributes this in part to the fact that his schedule was completely clear and he could spend all day, every day on his new political career, without having to worry about distractions or commitments.

    If you have at any point in your life lived a relatively structured existence — probably due to some kind of job with regular office hours, meetings, and the like — you will know that there is nothing more liberating than looking at your calendar and seeing nothing but free time for weeks ahead to work on the most important things in whatever order you want.

    This also gives you the best odds of maximizing flow, which is a whole ‘nother topic but highly related.

    I’ve been trying this tactic as an experiment in 2007, as those of you who have emailed me to suggest we get together or that I go to a conference or to a meeting will attest. And I am so much happier, I can’t even tell you. I get so much more time to focus on the things that really matter — in my case, my two companies, my nonprofit boards, and my lovely wife.

    The other great thing about this tactic is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing — there are quite a few things that still sneak onto my calendar that I really can’t get out of. But one is still able to draw the line between “must do” and “sounds interesting but I’m not keeping a schedule”.

  • Keep three and only three lists: a Todo List, a Watch List, and a Later List.The more into lists you are, the more important this is.

    Into the Todo List goes all the stuff you “must” do — commitments, obligations, things that have to be done. A single list, possibly subcategorized by timeframe (today, this week, next week, next month).

    Into the Watch List goes all the stuff going on in your life that you have to follow up on, wait for someone else to get back to you on, remind yourself of in the future, or otherwise remember.

    Into the Later List goes everything else — everything you might want to do or will do when you have time or wish you could do.

    If it doesn’t go on one of those three lists, it goes away.

  • Each night before you go to bed, prepare a 3×5 index card with a short list of 3 to 5 things that you will do the next day.And then, the next day, do those things.

    I sit down at my desk before I go to sleep, pull up my Todo List (which I keep in Microsoft Word’s outline mode, due to long habit), and pick out the 3 to 5 things I am going to get done tomorrow. I write those things on a fresh 3×5 card, lay the card out with my card keys, and go to bed. Then, the next day, I try like hell to get just those things done. If I do, it was a successful day.

    People who have tried lots of productivity porn techniques will tell you that this is one of the most successful techniques they have ever tried.

    Once you get into the habit, you start to realize how many days you used to have when you wouldn’t get 3 to 5 important/significant/meaningful things done during a day.

  • Then, throughout the rest of the day, use the back of the 3×5 card as your Anti-Todo List.This isn’t a real list. And the name is tongue firmly in cheek.

    What you do is this: every time you do something — anything — useful during the day, write it down in your Anti-Todo List on the card.

    Each time you do something, you get to write it down and you get that little rush of endorphins that the mouse gets every time he presses the button in his cage and gets a food pellet.

    And then at the end of the day, before you prepare tomorrow’s 3×5 card, take a look at today’s card and its Anti-Todo list and marvel at all the things you actually got done that day.

    Then tear it up and throw it away.

    Another day well spent, and productive.

    I love this technique — being able to put more notches on my accomplishment belt, so to speak, by writing down things on my Anti-Todo list as I accomplish them throughout the day makes me feel marvelously productive and efficient. Far more so than if I just did those things and didn’t write them down.

    Plus, you know those days when you’re running around all day and doing stuff and talking to people and making calls and responding to emails and filling out paperwork and you get home and you’re completely exhausted and you say to yourself, “What the hell did I actually get done today?”

    Your Anti-Todo list has the answer.

    By the way, in order to do this, you have to carry a pen with you everywhere you go. I recommend the Fisher Space Pen. It’s short and bullet-shaped so it won’t poke you in the thigh when it’s in your pocket, it’s wonderfully retro, it helped save the Apollo 11 mission, and it writes upside down. What’s not to like?

  • Structured Procrastination.This is a great one.

    This one is lifted straight from the genius mind of John Perry, a philosophy professor at Stanford.

    Read his original description, by all means. You even get to see a photo of him practicing jumping rope with seaweed on a beach while work awaits. Outstanding.

    The gist of Structured Procrastination is that you should never fight the tendency to procrastinate — instead, you should use it to your advantage in order to get other things done.

    Generally in the course of a day, there is something you have to do that you are not doing because you are procrastinating.

    While you’re procrastinating, just do lots of other stuff instead.

    As John says, “The list of tasks one has in mind will be ordered by importance. Tasks that seem most urgent and important are on top. But there are also worthwhile tasks to perform lower down on the list. Doing these tasks becomes a way of not doing the things higher up on the list. With this sort of appropriate task structure, the procrastinator becomes a useful citizen. Indeed, the procrastinator can even acquire, as I have, a reputation for getting a lot done.”

    Reading John’s essay was one of the single most profound moments of my entire life.

    For example, I hate making phone calls. Hate it. Love sending emails, enjoy seeing people face to face (sometimes), but I hate making phone calls.

    I can get so much done while I am avoiding making a phone call that I need to make, I can barely believe it.

    In fact, that’s what’s happening right now.

  • The other key two-word tactic: Strategic Incompetence.The best way to to make sure that you are never asked to do something again is to royally screw it up the first time you are asked to do it.

    Or, better yet, just say you know you will royally screw it up — maintain a strong voice and a clear gaze, and you’ll probably get off the hook.

    Of course, this assumes that there are other things that are more important at which you are competent.

    Which, hopefully, there are.

    Organizing the company picnic, sending faxes or Fedexes, negotiating with insurance brokers, writing in plain English… the list of things at which one can be strategically incompetent is nearly endless.

  • Do email exactly twice a day — say, once first thing in the morning, and once at the end of the workday.Allocated half an hour or whatever it takes, but otherwise, keep your email client shut and your email notifications turned off.

    Anyone who needs to reach you so urgently that it can’t wait until later in the day or tomorrow morning can call you, or send a runner, or send up smoke signals, or something else.

    Or, more likely, find someone else who can do whatever it is that needs doing.

    (If you communicate with your spouse or key family members via email during the day, then just set up a separate email account just for them and leave that open all day, but keep your primary email closed. And never give out the family email address to anyone noncritical — including your boss.)

    Only doing email twice a day will make you far more productive for the rest of the day.

    The problem with email is that getting an email triggers that same endorphin hit I mentioned above — the one that a mouse gets when he bonks on the button in the cage and gets a food pellet.

    Responding to an email triggers that same hit.

    The pleasure chemical hits your neocortex and you go “ahhh” inside and feel like you’ve done something.

    So you sit and work with your mail client open and you interrupt your work every time an email comes in and you answer it and you send another email and you feel great in the moment.

    But what you’re really doing is fracturing your time, interrupting your flow, and killing your ability to focus on anything long enough to get real high-quality work done.

    This one is far easier to say than do. And it won’t be feasible during projects where lots of updates during the day really are important — raising money, for example, or closing a big deal.

    Me, I’m just trying to get down to checking email only a half dozen times per day.

  • When you do process email, do it like this:First, always finish each of your two daily email sessions with a completely empty inbox.

    I don’t know about you, but when I know I have emails in my inbox that haven’t been dealt with, I find it hard to concentrate on other things.

    The urge to go back to my email is nearly overpowering.

    (I am apparently seriously addicted to endorphins.)

    Second, when doing email, either answer or file every single message until you get to that empty inbox state of grace.

    Not keeping a schedule helps here, a lot, if you can pull it off — you can reply to a lot of messages with “I’m sorry, I’m not keeping a schedule in 2007, I can’t commit to that.”

    Third, emails relating to topics that are current working projects or pressing issues go into temporary subfolders of a folder called Action.

    You should only have Action subfolders for the things that really matter, right now.

    Those subfolders then get used, and the messages in them processed, when you are working on their respective projects in the normal course of your day.

    Fourth, aside from those temporary Action subfolders, only keep three standing email folders: Pending, Review, and Vault.

    Emails that you know you’re going to have to deal with again — such as emails in which someone is committing something to you and you want to be reminded to follow up on it if the person doesn’t deliver — go in Pending.

    Emails with things you want to read in depth when you have more time, go into Review.

    Everything else goes into Vault.

    Every once in a while, sweep through your Action subfolders and dump any of them that you can into Vault.

    (And do the same thing for messages in your Pending folder — most of the things in there you will never look at again. Actually, same is true for Review.)

    That’s it.

    You can get away with this because modern email clients are so good at search (well, most of them — and you can always move to GMail) that it’s not worth the effort to try to file emails into lots of different folders.

    Obviously you may need some additional permanent folders for important things like contracts, or emails from your doctor, or the like, but these are exceptions and don’t change your standard operating procedure.

  • Don’t answer the phone.Let it go to voicemail, and then every few hours, screen your voicemails and batch the return calls.

    Say, twice a day.

    Cell phones and family plans are so cheap these days that I think the best thing to do is have two cell phones with different numbers — one for key family members, your closest friends, and your boss and a few coworkers, and the other for everyone else.

    Answer the first one when it rings, but never answer the second one.

  • Hide in an IPod.One of the best and easiest ways to avoid distractions in the workplace is to be wearing those cute little IPod earbud headphones (or any other headphones of your choice).

    People, for some reason, feel much worse interrupting you if you are wearing headphones than if you’re not.

    It’s great — a lot of the time, people will walk up to you, start to say something, notice the headphones, apologize (using exaggerated mouth motions), and walk away.

    This is great — half the time they didn’t actually need to talk to you, and the other half of the time they can send an email that you can process at the end of the day during the second of your two daily email sweeps.

    Here’s the best part: you don’t actually have to be listening to anything.

    Hell, you don’t even have to have the headphones plugged into anything.

  • I’m not going to talk a lot about getting up early or going to bed late or anything else related to the course of a typical day, because everyone’s different.Personally I go back and forth between being a night owl (99% of the time) and a morning person (1% — I’m going to try to push it to 2%).

    But the thing that matters almost more than anything in determining whether I’ll have a happy, satisfying day is this: no matter what time you get up, start the day with a real, sit-down breakfast.

    This serves two purposes.

    First, it fuels you up. Study after study have shown that breakfast is, yes, the most important meal of the day. It’s critical to properly fuel the body for the day’s activities and it’s also critical to staying lean or losing weight. (People who don’t have breakfast tend to eat more, and worse, at lunch.)

    Second, it gives you a chance to calmly, peacefully collect your thoughts and prepare mentally and emotionally for the day ahead.

    This works whether you do it with kids and/or a partner, or you’re solo.

    Personally I think it’s worth whatever effort is involved to go to bed early enough to wake up early enough to have a good solid 45 minutes or an hour for breakfast each morning, if you can pull it off.

  • Only agree to new commitments when both your head and your heart say yes.This one is from the great Robert Evans.

    (Hold out for the audiobook — trust me.)

    It’s really easy to get asked to do something — a new project, a nonprofit activity, a social event — and to have your head say yes and your heart say no, and then your mouth says yes.

    The next thing you know, you’re piled up with all kinds of things on your schedule that sounded like a good idea at the time but you really don’t want to do.

    And distract you from the things that really matter.

    And make you angry, and bitter, and sullen, and hostile.

    (Oh, wait, I’m projecting.)

    In my experience, it takes time to tell the difference between your head saying yes and your heart saying yes.

    I think the key is whether you’re really excited about it.

    If you get that little adrenaline spike (in a good way) when you think about it, then your heart is saying yes.

    The corollary, of course, is that when your head says no and your heart says yes, your mouth should generally say yes as well :-).

    But not when your head says yes and your heart says no.

  • Do something you love.As you’ve probably concluded by now, most of the tactics described in this post involve keeping oneself as free as possible to pursue one’s core interests, and dreams.

    If you’re not doing something you love with the majority of your time, and you have any personal freedom and flexibility whatsoever, it’s time for a change.

    And this doesn’t mean something that you love doing in theory — but rather, the core thing you love doing in practice.

And that’s it.

Please feel free to nominate additions to the list! Next time my mobile wiki-based GTD Outlook synchronized hipster PDA reminds me, I’ll check ’em out.

Notes based on reader feedback:

Turns out Robert Benchley wrote about structured procrastination back in 1949. Wonderful essay — highly recommended.

The sharpest reaction has been to my theory of not keeping a schedule. I’ll stick to my theory but make (or re-make) a couple of clarifying points.

First, it is certainly true that many people have jobs and responsibilities where they can’t do that. Or maybe can only do it partially. And many people enjoy living a highly structured life and obviously this approach is not for them.

But if your reaction is, “boy, I wish I could do that”, then it may well be worth rethinking your approach to your career.

I can tell you from personal experience that being stuck in a role where you have a lot of structure but feel like you never get anything done is not the optimal way to advance in one’s profession, or maximize one’s job satisfaction.

Second, I do not recommend pursuing this approach in one’s personal life :-).

On another topic, the tactic of each night, write down the 3 to 5 things you need to do the next day has struck some people as too simplistic.

That may be the case for some people, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived home at night and am at a loss as to what I actually got done that day, despite the fact that I worked all day.

And I also can’t tell you how often I’ve had a huge, highly-structured todo list in front of me with 100 things on it and I stare at it and am paralyzed into inaction (or, more likely, structured procrastination).

So a day when I get 3 to 5 concrete, actionable things done in addition to all the other stuff one has to do to get through the day — well, that’s a good day.

A few people have said, why not just use GTD (David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” approach).

While I find GTD to be highly inspiring, in practice I think it’s awfully complex. At least if your job is based on project work (as opposed to having a highly structured role like CEO or head of sales).

For me, an organization system that requires significant time to deal with in and of itself is not optimal. Much better, for me at least, is to focus on stripping away nonessentials and freeing up as much time as possible to deal with whatever is most important.

Finally, I discovered after writing this post that Paul Graham talks a bit about the role of time and focus in personal productivity in his essay on “The Power of the Marginal”.

Thanks for all the comments!

Posted by Marc Andreessen on June 04, 2007 at 06:05 PM in Life Hacks | Permalink


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Tracked on June 06, 2007 at 07:26 AM


What a fantastic list of tips. Thanks for structuring your procrastination to allow the time to compile these.

Posted by: Adrian Holovaty | June 04, 2007 at 06:51 PM

great post marc. I love SimulScribe, it transcribes voicemail to email. it’s worked great for me. I can do my email and voicemail check at the same time and don’t have to awkwardly write down phone numbers people leave. and as a bonus I get an email record of the calls.

Posted by: David V | June 04, 2007 at 06:53 PM

Adrian — thanks!

David — thanks, I’ve read about that — must try!

Now, back to not making that phone call…


Posted by: Marc Andreessen | June 04, 2007 at 07:09 PM

Interesting post Marc. The 3×5 card is a great idea.

Posted by: Joel Rothstein | June 04, 2007 at 07:43 PM

Great stuff. As a complement to these efficiency techniques I would suggest effectiveness techniques.

Efficiency is about “doing things right”. This is what the GTD folks seems to focus on.

Effectiveness is about “doing the right things”.

Effectiveness is the real goal. I think if you focus on effectiveness you can quickly cast off many of the demands on your time that don’t contribute to your goals.

For effectiveness, I recommend Peter Drucker’s “The Essential Drucker” or “The Effective Executive”.

Posted by: Nivi | June 04, 2007 at 07:45 PM

You might also want to add to “Do e-mail twice a day”…”read RSS feeds once a day”, ’cause those too can be a time sink and addictive 😉

Posted by: p-air | June 04, 2007 at 09:54 PM

Another excellent post Marc. I’d contribute this ditty from Pythagoras:

“The beginning is half the whole.”

Overthinking / procrastination can take more time than getting small but irritating jobs well on their way to a successful finish.

Posted by: Joe Hunkins | June 04, 2007 at 11:53 PM

Marc, this is one of the most powerful blog posts I have read in four years. It summarizes much of what I do already, but tightens it up. Combine this with Tim Ferriss’ strategies and your on to a big new trend.

Posted by: Steve Rubel | June 05, 2007 at 02:40 AM

Hi Steve — thanks, I really appreciate it!

Posted by: Marc Andreessen | June 05, 2007 at 02:42 AM

When it comes to “structured procrastination” the American humorist Robert Benchley was the pioneer; see his 1949 essay “How to Get Things Done” (from Chips Off the Old Benchley).

Posted by: Frank Hecker | June 05, 2007 at 05:20 AM

Sorry, let’s try that link again: Robert Benchley on How to Get Things Done.

Posted by: Frank Hecker | June 05, 2007 at 05:25 AM

This is one of the most practical posts I have read in quite some time. I think i’ll be using more than one or two of the ideas you have listed.

Thanks for the great tips.

Posted by: Nish Patel | June 05, 2007 at 06:01 AM

Nice list, pretty close in many ways to how I do things myself (basically, less interruptions, more control). I’d add a couple ideas from my personal experience:

– Manage volume: make sure you’re not soliciting way more information to come your way than you can handle, whether it’s emails (sending emails generates more email), RSS feeds, newsletters, alerts… For me it translates into streamlining efforts once in a while after “let’s drink from the fire hose” phases.

– Write drafts: I always have a bunch of email drafts or in-progress spreadsheets where I store links or half-baked ideas until the whole thing solidifies. Then when I need to get things done all the research is already there and has had time to pretty much organize itself. Great for trip planning for instance (don’t try and travel abroad without some sort of scheduling!).

Awaiting Answer / For follow up / Maybe Someday categories combined with Search Folders in Outlook make my life so much easier. I also have Reference and Planning categories/search folders for those types of emails I know I’ll need again and again (say, a quarterly list of goals or some procedures I wrote for the team).

Posted by: Olivier Travers | June 05, 2007 at 06:06 AM

And all this time I thought I was unproductive.

Posted by: Rick | June 05, 2007 at 06:43 AM

This is a great post with one exception. The not keeping a schedule idea is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in forever on productivity. The first time someone says to me I can’t arrange a meeting for next Thursday today, but call me 15 minutes before you want to meet and I’ll let you know, they can rest assured whatever I needed them for, I’ll find from someone else.

Otherwise, great ideas but this one is insane.

Posted by: Kris Aebischer | June 05, 2007 at 07:41 AM

To Kris – that’s the point! 🙂

Posted by: Matt | June 05, 2007 at 09:37 AM

BTW, 37 signals’ is quite helpful for keeping simple to do lists.

Posted by: Rick | June 05, 2007 at 09:42 AM

Matt, I hear you, but what happens when YOU need someone? You never schedule a meeting you just keep calling them until they’re free at that moment? This could go on forever with whatever you wanted to accomplish never happening (the opposite of productivity!) This sounds more material for Dilbert than a productivity tool. Good luck keeping a relationship with people if you adopt this idea. 🙂

Posted by: Kris | June 05, 2007 at 10:07 AM

What happens if the person who calls you also works this way? Since you’re not on their primary list either, they won’t pick up the phone when you get round to calling them back…

But, still I kind of like the theory. It’s amazing how much stuff just disappears if you ignore it. “Never put off till tomorrow what you can avoid doing altogether”.

Posted by: Paul | June 05, 2007 at 10:29 AM

Thanks for the tips! The 3×5 card should be most helpful. I agree that procrastination can be great if a) whatever is being avoided can be put off, and b) something useful fills the time. Also, I often walk around with my earbuds in but the iPod off. I get interrupted when reading a book, but rarely when listening to music. Weird.

Posted by: Elisha | June 05, 2007 at 10:50 AM

Marc, do you distinguish projects and actionable items, ala GTD, on your lists?

Also, how much time do you spend reading news (world news, national news, local news, tech news, politics, economy, etc)?

Posted by: Michael | June 05, 2007 at 03:41 PM

Hi Michael — I kind of do both in my Todo list — I have all the things that are urgent up front, and then I have a section for each project with the todos for that project under it.

The underlying assumption of my whole approach is that my work is primarily project based, and so the goal is to free up as much time as possible to work on projects. And then, when I have a block of time (ideally all day) to work on a project, I have a section in my todo list devoted to that project that I work from.

Re news — I actually spend a *huge* amount of time reading news — perhaps too much. Tim Ferriss takes exactly the opposite approach in his book “The Four-Hour Workweek”, and frankly I think he may have a point :-).


Posted by: Marc Andreessen | June 05, 2007 at 05:05 PM

Nice tips.

Rather than paying for 2 cell phones, you could just assign your family etc a different ringer from the default, so you can tell whether to answer it or not.

Posted by: Fin Springs | June 05, 2007 at 06:54 PM

Hi Fin — so right!! Thx!

Posted by: Marc Andreessen | June 05, 2007 at 07:18 PM

Wow, it was actually a very good list. I like to lock the computer for 30 minute sessions so I can draft thoughts and ideas on paper without IM, e-mail, browsers.

Posted by: Daniel Hoang | June 05, 2007 at 09:01 PM

When I have time, which I don’t, because I’m too busy answering emails, I’m going to go back and read and disgest this post. But Marc, how do you get around the fact that anyone to whom you say, “I don’t keep a schedule,” will receive the message that you think your time is more valueable than theirs? That may well be true. Or it may not be. But your telling me you can’t schedule a meeting with me — I’m speaking generically, of course, seeing as we’ve scheduled time with each other — explicity states that my time isn’t worth what yours is. It’s certainly not how business is done in the Midwest. Wouldn’t you agree?

Posted by: Adam Lashinsky | June 05, 2007 at 10:40 PM

Daniel – My point exactly! Every idea in the list has merit or potential for working into your own productivity plan except that one. I don’t see how you could get away with that and not be a hermit. It’s a bit like saying we won’t get any email viruses if we unplug our email server! 🙂

Posted by: Kris | June 06, 2007 at 03:54 AM

One of the best posts I’ve read in a while. The email endorphin hit is so true .. debilitating at times for getting real work done! The structured procastination bit is really nice too.. David Allen talks about that in some form if I remember correctly.

Thanks Again

Posted by: Clifford Barrett | June 06, 2007 at 06:02 AM

Love the tips. I am always on the lookout for ways to be more productive. A small contribution I can add to the mix is to create a basic web page with the words “GET BACK TO WORK” (huge letters on white background) and set it as your browser’s default. Sounds simple but it can do wonders.


Posted by: Craig | June 06, 2007 at 09:33 AM

Let’s agree to call it PPP (person productivity pr0n) from here on in, in the interest of efficiency [both semantic and keystroke]

example- “a lot of PPP tells you to keep daily planning in analog form, i.e. the HPDA, only GTD really promotes digital listing.. etc.”

After a month of posts with “PPP (person productivity pr0n)” we can drop the parenthetical and just focus on GTD.

Posted by: Joe | June 06, 2007 at 10:20 AM

Quoted from above

“Those of you in California may recall how, once Arnold decided to run for Governor”

“Those of you in California may recall, how once Arnold decided to run for Governor”

Can you spot the difference?

just caught me- i was focusing on what i was interested in at the moment.

Great post

Posted by: Joe | June 06, 2007 at 10:25 AM

I like the tips Marc. I have seen you doing some mobile e-mail more than twice a day however. 😉

Posted by: John Menkart | June 06, 2007 at 12:59 PM

John — you got me on that one — I am trying to get it down from 20 times per day…


Posted by: Marc Andreessen | June 06, 2007 at 03:35 PM

Adam said:

“But Marc, how do you get around the fact that anyone to whom you say, “I don’t keep a schedule,” will receive the message that you think your time is more valueable than theirs? That may well be true. Or it may not be. But your telling me you can’t schedule a meeting with me — I’m speaking generically, of course, seeing as we’ve scheduled time with each other — explicity states that my time isn’t worth what yours is.”

Hi Adam — great point — here’s where we get into the thick of things, in my view.

I think when it comes right down to it, when it comes to maximizing one’s effectiveness in one’s business pursuits, any given person (let’s say, Adam Lashinsky) is either (a) so important that I would meet with him whenever he wants to meet or happens to be in town, or (b) not important enough to meet with.

This sounds imflammatory and I don’t mean it that way. Let me explain:

First, by “important”, I don’t mean “importance on Earth, importance to the industry, importance to his family, and importance as a human being”. I just mean, essential to forward progress in one’s own business efforts given limited time and bandwidth.

Second, what other middle ground is there? What I lot of people do — me included — is not make the hard call up front, and instead default to saying, OK, I’ll meet with you next Thursday. But when next Thursday rolls around, I’ll be sitting there before the meeting saying, dammit, this is not the most important thing I could be doing for my work, but I made a commitment and so now I’ve got to do it. What I’ve done is delay the issue but still end up taking the hit.

Why does this matter — why not just meet with people who want to meet with you, when they want to meet with you? In my experience, as one progresses in one’s career, one meets more and more people (even if one is antisocial 🙂 and some of those people come back and want to spend more time. Those people then introduce you to more people who come back and want to spend time. If you really say yes to everyone, you have no time for what matters and you get nothing done.

Now, your response to this might be: “I wasn’t talking about whether someone is important enough to meet with; I was talking about logistics — scheduling.” That is true, but in my experience agreeing to future meetings ends up being used as a crutch to avoid making the tough calls on what one should be doing now (the current now) and what one should be doing on the date and time of the scheduled appointment (the future NOW).

Also, if someone wants to meet with you but only if you will meet with them at a preplanned time in the future, well, they must not want to meet with you that badly.

What’s the upside to this approach? Far more time to work on what really matters, and (here’s the kicker) you become far MORE available and convenient for the people who really matter. Since I have been edging in this direction in my own work schedule I am way more available for my key business partners/coworkers/colleagues, key customers, key partners, and key investors. At any time in the day they can just say, hey Marc, can you sit in on this, or can we talk, and I have the freedom and schedule openness to be able to say yes. And they love that, and it really pays off.

Finally, I certainly wouldn’t recommend taking this approach with one’s personal life :-).

Many of the most successful people I know basically follow this regime.

Warren Buffett has perhaps the best twist on this — as you know, he lives in Omaha. My understanding is that if you want to meet with him, not only is it hard to schedule the meeting, but you have to fly to Omaha to meet with him. That weeds out 99.9% of the people who would otherwise occupy his time.

Is he able to enforce that because he’s so successful, or is he so successful because he’s been able to enforce that? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

“It’s certainly not how business is done in the Midwest. Wouldn’t you agree?”

I am DELIGHTED that you asked that question!

Go to the Midwest sometime and ask a farmer to meet with you during planting or harvesting seasons.

At BEST you’ll be invited to ride along on the tractor for an hour.



Posted by: Marc Andreessen | June 06, 2007 at 03:52 PM

Good gosh, Marc! This was a spectacular highlight after a healthy day of work. I came here via Lifehacker, and I must confess, I’m into “prod pr0n” too.

I’m glad you blogged this, extremely fervent, because it helped put down — in words — some ideas which had been swimming around, somewhat ambiguously, in my head. But you laying this out and citing precedent helped solidify and inspire me.

I work at Linden Lab, makers of the online world Second Life, and I’m so happy to. Currently, however, we face scaling challenges, and I find myself in the midst of being tugged in many directions at once when I need more focus.

It does mean a lot that it’s *you* writing this, because it gives your words weight and context. Having applied this to your existence, I can see why you’re so positive about being productive!

I have a thing of my own to add: each weekend, I work on a mini-project which is achievable during the 2-day stretch. It may, but isn’t necessarily directly related to my work. For example, last week, I recorded myself dancing and playing the piano and uploaded it to YouTube; perhaps you’ll get a kick out of this:


Prior weeks have seen me creating seamlessly tiling textures, exploring vector art tutorials, learning about the history of classic video games, and even getting more into mythology by way of NBC’s Heroes.

In short, it helps me feel like I’m getting a lot done, even when having fun. I love to “dual-purpose” stuff and collect misc. trivia that may very well have a meaningful impact later. I find knowledge to largely be useless if not applied.

Anyhoo, just wanted to say THANK YOU graciously… it’s so kewl to see your followup comments with great anecdotes too! T’care. =^_^=

Posted by: Torley | June 06, 2007 at 06:08 PM

Marc, Thanks for the useful tips. I have worked closely with John Perry, so I know for a fact that he lives what he speaks. He in not tethered to a Blackberry, almost never answers his phone, and occasionally responds to email (after a healthy delay). Yet, he is a respected scholar and beloved Stanford professor. Now, if the rest of us just had equal courage or conviction to implement his wisdom!

Posted by: Michelle Wachs | June 06, 2007 at 09:47 PM


I’m really looking forward to Gary’s book, getting ready to launch in October…

This guy, along with the entire list of speakers at BIGOmaha was phenomenal and knowing he’s now putting out a “blueprint for success” is even better. I don’t recommend books, nor authors, frequently, but this is a can’t miss.

Also, keep posted to BIGOmaha for Gary and the rest of the speaker’s talks from this year’s event!

Now go out and preorder the book and let’s get Gary on the Top 10 before the book even ships!

So I know we’re 26 days into the New Year but just found some time to put together a few thoughts about where things are at…

2009 is off to a fast start and lots of good things going on…between publicity and pushing ahead with things like Silicon Prairie News and Packs of Promise to our daily family fun with our two great little guys Logan & Cayden…

More to come soon on what’s ahead for 2009 and appreciate your friendship and support!

From us to you!3130313486_e9ec90f650_b

Love this video…

Gary The Puppet’s Magical Internet Adventure from justin on Vimeo.

I ran across this post in my box this morning from Robin Sharma’s blog and thought it was worth sharing with my friends and family…so true and something to keep in mind. Enjoy.

“Snowy morning in my hometown. Wish I was on a mountain with boards strapped to my feet (I’m talking about my outright love of skiing, for my dear friends in warmer climates). Thinking about success – and what it’s really all about.

One of the dominant values of our world is that we win once we reach our goals/objectives/mountaintops. We can only feel fulfilled when we get to the end of our quest and arrive at the place we’ve longed to reach. We can call ourselves successful only once we’ve done our dreams. Then we get to celebrate. Because we’ve arrived at our beautiful destination.

But what if that value we hold so very closely to our hearts is wrong? What if the real game is the journey – not the end. What if the very meaning of success is about loving/embracing/experiencing the journey towards our cherished ambitions versus reaching the mountaintop?

What I’ve found in my own life is that it’s what the climb to my loftiest goals makes of me and evokes from within me that’s most important. As I aim high and reach for my dreams, the best within me expresses itself. Resources I didn’t know I had begin to shine. I realize I am stronger, better, wiser than I gave myself credit for. And so are you. Absolutely.

Here’s the thing: These human gifts only begin to appear as you walk towards what you most want. It’s the journey itself that introduces you to the magnificence of all you are. So why shouldn’t we honor it? And maybe getting your goals done, while exceedingly important, is just icing on the cake.”


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