Tim Ferris came out with his famous (read: controversial) book, ‘The 4 hour work week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich’ in 2007. The book has sold more than 1.3 million copies and has been translated into 35 languages. Not only this, but the book has also been a New York Times bestseller for more than 4 years.
The core idea behind the book is to work less and make more money. Pretty much like work smarter, not harder.
Now, before coming towards the topic of how to adopt a 4 hour work week culture, let’s first address the fire it has stirred. The book gave birth to an endless debate of whether it’s realistic and can work for anybody, or it’s a myth and doesn’t really fit in with the real-world problems.
So, basically there are two extremes to this, both quite strong, we must agree.
Tim says that in order to boost team motivation, you only need to manage your time smartly, rather than fitting everything in your schedule to achieve more. Move somewhere in the world, take your computer with you, and work remotely whenever you want to. So, that’s basically the crux of 4 hour work week.
How to adopt a 4 hour work week culture?
If you hate working long hours at the office, this is the good news for you. You don’t have to anymore! The lazy bummer inside you may get too excited, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at all.
The whole concept revolving around the four-hour workweek emphasizes that all of us have enough time. We just don’t know how to manage it effectively. There’s no such thing as ‘too busy’ or ‘too little time’.
Some of the key takings from the book that can help you in adopting the 4 hour work week culture are:
1. Pursue your Passion
There’s no questioning the fact that most of the people you know have 9-5 jobs that they probably dread. Working 40-hour weeks, jumping from payday to payday is the norm. Tim Ferris suggests breaking this norm.
He urges to look deep within yourselves and embrace your entrepreneurial instincts. Sit back and evaluate what you want to do with your life. Find your passion and just go for it. This tip is particularly useful for people who want to break the shackles of corporate slavery and run a business of their own.
There’s a dedicated section of the book where Tim gives suggestions for running a successful business.
2. Apply the 80/20 Principle
Keeping in context the 80/20 Pareto principle, Tim Ferris urges that we find 20% of the work that draws 80% of our productivity, and leave the rest. To put it in simple words, 80% of your business’s revenues come from 20% of your customers. This is what you need to identify.
When it comes to your business, find those valuable customers and invest your time and effort into retaining them.
Tim Ferris applied this principle to his life and within a month his income jumped from $30,000 to $60,000 and his weekly working hours dropped from 80 to 15.
3. Delegate and Automate your Tasks
Tim Ferris says, “Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined”
If there’s a thing that can be easily managed by a machine, it should be. Don’t try to do everything by yourself and waste your precious time and energy.
Another thing 4 hour work week teaches us is to start outsourcing your work. If there’s a task that someone else can do for you (better than you), wait for no further and delegate it immediately. For delegating tasks, hire a virtual personal assistant. The assistant will look at all the trivial and important tasks for you and will save you ample time to focus on things that matter.
4. Cultivate the Sense of Selective Ignorance
You’re working peacefully at your workstation and a small email pop up appears. You’re too tempted to check it instantly and you do. Now you’re stuck in a continuous cycle of follow-ups.
When adopting the four-hour workweek, teach yourself to ignore all the unimportant or irrelevant interruptions. Don’t check your social media again and again in the name of getting a break. The same holds true for all of your emails – what can be conveyed via chat does not need another email response in a long thread – here are some email alternatives you can look into. Stop watching the news for longer times. Just go through the headlines, and don’t finish books you don’t feel like reading.
5. Make a To-Do and NOT To-Do list
Most of the time, we only make a to-do list and summarize the stuff we need to do, but half of the times our list consists of things that do not necessarily need our attention. The principle of delegation fits here perfectly.
Make a list of all the tasks that you can easily delegate to someone else so that you can divert your attention towards more important tasks for the day.
Now coming towards the other side of the coin.
To counter the above discussion, the second extreme implies there are people who’ve worked hard to reach where they’re right now. Yeah, they didn’t work only 4 hours a week to achieve their goals. If let’s suppose they did, they probably wouldn’t get what they wanted.
Because the universal truth is that in order to achieve something big, you need to strive. And for that, you need time. Lots and lots of it. So, where exactly does this 4 hour work week theory fits? Nowhere!
Another matter of the fact being pointed out by this bunch of intellectuals is that unless you already have a steady stream of revenue coming from some dot com platform that you’ve outsourced, making money requires a lot of time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Two of the biggest negatives pointed out about this book are:
1. Entrepreneurship is not everyone’s forte
As much as it sounds tempting to run one’s own business, let’s admit the fact that not everyone is talented enough to make it through. An overwhelming amount of people who work at a 9-5 job are doing it to make ends meet.
Jump on the bandwagon of entrepreneurship only if you have the energies and resources to make it work without giving up in the middle, because entrepreneurship requires your utmost dedication, sleepless nights, and definitely more than a 4 hour work week.
2. Competition at work is real
In today’s economy, you don’t succeed by working less, and working more does not necessarily come in the category of not being smarter. At times, you need to put in those extra hours to make a mark at work. To bring more value to your work and to earn an extra buck, you have to give in more than expected.
This is what the 4 hour work week certainly doesn’t address.
With that being said, you don’t have to drain yourself of your energies or over-whelm yourself with a plethora of work. Take a break whenever you have to and opt for work that brings you joy.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to your work preferences and how things fit in with your schedule. Which end of the discussion do you agree with? Share your views with us in the comments below.
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