Four concepts of the 4-hour work week
In a lifetime, we spent about 30% of our time at work (based on a full-time 40-hour work week and a life expectancy of 75-90 years). Even though you’re doing something you love, having a healthy work life balance is still of high importance. As the amount of work isn’t likely to decrease, or at least in our experience, our focus usually aims towards higher productivity. You can imagine the curiosity when I heard about Tim Ferriss’ bestseller, The 4-hour work week (4HWW from here on).
In his book, Ferriss elaborates on methods to enjoy life while you’re young and energetic. He provides tools to make sure to make the most of life, minimize awful tasks, and presents a new approach towards work and productivity. Today I would like to share my favourite concepts my experiences trying to implement them into my life.
Adding life after subtracting work
Working full-time (and let’s be real, most weeks we make even more hours than the regular forty-hour work week) is a satisfying thing. Just imagine leaving this important aspect out and ask yourself, what is left? Caught yourself in a mini panic attack realizing there’s not that much left compared to your job? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us, even Tim Ferriss. However, as we’re used of the man, he also provides a simple solution. As he describes in the 4HWW: “I believe that life exists to be enjoyed and that the most important thing is to feel good about yourself.” And how does one feel good about themselves? Unlimited learning. Not only is it crucial to learn in your day job, it’s also important to keep learning outside of that. This is a message we definitely try to bring across with careerlions.com. As for me personally I am trying to learn new skills, like writing, speak Mandarin, and even try to learn how to cook every now and again.
The low information diet
In today’s world, we are consuming information like there’s no tomorrow. Our iPhones keep us informed about the news, the latest videos on our YouTube subscriptions, not to mention all the messages in WhatsApp group conversations. Being informed about everything all the time comes at a cost, on our time that is and most of the information consumed is irrelevant for our immediate goals. Therefore, the low information diet is introduced where the most important rule is to cultivate selective ignorance. It basically tells you to reduce your media intake. That means less newspapers, magazines, television, web surfing (that is not related to complete a work task for that day), Facebook, WhatsApp, and the whole shebang. How I am doing on this one? Selectively well is the right answer, I guess. In the two months I have been living at my new place, I still have not installed television. So, I am doing great on not watching the news, or any television at all. The thing I am failing miserably in? Ignoring social media. I guess it’s extra hard when you know a video with your head in it can be posted any time.
Rules That Change The Rules
In a section where Ferriss elaborates on Rules That Change The Rules there is a rule that says: "Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses". With this Ferriss explains that one can achieve more and live a happier life by focussing on better use of our best weapons. The idea is that is it a lot more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will at best be mediocre. Easy choice, right? For example, I choose to focus on my ability to come up with new ideas rather than putting all my energy in fixing my lack of eye for detail. When it comes to the blog though, I am super happy to be partnering with Ashley who is the actual opposite. Without her sharp insights, the blog would look less structured and with a lot more spelling errors.
The not to do list
Many times, we seem to focus on to do lists and things we need to do more of. While at the same time there are a lot of habits we need to stop doing. Ferriss has concentrated nine bad habits to productivity into his not to do list (which is not only published in his book but can also be found on his blog, here).
Do not answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers.
Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last at night.
Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time.
Do not let people ramble, always get to the point.
Do not check e-mail constantly – “batch” and check at set times only.
Do not over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers.
Do not work more to fix overwhelm - prioritize.
Do not carry a cell phone or Crackberry 24/7, go without your phone at least one day a week.
Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should.
I am guilty on almost all accounts when it comes to the not to do list, especially on number 2. My excuse is that I need to prioritize my tasks for the day, based on the e-mails I received since the last time I checked (the night before), therefore I need to check it first thing in the morning. Truth to the matter is that the e-mails hardly contain highly urgent activities that have not been communicated through phone calls. So, this means I could drop this habit without having a negative impact on my work. To remind myself of doing better, I try to use the not to do list as a checklist to catch myself and my bad habits.
So, what do you think? Any tips on how to increase productivity or books on the subject? Are you on your way to a 4-hour work week? We’re curious to know, so let’s hear it in the comments below!