Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Four Hour Work Week

By Kyle Fountain

The Four Hour Work Week is a book which rethinks the baby boomer work ethic model of go to school, work at a job for thirty years, retire, and start the fun part of your life.  Although the book was finished five years ago, Tim Ferriss goes into terrific detail of how to organize your daily tasks, and outsourcing tedious jobs that take up the most of you time.  For instance, for any occupation, architecture included, most of a day consists of getting to work, checking your email, going to meetings, checking email, going to meetings, and finally, doing a small portion of the tasks you set out to do for the day.
Ferriss frequently refers to Pareto’s Law, or the 80/20 principle as a framework for time management, and profitability.  For Instance, one typically spends 80% of their time during a typical work day (whether in school, or in a cubicle) checking email, texting friends, attending meetings or class, etc.  On the other hand, only 20% of the day ends up being the nonreactive counterpart of checking email, actually doing work, or practicing ones craft.  Still, Ferriss argues that 10% of the work week is all that is required for wealth and freedom from being chained to a desk.
The title is ironic, and those that negatively critique the book have either not read past the Amazon description, or book subtitle.  The irony is that Ferriss has admitted on his blog that he works far more than four hours a week.  Likewise, the goals and lessons in the book aren’t delegated to only rich entrepreneurs, they apply to everyone.  Ferriss points to the 80/20 principle again stating that 80% of a business’s profits typically come from 20% of the clients.  Although I have only worked in one architectural practice, I can definitely say that was true.  That is why you will see many of the best architecture firms turn down smaller projects, or even projects demanding more than they are capable. 
The reading, or in my case listening, is filled with many real world anecdotes of how Ferriss switched gears from being a leader of his company, to being free from the office, and exploring the world.  My favorite productivity hack that I learned from the book was to not check your email, phone, etc. until directly before lunch.  Likewise, when you return from lunch, spend a couple hours without a phone or email, and see how much work actually can be done in a very little time. 
“Whenever you find yourself of the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
–Mark Twain
Ferriss, T. (2007). The 4-hour workweek: Escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich. New York: Crown.

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