After having been recommended this Tim Ferris book by about five different people, I decided to finally pick up and copy and it did not disappoint. It actually had a pretty profound impact on me and is one of the few books I can remember which has subsequently affected my behavior.
A lot of people initially scoff at the title of the book ie “Are you sure it’s not the four day work week?” Yes, Tim does claim to run his business only working four hours a week, but it’s taken him a long time to get there and this is not the central theme of the book. The Four Hour Work Week is really a philosophical look at how we mange and balance our personal and professional. There are so many topics covered in this book that I will just try to highlight what stood out for me the most.
Tim debunks the traditional notion of working tirelessly for years with the goal to stockpile savings to be enjoyed during retirement, rather than living in the moment. He calls this the philosophy of the “Old Rich”, who are also very tied to a geography and are “asset heavy.” Conversely, the “New Rich” as he coins them, have adopted the “live now” mantra and are more likely to seek a balance between high cash flow and a flexible work schedule, whether they are working for themselves or an employer.
· Tim strongly advocates not putting off our goals and dreams by forcing ourselves to find a find a way to make them happen in the short term. One of the ways he suggests to do this is through mini retirements (3-6 months extended overseas vacations) every few years. I agree with his notion that Americans are often too insular; travel helps broaden our perspective and accelerate learning. I know it sounds impossible, but getting away is easier than you may think and he details specifically how to do it.
Sounds great, right? So how do we actually accomplish this? Here are some of the tactics covered in the book:
· Take advantage of technologies to free yourself from the office. Studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than their office chained counterparts and the tools now exist to give you secure access to your office work environment from virtually anywhere in the world. Many companies are actively seeking to send employees home to work and Tim has great tips for how to approach this topic with your boss and make it a reality.
· Reduce and batch communications. Given all the tools we have to communicate with these days, Tim argues that we are often over communicating and not forcing people to get to the point. He strongly encourages “batching” the time we devote to meetings, e-mail, and voicemail so that we can be more productive when we work. He also has great strategies for conditioning others to communicate with you around your schedule.
· Focus on what matters, outsource the rest. The 80/20 rule has been proven mathematically, i.e. 20% of what we do creates 80% of the value. For example, 20% of our customers create 80% of our sales, 20% of our clients create 80% of our problems. Conversely, 80% of our time is wasted on activities that only account for 20% of the desired outcomes. The moral here is to make sure you constantly step back and see where you are focusing your time. If it’s a low value activity, it can be put off or even outsourced to virtual temp-workers. By really focusing on the 80/20 rule, most people can dramatically increase their productivity and results while reducing the time required. Working smart and working hard are not one in the same.
See what the buzz is about and pick up a copy of the The Four Hour Work Week. It could have a profound impact on the way you chose to live your life. I know it did for me.