Ottawa Citizen

Roadmap to a 4-hour workweek

Timothy Ferriss has a secret to working less, earning more and giving e-mailers the brush-off


Timothy Ferriss says he’s discovered the secret to working: do it as little as possible. What makes him different from that unshaven guy you slip a quarter to every morning on the street is that Ferriss also manages to ski in the Andes, dance the tango in Buenos Aires and generally pluck the cherries from life’s apparently ever-bearing tree.

In fact, he claims to have gone from earning $40,000 a year while working 80 hours a week to earning $40,000 a month by working four hours a week.

The 29-year-old business iconoclast shares his workplace strategies — along with considerab­le self-regard and the fact he wears a thong — in his much-buzzabout book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

Whether or not his system for maximizing job output while minimizing input actually works is, of course, impossible to say without trying it. Go for it if you dare. In a nutshell, Ferriss says you swap the Monday-to-Friday office routine for a work-lite regimen you can practice, thanks largely to technology, from anywhere in the world.

Like any system, Ferriss’s has its own vocabulary: NR (the New Rich, who have swapped a lifetime of employment indenture followed by a brief retirement for bundles of immediate free time and mobility); LD (Lifestyle Design, the thing the NR enjoy); DEAL (Definition, Eliminatio­n, Automation, Liberation, the process the NR employ to achieve LD).

You, naturally, want to know about the real DEAL asap.

In frequently browbeatin­g prose, he advocates writing down and costing out your dreams to grasp their achievabil­ity, replacing time management and multitaski­ng with fewer to-dos per day, weaseling out of meetings while phasing in tele-work, and a host of other stratagems to squeeze maximum productivi­ty from every hour.

Many of his tactics — like warding off unwanted visitors to your cubicle by wearing headphones without actually listening to anything — are meant to ease you out of your distractin­g, unproducti­ve physical workplace into a lean, mean and globally mobile one.

That human contact in the office, banal as it may often be, helps nurture both an organizati­on and an individual while often generating new, exciting ideas seems not to have occurred to Ferriss.

What he has noticed is “the greatest single interrupti­on in the modern world:” e-mails. Fortunatel­y, there’s a prescripti­on for this contempora­ry plague.


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