October 11th, 2017

How Tim Ferriss Works Four Hours a Week While Living His Dream Life

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We spend our whole lives preparing for a time where we can finally “do the things we want to do,” as if those opportunities weren’t already available to us. It’s this philosophy that Tim Ferriss challenges in The 4 Hour Work Week. Ferriss defies traditional work customs in favor of a simpler, happier lifestyle that gives us the chance to live now, not when we’re in our sixties.

We shouldn’t have to wait until old age for our ideal life.

For as long as there has been work, there has been work culture. Many of our workplace conventions haven’t changed much over time; we still see “typical” jobs as ones that take place Monday through Friday from nine to five. We expect to follow this convention for decades as we work to the ultimate goal: Not having to work anymore!

Ferriss breaks the 4 hour work week process down into four steps (DEAL):

  1. Define what you want out of life
  2. Eliminate as many time-wasters and clutter from your routine as possible
  3. Automate and outsource everything that’s left
  4. Liberate yourself to go live the life of your dreams

Tim Ferriss is a thrill-seeker by nature, but this process of cutting wasteful habits to make way for your ideal life is a highly customizable process for anyone trying to do it. It’s why the first step is defining the life you want right now, all the time. Defining your goals right out of the gate gives you something to work toward, even when the process gets uncomfortable. Upending your entire life, challenging your hesitations, and changing your habits is no small feat; having a clear finish line keeps you focused and makes the harder parts easier.

The 4-Hour Work Week can be broken down into two concepts:

Concept 1: Pareto’s Principle

The first is Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. According to Pareto’s Principle, there is always going to be an unequal balance of input and output. In the case of our jobs, only about 20% of the work we do accounts for as much as 80% of the results we get! The key, Ferriss explains, is to identify the remaining 80% of work we do and eliminate as much of it as possible. Here are some ways you can do this.

  • One way is to go to work with no more than three tasks on your to-do list each day. On the surface, it sounds impossible, but with a careful review of the things you do each day, you may be surprised how much of your daily routine can be automated, outsourced, or eliminated altogether.
  • Another way to cut the fat from your daily routine is to limit checking your email to twice a day. Consider for a moment what would really happen if you got an email and didn’t answer it immediately. Would the world really end? My guess is probably not! In fact, the working world got on just fine relaying messages to each other without email. A few hours of waiting won’t kill anyone, and think of the time you’ll save not constantly trapped in your inbox.

Defining your goals right out of the gate gives you something to work toward, even when the process gets uncomfortable.

Concept 2: Parkinson’s Law

The second concept Tim Ferriss discusses is the way that work expands to fill the time available to complete it. This is easy to visualize, especially for students: If you were given one month to complete a project in school, how much of that month would you actually spend working on that project? If you’re like most people, you crammed the whole month of work into the last few days before the project was due. But if that’s all the time you needed to do that project, why wait until the last minute? Why not complete the project in the first few days, then spend the rest of the time doing things you care about worry-free?

  • Identifying the most important tasks we need to complete and doing them quickly and without distraction, we can maximize the amount of difference we make. This is the difference between efficiency and effectiveness; unimportant tasks are still unimportant, no matter how well you do them or how long it takes.
Define your ideal life, then stop at nothing until you reach it.

Downsizing the amount of time you spend working and increasing the effectiveness of that work increases what Ferriss calls relative income in the 4 hour work week. Relative income is a measure of both time and money, which is a more honest reflection of wealth than absolute income, or just money. Take, for example, a person who earns $100 a week but only works four hours, versus someone who earns $200 a week but works ten hours. The former has an hourly wage of $25; the latter only earns $20 per hour and works more than twice as long! Suddenly, they don’t seem so much wealthier, do they?

How can you budget your time if you don’t know how your already spending it? Fabulous can help. Take on our Log Your Time Challenge!