The Four Hour Work Week
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Many people believe we need to live more simply, consume less and build more space into our lives. But how can we achieve simplicity with stressful jobs, endless bills, and families to raise? I’ve heard people say “that’s just for millionaires!”.
Of course the realities of modern life do not make it easy for most of us. Whatever your downsizing plan is it needs to be unique to you. My husband and I have been trying to simplify over the past few years. One book that has been surprisingly helpful is “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. It has become something of a cult hit. The author claims to have reduced his work week to 4 hours, creating time to achieve his life fantasy of becoming a Latin Dance champion. He did it by learning to work smarter rather than harder.
The success of the book is that it is not snake oil, but sensible, practical and well thought through. I can’t summarize a whole book in a single blog but here are some nuggets:
The 80/20 Rule
In terms of time spent working, 20% of your time gets you 80% of your results, while the other 80% of your work and effort gives only 20% of your results. Ferriss’s solution is to concentrate on that golden, productive 20% and eliminate “time wasters”.
He gives the example of his own business. He decided to focus all his energy on the 20% of his best clients/customers. These were people he enjoyed dealing with who generated most of his income. The demanding, low spending customers he let go - resulting in huge time savings with minimal loss of income. We are not all salespeople, however it challenged me to focus my energy on the 20% of my life I find most meaningful.
Avoid Time Wasting Activities.
An example is “batching” - Ferris only answers emails twice daily finding it far more efficient than answering emails one by one as they come in. Our mobile phones can be enormous time wasters! He turned off all “dings” and notifications and deleted apps. This put him in charge of his smartphone, rather than having his smartphone dictate his working day.
Go on a Media Fast.
Trust me, you won’t miss it. Never have a business meeting without a clear agenda and never be afraid to put up a “do not disturb” sign. Ferriss is no technophobe. He describes how modern technology gives many opportunities to outsource menial jobs and free up our lives.
Consider Mini-Retirement where the Cost of Living is Low
Live more simply and create the space to live your dreams and goals now, not when… “What’s the worst that can happen? he asks - worth a thought! Ferris chose to live in Argentina where he could live very cheaply whilst being paid in american dollars for his online business. This gave him access to the Latin dance scene he had long dreamed of. He decided to make the whole thing an adventure and become rich in experiences rather than things. For example, instead of checking a boring news feed alone in his room everyday, he would walk to a cafe each morning and ask “What is happening in the world?”. Checking the news became an enjoyable community event. Ferris enjoyed his breakfast, made friends, and gained valuable local knowledge that helped him live smarter and cheaper.
What is your dream? Have more time with the kids? Build a dream organic garden? Learn to dance? See the Rocky Mountains? The thing is, if you wait until you retire, some dreams may not still be on the table. Surveys of retired highly skilled professionals show that their number one regret is not having more family time when they were young. Ferris argues: Do it now! It’s amazing how life seems to be able to fit around these important things. Unfortunately, most of us have it the wrong way around: “I’ll do it when I’ve paid off the house, or when the kids are grown up etc...Hmm, it may never happen.
The 4-Hour work week is an inspiring book that helps the reader dream of all sorts of opportunities. We have not got our work week down to 4 hours and I suspect most won’t. However, my husband and I have found much of his advice inspiring, practical and helpful.