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Book DetailsISBN: 9780091929114
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Book Review: 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss - Reviewed by ClaytonW (20 May 2011)
I think we’re all captivated by the idea of reducing our workload to a mere four hours a week, but it’s hard to see how it would be possible. Ferriss outlines a blueprint for making it a reality, although it will take some effort.
I am always a little sceptical of authors who seem to have ‘made their millions’ by selling self-help books and associated products, rather than achieving true success in any other venture. I am sure that Ferriss has made a lot of money from this book, but it does contain some very practical information that has resonated with me. I would recommend that you take a look.
Ferriss espouses a four step process to rid yourself of the shackles of working life and to denounce the traditional paradigms associated with ’success’ in our society. Ferriss’ ‘New Rich’ are people who challenge the status quo by spurning society’s expectation that an employee works 9-to-5 for 40 years, followed by a period of retirement – instead the ‘New Rich’ enjoy ‘mini-retirements’ throughout their life whilst running passive income-producing businesses from whatever location they choose around the globe.
Ferriss’ first step, definition, is about putting it all into perspective. What defines success? Is a person who earns $100,000 and works 60 hours per week more successful or more wealthy than a person who earns $25,000 and works 5 hours per week? Ferriss argues that money does not bring happiness – time is our most important commodity. Most people, though, are scared to challenge the norm, and are more likely to opt for the status quo of climbing the corporate ladder, than the uncertainty associated with ditching their day job. He encourages his readers to envision the ‘worst case scenario’ after quitting a job and suggests that the potential fallout is not so bad (at worst, the individual can normally resume their former career and return to paid employment).
Elimination is the process of removing time-consuming, pointless tasks and other non-essential activities, in order to free up time. Ferriss is a fan of Pareto’s 80-20 rule which states that 80% of outputs come from just 20% of inputs. He argues that you should focus only on the 20% of inputs and totally ignore those activities which don’t yield any output. Some of his suggestions about dealing with bad customers, prioritising tasks and setting deadlines, avoiding mindless meetings, and responding efficiently to email and phone calls are extremely practical and can be applied to any workplace.
Automation seeks to put the business on auto-pilot by empowering people and outsourcing recurring tasks. Rather than setting yourself up as a ‘bottleneck’ through whom all decisions must be channelled, Ferriss suggests that capable people can be entrusted to make their own decisions on your behalf. Boring, unfulfilling tasks, according to Ferriss, should be assigned to virtual private assistants who can be employed over the internet.
Liberation, for employees, is about convincing your boss to allow you to work from home, so that you can escape your employer’s expectation that you be at your desk between certain hours. Ferriss argues that set hours are entirely unproductive and that much of what is achieved in a working day can be achieved in a space of a few hours. For the self-employed, liberation is about being able to run your business from any location that you choose, giving you the freedom to indulge your personal ambitions, whilst at the same time earning sufficient money to do same.
I think this book is worth a read. There are some good practical tips for improving personal efficiency and effectiveness, even if you don’t choose to follow Ferriss’ blueprint to the letter.
Tim Ferriss, nominated as one of Fast Company's 'Most Innovative Business People of 2007', is an angel investor and author of the original no.1 New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Work Week, which has been published in 35 countries. He has been featured by more than 100 media outlets, including the New York Times, The Economist, Time, Forbes, Fortune and CNN. He speaks six languages, runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide, and since 2003 has been a popular guest lecturer at Princeton University, where he presents entrepreneurship as a tool for ideal lifestyle design and world change. See his latest experiments and case studies at- www.fourhourblog.com.
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