Less Doing Ari Meisel header

Ari Meisel is a successful entrepreneur, consultant, the bestselling author of The Art of Less Doing and runs one of the world’s top blogs on productivity.

Ari has become a renowned expert on productivity, automation, and efficiency for top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business people. Ari’s Optimize, Automate, Delegate system has helped thousands of entrepreneurs create businesses that run efficiently and effectively, creating more profits and cash flow with less work, struggle, and stress.

Ari started on his path to life hacking and optimizing his life when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his 20’s. After a serious episode with Crohn’s where he was left in a hospital bed and completely incapacitated, Ari had a huge wake-up call. Even though his doctors told him that Crohn’s disease was incurable, Ari determined to find a way to heal his body on his own.

He started a daily regimen of what he calls self-tracking. He measured his blood levels for various biomarkers of health, took numerous medical tests religiously, started testing the results of changes to his diet, sleep habits, meditation, rest, exercise, work schedule and more.

In a few months, he turned his health and his life around, and has since started testing and tracking almost every area of his life, creating dramatic improvements not just in his health, but in his stress levels, productivity, income, business growth and more.

How to Manage Stress

Ari developed a framework of three steps to manage his stress. It’s a framework anyone can use.

1. Optimize

Track everything. Discover the processes of your life and record the steps in granular detail.

Do you remember what you had for breakfast this morning? How about how many emails you sent last Tuesday? Believe it or not, how many emails you sent last Tuesday may be vital to optimizing your business.

The truth is there are 100 things like the number of emails you sent last Tuesday that you don’t know the answer to. All of them contribute to how successful you are in your life.

In today’s fast-moving society we have hundreds of inputs and outputs a day that people aren’t even paying attention to.

The key to optimizing your life is to record everything you do. That’s the only way you can discover areas of inefficiency in your life. When you discover those areas of inefficiency, you can take steps to eliminate them.

You can use software to track your time. You can also journal. The key is to track everything you do for long enough to discover your patterns of behavior.

2. Automate

This is in the vein of set it and forget it. What are the things that you do all the time that you can just set it up and never have to worry about it again?

For automation you can use:

  • Email filters
  • Software
  • Services

With the way technology is advancing today, chances are you can find software to automate anything that’s possible to automate.

3. Outsource

Outsourcing is the final step. You outsource small defined tasks that could not be optimized away and could not be automated by some other system.

That’s how Ari approaches his entire life from business to health.

Use followup.cc to Help You Optimize Time Management

Followup.cc is an email reminder service that allows you to email yourself reminders in the future.

You can use a number of time commands to let followup.cc know when you want your reminder. You can use commands like:

[email protected]

[email protected]

The key is that you set a time in the future for the follow-up email to be sent back to you. If you use the BCC feature the reminder will only go to you. If you use the CC feature you can send a reminder to you and your team.

A lot of the stress of email comes from wondering if you followed up with somebody and did they get back to you? Using followup.cc on a regular basis removes a lot of that stress.

Within five seconds of sending an email using followup.cc it’s out of sight out of mind. That’s how it should be.

Another great benefit of using followup.cc is that you can replace your to do list. To do lists are lists of tasks that you can do right now. Anything your brain thinks you should be doing it wants you to be doing right now, immediately in this moment. When you think you should be doing something that you can’t do, it creates stress in your brain and body.

By using an email reminder system like followup.cc you remind yourself to do a particular task when you can do it. This eliminates a lot of the stress that goes with having a to-do list.

Another great benefit of using an email reminder system like followup.cc is the snooze function that allows you to defer action on items when it’s not the best time to take action.

NudgeMail is a similar service that you can use for free, but it doesn’t work as well with teams.

“The skill that everybody needs to work on, is learning timing. What I mean by that is, everything we do, there is a better and a suboptimal time to do those things – deferring is not procrastinating. Deferring is taking an active role on deciding when there is a better time to do things.” – Ari Meisel

Use Evernote to Create Your External Brain

A lot of people use Evernote. And a lot of people use it in the wrong way. Ari believes the best way to use Evernote is to overuse it. Use it and don’t think about what you’re putting in there. Capture everything.

You have to get your thoughts out and into some sort of system that can keep track of them. The human brain is really good at coming up with ideas. It’s terrible at executing on them. You need something to collect all your thoughts so you don’t have to worry about remembering them. Evernote is good for that.

Evernote is really intelligent in the way it implements its search function.

If you’re using Evernote the way Ari suggests, when you search for something in Google Evernote will give you relevant notes from your notebooks.

At this point Ari has over 15,000 notes. Every time he searches something in Google three or four notes will appear from Evernote through the browser extension.

What makes Evernote particularly useful is that it will pull all the notes relevant to whatever you’re searching for from any time that you put them in the program.

So you can have a note from two years ago pop up next to a note from six months ago, next to a note from two days ago. All three of those notes will pop up together and may suggest something that you would not have thought of otherwise. Evernote is great for extending association chains in the memory.

“It’s as if I’m pulling things from the depth of my brain that I would never be able to do on a biological level.” – Ari Meisel

Most of the time it’s not going to be the right time to implement ideas you have in the moment. That’s why you need some sort of system to capture your ideas and bring them forward when appropriate. You can set up Evernote to do that for you.

Doing Less without Technology

You can optimize, automate, and outsource without using technology. All technology does is magnify the results of the habits you already have. If you have good habits technology magnifies them. If you have bad habits technology magnifies them.

If you have 10,000 emails and you implement a system of folders, that’s not necessarily going to help you with the underlying problem. Most likely, it’s just going to give you more folders to look in when you’re searching for a specific email.

Technology is an add-on that can make things better or worse. The main thing you want to focus on is the philosophy behind how you manage your life.

The less doing a system is all about creating awareness of how you’re living your life so that you can consciously make changes to be more productive with less stress. There are many things you can keep a record of uding pen and paper.

Technology has the ability to simplify the record-keeping process. But the philosophy is what’s important.

If you had a friend who called you every day and asked you questions like, “Did you work out today? Are you eating healthy today? Did you write 1000 words today?” We all know you’d be more successful in those areas, just by being reminded about them every day.

Just by focusing your attention on the thing you want to improve your mind will find ways to improve in that area naturally.

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Use Zapier to Automate Workflows

Zapier.com is a web application that helps you automate interactions between different web applications.

Ifttt.com is another service that does the same thing but with a different set of web applications.

You use these services by setting up a number of if-then loops. For instance you can set up a loop that says:

IF it’s going to rain tomorrow

THEN send me a text message.

You can also set up a loop that says:

IF I tweet a certain hashtag

THEN record it on a Google doc.

Ari has an article on how to use Zapier.com and ifttt.com to automate workflows and process an amazing amount of content.

Ari does live events that have productivity workshops where attendees can learn how to use different strategies and software to be more productive in their life.

The Biggest Problem Successful Entrepreneurs Have

Ari’s most successful clients who run multimillion dollar businesses often have a bottleneck because their not able to effectively communicate with their team.

Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you’re going to be good at delegating.

Delegating is about effectively communicating the vision you have in your head.

The first thing that Ari does is help the team of these successful clients be effective and efficient as possible. Then he works with the client themselves to streamline the communication process so that there is clarity in the communication channel.

How to Communicate and Delegate Effectively

“I firmly believe that everybody at some point should work with a virtual assistant. Specifically an on-demand virtual assistant service, like Fancy Hands.” – Ari Meisel

The reason you want to work with an on-demand virtual assistant service is you’re working with a pool of virtual assistants. When you work with Fancy Hands it’s possible you’ll only work with one virtual assistant for one task.

If you are having to communicate with someone you don’t know, they don’t know you and how you like things done it forces you to make your communication to them as clear as possible.

This is where the optimize, automate, delegate framework comes into play.

Before you contact a virtual assistant, detail out every step of the particular process you are looking at. See which steps you have to do yourself and which steps you might be able to delegate to other people.

When you’re detailing out every step of your process it’s important to be as granular as possible. Think of it like a NASA launch mission checklist.

After you’ve done that, go through the process and see what parts you can use technology to automate for you.

From there, search for a virtual assistant to do the steps that you don’t have to do yourself, that technology can’t automate for you.

People and Resources Mentioned in This Interview

Dave Asberry, Dean Jackson, Joe Polish and Ben Greenfield were all speakers at Ari’s first Less Doing Live Event.

Subscribe to the Less Doing Podcast – Ari will answer any questions you might have about his Less Doing framework on the podcast.

http://lessdoing.com/ – Ari’s main site with all the information you need to implement his less doing framework.

Learn about the less doing live event – these events take place over a weekend and have many workshops about how to do less and increase productivity with different software and strategies.

The Art Of Less Doing: One Entrepreneur’s Formula for a Beautiful Life by Ari Meisel

Ari Meisel’s Amazon author page

https://followup.cc/ – a follow-up reminder service for your email that allows you to schedule reminders for yourself and your team.

https://evernote.com/ – use Evernote to create your external brain.

https://www.nudgemail.com/ – another email follow-up service that uses the same principles as followup.cc NudgeMail is free.

https://zapier.com/ – is a web application that can help you connect Web services and automate workflows.

https://ifttt.com/ – a similar application to Zapier that works with different web applications.

Ari’s article on how to use Zapier.com and ifttt.com to automate workflows and process an amazing amount of content.

Listen to this podcast episode to hear about Ari’s podcast production workflow which is almost entirely automated.