Poor people have big TV’s. Rich people have big libraries.

-Brian Tracy

We just finished watching Season 3 of The Donald Show, and one of the contestants, Alex I think, made it to the last round and finally lost. When he was riding away in the Taxi (the one with the HotJobs sign on the top) he said, “This totally transformed my idea of how fast you can launch a business – not years, not months, not weeks – but days. I’ve got six ideas I’m gonna launch right away when I get home.”

Forcing business startups to conform to the time pressures of prime time TV makes for a great learning experience.

TV TIP: A couple of seasons of The Apprentice per year, with no commercials, taken in concentrated chunks – very good for your brain. Unfiltered, unregulated, unplanned TV programs spewing into your home day after day, very very bad. It’s like having an open pipe dripping raw sewage right onto your living room floor. If you have a TV in the main traffic area of your house, like near the kitchen where everyone in your family ‘does life’, then you are making a big, huge mistake. My instructions to you are:

Stop reading this newsletter right now, stand up, walk over to the TV, unplug the stupid thing and carry it off to a less-trafficked part of the house where people have to deliberately go if they want to watch TV.

Never allow a television to dominate the atmosphere and conversations of your house. Our TV is not in the living room, not in the dining room, not in the kitchen. It’s in our bedroom in the far corner of the house. A person has to make a deliberate effort to go there; nobody can “accidentally” start watching TV here. And the kids have to get permission.

“One of my greatest pleasures in writing has come from the thought that perhaps my work might annoy someone of comfortably pretentious position. Then comes the saddening realization that such people rarely read.” -John Kenneth Galbraith

Computer Tip: The same TV advice could apply to the family computer in your house… except that keeping it in a public area is a great way to keep an eye on where the kids are surfing on the web. But there’s a business version of the all-pervasive TV. Sitting in front of your PC all day may be quasiproductive but it’s almost never super-productive. A computer keyboard is a lousy place to think and plan, because that computer is laden with distractions. As John Reese once said, the most super-productive things you do usually involve taking a yellow pad of paper somewhere where there is no computer (like your favorite coffee hangout) and thinking and planning. Most of us will get more done by spending less time in front of the computer, not more, and making sure it’s spent executing very specific projects.

Email Tip: The worst thing you can do with your email is set it to interrupt you (“YOUVE GOT MAIL!”) every time a new message comes in. The best thing you can do is check it at certain times during the day and leave it alone the rest of the time. Email is definitely one of those things that infinitely expands to fill whatever space you give it. Don’t give it any more space than it deserves.

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