Books have a funny way of showing up at the right time. The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss was no exception.
This book was recommended to me by two regular Genius Types readers, HalOtis and Joe. Thanks, guys; this book knocked me out.
You readers really know what you’re talking about. If you have any suggestions for other books to read, please leave a comment below.
The New Rich
The 4-hour Workweek is an instruction manual to a new lifestyle, which is not defined by bank account balances or possessions. Ferriss explains that the new rich are motivated by freedom and mobility. Instead of working for forty years and retiring after, why not take multiple mini-retirements every year?
Ferriss creates low-maintenance companies that he calls “muses,” to fuel his appetite for extended world travel. Instead of obsessing on growth and perfection with his companies, he focuses on high-leverage activities and clients while dropping the rest.
Sound familiar? I hereby dub Timothy Ferriss an honorary Genius Type.
The 4-hour Workweek has so much information, it’s basically two books in one. The first details stripping down your work hours to the bare minimum while increasing your income. It addresses both entrepreneurs and wage earners alike.
The second is a lifestyle guide for the extended traveler. He tells you how to leave the world of the cubicle behind and travel the world for months at a time.
My Long-Lost Twin
Timothy and I were apparently separated at birth. We’re roughly the same age and appear to have the same ethnic heritage. We both value time freedom over bank account balances and are travel junkies.
I took a job as an inflight French interpreter for Continental Airlines for seven years so that I could travel the world and learn languages. It was fun, but I think Timothy’s got a much better idea: put your work on autopilot and immerse yourself in another culture.
Cutting the Fat
Here’s a brief summary of his suggestions.
The Low Information Diet
Ferriss suggests drastically reducing the amount of low-value information “noise” we constantly consume every day. Webpages, phone calls, email, cable news, newspapers, and even books!
He suggests limiting your email intake to once a day, or even once a week. He has the same advice for phone calls, suggesting avoiding your office phone and checking voicemail at 12 and 4 every day.
He takes the idea of the low information diet to such an extent, I had to wander if it’s socially healthy to cut yourself off from the world like he’s saying. Even if what he’s suggesting is overkill, we could all use a lot less “noise” if we are going to get anything done in our lives.
I personally took the baby step of switching my email client from automatically checking for new messages to manual. Additionally, I turned off the audio and vibrating alarms on my Blackberry when it receives new emails.
I can’t believe the amount of time these two steps have freed up. I feel much more control over that portion of my life. Instead of constantly being interrupted by someone else’s needs; now I check messages on my clock.
This is one of those suggestions that I already knew intuitively, but needed someone to put into words before it “clicked.” The basic idea is that it’s much more efficient to complete tasks in bulk than it is to spread out the work. For example, it takes less time cumulatively to open bills and pay them all at once than it does to open and pay them as they come in the mail.
The reason is that every task has a logistical and mental setup time of anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. Every time you start the process over, you have to repeat this setup time.
This was my favorite part of the book because it was such a foreign concept to me. Did you know that there are companies set up all over the world who are just waiting to set you up with your very own virtual assistant? These assistants work remotely over the internet, phones, and traditional mail to carry out low-leverage tasks for you. By taking advantage of currency differences, you can find a virtual assistant for as little as $4 an hour!
One of my biggest hurdles on the road to time freedom is the enormous amount of administrative work I have to do to run five businesses. I absolutely hate wasting time in front of my computer, loading receipts into QuickBooks.
The idea is to delegate all of your low-leverage tasks, and focus on your high-leverage tasks.
There’s Much More
That was a small peek at just a few of his suggestions. Check out the book for the full flood of information.
The 4-hour Workweek is packed with useful nuggets and resources. I have to respect a book that is well-researched and saves me time by consolidating references to websites, phone numbers, companies, and services.
This is one of those books that I’m going to carry with me as a field guide.
Of all the books I’ve reviewed on Genius Types, this one fits the closest to the Genius Types way of thinking. You have to read this book.