Sunday, March 6, 2011

Scheduling life

I've been reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, which is worth reading if you read it critically enough to sort out the great advice from the terrible advice. I like this suggestion from the book (which he originally made in a blog post):

Work is not all of life. Your co-workers shouldn't be your only friends. Schedule life and defend it just as you would an important business meeting. (326-27)
Ferriss isn't recommending that you put a high priority on socializing in general. In fact, the above advice only makes sense if you first take stock of which socializing is truly valuable, by asking yourself these questions:
• Positive friends versus time-consuming friends: Who is helping versus hurting you, and how do you increase your time with the former while decreasing or eliminating your time with the latter?

• Who is causing me stress disproportionate to the time I spend with them? What will happen if I simply stop interacting with these people? (81)
At first, he suggests explicitly confronting the negative friends about how you're not getting enough out of the relationship, but he realizes many readers won't be up for this. So instead, he recommends "just politely refus[ing] to interact with them":
Be in the middle of something when the calls comes, and have a prior commitment when the invitation to hang out comes. Once you see the benefits of decreased time with these people, it will be easier to stop communication altogether. (82)
I'm reminded of a scene from a Seinfeld episode, "The Boyfriend," where Jerry's annoyed that his new friend (Keith Hernandez) hasn't called him:
Elaine: You know, maybe he's been busy. Maybe he's been out of town.

Jerry: Oh, they don't have phones out of town? I love how people say they're too busy. 'Too busy!' Pick up a phone! It takes two minutes! How can you be too busy?

Everyone's "too busy" for what they don't really want to do. We make time for the things value the most.