Monday, May 18, 2009

The 4-Hour Workweek

This weekend I started reading The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss.  I remember looking at this book when I came out, but was decided not to pick it up after reading some negative reviews on Amazon.  However, a few weeks ago I read a great review of it, and decided to check it out at the library.  I'm glad I did.  Though I can understand where the negative reviews come from, it has already been extremely helpful to me.  Over the next few weeks I'm going to try to make some small changes in the way I work that I believe will make big differences.

Here are a few thoughts from the first few chapters that have been meaningful to me:

He shares in the Introduction how he hates being asked the "cocktail" questions, "So, what do you do?"  He says that it "reflects an epidemic I was long part of:  job descriptions as self-descriptions (6)."  He goes on to say, "How can I possibly explain that what I do with my time and what I do for money are compltely different things?"  As I said in a previous post, I've just started a real estate investing business, and although I really like this work, it's not what defines me.  And even though I am doing this so that it will allow me to do the work that God has called me to (pastoring a church), that's not entirely what defines me either.

Doing less meaningful work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness.  This is hard for most to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.  Few people choose to (or are able to) measure the results of their actions and thus measure their contribution in time.  More time equals more self-worth and more reinforcement from those above and around them (32-33).

Boy, do I struggle with this!  I think it has something to do with the fact that most of my work life has been entrepreneurial in nature, and most of it has been without punching a clock. Though this is great for me, it's often been difficult to know when I've done enough.  There are two reasons for this:  (1) I love my work, and (2) the work is never complete.  I despise laziness, so I work hard.  However, is my work always productive?  That's the big question.  

In chapter 5 he talks about the difference between being effective and being efficient.  He states, "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.  Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe" (67).  He goes on to give the example of the person who checks email 30 times per day.  I have a habit of keeping Outlook open, and, if I receive an email, I often "tackle" it immediately.  So my first plan of action is to open up Outlook and respond to email only five times per day during this week.  He recommends doing this only twice a day.  I'll hopefully get there, but we've got to start with baby steps!  I'm also thinking the same way with tasks such as paying bills.  

Ferriss next gives two truisms that I felt were worth giving thought to:
  1. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
  2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
I'll try to write more tomorrow on Pareto's Law and Parkinson's Law. 

1 comment:

TennesseeDrew said...

I haven't read the book, but I think the question of what you do is an okay one to ask for the fact that most people's vocation says a lot about what they value.