The 4-Hour Workweek: Key Concepts
Lifestyle Design (LD)
Lifestyle Design (LD) is Ferriss’s answer to the imbalanced and excessive lifestyle built around generally accepted practices among the corporate career-oriented. It is based on the idea that the more we control the ‘W’s’ of our existence—the what, where (“geoarbitrage”), when, and with whom—the more we are able to maximize our resources and, therefore, our results. It shuns the habitual practices of the corporate or materially ambitious world, such as W4W (work for work’s sake regardless of need or effectiveness) and the “fat man in the red BMW,” the syndrome that attempts to cover inward malaise with material possessions and status symbols.
The New Rich (NR)
The New Rich, or NR, is an epithet for those who practice Lifestyle Design. Rather than having millions of dollars, the NR focus on living like millionaires; instead of planning for some vague future retirement with a questionable outcome (i.e., a seriously reduced standard of living), they intersperse “mini-retirements” with highly productive work periods. By unlearning or ignoring the standard routines and expanding and maximizing their options in terms of time, place, and income, the NR fulfil their life dreams now instead of waiting until the time when they no longer have the energy or, in many cases, the income.
Dreamlining is a key technique used by Ferriss to shake people loose from their fears and self-imposed limitations and to create a concrete plan for the plunge into the NR lifestyle. Dreamlining starts with “brain-vomiting” to come up with “unreasonable” goals worth putting in the effort for. These are divided into three categories—having, being, and doing—with the emphasis on the last of the three. The plan, which is set up according to both a 6-month and 12-month framework, includes specific, immediate action steps and a cost analysis that is then figured as a Target Monthly Income (TMI) and Target Daily Income (TDI). Ferriss even provides the dreamliner with convenient worksheets and calculators, available at fourhourblog.com.
“Pareto’s Law,” also know as “Pareto’s Distribution” or, more recently, the “80/20 Principle,” holds that 80% of the results are produced by 20% of the causes. Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) first outlined the concept in his Cours d’économie politique, in which he observed, in Ferriss’s words, that “80% of the wealth and income was produced by 20% of the population.” Pareto also noticed this principle at work in his garden, where 20% of the peapods produced 80% of the peas, demonstrating the universality of the principle’s application. According to Ferriss, the ratio of results to effort and/or resources can be as dramatic as 99/1%, but the minimum desirable balance is 80/20.
Parkinson’s Law states that too much of anything, including time, encourages waste. It follows, therefore, that limiting both tasks and time forces efficiency. Most of us have had instances in our lives where we’ve had to suddenly regroup and maximize our time and resources as the result of some unexpected emergency. Those instances often spark our creativity, leading us to simplify and solve issues in ways we might never have otherwise imagined. Understanding that, Ferriss employs the same idea deliberately instead of under accidental duress. Above all, he counsels us to avoid useless activity for its own sake (unless it’s enjoyable) and to focus instead on genuine productivity.
Cultivating selective ignorance is predicated on the idea that most of the information that we ingest is not as essential as we make it out to be and that we and the world can get by just fine without it. It advocates media fasting, targeted information getting, non-finishing when something isn’t worth it, and—with the exception of an hour of fiction around bedtime—selective, purposeful, and efficient reading. Behind this approach is the idea that the NR lifestyle is one of action and that reducing inputs is the key to increasing outputs. An extension of this is the art of interruption and refusal, which uses various techniques and technologies to prevent others from deluging us with trivialities. The result is significantly increased time, sanity, and productivity.
Outsourcing is one of the critical skills involved in being a successful lifestyle designer. Its purpose is to enable us to focus on complex tasks and worthwhile personal goals and to outsource the rest, thereby maximizing both time and income. Tips for effective outsourcing include:
· Eliminate before you delegate. If it’s a waste of time, don’t bother either doing it or outsourcing it.
· Assign appropriate tasks. Assess first whether the task is enjoyable. If not, determine next whether it’s sufficiently time-consuming to warrant delegation and, finally, whether it’s capable of being effectively accomplished by someone else.
· Choose your VA or firm carefully. If the work is unsatisfactory, find or request a different VA. Opt for effectiveness and cost per task rather than simply cost per hour.
· Give clear, concise, simple instructions and request confirmation and status updates to assess understanding and effectiveness.
· Follow security measures and/or hire a firm that does so in order to prevent information and identity theft.
· Finally, have fun! Test the possibilities just to see what can be done.
DEAL stands for Definition—Elimination—Automation—Liberation, the four key points of the 4-Hour Workweek plan. If you are an employee intending to keep that status, the order switches slightly to DELA because you will need to get away from the office before you are able to implement the DEAL plan in full. Most of the book deals with some element of this acronym and is likely to fall under one of the four headings. From dreamlining to outsourcing and automation tools, it’s all there to prepare you for the liberated lifestyle of the NR.
A “muse” is another word for the business model that allows maximum mobility and profitability with a minimum of time investment and effort. This distinguishes it from the standard business model, which often falls into the rut of W4W (work for work’s sake) and all the inefficiency that brings with it—the countless meetings, e-mails, discussions, presentations, etc. that may or may not be related to actual productivity and the bottom line. The “muse” is the result of applying Pareto’s and Parkinson’s laws to your business life so that the ratio of financial yield to effort and time is at least 80/20 and not the other way around.
The mini-retirement is the incentive for the “muse.” Rather than saving it all for the end of life, the NR choose to balance “retirement” with work while the health, energy, and interest are still there. For those who prefer to keep their jobs but who want the same adventure and flexibility, the remote work arrangement is opening up new possibilities for both employees and businesses. Businesses are saving on costs, while employees are proving increased productivity in a fraction of the time, allowing them the same sort of freedom as the muse owner to fulfill their dreamlines, spend time with their family and friends, explore new careers without worrying about finances, volunteer their energies, or even just relax a bit. Through a creative approach to the four W’s (see Lifestyle Design), the NR are proving that you don’t have to be a millionaire to live like one.