Last year, I had the honor of helping my friend Tim Ferriss run the marketing strategy for his New York Times bestselling book The 4-Hour Chef.
Helping to craft such a powerful campaign was a master class on its own, but the real lessons appeared while running through the streets of New York at breakneck speed with Tim.
Because while I was fumbling with my phone between apps, trying to organize two dozen emails and generally feeling overwhelmed, Tim was calm.
One of the core tenets presented in The 4-Hour Work Week is that of leveraged time: Using tools, systems and automation to delegate the things you don’t want to handle amd streamline your focus.
But what happens when you’re working on a major project that requires your personal input — or the task at hand requires a careful finesse that an outsourced assistant (or machine) just can’t deliver?
Well, short of cloning yourself, there’s no way to multiply your time.
Yet somehow, in the middle of the biggest book launch of his career, Tim was able to use a forgotten (some may even call it archaic) tool to chop his giant to-do list into pieces — in just 30 minutes a day.
What was this super power?
A new productivity method, perhaps?
A cutting edge nootropic, maybe?
I’ll give you a hint…
This guy knows Tim’s superpower and he’s really excited about it.
Give up yet? Good.
The Tim Ferriss super power is: ACTUALLY CALLING PEOPLE.
As in, on the phone.
Ok, I think half of everyone reading this post just left.
Before you dismiss something so simple, take a closer look. The reason why this method is so effective is more about the psychology behind calling somebody than it is about the actual phone call itself.
Think about how the we communicate on a day-to-day basis. We feel more connected than ever with social media journaling our every waking moment and thousands of texts sent back and forth. But the reality is that we’re more guarded than ever.
Be honest: How many times have you used an alternate form of communication to get in touch with someone or played “text tag” for days because you wanted to avoid an uncomfortable real-time conversation?
(There are even apps that allow you to go directly to someone’s voicemail in order to avoid a conversation that you don’t want to have.)
Perhaps you’ve tried to resolve a problem via email that could’ve been taken care of with a 5-minute phone call, but instead, ends up taking days of broken replies to resolve.
I do these things all the time. And the worst (or best?) part is after using all these inefficient ways of communication, you can still claim, “I’ve been trying to get in touch…the other person must be busy.” Now, not only can you avoid an uncomfortable conversation…but since you “tried,” you can satisfy your psychological guilt about not getting in touch. It’s their fault, not yours.
Very satisfying, but totally counterproductive.
Two side benefits of using The Tim Ferriss Superpower
Side benefit #1: You can fit it in during your “Dead Time”
Let’s jump back to my time working on the 4-Hour Chef campaign.
Tim and I would be in a cab. He’d look at me and say, “I’m going under.”
Then, he’d open up the notes application on his phone and attack it with the ferocity that a man can only muster with 300mg of caffeine and a definitive purpose.
In 30 minutes, he would knock out 10-15 two-minute phone calls that would have taken 5 back and forth emails EACH to resolve (that’s 50-75 total emails saved). Now, when we got back to the office, he would have 75 fewer emails to read, and could easily shift his focus to his highest leverage tasks.
Side benefit #2: You look like a boss
When you step up and actually start calling people in person rather than hiding behind 10 emails or shooting endless text messages, people recognize you as someone who likes to handle things promptly and up front — so the more you call people, the more you “train” them to be direct and responsive to you.
From a psychological standpoint, it’s also much harder for someone to ignore or delay when they see an incoming call from you than it is to delay responding to a text message or email.
Significant lag time between texts and emails is par course with busy people — it’s not seen as ignoring someone. But repeatedly avoiding a phone call from someone feels much different. You’re more likely to get someone’s attention quickly with a phone call.
Why don’t we just pick up the phone to handle business anymore?
I’m curious: Have you experienced betters response to a direct phone calls than text messages or emails?
What were you trying to accomplish — and what ended up happening?
Let me know in the comments.