Thanks to the Round Rock, TX public library, I was able to check out an interesting book,  The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferris and read it. This book is all about spending less time on distractions and routine work, and how to become  more productive. Timothy Ferris is a visionary. He envisioned Work From Home or Remote Work in mid 2000. This book was first published in 2007. A lot of what Tim wrote about in 2007 with reference to remote work is relevant today. 

Time Consuming Habit & Low Information Diet

One time consuming habit Tim touches on is working emails. A good number of people check emails to kill time. I have noticed this habit in me. When I have nothing to do, I would either open up my emails, set up meetings which may not be necessary or open up social channels (facebook, linkedIN), read news and more. The author advocates being organized and disciplined so time is spent efficiently. He recommends not reading newspapers and checking the news. If it is so important, it will come to you. This he calls the Low Information Diet. 

Tim also advocates writing over meetings. A lot can be accomplished in a well written document / email instead of setting up a meeting for everything. He also does not respond to emails immediately. He takes his own time and has expectations set with the people he works with. Tim also talks about outsourcing labor, email and more  to countries like India and more with rates of $5-$8/hr.  (However, India has become more expensive. Also with the talent going global, smart folks in India make much more)

Money: Win Some, Lose Some

A big observation from the book – if you lose money on a particular bet, it does not mean you need to recover the lost money on the same bet. You win some and lose some. There are avenues where you make money and one’s you don’t.  On similar lines, one of my learnings in the recent past is that the home you live in is not a real estate investment. The appreciation of the property is a bonus, if it happens.

Importance of acquiring new skills

Tim also offers tips on last minute airfare bookings and finding cheap travel accommodations. With the advent of Airbnb it has become a lot easier to explore & travel across the world. Languages can be learnt in a short period of time. It takes 3-6 months to be 90% good at a language. Tim likes learning new languages all the time. For businesses he recommends being as niche as possible and also getting cheap advertising from trade magazines. Ask for steep discounts and you will be surprised. He also recommends firing high maintenance customers. 

Culture of Deadlines: It is important to meet deadlines or hire people who meet their deadlines.

4-hour workweek excerpts: The Importance of Deadlines

Here are some excerpts from the book with respect to deadlines which I really liked.

“Skills are overrated. Perfect products delivered past the deadline kill companies faster than decent products delivered on time. Test someone’s ability to deliver on a specific and tight deadline before hiring them based on a dazzling portfolio.  Missing deadlines is often fatal. Calvin Coolidge once said that nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Tim Ferriss adds, – “The second most common is smart people who think their IQ or resume justifies delivering late.”

Here are Tim’s recommendation of 9 Habits to stop now: 

I have found that in meetings, it is okay to have a couple of minutes to warm up the team – This way some of the people are more comfortable to voice their opinions. At the end of the day it is all about people. One thing to do is to join a few minutes early so you get to chit-chat a bit (more needed in the current environment).

I think work is also a social setting where you find new friends and sometimes even relationships.

The author also gives examples of people like Richard Branson. Workout gives Richard Branson four additional hours of productive time every day. 

Filling the Void: You follow all the great things in the book and you save a lot of time. Suddenly you have a lot of time. How do you deal with it? What if you are bored? Learning and helping people (Service) is what the author recommends. You do get a lot of joy by learning and helping people. 

Recommended Books:

The author recommends the following books to read:

  1. The Magic of Thinking Big (By David Schwartz)
  2. How to make millions with your ideas, An Entrepreneur’s ideas (Dan S Kennedy)
  3. The E-Myth Revisited – Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To do About It? (Michael E Gerber)
  4. Vagabonding – An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long Term World Travel (Rolf Potts)
  5. Walden (Henry David Thoreau) – This is a book about simple living
  6. Less is More – The Art of Voluntary Poverty An Anthology of Ancient and Modern Voices in Praise of Simplicity (Goldian Vandenbroeck)
  7. The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur (Randy Komisar & Kent L. Lineback )
  8. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success By Achieving More With Less (Richard Koch)

Thanks Timothy Ferris. I did enjoy reading this book. It helped me organize my professional life better. This is a book one should read again or check back in to ensure one’s on the right track.

Here are some more related insights and book reviews:
1) Psychology of Money
2) The Future of Work
3) Lean In

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