You may have noticed it's practically impossible to contact me. I did that on purpose so I can spend my time how I want to spend it. I don't really use email and I have my private message inboxes on every platform closed. And they have been like that for years.
I do read public tweets sent to me, and try to reply, but don't take private messages.
Most stuff about building startups I learnt by doing and I brain dumped everything I know in a book I update about every few weeks.
If you're low on time (like me), here's quick answers to most questions.
Otherwise, keep reading why I made myself unreachable.
There's 24 hours in a day
I've tried to figure out and this is kind of a normal day for me:
+ 24 hours in a day
— 8 hours of sleeping = 16 hours left
— 1.5 hours of showering, cleaning up, coffee = 14.5 hours left
— 4 hours of managing contractors, firefighting and fixing bugs = 10.5 hours left
— 1 hours of groceries or errands = 9.5 hours left
— 1.5 hours of gym or going for a walk = 8 hours left
— 1.5 hours of staying in touch with friends/family = 6.5 hours left
— 1.5 hours of cooking and eating = 5 hours left
— 4 hours of deep work, building new features/products = 1 hours left
— 1 hours of sex/hugs/love = 0 hours left
It's all pretty tight. If I start answering everybody's messages, doing calls or taking on other people's projects, I wouldn't have enough time in the day.
I'd start skipping the gym, skipping going for walks, skipping sex, and not being able to do deep work anymore. My health, relationships and work would slowly start falling apart. I know this as it's happened loads of time before. This schedule works for me and I don't want or need to change it.
(And no, I don't schedule it exactly like this, I'm not a robot; it's just an example of an average day.)
If I keep getting distracted with messages/calls I can never get into flow state and my creative work will suffer. I have most of my notifications off and my devices are perpetually on Do Not Disturb mode from 00:00 to 23:59.
A lot of my new ideas slowly boil in my head over weeks, months, sometimes years. And undisturbed thinking and working time helps me get into that state. That's why I like to lead my life async.
You don't need my feedback
People want my feedback on their startup but what they really need is feedback from customers. 99.999% of the times I'm not their customer.
You don't need me to figure out stuff
The most important skill I learnt is how to Google things and figure things out fast. If you always ask other people how to do stuff you'll never learn that skill. There's a lot of power in being able to operate autonomously and independent, it makes you an original person which increases the odds of you coming up with great ideas.
Internet famous weirdness
It's hard to imagine what happens when you get internet famous but imagine when 50 people per day send you a message:
1) asking you to work with them,
2) asking you to promote them or their app (or hunt it on PH),
3) writing giant multi-page dumps of their life stories irrelevant to you,
4) sending you unsolicited advice you didn't ask for,
5) getting angry with you because they used your site and didn't like it,
6) getting angry with you if you don't reply,
7) sending you abuse and/or death threats,
8) stalking you and your friends (also in IRL)
All because you make websites that people use and you tweet/write about it. At some point you just realize it's better to shut down the inbox and focus on work.
Many of my famous friends have the same problem, people more famous than me have proportionally crazier stories. Tim Ferriss wrote about his experiences too, and they're fucking crazy.
With an open inbox I'd get a lot of weird messages and making it impossible for people to message me helps because otherwise they start thinking you read what they send. Now everyone knows: no I won't read your message or anybody else's message.
Most people can't behave in private messages, especially not with anonymous accounts, which is sad because there's a good % of messages I would get that'd be great.
I don't have the time to reply
If I'd reply to the ~50 messages I get per day, and spend 5 minutes per message on them, it'd take me 4 hours to reply to everyone. No time for deep work then.
Even my startup idol Derek Sivers who legendarily would reply to every email stopped doing so recently and now just shares his knowledge as books instead.
"Answering people’s questions was taking up all of my time. So I quit." - Derek Sivers
My other startup idol Patrick McKenzie also closed his DMs recently. And my other inspiration Yongfook seems to have the same problem.
My email and Twitter inbox is absolutely full of people asking things like:— Jon Yongfook (@yongfook) March 28, 2021
- what website builder am I using? (Hint: I’m not)
- join a podcast
- thoughts on their MVP
- thoughts on an idea
- collaborate (ie build their startup for them)
Life is short
Our days are numbered and like you I want to spend my limited time in the best way. Ruthlessly cutting out distractions helps.
Prioritizing responding to DMs from strangers if my girlfriend is sitting next to me and wants a hug, or my friend wants to go for a walk, or I haven't called my parents in a week, or there's a critical bug on my sites. It'd be stupid to.
❤️ Life-Work Balance: The rise of remote will lead to people re-prioritizing what is important to them— Chris Herd (@chris_herd) March 26, 2021
Organizing your work around your life will be the first noticeable switch. People realizing they are more than their job will lead to deeper purpose in other areas
What I'm not interested in
I'm not interested in collaborating, I like to work alone. Or with people I hire. If I hire people I find you, you don't need to message me.
I'm not interested in doing client work for other people, I never did, and my goal was to never have a boss and I'm difficult to work with anyway, and I make enough money so I don't need to.
I'm not interested in fixing your printer or WiFi router.
I'm not interested in doing press anymore, because I've had so many bad experiences where the journalist took my words of context, and turned what would be an interesting article into a hit piece to cancel me or my business. I'm not the only one that's happened to, it's how the media makes money these days.
I don't do support for my sites, instead I've made most my sites self-serve and hired customer support people. I do product development only.
I'm not interested in you translating my sites or book, or making an audio or paper version of my book, or re-distributing it. I work alone and happy with keeping 100% of my revenue. Google Translate works fine and paper is dead.
I'm not at all interested in doing calls, or podcasts, or joining Clubhouse rooms. Unless it's Indiehackers or a podcast I listen to myself like Joe Rogan.
Talk is cheap and ineffective while creating something is much more challenging and effective to make change in the world.
"A little less conversation, a little more action, please" - Elvis
I'm not interested in VC or angel investment, my companies are healthy and I have enough money to re-invest. I also don't want to become a $100 million or $1 billion company. I'd just be diluting my 100% ownership and probably make less than I make now. Also even if you sell, what the hell would you spend $100 million or $1 billion on? A boat? Okay and then? It sounds stressful. You're not a normal part of society anymore. Everybody will bug you for money. No thanks. I'm happy with where I'm at now.
I'm not interested in proposals to buy my companies. 99% of proposals are not serious. I went through one 6-month process of due diligence and the acquisition bounced off as it was a trick to get a list of my customers. I'm not doing that again. Nor do I need to sell. Why would I throw away a high margin cash flow that keeps me happy by working on it every day for a lump sum of money to then do nothing? Meaningful work makes me happy. Not doing anything doesn't. If I ever sell, I'll find a buyer myself through FEI or Empire Flippers (not affiliated but they're nice).
I'm not interested in traveling to places to do conference talks or workshops for 300 people when I literally reach 1,000x to 10,000x as many people by building a new product or feature, by writing a tweet or blog or by making a YouTube video. It's not worth the effort. I'd make an exception for a big conference like TED, but that's about it.
But what about meeting people and making new friends? I already have a close knit group of friends that have my back.
What I am interested in
Spending time with people I love.
Spending time with people that spark my curiosity.
Spending time on my health like cooking nice food, doing fitness, sports, etc.
Traveling to new places and exploring them alone or with my girlfriend or friends.
Hacking on creative projects, reading about stuff I'm curious about, or working on new businesses I'm passionate about.
Inspiring people to create stuff by sharing what I make and writing about it on here and Twitter.
Sharing stuff with my followers that sparks my curiosity.
Doing anything high impact to
1) accelerate the freedom of global movement enabled by remote work
2) accelerate society towards async living
3) normalize transparency in business by open startups and open salaries.
Maybe you don't need to be reachable either
My situation seems different because I already have successful companies but maybe it's not that different from yours, because regardless of that, this applies to you too:
Most things are a distraction, especially in the startup and tech world.
If you get to the core of building companies it's about creating a great product that gets customers that pay for it.
If you get to the core of life it's living an existence you're proud of with people you love doing the things you like while minimizing suffering.
None of these two involve being available for endless chit-chatting to billions of people in private messages. Everything from everyone all the time is too much.
It's okay to say no, embrace the silence and find your focus.
P.S. I'm on Twitter too if you'd like to follow more of my stories. And I wrote a book called MAKE about building startups without funding. See a list of my stories or contact me. To get an alert when I write a new blog post, you can subscribe below: