The 4-Hour Work Week
Author: Tim Ferriss
Main theme; Most of us work 50+ hours per week for 40 years so that we can retire at age 65+ when we are too tired to really enjoy it. Work really hard, save up and then retire….”Deferrers.” Why burn ourselves out, deferring our enjoyment of life, when we can redefine the rules of the game and live the life we want right now? It sounds ludicrous and maybe even irresponsible, but Ferriss argues that this reaction is merely a product of social conditioning and fear. We don’t need to play that game…we can beat it instead.
Other themes of the book; lifestyle design (creating a lifestyle that is both fulfilling and self-sustaining), work life balance (priorities), empowering others, focusing on 80/20 activities, avoiding distractions like email & useless information overload, creating a systematic scalable business that doesn’t depend on you as the bottleneck for decision-making, owning a business vs. a business owning you, remote control leadership, courage to pursue an adventure, learning to intentionally ignore irrelevant, unimportant or un-actionable information.
The manifesto of the dealmaker is simple: Reality is negotiable. Outside of science and law, all rules can be bent or broken, and it doesn’t require being unethical.
D.E.A.L. = Definition, Elimination, Automation, Liberation
Definition: Define the end game unflinchingly. Don’t conform to our rat race culture, don’t become a slave to work. Figure out what you want, get over your fears, see past society’s “expectations”, and figure out what it will really cost to get to where you want.
Elimination is about Time Management, or rather about NOT managing time. Instead, apply the 80/20 rule to focus only on those tasks that contribute the majority of benefit. Also apply it ruthlessly to all aspects of your life to eliminate the small minority of factors that waste 80% of your time. Forget time management, focus instead on getting the really important and results-producing tasks done.
Automation is all about building a sustainable, automatic source of income. This is a section that is, practically speaking, about Business and Business Management. The trick is to avoid is building a business that requires your presence, because that just burns up all your time. Ferriss made the mistake once, generating lots of monthly revenue but ended up being chained to the machine to keep it working.
Liberation: Once you’ve successfully automated your lifestyle, liberate yourself from your geographical location and your job. It’s a lot easier than you think, once you’ve gotten through the previous three steps. Aim for “mini-retirements” throughout life instead of hoarding the recovery and enjoyment for the fool’s gold of retirement at age 65.
Our goal isn’t to create a business that is as large as possible, but rather a business that bothers us as little as possible. The architecture has to place us out of the information flow instead of putting us at the top of it.
Problems, as a rule, solve themselves or disappear if you remove yourself as an information bottleneck and empower others. Build decision making into the system.
Cultivating Selective Ignorance: ignorance may be bliss, but it is also practical. It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are
80% of the information you collect each day is likely all 3 of these
Lifestyle design is based on massive action—output. Increased output necessitates decreased input. Most information is time consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.
Make certain that your business is scalable. Make sure that you are not the bottleneck of needed information and decision making ability.
It is not just about working smarter; it’s about building a system to replace yourself.
Empowerment failure refers to being unable to accomplish a task without first obtaining permission or information. It is often a case of being micromanaged or micromanaging someone else, both of which consume your time.
Challenging the status quo:
Retirement is worst-case scenario insurance
Retirement as a goal or final redemption is flawed because it is predicated on the assumption that you dislike what you are doing during the most physically capable years of your life. This is a nonstarter—nothing can justify that sacrifice.
Interest and energy are cyclical
Aim for “mini-retirements” throughout life instead of hoarding the recovery and enjoyment for the fool’s gold of retirement.
Less is not laziness
Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is not laziness.
The timing is never right
For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time.
Ask for forgiveness, not permission
If it isn’t going to devastate those around you, try it and then justify it.
Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses
The choice between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, be become mediocre.
Things in excess, become their opposite
It is possible to have too much of a good thing. In excess, most endeavors and possessions take on the characteristics of their opposite. More becomes less.
Money alone is not the solution
Busy yourself with the routine of the money wheel, pretend it’s the fix-all, and you artfully create a constant distraction that prevents you from seeing just how pointless it is. The problem is more than money.
Relative income is more important than absolute income
Absolute income is measured using one holy and inalterable variable: the raw and almighty dollar. Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time, usually hours (dollars per hour).
Distress is bad, eustress is good
Distress refers to harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less confident, and less able. Eustress, on the other hand is when we push ourselves to exceed our limits…healthy stress.
Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals.
Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible.
Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.
Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.
Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.
What gets measured gets done. Peter Drucker
Pareto’s Law: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs
Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?
Slow down and remember this: most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
Work only on things that will make a great deal of difference if you succeed. Peter Drucker
A lack of time is actually a lack of priorities.
Parkinson’s Law: a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. Work expands to meet the time allotted.
Since we have 8 hours to fill, we fill 8 hours. If we had 15, we would fill 15. If we have an emergency and need to suddenly leave work in 2 hours but have pending deadlines, we miraculously complete those assignments in 2 hours.
There are 2 synergistic approaches for increasing productivity that are inversions of each other:
Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/20)
Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson’s Law)
At least 3 times per day ask yourself the following questions:
Am I being productive or just active?
Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?
If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?
The key to having more time is doing less, and there are two paths to getting there, both of which should be used together:
Define a short to do list
Define a not to do list
Do you own thinking independently. Be a chess player, not the chess piece. Ralph Charell
There are 3 principal interrupters:
Time wasters: those things that can be ignored with little or no consequence; meetings, discussions, phone calls and email that is unimportant. Solution; ignore the noise and increase empowerment of those around you.
Time consumers: repetitive tasks or requests that need to be completed but often interrupt high level work. Things that must get done but take a lot of time; personal errands, laundry, cutting the grass, etc. Solution; batch and do not falter.
Empowerment failures: instances where someone needs approval to make something small happen. This limits the scalability of your operation. Solution; build decision making into the business model.
Limit email consumption and production. This is the single greatest interruption in the modern world. Check email twice per day, once at noon and again at 4:00 pm. Never check email first thing in the morning. Instead, complete your most important task before 11:00 am.
Emergencies are seldom that. People are poor judges of importance and inflate minutiae to fill time and feel important.
For the employee, the goal is to have full access to necessary information and as much independent decision making ability as possible. For the entrepreneur, the goal is to grant as much information and independent decision making ability to employees or contractors as possible.
Preparing someone to replace you (even if it never happens) will produce an ultra-refined set of rules that will cut remaining fat and redundancy from your schedule.
First things first: cash flow and time. With these two currencies, all other things are possible. Without them, noting is possible.
Our goal is simple: to create an automated vehicle for generating cash without consuming time. That’s it.
In the world of action and negotiation, there is one principle that governs all others: The person who has more options has more power.
Top mistakes that we make:
Losing sight of dreams and falling into work for work’s sake
Micromanaging and emailing to fill time
Handling problems your co-workers can handle
Helping co-workers with the same problem more than once, or with non-crisis problems
Chasing unqualified prospects and customers
Not performing a thorough 80/20 analysis every 2 weeks
Blowing minutiae and small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work
Making non-time sensitive issues urgent in order to justify work
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something…almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. Steve Jobs, college dropout and CEO of Apple