Tim Ferriss is best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, a book about how not to work hard. On his blog, Ferriss drops wisdom on how to overcome self-doubt, how to become better at empowering yourself, and how to make sure that you can live a life of leisure. He himself runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide and has been a guest lecturer at Princeton University since 2003, where he presents entrepreneurship as a tool for ideal lifestyle design and world change.
What’s the ‘DEAL’?
In his book and on his blog, he outlines four steps to creating the life you have always dreamed of:
‘D’ is for Definition.
You need to figure out what you want, overcome the fears that prevent you from going for it, and determine what it will really cost to get to where you want. It may seem like a difficult task, but he provides ways of answering these questions. He also makes the point that the opposite of happiness isn’t sadness: it’s boredom.
‘E’ is for Elimination.
Elimination is about applying the 80/20 rule and focusing only on those tasks that contribute the majority of benefit to your life. Ferriss recommends applying it mercilessly to all aspects of your life to eliminate the small minority of factors that waste 80% of your time. Forget time management, he says. Focus instead on getting the really important and results-producing tasks done, because there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
‘A’ is for Automation.
Automation is all about building a sustainable, automatic source of income. This section is about business management. The trick, Ferriss says, is to avoid building a business that demands your presence all the time. Having made that mistake once, he now has hundreds of people working on his behalf through multiple outsourced vendors.
‘L’ is for Liberation.
Once you’ve successfully automated your lifestyle, you can liberate yourself from your geographical location and your job. With mobility comes the ability to leverage economic advantages across the world. Living in a tropical paradise and eating at 5-star restaurants every day can be cheaper, he maintains, than watching TV in your own home. He offers the example of his friend who spent a month in China getting married, but was just as productive as if he were working remotely so no one was the wiser. It’s important to note a few things: you have to be able to define what you want, communicate effectively, work hard to get all the essential tasks done, and be discerning enough to know whether you are moving in the right direction.
The “not-to-do” list –
What you don’t do determines what you can do.
Remove the constant static and distraction to get things done. If you have trouble deciding what to do, just focus on not doing. Here are some stressful and common habits that Ferriss says entrepreneurs should strive to eliminate.
1. Don’t answer calls from unrecognised phone numbers.
This just results in unwanted interruption and poor negotiating position. Let it go to voicemail and use a service that lets you receive voicemails as SMSs.
2. Don’t email first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
The former scrambles your priorities and plans for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia. Email can wait until you’ve completed at least one of your critical to-do items.
3. Do not agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time.
If the desired outcome is defined clearly, no meeting or call should last more than 30 minutes. Request them in advance so you “can best prepare and make good use of the time together.”
4. Do not let people ramble.
Forget “how’s it going?” when someone calls you. Stick with “what’s up?” or “I’m in the middle of getting something out, but what’s going on?” A big part of getting things done is getting to the point.
5. Don’t check email constantly.
Focus on execution of your top to-do’s instead of responding to manufactured emergencies. Check your email two or three times a day only.
6. Don’t forget to prioritise.
If you define the single most important task for each day, almost nothing seems urgent or important. Often, it’s just a matter of letting little bad things happen (return a phone call late and apologise, pay a small late fee, lose an unreasonable customer) to get the big important things done. Define the few things that can really fundamentally change your business and life.
7. Don’t carry a cellphone 24/7.
Take at least one day off from digital leashes per week. Turn them off or, better still, leave them in the car. Leave the phone at home if you go out for dinner. So what if you return a phone call an hour later or the next morning?
8. Don’t expect work to be life.
Schedule life and defend it just as you would an important business meeting. Force yourself to cram so your per-hour productivity doesn’t fall through the floor. Focus, get the critical few things done, and get out.