A lifetime of ‘mini-retirements’
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Start, he says, by creating an e-mail auto-response that tells everyone from your boss on down that you’re answering e-mails twice a day. Period. From there, move to once a day. People will quickly fall in line, sending you only important messages that you’ll deal with in one fell swoop.
Ferriss says he himself spends 30 minutes a week checking e-mail (later in the book he says it’s an hour).
And never check e-mail first thing in the morning: there’s not enough there to justify it. “This habit alone can change your life,” the ever-buoyant author trumpets.
Running your e-mail plans by your boss first might be smart, but then again “Becoming a member of the NR is not just about working smarter,” writes Ferriss. “It’s about building a system to replace yourself.”
That system includes outsourcing your life, at least the mundane aspects of it.
Ferriss, who has made his fortune in the dietary supplement business, relies on a couple of virtual assistant services in the developing world (think cheap, as in $4.15 an hour). Their expertise extends from organizing children’s birthday parties to conducting legal research.
As with many of his suggestions, the author lists internet resources to help you get on board.
Considering that a Pasadena, California website recently hired two freelance writers in Mumbai and Bangalore to monitor web-streamed meetings of Pasadena city council and then write stories for the website, Ferriss’ faith in outsourcing may bear scrutiny.
The outcome of it all is money, bags of it apparently, and what Ferriss calls a lifetime of “mini-retirements,” a nurturing blend of work and relaxation.
True, being a self-employed, whizbang entrepreneur helps in reaching that goal and Ferriss does dedicate about 20 per cent of the book to entrepreneurial brainstorming, but he still insists his book is for everyone.
Baling out on the existing system isn’t easy, he admits. But Ferriss is there for us, laying out the usual tactics for banishing fear (as in asking, “What’s the worst that could happen if I try suchand-such?”) and offering strategies for building a conquering attitude like staring into the eyes of a complete stranger until he breaks contact (or your nose).
Ferriss is adept at inciting us to challenge the status quo and ask the whatdo-I-want-from-life questions we’d rather not.
He also provides, in the book’s final pages, ideas on ultra-cheap travel and accommodation, even if you do need to own your own business to rack up the kind of air miles he's talking about.
More worrisome, he touts such examples of cleverness as the time he captured a gold medal at the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships: he pushed three opponents in a row off the platform, and so, thanks to a technicality, won by default.
There are other problems with The 4Hour Work Week: the conspicuous consumption that Ferriss’s jetting about implies, his unsubstantiated claim that hot dogs will be an unaffordable luxury for most future retirees, his referencing as a visionary entrepreneur Danny Black, who rents entertainment dwarves at $149 per hour.
But the biggest problem is that work can be hugely gratifying. So why do it only four hours a week?
Patrick Langston is an Ottawa writer.