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David Rainoshek, M.A.
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
Books are – at their best – a highly organized presentation of insights, guidance, and experience that can save you years of trial and effort.
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss has been one of those game-changing, upgrade-your-life kind of books.
Why? Like me, Ferriss is a HUGE fan of the work of philosopher Lucius Seneca, who stressed the importance and value of TIME.
From Letters from a Stoic (Selected Letters), Seneca writes in Letter 1 to Lucilius, who has declared himself determined to make the best use of his time:
Liberate yourself, and gather and save up the time which until now was being taken from you by force or stealth or simply slipping away unnoticed. Convince yourself that the situation is as I describe it; some periods of time are snatched from us, some are stolen, and some simply seep away. Yet the most shameful loss is the loss due to carelessness. Indeed, if you consider things attentively, the greatest part* of life slips away in failure, a great part in futility, and all of it in distraction.
Name anyone to me who puts a price on time, who values the day, who understands that he is dying each and every day. For we deceive ourselves by looking for death ahead of us, whereas a great part of death has already taken place. Whatever part of life is behind us is possessed by death. So, dear Lucilius, do what you say you are doing and embrace every hour; in this way you will have to depend less on tomorrow if you seize hold of today. While life is being postponed, it rushes past.
Everything else is beyond our grasp; only time is ours. Nature produced us to claim ownership only of this one fleeting and slippery property…
If you are interested in Seneca, here is some highly recommended reading:
- On the Shortness of Life
- On the Happy Life
(both are found in Seneca: Dialogues and Essays)
Ferriss has taken this fundamental importance of time-honoring to a very high level in The Four Hour Work Week, helping you determine where you waste time (conversations, email, endless meetings, online, doing things that others could do for you…) and how you can re-create and upgrade your life to free you to do what inspires you, and what you are uniquely here to do.
Two of the main understandings applied in The Four Hour Work Week are the 80/20 Principle and Parkinson’s Law. These are top-notch HyperLearning understandings. Here we go:
The 80/20 Principle
“The 80/20 principle – that 80 percent of reslts flow from just 20 per cent of the causes – is the one true principle of highly effective people.”
– Richard Koch
In 1897, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in his study of the patterns of wealth and income, observed that the distribution of wealth was predictably unbalanced. The people who did 20% of the work had 80% of the wealth.
He first discovered this pattern in 19th-century England and found it to be the same for every country and time period he studied. Over the years, Pareto’s observation has become known as the 80/20 Principle.
Recently, Richard Koch has taken a fresh look at the 80/20 Principle (in his book The 80/20 Principle) and finds that the basic imbalance observed by Pareto 100 years ago can be found in almost every aspect of modern life. Whether you’re investing in stocks, analyzing company sales, or looking at the performance of a Web site, you’ll find that it’s usually 20 percent of your effort that produces 80 percent of the total result. This means 80 percent of what you do may not count for much. Koch helps you to identify that 20 percent and shows you how you can get more out of your business, and life by focusing in on what counts.
Two main questions are applied:
1. What 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems, unhappiness, stuckness?
2. What 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes, success, and Flow?
It may take you a while to find where the 80/20 Principle applies in your life, but the more you practice with it and maintain an awareness of it, the clearer it becomes just what needs to change about where you invest your energy. And this means better work and life practices, greater satisfaction with what you are doing with your life, and an increased impetus to HyperLearn and do more of what is most authentic to you.
To use the 80/20 Principle with HyperLearning, ask yourself: what types and sources of information (be they from people you know, books, websites, videos, etc.) are providing me the most value and meaning in my life – now and down the road. What is the 80% of conversation and information that is getting me nowhere, really. See what you can cut out, and get down to what really matters. But cutting out the B.S., you will make the time you do invest in reading and learning far more effective versus spending 80% of your time spinning your wheels.
At the beginning of the book, remember that I said that learning leads to more learning, and HyperLearning. Seek out the best things to read, the best conversations and experiences to have, and invest your increasingly valuable life well. I have found over the years that my ability to cut through to the best stuff possible – books and reading, films, conversations, investment of time… gets better and better. I hate (in the very best sense of the word) wasting time on meaningless claptrap. Seek depth and significance at every turn.
Finally, note that throughout the book I have often applied the 80/20 Principle and Parkinson’s Law – whether you know it or not. Strength Training with Isometrics, the Nutritional Life Practices, PhotoReading, understanding and cultivating your Magnificent Obsession(s), Integral Thinking, Reduction and Organization, reviewing audio and video at higher speeds, providing you only the best books, films, and courses to review… all of these are informed in whole or part by getting the most for your time, and limiting your time on what you are doing to truly focus your best energy on the task at hand.
For more on the 80/20 Principle, read Richard Koch’s book, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less.
If a project has a long timeline, it is tempting – nay, inevitable – to allow it to fill the entire time allotted, no matter how much time is allowed. This ends up wasting time and energy.
The point of Parkinson’s Law is to shorten work time for projects, thus limiting tasks to the important, and causing the mind to focus. Sometimes just 2 or 5 minutes to do something, or 1 – 3 hours is a sufficiently small window to focus the mind and reduce extraneous diversions that would otherwise come in with no time limits.
I like to use Parkinson’s Law in combination with PhotoReading and Speed Reading to focus my mind and assess quickly and deeply what a book is about, and whether it is worth more of my time – or which parts are important for me to “dip into” later.
Tim Ferris likes to combine the 80/20 Principle (previous section) and Parkinson’s Law:
“There is another approach for determining the critical few. Limit time. Here’s where we apply the lesser-known Parkinson’s Law, which dictates that a task will swell in perceived difficulty and complexity in direct proportion to the time we allot it. For example, if you suddenly find out that you have an emergency and need to leave the office at 2pm, what happens? You miraculously get the most important work done three hours early. In other words, we can use the 80/20 Principle and Parkinson’s Law hand-in-hand. We use the 80/20 Principle to limits tasks to the important to reduce time. We also use Parkinson’s to reduce time (short deadlines) to limit tasks to the important. Pretty cool — and jaw-droppingly effective — when used together.”
For enacting Parkinson’s Law, Ferriss recommends using a timer that you can see, such as the one at http://e.ggtimer.com
The Four Hour Work-Week Synopsis
The 80/20 Principle and Parkinson’s Law are just the beginning of the book.
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.
This step-by-step guide to Lifestyle Design teaches:
- How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week
- How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
- How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
- How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
- How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”
- More than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers (including families) who have doubled income, overcome common sticking points, and reinvented themselves using the original book as a starting point
- Real-world templates you can copy for eliminating e-mail, negotiating with bosses and clients, or getting a private chef for less than $8 a meal
- How Lifestyle Design principles can be suited to unpredictable economic timesThe latest tools and tricks, as well as high-tech shortcuts, for living like a diplomat or millionaire without being either
So check out the book on Amazon, and also visit Tim’s sites for more great info:
The Four Hour Workweek Blog
Tim’s Four Hour Body YouTube Page
Coming up next time: Chapter 14: Materials to Keep You Inspired!
David Rainoshek, M.A.
Bonus Inspiration – The Four Hour Work Week
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Bonus Inspiration – The Four Hour Work Week
- HyperLearning Course Welcome
- Cover Art Commentary
- Acceleration Begins NOW:
- Benefits Preview of HyperLearning
- Chapter 1:
Introduction to HyperLearning: How to Revive Your Natural Ability/Drive to HyperLearn
- Chapter 2:
Five-Minute University: The Elements for HyperLearning
- Chapter 3:
A Magnificent Obsession
- Chapter 4:
Multidimensional Goals and Ways of Being
- Chapter 5.1:
A Map for HyperLearning Better: Integral Thinking – Part 1
- Chapter 5.2:
A Map for HyperLearning Better: Integral Thinking – Part 2
- Chapter 5.3:
- Chapter 6:
FLOW: The HyperLearning State of Optimal Experience
- Chapter 7:
Print: Read Better than Anyone with PhotoReading and SpeedReading
- Chapter 8:
Accelerate your Media Speed Like Neo in The Matrix
- Chapter 9.1:
Reduction and Organization
- Chapter 9.2:
Cultivating Transformative Relationships
- Chapter 10:
HyperOrganize Your Interests and Passions
- Chapter 11.1:
Nutrition for HyperLearning – Part 1
- Chapter 11.2:
Nutrition for HyperLearning – Part 2
- Chapter 11.3:
Nutrition for HyperLearning – Part 3
- Chapter 12.1:
Complementary Life Practices
- Chapter 12.2:
- Chapter 12.3:
Meditation and More
- Chapter 13:
Bonus Inspiration: The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
- Chapter 14.1:
Materials to Keep You Inspired
- Chapter 14.2:
More Materials to Keep You Inspired
HyperLearning: A Mystic’s Perspective
- About the Author:
David Rainoshek, M.A.