The Renegade Writer

A 4-Hour Workweek? Where do I sign up?

A couple weeks ago I was blog surfing and read about an interesting new book called The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9 to 5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. Odd because just the day before, Linda and I had been sitting on her sunporch, talking about how we could work less without reducing income and have more time for our interests and hobbies. (Remember that old Law of Attraction?)

I went to Powell‘s and downloaded the book, and when Adobe’s Digital Editions beta completely spazzed out on me, I ran over to my local bookstore to buy a copy. That night, I sat down and read the book start to finish.

Ferriss is an interesting guy. I suspect some people won’t appreciate his extreme renegade approach to achieving goals (want to be a kickboxing champion overseas? Look for loopholes in the rules — like if you throw your opponent out of the ring three times, you automatically win the match.) Not only can he kickbox some ass, but he speaks several languages fluently, is a world record holder in tango, owns his own company, and is 29. You read that right. 29, my friends.

There was a lot of really good stuff in this book. While I suspect I could never whittle my workweek down to four hours (nor would I want to — I actually like my job!), I did get some good ideas about working more efficiently. For example, I’m really quite horrible about delegation. After reading this book, I hired a coder to work on this blog. I had this long list of things I wanted to fix, and I thought, What the heck? It’ll take me two weeks to learn how to make those changes, when I could hire someone who already knows what to do. I also decided to hire someone to do some research for me, and I’m thinking about hiring an assistant this fall. I’ve also cut back on checking my e-mail. I do my MIT (most important things) in the a.m., then check it.

Another point Ferriss made that really hit home for me: so many of us work so that when we’re 65 we can sit back and finally enjoy the fruits of our labor. Doesn’t it make more sense to arrange our work so that we can enjoy those fruits now? I fully expect that I’ll be nimble far beyond my 60s, but a huge reason why I decided to go freelance is so that I can enjoy the perks this lifestyle affords — today. For example, I’m going to Germany this fall with my family, and then to India in November. Try slipping a month of travel past some big corporate HR department.

Here are a couple other interesting links associated with Ferris and his book.

I’m curious if any other blog readers have read this book. What did you think of it? Did it inspire you? Post your comments below! [db]

Jun 5, 2007 Book news

7 Responses

  1. I just bought this book for my husband for Father’s Day! Funny how he always ends up with gifts that appeal to me too. :-) Look forward to reading it. (Though I don’t think I’d really *like* to work 4 hrs/week, either! 16 sounds good. :-))

  2. Melissa says:

    My husband read the book and is REALLY fired up. It’s changed the way he thinks about approaching his work (as a Web coder), and has him thinking about starting other businesses he’s had in the back of his mind for a while, but could never quite get to.

    I’m going to read it now, too… it seems like the book is not only full of great ideas, but is also a catalyst to idea-generation. Definitely the mark of a good read.

    The one tip that I’ve been thinking of adopting — even without reading the whole book — is checking email only twice a day. My hubby has started doing that and it’s revolutionized his work day.

  3. After Diana told me about this book, I ran out and bought myself a copy, and then speed read through the whole thing. Two ideas I got from it:

    1. Check e-mail twice a day. I copied his autoresponder idea and set up an auto reply saying that I check e-mail twice a day, and if you have an emergency you should call me at X. I got a free phone number through GrandCentral.com that rings through to my home phone and cell without actually revealing those numbers to the general public.

    2. Crunch work into shorter times. The only reason it took me two weeks to write an article in the past was that, in my view, sources were hard to corral into one day for interviews. I would ask them when they would like to do an interview, and one source would say 10 am on Monday, and the net source would say 3 pm on the next Thursday.

    But in truth, I had never TRIED to set all my article interviews for one day. So for my last assignment, when I called potential sources, I said, “I’m setting interviews for date X. Are you available?” Lo and behold, every one of them was! The only problem was that I didn’t specify times, and so I had the interviews scattered all throughout the day. But it typically takes me less than 8 hours to write an article — research, interviews, and all — so once I get that under control I should be able to write an article in one day. (In fact, I did this recently with a rush assignment from a trade I write for…they had a 24-hour turnaround, so I interviewed all the sources at once in a conference call (they were all from the same company), and then spent 5-6 hours writing the piece.)

  4. Chloe says:

    I have yet to read the book but I’m deeply, deeply curious about this one. There’s been a lot of reviews on the internet but only one has taken a critical view, pointing out that his use of virtual assistants in developing countries could be seen as unethical. Did anyone else take that view or is everyone just bowled over by this book?

  5. Melissa says:

    Some of the “farm it out to third world countries” made my hackles rise a bit. But the organizational concepts seem sound, even if some of the details are ones I wouldn’t adopt.

  6. Sylvia C. says:

    This sounds like a book I might need to add to my summer reading list!
    Oh, and have a great time in Germany. My mom is German and all of her family lives there. We go every other summer, or so…and this is the “off” summer. I’m so sad!

    I love it there!

    I hope you have a blast!

    Sylvia C.
    http://www.sylvias-journal.blogspot.com

  7. Kate says:

    Diana,

    Can I be your fabulous assistant (and do my freelancing on the side)? Or, perhaps, the dog-sitter while you’re seeing the world? Happy travels!
    KT

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