If you’re interested in business books, you’ve probably heard of Work 4 Hour Work Week. Timothy Ferriss’ bestseller is practically the bible of the digital nomad. Just by the title, somewhat pejorative, you can imagine how much he divides opinions. I confess that I had fun reading over the past few weeks, even though I skipped some parts that I considered irrelevant. To save you time, here is a summary of my impressions and the teachings that I found most pertinent from the book.
Okay, this lesson is not in the book, I thought it best to point out. Since the title promises worlds and funds, it’s best to ensure that no one has taken it literally… What the book actually stands for is that you develop a workflow that allows you to delegate and automate most of the tasks. I don’t agree with hiring underpaid assistants to do all your work for you, but I confess that there are important lessons in this part of the book.
One of them is to realize how much time and stress we dedicate to activities that bring little or no results. Or how simple activities can be delegated to people whose hour costs much less than ours. When we start to be an entrepreneur, we tend to have the “small” thought of not paying someone to do something that we have the capacity to do on our own. But it is precisely this thought that prevents us from growing and dedicating our time to activities that, indeed, only depend on us. How to develop new projects, connect with potential customers or study topics that could transform our business.
The book goes further and argues that 80% of our results are achieved by 20% of effort. It is often difficult to see which fruitless tasks we adopt out of sheer convention or miscalculation. It’s a challenge to give up something that didn’t work after you’ve invested time and money in it. And it requires audacity, for example, to give up a customer who is hard work – which takes a lot of time and generates little revenue. Turning down the business can save you money in terms of hours worked/revenue, have you thought about that?
This brings us to the maxim that has become one of self-help’s biggest clichés, that lack of time means lack of priorities. I had heard this in many different contexts, mostly personal. “You don’t have time to go to the gym because you don’t prioritize” or “You don’t see your family more often because you have the wrong priorities”. But I confess that I had not consciously applied this idea in my business.
Sometimes we don’t take an important step, take a project off paper or start a course because we don’t think we have time for that right now. But what about the time you spend on that idea that doesn’t generate any income for you? Or procrastinating before delivering that freelancer? Rationally analyze which activities consume most of your time, and it’s not hard to conclude that you’re using your time wrong.
This is even more evident when we work with longer terms than we should. Perhaps you’ve even noticed on your own that you tend to be more efficient and productive when you’re on a tight deadline. The book calls this Parkinson’s Law, which says that “a task will increase in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for it.” In other words: shorten your work time, and you will be limited to the tasks that are really important.
I have applied this a lot in my daily life and felt a big difference. When I have a freelancer to deliver, I impose a much tighter deadline on myself. Tasks related to my blog and YouTube, same thing: they need to be done long before the day they really need to be done. And it’s amazing how things turn out when you set stricter rules and deadlines!
I’m not telling you to go crazy and do a month’s work in the first week. No way! But anticipating it alleviates anxiety (which can become a serious problem for me) and also allows you to have longer and more quality leisure time, since the work is already or underway. With more free time, you have more creative leisure, more reading, more opportunities for inspiration.
It’s the practical application of another maxim in the book: focus on being productive rather than being busy.
On the more practical side, the book teaches techniques for entrepreneurs to become digital nomads. And also some interesting step-by-step steps for employees to be able to consolidate a remote working scheme. If that’s your goal, I recommend buying the book, as these are too specific and detailed tips for me to reproduce here.
I personally don’t have the dream of being a digital nomad. I recognize the advantages, even financial, of this lifestyle. But I really like having my home, my roots, and I think you don’t have to be that nomadic-falling-in-the-world person to have a life rich in experiences. Therefore, I really liked another concept defended in the book: mini-retirements. He is the focal point of the comparison between the “old rich” and the “new rich”. The first group, according to Ferriss, is the one who works and saves his whole life to live a peaceful retirement in old age. And the second, plus my group, are those who live these periods of “retirement” constantly throughout their lives. They are the ones who understand that traveling, learning and experiencing new cultures must be part of their present, and not left for a distant future.
Undertaking and developing products that can be sold online is one of the best ways to adopt this lifestyle, in which at least part of your income does not depend on your daily work and attention. With that, I return to the question I addressed at the beginning of the text: do activities that take up most of your time generate most of your income? No? So how about dedicating sometime this year (priority, remember?) to develop a product that can generate passive income for you in the near future?
If you have no idea how to do this, follow the content on digital entrepreneurship on YouTube. There, in addition to tips and insights I read in books like Work 4 Hour Work Week, I. In the six years of my company, I’ve made many mistakes and successes that can help you start or improve your business.