The 4 – hour work week

For any entrepreneur or corporate employer, the sound of doing your work in 4-hours and making a success sounds like the dream. And if you are a sceptic like myself, it may sound too good to be true. Well, essentially it is. The entrepreneur handbook, The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris is more a guideline to doing what is most efficient in the least amount of time. It does differ slightly from the usual time management course  in that it does not encourage you to conform to normal office “time management tricks” like making lists, drawing up priority boxes, or starting with the most difficult task first. In fact, most of the principles taught in this book are down right crazy. And I think I might just like that.

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So like any good entrepreneur self help book, we need some catchy phrases. The overall term used for those people who live the 4-Hour Work Week successfully is coined (pardon the pun) “The New Rich”. The New Rich are people who work only a few hours a week, take great vacations to Europe and the Maldives and still manage to have their life sorted and paid for. To me it sounds like those Instagram friends who get comments on their London Tower selfies saying: “mara, when do you actually work?”

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So this book promises to give you that lifestyle in a four easy steps. Using the D-E-A-L principle: Definition – Elimination – Automation – Liberation. Here is a summary of those steps.

Definition – how many times do people ask “what do you do?” It’s crazy and unfortunately a real phenomenon that people equate your 9-5 with your identity and who you are as a person. So the first step is to change the definition. Ask yourself the question “what excites me?” and that should be what you do. Sounding like the mushy “do what you love” phrase but I do think it holds some truth. If you are waking up excited for that day, then it makes getting through the day much easier. Oh and while you’re trying to figure out the question of what excites you and how you can monetize that, just lie to people awkwardly about what you actually do for a living (this is a real tip in the book I swear). When people ask Tim what he does, he replies “I’m a drug dealer”. Apparently most conversations stop after that point.

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Elimination – this chapter hones in on two principles. First, the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule.  And secondly, Parkinson’s Law, the concept that limited time maximises effort needed. The former involves streamlining your resources and focusing only on those revenue streams which bring big profit with minimal effort. The latter is more interesting by stating that putting time constraints on yourself allows you do work in the shortest amount of time needed.

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Think about the principle of working 9-5. How is it that every single company, in every industry, all over the world makes their employees work in the 9-5 bracket? Well, it’s just that we’ve been conditioned to work that way. I remember my first few weeks at an engineering company, I was bored stiff by 11 am. I’d eaten my lunch and afternoon snacks before midday. People in the office shuffled around, read Women’s Health articles, checked if the aupair was still picking up their kids more than actually doing real work. Basically there is a lot of fluffing around.. and why?  Because we’ve been given these 8 hours as the standard work frame. If we were given 15 hours, we would sit in the office and fill up those hours with work and sundry things. So… what if we only had 2 hours a day? How would you structure your day to get those things done in a smaller constraint of time? One good example Tim uses is that he booked meetings with senior execs at 7:30 am or 18:00, most execs are in the office at those times, but most of them don’t have meetings with other sales people during that time. So instead of booking 2 or 3 meetings in the 9-5 slot, having it shifted when the exec has other important meetings that come up, he managed to see 5 execs per week where his competitors were seeing a maximum of 2.

Automation – this will probably not be relevant for an African context, here Tim advises to use a Virtual Assistant to do all of the tasks that are essential but can be handled by someone else. His argument is that doing all the more menial activities takes time and focus away from the bigger picture, also hiring people to do this for you is expensive in the US or Europe. There are actually agencies based in India and China  who have a team of well trained Virtual Assistants to book for your work. It’s an interesting concept and for product based offerings in the US, it makes sense. I’m not sold on this concept for the African market

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Liberation – so this is the holy grail of the New Rich. To liberate yourself to work minimal hours in order to sustain a living where you have time to travel and be with your family and friends. The tips here are really great. He gives practical advice on setting up a business online, travelling to teach English or another skill you may have of value in another country.  Also, he details how to liberate yourself from  your corporate job or your own business. The basis is to apply all the steps above in order to *insert Instagram ocean picture here* live your best life. Visit his blog fourhourworkweek to get the detailed scoop. Or check out nubianetwork.com for local online business activation.

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So all in all, define what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life. If today was your last day on earth, what would you spend it doing? Then eliminate all the things that are not contributing to that goal, and automate the things that are necessary for the operation. And lastly, leave the dead end job or business that is draining the life out of your soul, and live happily teaching surf boarding in the Caribbean. I do hope you find your dreams and monetize them well. If you have done something along these lines, please do share so we know it’s real 🙂

Pardon me while I do an intense google search on “how to get paid for eating chocolate in Mauritius”

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