#085 | Read The Four Hour Work Week

Today I finished reading this book, and to be frank, it will change the way I look at work and my career forever.

I’ve been socialised since birth to consider my career as one of the best ways in which to achieve personal, professional and societal success. Careers are assumed to be made up of a sequence of jobs/roles in which I better my skills, knowledge, experience and achievements, and predominantly within the confines of a 9-5 structure.

I never attended university. By the time I finished secondary school with a ‘tertiary entrance rank’ that placed me in the top 5% of the state, I was gagging to get into the Real World. I wanted hands on learning, experience, direction. I wanted to make mistakes and learn from them. I was sick of text books. I was sick of teachers, most of whom I believed had lost touch with the Real World. I was sick of learning things that I never thought I would use again – like calculus. I was never ever going to be in a profession that required me to understand this. And it wasn’t because I didn’t understand this that I was sick of it – to the contrary, mathematics was actually my favourite subject because I found it so simple. Take Formula – Apply Formula – Get Result. You can’t get much easier than that in my view. I appealed a great deal to the black and white in me.

To be honest, I have kind of ‘fallen into’ the career and industry in which I currently find myself. I started out in PR and took an instant dislike to the two-faced, superficial, shallow nature of the work in this industry. I wanted to pursue my passion – music – and as luck would have it, I landed two music roles at the same time; one in PR and one in media for the world’s largest music magazine.

My media career has certainly had it’s twists and its turns. I’ve worked in almost every major medium there is, I’ve worked 80 hour weeks, I’ve worked 3 day weeks (that actually ended up being more like 7 days in reality), I’ve pitched, negotiated, strategised, conformed, toed the line… and although I now have a decent pay cheque and I work with a great bunch of people, I can’t help but think there is more to life.

Enter The Four Hour Work Week. Although I read this with a great deal of healthy cynicism, I can’t help but agree with some of the principles put forward by Tim Ferris. The process (or formula!) he walks the reader through is simple : Definition, Elimination, Automation, Liberation.

The first step is Defining what your ideal life would look like if you had no limitations. Tim calls this Lifestyle Design. He encourages you to think as big or as small as you need to be inspired to think differently about the 9-5 drudgery by which we’re all shackled. It’s a ‘starting with the end in mind’ strategy which is smart, and inspiring.

The second step is Elimination, that is to say eliminating anything non-critical to success. It’s the old 80/20 rule… with a machete attachment. The biggest things Tim focuses on in the book is email, phone calls and other ‘interruptions’. This is by far the biggest take away for me from this book. Having a blackberry is a curse. I hate that flashing red light! I have changed so many blackberry settings since reading this book so that I am not ‘alerted’ to new email immediately. I have also now made one of my goals on my 101 List to only check email twice a day for one month in a bid to get into a better habit of controlling my email, rather than letting it control me.

The third step is Automation and the first part of this process is ‘outsourcing life‘, which is something I’m going to trial.  It’s probably the part I am most skeptical about, as it doesn’t appeal to the perfectionist in me, but part of my personal growth plan is to learn that ‘good enough’ is good enough and not everything needs to be ‘perfect’.  So this could be a great exercise to get me well on to this path.  The first step is almost complete in one of my tasks on my list – hire a cleaner!

The second part to the Automation process is to select a ‘muse’, Tim deliberately does not call this a ‘business’ as it’s a special kind of ‘business’ we’re looking for here.  It’s more than I can go into here, but in theory it makes a lot of sense, and he gives good advice for ‘testing’ before launching and spending too much time, energy or cash on your ‘muse’.

The final step is Liberation which is of course removing yourself from the equation such that you can get on with the life you designed in the first step.

Liberation seems so far away for me at the moment, but the book has inspired me enough to make some immediate changes and consider opening up myself enough to dream and create a design for my life.  How far I will get with it?  Well that will remain to be seen, but it can’t hurt, right?

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1 Comment

  1. […] photography course 083 | Take an advanced course in Photoshop 084 | Complete 100_snapshots 085 | Read The 4 Hour Work Week 086 | Only read email twice a day for one month 087 | Reduce to 4 office days per week 088 | Reduce […]


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