Often in life, we mistake activity for productivity. Timothy Ferriss challenges the “I’m too busy excuse” in life. He argues, being busy is a form of laziness through lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
The core message of this book is basically escaping the 9-5 rat race and embracing productivity in order to create time, mobility and options in life. What is termed as the “new rich.”
The new rich is a group of people who’ve realized living like a millionaire does not require being a millionaire. Come to think of it, why are people obsessed with finding a nice job, climbing the corporate ladder, investing and getting good returns, saving money and so on?
It’s just for money and nothing else or less. But there is more to life than just being a shrewd paper chaser.
For this, people obsess over ideas like work ethic, how many qualifications they hold, you name it.
Tim Ferriss was once one of these people lost in the 9-5 code of belief. When he started his sports nutrition company back in 2004, he always wanted to stay on top of everything to stay ahead.
At the verge of an anxiety attack, he decided to conduct an experiment. He reached out to 95% of his low producing clients and fired the 2% that were responsible for most of the angry emails and late night phone calls. By this, he shortened his work-week and focused on building relationships with the top 3% producing clients and equally focused on finding new clients with similar prospects.
Tim become more productive and doubled his revenues in just four months. His workweek shortened from 40 hours to just 4 hours. From this, he figured there are two universal laws of productivity:
Law_1: Pareto’s Law (also known as the 80/20 rule)
It states, majority of results come from a select few efforts. For instance, 20% of customers contribute 80% of revenues and business in a company.
Law_2: Parkinson’s Law
Work expands or contracts according to the time you allocate for it. For example, when you allocate to much time in doing a task, you end up wasting too much time on less important requirement of the task.
If you are given a week to complete the same task that would ideally take 1 day, you’ll waste 6 days making a mountain out of a molehill.
When you combine the two laws above, realize: Most things in life don’t matter and what matters most needs less time than we think.
You do not need to build a fortune 500 company or read thousands of pages of companies annual reports to live a great life like the rich.
Does this sound like a great DEAL? The process of achieving this is summed in four steps:
Step 1 of the #DEAL: #D = Definition
We must redefine the end goal
Most of the 9-5 game most of us have been fooled to play for so long is total BS. MONEY IS NOT the END GOAL!
Life has always been negotiable. Just coz everyone follows a path doesn’t mean you have to be trapped in that dogma.
Relative income trumps absolute income. That is, earning $50/hr working four hours each day is better than earning $10,000 a month working 10 hours each day.
Step 2 of the #DEAL: #E = Elimination
Most people attribute being busy all the time to AMBITION. In real sense, being busy all the time is lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
Learn to eliminate unimportant tasks in your life!
Step 3 of the #DEAL: #A = Automation
Outsource repetitive tasks. If there is something you do each day, the same way, get rid of it through automation or outsourcing.
Know the difference between being Effective and Efficient. Being effective is doing the right things while being efficient is doing things right.
Doing something unimportant well, does not make it important. Focus on being effective.
Step 4 of the #DEAL: #L = Liberation
Mobility is liberation. Do you have it?
Mtura is best served in Eastlands, parties better in NaksVegas, Escapades in Naivasha, Beach life at the coast, Calm urban life in Westside of Nairobi, Tours in the rift valley and vacations somewhere new preferably outside your country. Why tie your mind to your location and confine your thinking to it?
Harness the power of geographical arbitrage for best experiences in life. Why did your parents leave the village to reside in urban areas? The internet is one way of leveraging this!
In the end,
- Most Things Don’t Matter
Think of yesterday, which activities led to today’s success? You probably have only 1 or 2 hours that will contribute to your growth or success. Personally, my 24 hours is split into four; sleep, productivity, personal investments and leisure.
This way; I have adequate sleep, I max on productivity at my work, I invest in myself each day, and use my leisure time to catch up with family, side hustles, friends, entertainment, networking and so on.
If anything comes up that doesn’t fit in any of the above, I always pass it up regardless.
Think of your life in the past 5 or 10 years, which key decisions led to your success? You will find they are only a few. Most of the time, it’s just knowledge, your imaginations & connections you built. Without them, it don’t matter what you do – you are just trapped in some arrogant conviction.
- What Matters Most needs Less Time than we Think
Just focus on the bare-essentials and be highly resourceful. If you take a course on Computer Science for instance, you will realize that in life you are probably going to use less than 3% of it since most computer science degrees are obsolete in every five years or so as technology changes very fast than any other niche.
Hence, to be great, know early what niche you want to occupy and focus your attention on it. Do you want to be a software engineer, UX or UI designer, database specialist, locks and security, viruses and defense, hacking, script writing, server-side programmer, computer hardware engineer – what is it that you want to specialize in? Pick one thing and run with it. That way, it’s easier to cope with new developed standards than be trapped in the cat and mouse games of holding a degree or going for the masters.
When it’s time to earn, nobody wants to work with an all rounded genius but a specialist – a guru of the field or industry. So, decide what matters most. If it’s landscaping, be the best landscaper. Be the best in your thing, the best; potato chef, defender, midfielder, goalkeeper, alto singer, strawberry juice maker, …. Always choose quality not quantity.
Our mind will always fight the idea that most things don’t matter and what matters most needs less time than we think. And that’s why, the few that get over this over time lead the best life.
This book is just refreshing in many ways. It’s about striking a balance between essential work to improve individual productivity. The ideas here may be hard to pull in a large organization but why not?
PS: This book should not be misconstrued for corporate work ethic or activities that require intense conditioning to become better such as sports. This book is mainly for small business owners, sole proprietors or lifestyle entrepreneurs who look to have their life back by cutting out non-important tasks.
Read this book with an open mind to grasp the core message. Otherwise, you risk ending up like a zombie. The 4-hour Workweek is about symmetry in life!