I am one that enjoys productivity. I love to hack my way to getting more done, being more organized, and being as effective as I can. I do this in my personal life, family life, physical efforts, and spiritual life. I am not saying that I look to cheat my way through these things, but I want to accomplish as much as I possibly can on as little effort as possible. This then frees me up to spend more time doing the most important things – being with my family and seeking to draw closer to God.

As you can see a couple of months ago I jumped into a 55k just to see the scenery. I did this with very little prior training leading up to the race. If you know me, you know that I have done this distance before and thus I knew what I was getting into. I knew that it was going to be hard and be very challenging, but I knew that my body could do it. It was great to get out there and see so much and be able to enjoy the majority of it. Do I wish that I were better trained? Yes, I do. I have learned a lot from Tim with how to be more productive at work so that I am able to free up more time to do what I love.

The title of Tim’s book can be very misleading. Many think just by the title that you are looking to become lazy and only get by working four hours each week. If you can do this, then more power to you. I love being able to benefit others and love working with the community that I do. Thus, I would like to dedicate more time to working than just four hours each week. The idea is really a lifestyle design. It is the ability for us to do and live the way that we want to right now, not when we are 65 and hopefully have a pension kick in or enough in our 401k. I hope to be able to be very actively engaged when I am 65, either in business, serving, giving back, and building God’s Kingdom on earth. I’d like to enjoy some great things now. I don’t need to be a multi-millionaire or own a mega-corporation. I just want to do great things, experience excellent places, and bless a lot of lives along the way. This to me is true lifestyle design.

Last year as a family we were blessed to head out on the road for 25 days. We had no home, as we were in between homes, we had summer vacation, I could work remotely to get things done, and we had A LOT of Marriot rewards points. This was a trial run of road tripping for us. We set a plan and headed out. This experience taught me a lot. It taught me how important family is, what we can do as we live in tight spaces together, how great this country is, and how much more myself and my children learn from actually being in the places that history happened. This was such a blessing for our family. It has made me hungry for more. It has taught me the value of experiences. As I have read 4-Hour Work Week I have seen the various ways and importance of making this a reality. I hope to incorporate these principles into my life.

Here are some of the key things that I learned from 4-Hour Work Week

Outside the Box Strategy

I have always been one to reach outside of the box and discover a varying degree of strategy in all that I do. When we started Altra, yes, we had a unique concept and idea, but we also leveraged emerging sources to get our brand out there that many shoe brands were not using yet. We were able to get a lot of traction by being unique and using current technology to our benefit.

One of the key lessons of differentiation that Tim shares in his book is the experience of Dick Fosbury. Before 1965, the high jump was done by diving over the bar or known as the straddle technique or running and using a scissor kick to get up and over the bar. In 1965, Dick Fosbury tried to do something a little bit different. He felt that if he could bend his back over the bar off of his jump then he could kick his legs over and get much higher than just trying to jump over it the same way people had done so for years. Amidst ridicule from some, he pursued his strategy and it stuck. He set an Olympic and American Record in the 1968 Olympics utilizing his technique. It is now the most commonly utilized methodology of high-jumping from high school on through the Olympics.

We learn that we can find great results by doing things differently. We don’t have to be committed to tradition and the standard methodology of the rest of the market. Just because we build a business that utilizes outside the box strategy doesn’t make it any less of a business than any other. Frankly, it often makes it a better business than similar businesses in the marketplace.

“Many of the risks in life that we fear have a temporary negative impact of 3-4 but could have a positive impact of 9-10. What are we willing to risk?” – Tim Ferriss

Risks are often associated with acting outside of the box. Is the risk worth the reward? “Many of the risks in life that we fear have a temporary negative impact of 3-4 but could have a positive impact of 9-10. What are we willing to risk?” Which he references that on a scale of 1-10 most of the risks that we make would be low to moderate in the impact on our lives. If we go out on our own maybe we need to sell some stuff to get by or move into a smaller apartment or home or maybe each more frugally, but most of that stuff will come back to us. Whereas the reward for taking the risk could result in a high impact. Our risk could pay off by giving us more time, more freedom and more money. Certainly, every risk needs to be calculated and assessed. We need to know what we are getting into. It is important that no matter what risk we make or how we step outside of the norm that we learn as much as we can to be as effective and efficient as possible.

“We need not fear taking chances. Especially when it involves money. Money can always come back.” – Tim Ferriss

Work Life Values

What do we want in life? Are we doing what we need to to achieve it? Are we fulfilled with the lifestyle that we are living? If we can answer these three questions clearly and with positivity then let us keep doing what we are doing. If not, then make the changes today to get to where you want to be. As human beings, we are here to have a purpose. We are here to learn to create, engage, lead, follow and serve one another. If your current situation does not afford you the opportunities to do these things as you would like then make the steps to get to where you can. Start now!

“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.” – Tim Ferriss

We are never alone on this great planet! We need each other and we can find ways to bless and benefit each other. It is up to us to control where we are headed. There are so many opportunities that lie before us. Being rich is not accumulating a lot of stuff and having a lot of money. It is living the lifestyle that we long for. It is doing the things that drive us each and every day. Taking part in the activities, efforts, and adventures that get us up every morning. Our work in this life should help to contribute to these activities.

Outsourcing

I have always been a big fan of outsourcing. There are many projects where you only need an individual part-time or an area expert that you company cannot afford full-time. Outsourcing has become a great resource over the past 30 years. More and more companies are looking outside to solve problems and accomplish tasks. There are many solutions that can be found by outsourcing. I encourage anyone that is in business or just looking to free up some time, to look to outside resources. Here are some that are covered by Tim and that I would encourage utilizing.

  • Third-party Logistics (3PL) Companies
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Call Centers
  • Contract Sales Representatives
  • IT Solutions
  • Graphic Designers – 99Designs.com or Fiverr.com

There are many other solutions out there. Whatever your need is you can likely find someone that is willing to do it without being an employee that you have to manage. With these outsource companies you need to set regulations and policies with them and check up occasionally to refine. The key to success to succeeding with an outsourced company or individual is trust. You need to be able to trust that they can do their job. Tim talks about giving them a budget to fix any customer problem so that he doesn’t need to be involved in every small business decision. This number can vary depending on outsourcer and company.

Give outsourcing a try and you will be surprised how much time it can free up. Also, it can take a load off of your shoulders when you don’t have to worry about a specific project or problem. It is all taken care of.

Automation

“Puts cash flow on autopilot using geographic arbitrage, outsourcing, and rules of nondecision.” – Tim Ferriss

Learn to put your business on cruise control. One of the best things that you can do for your overall sanity is to start automating some of your processes. Companies that use automation are much more efficient and effective. Automation can be in a variety of different forms. One of the best things is to put email forwards in place and phone lines to direct them to the proper departments so that they don’t all come to you. Also, utilizing Virtual Assistants can be one of your great automation tactics. They can accomplish the minutia for you. No need to dig through the data or arrange the next travel details. They can accomplish almost anything.

A few more tips of automation to help your business

  • Stop accepting Checks
  • Set fund transfer parameters on your bank accounts
  • Give your 3PL guidelines that keep you out of the picture
  • Utilize interns

One of the key strategies of the 4-Hour Work Week to consider as you look at automation is to figure out how much your time is worth. Tim states, “If you spend your time, worth $20–25 per hour, doing something that someone else will do for $10 per hour, it’s simply a poor use of resources.” Don’t be afraid to pay people to do the small stuff. You are compensated for larger projects and should use your time as such. This can really be figured out by utilizing the 80/20 principle. This is great in business, as an entrepreneur, and even as an employee. Look at the 80% that only brings in 20% of success and drop it or change it. Then, look at the 20% that brings in the 80% and replicate it. This could be clients, employees, strategies, methods, effort, time or any other item within your business.

Automation can really clean up your business and, more importantly, your time. Use automation to free up the time to do what you really dream of doing.

Travel

Once you have solved the automation puzzle and properly outsourced your business you now have more time on your hands. This should afford you the opportunity to travel and get out and do the things that you really want to do. Tim focuses a lot on travel in his book as it was while traveling that he conceived and sculpted the 4-Hour Work Week. I would encourage you to read the book, but here are a few key points.

  • Long-term travel is cheaper
    • Rent an apartment for weeks or months instead of expensive hotels
    • You really get to live like a local and experience the culture
    • Once automated and outsourced you can work remotely
  • Local flights are a lot cheaper than international flights – look these up once in the country
  • Having what you want is less expensive than you think
  • Don’t be idle when you travel – have purpose

I enjoyed reading and pondering on the words of Tim Ferriss. I have been an avid listener of his podcast for at least a year before finally reading his book. Amidst my goal to read a book a month, I finally picked it up and enjoyed it all the way through. It will now become an often referenced resource going forward. There are so many helpful tips and actions within it to free up time and become more efficient overall. I don’t think I will reduce my work schedule to 4 hours each week anytime soon, but I do look forward to being more efficient and having more time to do what I love.

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