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The 4-Hour Workweek

Tim Ferriss is a phenomenon. His 4-Hour Workweek, 4-Hour Body and 4-Hour Chef books are mega-best sellers and his podcast series, The Tim Ferriss Show, contains a crazy amount of valuable information and introductions to inspiring books, people and movies. Even if you already retired or don’t have his near-manic energy and somewhat obsessive love of learning and travel, there is a lot you can still implement from Ferriss’ now classic book, The 4-Hour Workweek. Here’s a sampling:

• You don’t have to do everything yourself. What can you outsource, delegate or automate?

• Do what you love while you are physically capable. If you don’t love your job, change that now. There is never a “good” time to have an adventure. Find a way to keep income streaming in throughout life: investments, creating products that sell while you sleep, etc.

• In order to create change we have to move beyond fear. Figure out what your greatest fear is and debunk it.

• Excitement is a synonym for happiness. If you’re not excited to get up in the morning, what do you need to change?

• We need to have the uncomfortable conversations. It’s always the unsaid stuff that prevents growth. Uncomfortable conversation examples: estate planning discussions with spouse or parents; talks with a doctor about physical or mental health; talks with spouse, friends or family about relationship breakdowns; discussions with superiors about work issues and pay raises; firing someone, whether an employee or a client.

• Don’t just be busy, be effective. What’s the effective thing to do? Use the 80/20 rule, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle. Twenty percent of what we do yields 80 percent of the results. Look at the list of what you do. Cut the stuff that is a time waster and that is not moving you toward your goals.

• Also, don’t prepare too early for anything, Ferriss suggests. He identifies this as Parkinson’s Law. The quality of work is better when the deadlines are tighter.

• Put a note on your computer with the one or two mission-critical items you must get done that day. Don’t lose sight of accomplishing your crucial to do’s first.

• Identify your crutch activities that hold you back. For me that is over cleaning (perfectionism) and wasting time online or with fashion magazines. Also, eating when I am not hungry, which means I have to spend time later exercising more or obsessing about my thighs.

• Don’t multi-task! Do one thing at a time and give it your full attention, even if it’s just brushing your teeth.

• Go on a low information diet—your productivity will rise. The news is super repetitive. You only need to check in a few minutes every few days to be quite well informed. Or rely on friends you trust to give you the 411. Agonizing over current events and exposing yourself to a lot of negativity is a waste of time.

• Morning routines are very important. Disciplined routines that include meditation and fitness are sighted regularly by super-achievers.

• Batch tasks. If you’re doing laundry, do all the laundry. Changing from one mode of activity to another takes brain power and time—those adjustments aren’t seamless, even after a triple cappuccino!

I’ll admit, laundry is one place I do multi task. We are not beating clothes on rocks by the river, after all. I can put a load in and do something else. I can switch to the dryer and be off on another project for at least half an hour. However, I’ve got to set a timer! If the clothes are left in the dryer too long they wrinkle. Ironing puts wrinkles in my productivity and frown lines on my face, which then forces me to work more to pay for the Botox I have to get. Talk about a vicious cycle!