Outsourcing Life and How to Eliminate E-mail Overload

The Master does nothing,

yet he leaves nothing undone.

The ordinary man is always doing things,

yet many more are left to be done.

Tao Te Ching

Chapter 38

Is it possible to outsource your life to other countries? By now, you know that I believe it is. But is it necessary to outsource overseas? Can you outsource in languages other than English? What is geoarbitrage really about?

These were some of the topics I covered in “Die 4-Stunden Arbeitswoche” (The 4-Hour Workweek) with Patrick Price for his Swiss-German podcast, NetzNews. The first 30 seconds are in Swiss German, a very cool dialect that sounds nothing like Berlin German, and the rest is in English.

In other news, my first “manifesto” on Seth Godin’s ChangeThis was published this week. The title? The Low-Information Diet: How to Eliminate E-Mail Overload & Triple Productivity in 24 Hours. This free and easy-to-read PDF contains some popular content from the book, but also a ton of template e-mails and bonus tips found nowhere else. Learn to read 3 times faster and cut your volume of e-mail in half. This manifesto is designed to get you there in 24 hours.

Download it here, and pass it on to those who need it!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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23 Replies to “Outsourcing Life and How to Eliminate E-mail Overload”

  1. Tim,

    Great stuff! I bought your book 3 days ago and since

    implementing the autoresponder messages into my email

    program, and only ‘doing’ email once a day at 4:00PM

    (I skipped the ‘twice’ suggestion!) I feel a sense of

    freedom that I had forgotten existed.

    Of over 2 dozen ‘support’ requests from my clients

    and customers, only one person has called my cell

    phone with an ‘urgent’ request.

    I’m spending my new found time implementing ALL

    of your suggestions.

    I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on hundreds

    of products, plans, coaching, mentoring and more, but

    for some reason while reading your book the preverbial

    light bulb went off big time.

    It all makes sense now, thanks for connecting the



    Bill Enross

  2. Tim,

    Great stuff!

    Since setting up the autoresponder messages in my email

    program 2 days ago, I have found a sense of freedom that

    I had forgotten existed.

    Of over 2 dozen support requests from clients and customers,

    only one person deemed the issue ‘urgent’ and called my

    cell phone.

    I’m spending my new found time implementing your concepts.

    Thanks for ‘connecting the dots’ for me, creating the

    ‘muse’ has been an elusive goal for me that now suddenly

    seems very doable.


    Bill Enross

  3. Hi Tim,

    that’s a VERY productive setup. Problem is, for the people who’d need to implement it the most, it’s hardest ’cause you have to be wired along these lines in order to function on such a diet.

    One addition to the e-mail -> autoresponder -> cell redirection of urgent events: Turn off your cellular’s voicemail. THIS saves another ton of time. I live and work happily without voicemail for many years now and didn’t ever miss a thing. Cellular voicemail kinda defeats the purpose of URGENT — if you’re available, fine, if not, well then you’re not.

    One more thing, … I’m half way through the book and I AM certainly wired along these lines. Thanks for the inspiration.


  4. First, I’m halfway through the book, incredible! Secondly, I love the quote from Tao Te Ching.

  5. Now, that is great, Tim! 😎

    I just found your Web site after I ordered your book when I ordered Mark Joyner’s new book. What a no-coincidence, isn’t it? lol

    My head is spinning now since…TODAYYY…and I’m in on re-planning my entire life. Things like… should be possible to pay monthly for a Ferrari, as an self-employed, in Germany (you do have more such opportunities in the US than we in Germany I guess, right? So I started to google and, well, let’s see what the car dealer says when I approach them…)

    Either way, thanks to your blog (i.e. to you) I found a way to get a digital copy of your book TODAY (instead of waiting a few weeks until I receive the hard copy, which I’m going to receive in spite of this, anyway) so I’ll find out how to outsource my video demo production by 85%, right? Yeah!

    Oh boy, even though I haven’t read your book yet I’m so grateful for you bringing your knowledge into the world.


    Marcus [now clicking on the ‘Add to Cart’ button at powells.com]

    P.S. I already switched my Outlook off and started to apply your inbox-only-twice-per-day technique. Great! 🙂

  6. Yes the book is definitely the right book at the right time. Being able to address the rampant cynisism and hopelessness that dominants my generation (gen X) is essential.

    The quote, “Most people would rather be unhappy than uncertain.” hits the nail on the head in many ways.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Tim

    Great concepts and I really enjoyed the change this article. One problem with the outsourcing thing I can’t even get brickworks to reply with anything other than form mail to requests to contact me regarding my outsourcing requests. Any idea on other more reliable firms available for this sort of work?

    I need someone reliable.


  8. Hi All!

    Thank you all so much for the kind words. I’m really thankful to all of my interviewees who helped me get this book out on-time — it was accelerated by two months and we had some tight deadlines. The timing has really worked out for the topic.

    Jim, Brickwork is a great firm, but they’re getting snowing under by all of the people contacting them as a result of the book. I also use http://www.getfriday.com, but they are hitting the same issues. A good solution, and one that allows you to find new providers, is to use either http://www.elance.com (I have the most experience with them), http://www.guru.com, or other online freelancer marketplace. Be sure to eliminate boilerplate responses you get to your project, and assign a brief 20-30-minute task to your final three candidates to test reliability before assigning the project. I always test reliability (the ability to head deadlines on time, every time) before skill-set.

    Canada has been a great option for me, as has the US. Americans in economically-depressed areas are moving more and more to online marketplaces to make their skills available, as the local markets simply don’t provide the demand that global reach provides.

    Hope this helps!


  9. Jim,

    Contact Sowmya from the book(pg 134). I have been working with him for the past year and we have partnered up to form a company http://www.OutsourceSuccess.com

    If you go the elance or guru route. Make sure as Tim says in the book that you hire a VA firm not an individual for $2 or $3 an hour. I found those guys really unreliable and 10 min tasks they were telling me took them 2 hours.


  10. hi tim,

    i just finished your book and found it very inspiring! i’m trying to get my wife to read it as i see her in the same position you were in a few years ago: overworked & stressed out!

    we’re both self-employed, but the difference with you is that we provide a service, she’s a caterer and i’m an animator. how do entrepreneurs that provide a service better implement your techniques for eliminating/automating our life styles? sorry, if i’m in the wrong section but i’m not sure where to post this.

    thanks man, good work on the book & congrats on the success!



  11. “The Tao of 4HWW” – http://taoof4hww.ning.com

    This had to be done as well, please check out and add to my discussion site about Taoism and the 4HWW.

    Tim gives hope to us, the “great unwashed”, the “average masses”. He is a nutter, with crazy ideas that seem almost plausible, he is also “Mad as a Hatter”, but importantly he has a method in his madness.

    Read “The 4-Hour Workweek”! Do it for yourself, have pity on yourself just this one time, and receive a little mercy in return.

    Change your view on or concept of Success and get some cool tips for life, even if you think that you are doing well. You might not be doing as well as you might think, tear your life back into your own hands.

    Tim shows you how you might.

    By Chanster AKA Taoist AKA Aquaverdi

  12. Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.

  13. It sounds like you’re creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place

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  15. I’m amazed how many dialects there are to German. I very much dislike the Berlin dialect where they use the “sh” sounds far too often for my liking, but Swiss dialect sounds good .. at least I can listen to it without flinching.

    The German, spoken in rural areas of Germany and the Hochdeutsch in Austria are the most ‘correct’ ones though. But you have to listen to Tyrollean German .. hilarious and cute

    FYI: I found a neat website that collects pronunciations in many languages (German included) — http://www.forvo.com

  16. Maybe you could make changes to the page title Outsourcing Life and How to Eliminate E-mail Overload to more specific for your blog post you create. I enjoyed the post however.