Week 6 of our 10 week eBook challenge brings us to the infamous 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Ferriss has been described as ‘Indiana Jones for the digital age’, and once you get into the 4-Hour Work Week, it’s not hard to see why. Ferris himself states in the book that this is about ‘fun and profit’, and upon getting over the fact that compartmentalizing and streamlining some aspects of your life doesn’t make you any less a passionate or creative individual, you’ll find there’s a ton of stuff here for just about anyone. That means business owners, entrepreneurs, busy parents, creatives. The list really does go on. I enjoyed the fact that Ferris also doesn’t leave out employees, which is something that most of us can relate to on some level, whether we have employees or have been an employee yourself, or plan to hire in the future.
Here are our 7 takeaways from The 4-Hour Work Week
Time is more important than money. Ferriss takes the old notion that we all want to be millionaires and turns it on it’s obvious, light-bulb moment, head. When it comes down to it, numbers in the bank aren’t what we aspire to have. What we want more of is more time. More time to spend with family, friends, experiencing the world, and learning new things. And, that is what true richness is.
Go on an information diet. From checking emails every ten minutes to subscribing to a gazillion blogs, Ferriss believes that as a society, we’ve become so blinded by our fear of missing out, that we’ve lost sight of what we’re doing it all for. We’re clouding our own vision with self-made distraction and the only way around it is to ‘unplug and reset’.
Worst case scenarios aren’t that bad when you think about them. Lose some sales, miss a meeting, forget to make an important call? Ferriss’ view is that yes, these things will happen, and yes, it’ll be embarrassing and sometimes even disappointing. But, if in the meantime, you were missing-in-action working on other things that are important to you, then a little perspective will go a long way to help you keep your head straight about it all.
Work smart, not hard. This is a point that’s been raised by entrepreneurs the world over but Ferriss has a really slick way of illustrating the problem that he describes as an epidemic. When it comes to hard work, chivalry is dead. Do you spend hours doing things that you could do rather quickly due to self-induced inefficiency, or feeling like you have to clock up the hours to prove the worth of your work? You’re one of millions, but there is a solution.
Outsource, outsource, outsource. Ferriss has a way of making you look at the menial tasks in your life in a brand new light. ‘But, I don’t have any menial tasks! If I don’t do it, then who will?’ I hear you say. If that’s you, then you’re exactly the type that needs to read this book. Sometimes, we need to get over ourselves and accept the fact that a) much of what you do could be done by anyone under appropriate instruction, b) some tasks that you carry out could actually be dropped all together and nobody would notice, and c) it doesn’t mean that you care any less about what you do, or the people that you do it for. It means that you also care about you.
Liberation does not equal laziness. It’s easy to think that people living a Ferriss-esque lifestyle are lazy, selfish or irresponsible, but the reality is that when you’ve got time freed up to think straight, you’re more likely to make decisions that positively impact your life and the lives of those around you. Taking the time to learn new skills, expand your worldview, and take care of your physical self are things that get pushed by the wayside when you’re in the 9-5 grind. To have time to properly engage in activities you love, or help you grow, is the aim of The 4-Hour Work Week.
Location independence is freedom’s best friend. Want to work from Costa Rica for months at a time without a hitch? Ferriss shows you the steps to take to make it happen. While Ferriss’ own life is quite extreme and sounds quite solitary (he moves countries every 6 months or so) he has an excellent understanding that skipping countries is not for everyone, so he provides techniques and tools that anyone can use. What is for everyone? Choice. To be able to have a choice in where and how each day will be carried out is what it’s all about. This book displays brilliantly that being tied to a desk is a surefire way to miss out on, well, life.
What I loved about this book is the way it made me see the potential to streamline so much of what I do – and I am not a naturally streamlined person. Your work, business and personal life can all be improved by taking a step back, a reshuffle, and a spring clean. One thing that unsettled me slightly about Ferriss’ views is that he can be quite impersonal, or seem a bit cold. He outsources everything and jumps from country to country, so one gets the sense that personal relationships aren’t high on his agenda, and he’d have to be quite a solitary guy. That said, you can take from The 4-Hour Work Week what you need to suit your lifestyle and what you do in your freed up time to enrich your own life is entirely up to you.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how The 4-Hour Work Week has helped you unplug and reset! Let us know in the comments below.