SXSWi: The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World

The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World
Bio: Timothy Ferriss
Book: The 4-Hour Workweek
His website
10:00am CST

How do decisions and priorities change if retirement is never an option?

Everyone in this room is probably too smart and way too easily bored to ever retire.

If you are growing in e-mail, calls, etc, is your business scalable, is your career scalable and is your lifestyle scalable?

Showed cartoon of a support group: “Hi, my name is Barry and I check e-mail 2-300 times a day”

“If you work faithfully 8 hours a day, one day you can be the boss and work 12 hours a day” – Robert Frost

3 currencies that you need to control:
- time
- income
- mobility

What you want to do, be and have (financial) needs to be defined to decide what you need to get there.

80/20 principle – 20% of your actions/inputs create 80% of desired results
20% of people created 80% of the output

Had very low spending customers taking up most of the time. Took those customers and put them into a holding pattern. Took the 5 most productive customers

and observed the commonalities with them farther.

You can apply this to customer base, suppliers and personal activities. You need to do a time audit – where do you spend time? Q1: What 20% of my activities

are producing the 80%. You need to ruthless eliminate everything else – some things eliminated may be somewhat important, but they are not important enough.

Q2: What 80% of my activities are producing only 20%? I fired the customers who were browbeating me (even though profitable) and it saved me social,

professional stress.

Parkinsons Law: from Ed Ciao (prof at Princeton, founder of Silicon Valley) – a task will swell in perceived perplexity and importance in direct correlation

to the time you allot it.

1. Limit the tasks to the important ones (80/20)
2. Limit the time (Parkinsons) spent on the tasks

Time management doesn’t work. There is an efficiency epidemic (especially technologists). More time spent on organizing than reducing.

Average American worker spend 24% of time between tasks switching tasks.

Batching: let similar tasks accumulate and then performing them at very limited times

Knowledge workers: 25% of time on e-mail. E-mail is the single biggest way to shave time. Set autoresponder on your e-mail. Dear Colleagues, thanks for your

e-mail, because of extremely high e-mails and workload, I will only be checking e-mail at 11am and 4pm. If an emergency, call my cell. If there is not a

question and only a confirmation, I will not respond, please don’t be offended.

I recommend e-mail checking twice a day. Checking e-mail first thing in the morning should not happen – scrambles the brain with unrelated e-mails, and

usually not too many responses.

You must manage expectations of people around you including your boss.

Focusing on the critical few and not that trivial new. Most things don’t matter at all, and a few things matter the most.

Quantify the value of your time: If you make $50,00 and work 40 hours a week and take 2 weeks of vacation – $25/hour. Outsource anything that can be done for

less than $15/hour. It removes the ability for you to create “crap” tasks for yourself.

From Tim’s website: outsourcing life. Read how an Esquire editor outsourced personal life stuff to India.

Create rules for yourself so not to be living in a response to urgency situation

Creating mobility (third currency of ideal lifestyle design):

Entrepreneurs: fear automation (don’t micromanage)
Employees: fear liberation (set rules that you expect people to obey)

You must not ask for permission or beg for forgiveness

If you are able to do this, you have a glut of time. You need to figure out what to do with all that time. A week on the beach is enough, then what?

Once you remove work as identity, it is quite a challenge to make productive use of that void.

I believe that the point of life is to enjoy it. Time, income, mobility are means to achieving that, not ends in themselves.

My ideal outcome: catalyze a movement against sever information overload.

Having people to wait for you is a symbol of power. You need to train them to do that.

Question from audience: How do you run meetings?
I use a virtual architecture, so don’t have many meetings. Here are my rules:
1) Shouldn’t have meeting to decide problem but to solve problem
3) No meetings longer than 30 minutes, define end time

No jumping on phone to hash things out – set agenda to do work ahead of time. Ask that person to send agenda and questions.

I call people when I have something important or interesting, not e-mail.

My Q to Tim: For those of us who work in traditional organizations, what should we do when we get back? Is the structure too locked in to change?

A: 1) increase your value to your employer 2) Ask for more things that you want

Wait until you are in a crunch time, then ask for the big things – 3 weeks off beacuse you are feeling unhappy. You are worth it to them.

Don’t underestimate your leverage. Make it harder to lose you than to give you what you want.

Homework: explore these two sites:
Your Man in India and Brickwork

by Wednesday send Tim an e-mail saying how you implemented his techniques – most dramatic story of implementation wins a free trip anywhere in the world

timferriss <at> – feedback on the presentation. send physical address with feedback on the presentation and get free copy of the book

500 months in your working lifetime – slow down, take a look at what you’re doing, there is no rush

My notes: very cool presentation, worth listening to the podcast when it comes out. Tim is a good speaker and I chatted with him a bit yesterday. I am

definitely go to try out some of his techniques. I love efficiency and you know David Allen has been influencing me a lot lately. Maybe Tim Ferris is the new David Allen – I bet he hopes so.

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arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (, a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.