How To Make The 4-Hour Work Week A Reality

By Jessica Best
15th Nov 2021

people jumping into ocean pool at sunset

Oh yeah, you read that correctly. The four-hour work week is by no means a new idea, in fact, there’s a book itself, aptly named The Four-Hour Work Week, which actually dropped on bookshelves around the world in 2007. 

Since COVID-19 hit, ideas around what a four-day work week could look like have been passed around like a packet of gum around the office and from here, flexible working hours, career blueprints and even our cliche ideas of the “digital nomad” have evolved even further. 

So why all this new-found attention on author Tim Ferriss concept of the four-hour working week? And how can you actually make it a reality for you? Lucky for you, we took it upon our goodwill to read The Four-Hour Work Week to let you know what it’s all about.

What Is The Four-Hour Work Week?

Basically written out of frustration from his corporate days of work, Tim Ferris (like a new-age Dumbledore casting spells over work as we know it) decided to document how he took himself out of the nine-to-five slog and geared his income towards fostering a lifestyle he wanted filled with a whole heap of travel. The book itself is basically a handy little bible filled with tips and tricks on how to unlearn the usual five-day work week to earn income on the go and live pretty much anywhere you want. It aims to show you how you can start living your life in a “lifestyle-led way” rather than a “career-led” way.

This is something that has been idealised by digital nomads, a subculture of workers which has been characterised by mobility, financial freedom and time control. It’s not about sacrificing your life towards the idea of retirement, it’s about kicking back with a margarita on a beach every damn day of your life.

How You Can Apply The Four-Hour Work Week Principles

To start, there’s an acronym-fuelled recipe which promises to help you whittle your 40-hour week down to the magic four. Taking the form of “DELA”, this acronym starts with Defining your goals, eliminating distractions, liberating yourself from the office and finally, automating your income.

Define Your Goals By Appling The Pareto Principle

Alright guys, it’s time for some quick math. Tim brings up a concept which was initially brought about by a late nineteenth-century economist called Vilfredo Pareto. The principle (which somehow evolved from Pareto’s pea-growing hobby) is that roughly 80 per cent of your work output comes from 20 per cent of your actual effort. 

That means in your eight-hour workday, instead of focusing on productivity, you’re organising your inbox, on your phone, grabbing coffee—the works. Meaning 80 per cent of your day is pretty damn useless. 

If you actually try and execute the Pareto Principle and prioritise 20 per cent of your tasks that lead to 80 per cent of results by trying to complete them in as little time as possible, you’ll reduce all the useless activity.

Eliminate Distractions And Don’t Check Your Emails First Thing In The Morning

Another hot tip in Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Work Week is to wean yourself off checking your emails first thing in the morning (gamechanger). When starting your day, it’s suggested that you get started on prioritising those top 20 per cent tasks—straight away. The idea being you’ll finish all the important tasks before midday. At the start, it’s all about checking your emails once in the afternoon and once in the evening but once you slip away from old habits, the book says you’ll nail checking your emails once weekly like a boss.

Liberate Yourself And Escape The Office Environment

Pending your work situation, this part of the book is all about getting those flexible work hours flowing (which, off the back of COVID-19, shouldn’t seem too trivial). This bit is all about introducing remote working if your job hasn’t already got these conditions going for you. With a couple of focuses like increasing your value to the company, you work for, providing increased output when you do work remotely, proposing a trial period and then expanding the time you work remotely.

Automate A Side Hustle

Now, with your remote working down pat and a new workday structure (20 per cent of your prioritised tasks ideally being completed before midday), the book says you should be able to pull off something around a 10-hour working week. We’re a bit dubious but curious, to say the least.

Anyway, from here, it’s about creating some passive income, so you’ll have to create a business that works pretty much with little to no effort on your part ie. it runs itself. If you’re creating a product that needs to be distributed, you can hire a company to do that and then hire an agency to maintain the website so you don’t have to. The book then delves into the beauty of personal assistants or VAs (virtual assistants) who can take on the workload for you.

Now check out the best career books to inspire your next move.

Image credit: Brooklyn Morgan

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