Posted October 01, 2015
A Review of The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Let me start by saying that I don't have my heart set on a Ferrari and moving to Guatemala isn't something I've always dreamed of. All the same, I did find golden nuggets in this book that seemed worth sharing. If you're like me - overwhelmed with paperwork and an overflowing email inbox - you might also like to give this book a try.
Tim Ferriss wrote the book almost like a series of blog posts. I mention this because other reviewers have found his writing style sort of annoying. I actually found it a quite handy way of parsing out specific insights. I absorbed different sections each day and experimented with those I thought would be helpful.
My greatest takeaway from The Four Hour Workweek will probably be Tim Ferriss' advice to "batch check" email. He recommends checking email just twice a day - 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. - and NEVER checking email in the morning.
Because I'm on Mountain Time, I adjusted the hours a little bit to reflect my clients' time zones, turned off all my phone notifications and then...held my breath. Also on Tim's advice, I set my phone to "Do Not Disturb" between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Ferriss was right. I noticed an instant uptick in my productivity, especially between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. - the hours I decided I would log in for messages. I suddenly had four hours available to complete client projects without interruption, and on top of that? I finished each day in a great mood.
Another thing I'd like to try is routing phone calls to a different number. Ferriss recommends using a service like Google Voice to route unwanted sales and other calls directly to voicemail. When I got rid of my land line a few years ago, it never occurred to me that the end result would be a dramatic uptick in the number of unwanted calls to my cell phone. I guess I'm just not that smart. Last week while I was out exercising, I received five phone calls in a half hour period. Though I didn't answer them, each call interrupted my focus for the task at hand and made me feel guilty for being away from my desk.
Another helpful suggestion was to itemize the tasks you do each day or each week that drain you but could be given to another person. There are so many, right? I chose two - housekeeping and grocery shopping - as things I could outsource as Tim Ferriss suggests. Working from home means you're available to change the laundry; run to the store; take the animals to the vet; accept packages - take care of everything, really.
While you can never totally get away from keeping a clean house, I acknowledged that having a housekeeper in twice a month to deep clean the bathrooms, kitchen, floors and dust surfaces would actually take alot of stress off my plate. Having groceries delivered from Safeway for $13 per order? Well, that $13 is a fraction of my billable time. Again, it's probably not something you'd do EVERY time you need supplies, it's certainly very helpful for the days you're working on deadline and you're almost out of cat food.
There were other sections that inspired as well. There was a proposal on my desk that I wasn't sure about, but when I realized it would pay for that Japan trip I've been wanting to schedule, I decided to put my name in. Instead of thinking about saving money by purchasing boxes in bulk online and taking a few personal packages to the USPS, I just dumped them at the UPS Store and let them wrap and send the boxes (at a premium price.) It's not something I can do all the time, but given how long they've been sitting in the living room - it just made sense. Get it out the door. Git r' done. And I'm going to try keeping UJ Ramdas' Five-Minute Journal.
Other sections I just skimmed through. I'm not going to move abroad to hedge my currency. I'm unlikely to lease a Ferrari, even if I could eventually afford it. So not everything was helpful, but a few tips made a surprising difference in my week, and I will continue to use them.
What helps you control your productive time? What books do you read to motivate and inspire you for the work week? Do you have any favorites you think I should check out?