11 Lessons Learned from "The 4-Hour Workweek"

"The 4-Hour Workweek" is the first Tim Ferriss' books that I read three years ago. This book has some good insights which I agree and some I disagree. Actually there are even more insights from Tim's other books such as "Tools of Titans" and "Tribe of Mentors". But here are some lessons I learned from T4HWW.

Chilling at Nusa Dua, Bali (March 2017)

#1 - Different is better when it is more effective or more fun.

If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.

#2 - What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.

Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important. Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.

#3 - Focus on being productive instead of busy.

Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest. It’s easy to get caught in a flood of minutiae, and the key to not feeling rushed is remembering that lack of time is actually lack of priorities.

#4 - The end product of the shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.

There are two synergistic approaches for increasing productivity that are inversions of each other: [1] Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/20 Pareto's Law), and [2] Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson's Law). The best solution is to use both together: Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.

#5 - Develop and maintain a low-information diet.

It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable. Just as modern man consumes both too many calories and calories of no nutritional value, information workers eat data both in excess and from the wrong sources. Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.

#6 - Do not let people interrupt you.

An interruption is anything that prevents the start-to-finish completion of a critical task. Limit access to your time, force people to define their requests before spending time with them, and batch routine menial tasks to prevent postponement of more important projects. Find your focus and you’ll find your lifestyle.

#7 - Eliminate before you delegate.

Delegation is to be used as a further step in reduction, not as an excuse to create more movement and add the unimportant. Remember—unless something is well-defined and important, no one should do it. Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash.

#8 - Refine rules and processes before adding people.

Using people to leverage a refined process multiplies production; using people as a solution to a poor process multiplies problems. Each delegated task must be both time-consuming and well-defined.

#9 - Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is much easier.

Don’t create a product, then seek someone to sell it to. Find a market—define your customers—then find or develop a product for them. Be a member of your target market and don’t speculate what others need or will be willing to buy. It is said that if everyone is your customer, then no one is your customer.

#10 - Price high and then justify.

Besides perceived value, there are three main benefits to creating a premium, high-end image and charging more than the competition. [1] Higher pricing means that we can sell fewer units—and thus manage fewer customers—and fulfill our dreamlines. It’s faster. [2] Higher pricing attracts lower-maintenance customers (better credit, fewer complaints/questions, fewer returns, etc.). It’s less headache. This is HUGE. [3] Higher pricing also creates higher profit margins. It’s safer.

#11 - Create a process-driven instead of founder-driven business.

As CEO of Applegate Farms, Stephen McDonnell insists on spending just one day per week at the company headquarters. This intentional absence has enabled him to create a process-driven instead of founder-driven business. Limiting contact with managers forces the entrepreneur to develop operational rules that enable others to deal with problems themselves instead of calling for help.

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