How to Play the Game

As research for his book Tools of Titans, self-help guru Tim Ferriss interviewed hundreds of world-class performers to learn about the habits, tools, and tactics they used to become successful. One of the themes that emerged from these interviews was that all problems in life should be tackled with a two-pronged strategy, involving both offensive and defensive tactics.

To protect your health, for example, you should organize a defensive effort against chronic disease as well as an offensive effort to improve health through exercise, meditation, and diet. Similarly, to protect your financial security, you should craft a defensive strategy involving safe, long-term investments as well as an offensive effort to make aggressive investments when the timing is right.

Offensive and defensive strategies aren’t just needed to tackle big life problems; these methods also readily apply to regular workday tasks. For example, Ferriss writes about the complementary strategies he uses to manage his email inbox. Many people try to answer emails as they arrive. Forced to play defense, they react to an inundation of emails that pushes priority tasks into the background. Instead, Ferriss recommends combining defensive and offensive strategies by setting aside specific times of day to deal with email (defense), as well as using the autoreply feature to let people know when to expect a response (offense).

Ready to start optimizing? Look for more tips in our Instaread on Tools of Titans.

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