How The 4-Hour Work Week Influenced Me
If I had to choose two books that have most influenced what I write about here at Organize IT, it would have to be Getting Things Done and The 4-Hour Work Week. Very mainstream and unoriginal I know, but there is a reason why they’ve sold so well. For me personally, as a package deal they complement each other well. GTD helps with how I do my work and 4HWW helps with cutting out all the junk so I can focus on the most important things.
Like GTD of course, The 4-Hour Work Week isn’t without its flaws. As one blogger recently wrote, it’s full of hype but thats not the point. Does Tim Ferriss really work only four hours a week? Looking at all the activities he gets up to that he documents on his blog, he’s clearly very busy. But then, it’s really all about what you would define as work.
A lot of the book is dedicated to achieving a new rich lifestyle (basically, create enough passive income so that you’re free to do whatever you want) with entire sections on delegating all your workload out to virtual assistants. That’s a very specific need for people in very specific circumstances and I actually feel this somewhat distracts from what are some pretty astute observations on personal productivity and just generally living a stress-free lifestyle.
Ferriss’ simple but to the point viewpoint on productivity and time-management revolves around the coupling of efficiency (doing things in the most economic fashion) and effectiveness (doing the things that really matter) using just two simple, existing concepts – the 80/20 rule and Parkinson’s law. As I’ve said before, GTD does touch on effectiveness (with features like the horizons of focus) but many people, myself included, have never really clicked with that side of the workflow. I don’t think anybody picks up GTD to learn how to do less work.
Maybe it’s the simplicity of Ferriss’ style that I like. After all, something is either important to you or it isn’t; you either need to do it or you don’t. Is it necessary to feed your work through a six stage process to figure all that out? For somebody who had spent a year or more practicing GTD without really contemplating what all that stuff on my next action lists was about, T4HWW really brought it to the forefront of my mind. To sum up I want to leave you with a truism from the book that I think really captures what it’s about to me – doing something unimportant well does not make it important.