The 4-Hour Workweek for the 9 to 5 Type

Tim Ferriss, author of “books with titles that sound like infomercials”, touts tremendous productivity techniques which can result in 10x’ing your hourly output (thus the 4-hour workweek, 10×4=40). He is slightly controversial in regards to a few of his approaches (who outsources email?), but many are applicable to just about everyone. The questions is, how do people who work 9 to 5 fit these techniques into their lives? Sure someone like Ferriss who only works four hours a week (slight exaggeration) has time to read 2-3 books a week and meditate twice a day, but how can people who spend a large portion of their time at their job work these teachings into their lives? It takes a bit of effort, but it can be done.

Start by retooling your morning. What do you do? Get up after hitting snooze on the alarm one too many times. Check your phone for email and social media updates. Skip breakfast because you need to get out the door.

Even if you are not a morning person, tweaking your morning schedule slightly can be easy and have tremendous benefits. Start by waking up 20 minutes earlier than you would normally (come on, it’s not that bad). The iPhone alarm snoozes for 9 minutes. Say you hit it twice every morning. If you wake up with the first alarm you’re pretty much already there.

Here’s an aggregate morning routine from a few of the guests on the Tim Ferriss show (Ryan Holiday, The Glitch Mob, Alexis Ohanian, Peter Diamandis, Robert Rodriguez, plus Ferriss on Freakonomics):

  • Wake up without hitting snooze (Ryan Holiday and Marcus Aurelius)
  • DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE (Pretty much everyone on the show)
  • Silent meditation for 5-20 minutes (Glitch mob, Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss)
  • Light exercise and/or stretching to invoke deep breathing and blood flow (Glitch Mob, Diamandis)
  • The following are common, but the order is often different:
    • Breakfast: eggs (Glitch mob) waffles (Ohanian) sardines!? (Ferriss)
    • Journaling (Holiday, Ferriss, Diamandis, Rodriguez)
    • Reading (Holiday, Glitch Mob)
  • Finally, plug in and get on with your day.

This may seem like quite a bit to accomplish in the morning, but if thought of as part of your daily routine, rather than things which need to get done, you will probably find it all rather easy. Meditate for 5 minutes, do 100 jumping jacks, and write down your thoughts. If you are efficient, you can fit all of this into the time you spend snoozing that alarm. Try it out, tweak the times, and find a schedule that works best for you.

If you take public transit (and can get a seat), the time spent commuting can be used mindfully to accomplish parts of the routine. Instead of sleeping or listening to music, you can write in a journal or read a book. If you drive as part of your morning commute, listen to a podcast which sets your mind in the right place for the rest of the day (it is not condoned to read while driving to work…).

The rest of the day:
Keep the baseline that while you are at work, you are working (and doing so at 10x your usual rate). But what about lunch? If you have an hour for a lunch break, take 10 minutes of that time to meditate and 10 minutes to journal. You still have 40 minutes left for your meal.

Night:
On the way back from work, try the morning routine in reverse. Read and journal on public transit, listen to podcasts in the car, meditate upon arriving home to decompress and take count of the days events. Let your work-mind settle and move your thoughts into goals for your personal life. And don’t forget to relax. Even Elon Musk plays video games sometimes.

Weekends:
Carry this schedule into your days off as well. Sure you can sleep in a bit later, but don’t deviate just because it’s a lazy Saturday. Start your day of productively and you will set the tone for the day to align your actions with what you want to achieve.

There are over 150 episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show, so there is bound to be variations to these routines. Everyone is different and you will find some techniques employed by certain people will work better for you than others. As Ryan Holiday mentions, find a person or character you relate to, see what you like about yourself in them, and use it to bring out more of those qualities. Also, see what you don’t like about yourself in them and use it as a cautionary tale to stay away from those qualities. In this regard, find a routine that works for you and fits in with your life goals. Pull from others’ successes, continually tweak your daily regiment, and strive to keep improving.

P.S.
Tim, how about you interview someone with a 9 to 5? Not everyone has a 4-hour workweek, but we are all trying to become the best versions of ourselves.

Zootopia

I’ve watched every Pixar movie (and short) ever made and a fair chunk of the movies from Disney Animation Studios. These animated movies meet at the intersection of creativity and technology, blending state of the art film techniques with tremendous storylines. Plus, they really stand out for their empowering and timely messages, relevant to both children and adults. Disney Animation’s Zootopia explores prejudice and stereotypes through the eyes of a cute rabbit and sly fox (just don’t call them cute or sly). If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a watch. Here’s a quote (no spoilers):

“I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.” -Judy Hopps, Zootopia

A thoughtful and inspirational message for an animated kids movie, eh?

More!
If you are more of the bookworm type, check out Creativity Inc. to read about the inner working of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, and how John Lasseter and Ed Catmull (and Steve Jobs) shaped the futures of the companies.

And of course sloths! (mild spoilers)

Conquer the Blank Slate

The blank slate. Torture to those who rarely peer upon its emptiness. But the thing is so easily conquered. Just go, do, begin and you have turned a blank slate into a moment of opportunity, unlocking infinite potential. And yet, so many are lost by its prospect out of fear of failure or inability to act. But when we venture out into the unknown, we find things aren’t so unfamiliar. We adapt and inhabit our surroundings with our own qualities and find new traits which meld with our own. As long as we just start, this can all be ours. Once we do, there is no telling how we’ll fill the canvas.

Routine

Routine is not something you do once a week. Routine is daily. Routine is a part of you expressed every day. Keep uploading, keep writing, keep pushing yourself. Do not take a day off. Make routine your constant and deviation your off day. Find a schedule which works for your and make it a constant. Want to improve? Accomplish a goal? Make a legacy? Work hard, put yourself out there, change for the better, and keep going.

Be Mindful While You Read

Every day we spend an inordinate amount of time scrolling through apps and posts on the web. How much of the content we consume do we internalize and remember? From sending tweets, to browsing Facebook, to reading news, there is something to discover all the time, and content only seconds old is pushed aside as we move on to the next new thing. But what do we take from these experiences? Are we mindful of how we spend our time online?

Here’s an experiment. Take a moment and think back to everything you remember from the last few days. Try to name two articles you read online. If you are struggling for a headlines, how about the topic?

If we cannot remember what we do online, what are we gaining from the experience? The apps we cannot live without are built to keep us in the moment and websites rely on posting new content at a break-neck pace. Snapchat saves content for the day, but then its gone and we cannot even remember the experience because we were too busy looking through a screen. We are distracted by the endless amount of information for us to consume that we simply cannot remember everything we see, yet we keep looking.

One more challenge. Next time you go online to read the news or browse Facebook, be mindful of the content you are consuming. Reflect on articles before quickly liking it and moving onto the next thing. Slow down and consider the value added to your day from each new post you see. Maybe even look up from your phone every once in a while.

Take a walk!

“Walking opens us up to the menace of a world outside the built environments that we control. Driving, despite the high risk of crashes, injury, and death, masks itself as freedom: we’re not watching our backs. And once we’ve become unaccustomed to the movement of the air, the rustle of the trees, the sight of other people, they can startle. People who move differently and think differently from us become, from the safety of our fortress-homes and echo-chamber media and car-conduits that feed it all, threats to our way of life. And so we design towns and suburbs, neighbourhoods and cities, unfriendly to the walker, to those who break out of the paradigms we’ve deemed safe.”

From aeon, “The end of walking”

The Ethics of Ad Blocking

By including content blockers in iOS, Apple now allows developers to build ad blocking apps for mobile Safari. But more importantly, Apple has started a conversation about the ethics of ad blocking on the web. After only a few days Apple has (inadvertently?) pushed the topic into the limelight. With the advent of content blocking apps, people show they are willing to pay a some amount of money to block ads.

iOS 9 Ad Blocking Apps
Marco Arment’s Peace was the top app at $2.99 (now it’s gone)

But when users pay, to whom should the revenue go? Solely to the developer of the ad blocker? Or shared amongst the developer and web content producers? Sharing revenues is easier said than done, but for online publishers who make a living off advertising, cutting ad revenue is a serious detriment to their livelihood.

No Ad Blocking on theverge.com
But the appeal of this site just feels great…

Ad blocking offers not only an aesthetic improvement, but also a considerable performance boost in both web page load time and data usage. For those on mobile web browsers (such as Apple’s safari), cutting out web tracking and advertisements can extend the life of a constrained mobile data cap.

Regardless of their reasons, people want a fast and focused web experience without any distractions. Maybe its time for a different advertising model, or a brand new way to monetize the web. Let’s see where the conversation progresses.

App Store Submission Tips and Tricks

I recently submitted my first iOS app to the App Store and spent quite a bit of time searching ways to navigate some of the less intuitive parts of Apple’s submission process. Tons of guides walk through step by step, this is meant to help fill in the gaps.
For those looking for a overview, start with this great tutorial and come back to this post for more info.

Development resources

There are a lot of great resources to learn about Objective-C, Xcode, and app design. Here are a few to get you started:

While learning, if you see a piece of code I think I need to incorporate, copy it into an open space your program, but re-type it in the correct location. This saves the hassle of alt-tabbing between windows or looking back and forth, but gives you the opportunity to gain the muscle memory of typing the code. Just make sure you actually type the code!

Sign up for an Apple developer account. The account costs $100 a year but is needed for testing on actual devices and then submitting to the app store.

iTunes Connect vs Apple Developer

Use the same email for both

One email can be connected to multiple Apple Developer accounts, but iTunes Connect is limited to one email per account. However, using two different email addresses can cause issues when submitting app from Xcode to Connect. Xcode checks if the Developer and Connect account email addresses match, rejecting submission if they are different. So save yourself the trouble now, and use the same email for both Apple Developer and iTunes Connect.

Quick-tip

If you have a Gmail address, you can add a “+” to the end of your address to create a “new” email that will send to your original account. For example, say your email is example@gmail.com. You can append “+dev” to create example+dev@gmail.com. This address will still show up in your example@gmail.com inbox, but Apple (and other sites) will see the modified version as a completely different email address.

Switching to a Team

Follow this link to the Apple developer team support page and scroll to “If I am enrolled as an individual, can I change to a company membership?” (Yes!). From there, send a message to Apple explaining you wish to transfer your account.

There is about a seven day process of switching a person account to a company account. If you are on a deadline, make sure you start this soon. Changing will also require the DUNS number to identify your company.

Once the team developer account is set up, you need to add members to both the Connect and Developer accounts for the company.

Uploading to iTunes Connect

Hooray! So all the accounts are set up and you are ready to upload version 1.0 of your app! You log onto Connect, hit the “+” and are greeted with this screen:

New iOS App Information ScreenshotName

Unless you app name is in Esperanto, there is a good chance someone already tried to register the app under the same name. Take a look a the App Store, many apps have a small tagline at the end of the actual name. If your app name is already taken, you can try this naming convention for the App Store page:

Gmail iOS App Store Screenshot

Don’t worry, the name shown under the app icon will stay the same, this name is for the store purposes only.

Version

Should match the version number of your app in Xcode.

Primary Language

Main spoken language used within the app. Used in tandem with the localization settings of your app (or Swahili).

SKU

The SKU number can be just about anything. Using the date format YYYYMMDD is common.

Bundle ID

The Bundle ID can be found in Xcode by navigating to Project > General, but to enter the ID here, you must register your app within the Apple Developer site. Here are some links to help with the process:

  1. Distributing iOS app with iTunes Connect (Part 2 – App ID)
  2. Configuring Your Xcode Project for Distribution (About Bundle IDs)

Beta

Generating buzz is of utmost importance when releasing a new app. There are many sites designed with the sole purpose of boosting awareness for upcoming apps. For those with grand business ambitions, BetaList focuses on discovering the next big startup. Apps featured on BetaList are often multifaceted with online and mobile components. For fun and entertaining apps, PreApps is the place to go. Mr Jump is a great success story from PreApps, generating over 5 million downloads in the first 4 days, but the site works just as well for any app looking to gain some traction.

App Store Prep

App Todos

Ensure your app adheres to all of the App Store Review Guidelines. The list is quite long, but read it carefully. Violating even one guideline will cause your current app build to be rejected. The most common reasons for rejection are summarized here.

Store Page Todos

To take a screen shots of your app, hit Command-S while running the device simulator in Xcode. With screenshots in hand, check out sites like Davinci Apps and LanchKit.io to easily add a caption and display the app screenshots on an iOS device.

Connect Todos

1. US Export Compliance (iTunes Connect Question “Does your product contain encryption?”)

To ensure your app is compliant not only with Apple, but also the US government, it is crucial to understand the encryption technologies used in your app. Here is a link from the Bureau of Industry and Security regarding encryption. There seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding the correct process:

  1. Does my application contain encryption (StackOverflow)
  2. What constitutes encryption for the purpose of export compliance (StackOverflow)
  3. Using SSL in an iPhone app export compliance (StackOverflow)

However, a commonality is if you think your app includes encryption, whether you wrote it or not (including https and SSL), you should select “Yes” for the export compliance question and provide your ERN (Encryption Registration Number) when you submit your app.

This post from a few years ago explains the situation well, and walks through the process of obtaining an ERN for your app (the link from step one does not work).

2. Advertising Identifier (IDFA)

Some 3rd party SDKs (such as Facebook) use the IDFA, so check with any 3rd party code before you answer this question. Otherwise your app may be using the IDFA without you knowing, resulting in Apple rejecting your app submission. As an example, if you are using the Facebook SDK to track app installations, select the second checkbox attributing use of the IDFA for app installs.

App Store Submission

Review takes about a week (7-8 full days). You can check the average app store review times, but once your app is taken from the “Waiting for Review” queue, Apple reviews the app extremely quickly.

In special circumstances, if you need your app to be reviewed faster, you can ask for expedited review. Apple is not guaranteed to grant expedited review, and they only make a one-time exception.

Rejected!?

Carefully read over Apple’s reason for rejecting your app. This can be an infuriating process, but try to stay calm. Make sure you adhere to the app store guidelines (you read through this earlier, right?), and fix the issues  outlined.

Ready For Sale!

Green light! Time to release! Not quite yet.

Make sure you have some buzz around your app. This part is tough, but the right marketing strategy can make or break the success of your release! Hopefully PreApps and BetaList worked to generate some interest, but now is the time to recruit as many people as possible to help spur initial launch popularity. Make a Facebook page, Twitter account, try to contact some websites catering to your target market, and let your friends and family know! Product Hunt is a great site, but good luck grabbing an invite and being featured. And hey, don’t forget to let me know! Comment with any apps you released after reading this post!

Thanks!

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