The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss is one of my all time favorite books. The basic idea is to ditch the traditional working environment and work less utilizing more automation.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
The book starts with a story about the Tango World Championship semifinals in Argentina and poses the question “What on earth would I be doing right now, if I hadn’t left my job and the U.S. over a year ago?” Can you answer this? Keep reading!
Step 1: Definition
Tim defines two groups of people. The Deferrers, those who save it all for the end only to find that life has passed them by and the New Rich.
* The employee who rearranges his schedule and negotiates a remote work agreement
to achieve 90% of the results in one-tenth of the time, which frees him to
practice cross-country skiing and take road trips with his family two weeks per
* The business owner who eliminates the least profitable customers and projects,
outsources all operations entirely, and travels the world collecting rare
documents, all while working remotely on a website to showcase her own
* The student who elects to risk it all—which is nothing—to establish an online
video rental service that delivers $5,000 per month in income from a small niche
of Blu-ray aficionados, a two-hour-per-week side project that allows him to work
full-time as an animal rights lobbyist.
The possibilities are endless. What defines the New Rich is their unrestricted mobility and availability of free time! Money alone doesn’t count anymore. Its practical value is multiplied by the what, when, where and with whom you do what you do.
From that point of view earning less money but spending far less time on that is much more powerful than working 80 hours per week for a million dollars.
Step 2: Elimination
One does not accumulate but eliminate.
It is not daily increase but daily decrease.
The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.
In this chapter Tim talks about developing selective ignorance of information, the 80-20 Pareto principle, gives tips for faster reading and battling interruption like checking your e-mail and smart phone.
Step 3: Automation
Outsourcing and technical automation are the keys here but there is more. Tim talks about income autopilot - designing your income sources in such a way so that they don’t consume much of your time and continue to produce income even after the initial time investment.
Think about the following: working a 9-to-5 job yields an income only during office hours. Having written a book yields income whenever a copy is sold, which is while you’re asleep and long after the initial time investment required to write the book.
Then you can diversify your income streams and voila - you’re making money automatically :)
Tim also refers to the business management side of things. Why become the manager when you can be the owner of the business ? It’s kind of hard to let virtual assistants run your business and resolve issues for you but that frees up your time which is more valuable.
In between he also mentions why as a business you should keep prices high! Counter intuitive, isn’t it?
This is easier said than done but I’ve been working on it for the last couple of years and its starting to take shape nicely so there’s truth to it.
Step 4: Liberation
This is the chapter which helps you escape the 9-5 office hours through some interesting techniques. This is not only for freelancers like myself but also for the regular employee. One of the principles is to ask for forgiveness, not a permission (which will be denied anyway).
Another one boils down to:
- Increase company investment into you so that the loss is greater if you quit, e.g. corporate training;
- Prove increased output offsite - call in sick Tuesday to Thursday but continue working. Produce more and leave some sort of digital trail, emails, etc;
- Prepare the quantifiable business benefit - you need to present remote working as a good business decision and not a personal perk, for example you’ve managed to bill more hours to your company’s customers. As explanation use removal of commute and fewer distractions from the office noise;
- Propose a revocable trial period - plan everything that will be said but play it cool and casual. You want to avoid the impression that remote working will be something permanent (for now). Find a relaxed afternoon and give it a shot!
- Expand remote time by making sure you’re most productive on your days out of the office and if need be lower the productivity inside the office a bit. Then give it a shot for a longer trial period or more days working remotely;
There’s also another one called the hourglass approach, so named because you use a long proof-of-concept up front to get a short remote agreement and then negotiate back up to full-time out of the office.
I personally had it easier in terms of remote working. Before I became a contractor I’ve been working with folks in the US to whom it doesn’t really matter whether I was based in Czech Republic or in Bulgaria. Also I’ve been sick at that time and had an important project to manage which all just played nicely in proving that I can be productive in any location.
Then comes one of my favorite sections Killing Your Job. Boy you just have to read this. Lots of people need to read this! Everything you are afraid of and keeps you from quitting your job is total bulshit. There are always options. It might be emotionally difficult, but you won’t starve!
This extended edition of the book completes with blog articles and bonus sections like Killing Your BlackBerry.
I’m a 37-year-old Subway franchisee owning and operating 13 stores.
Been doing this for seven years. Prior to reading 4HWW I was KING at W4W
(translate: work for work’s sake)
Crunched my “always open” workweek into four days and 20 hours. I immediately
began taking Mondays OFF, giving me a nice three-day weekend.
Tuesday to Friday I work 11 A.M.–4 P.M. (20 hours per week).
I was forced to appraise everything through the 80/20 filter and found that
50% of the 80% was pure crap and the other 50% of the 80% could be done by someone
on my payroll.
I still carry portable e-mail but I’ve killed “auto-sync”.
Now it’s on a Tues–Fri, 11 A.M.–4 P.M. schedule.
My e-mail autoresponder eliminated 50% of my e-mail within two weeks as people sending
me meaningless crap got fed up looking at my autoresponder and stopped including me.