A Year After Reading The 4-Hour Workweek



It’s been almost a year since I first read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and posted an article on the subject.  Following that article, I posted two more pieces that provided additional insights into my experiments with the book.

If you’d like to read them first before diving into this post, they are:

Power and Peace:  The unexpected results of my first experience with The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4HWW Update – 4 Weeks into the Mission

Lifestyle Design Update #3 – the Good and the Bad.  No Ugly.

In the Beginning…

I was full of excitement after reading T4HWW and I made some immediate changes to my life.  These changes included:

1.     The Low Information Diet – I reduced the amount of print and television media I was bringing into my life.  Previously, I read three newspapers daily and watched the evening news.  That’s a lot of time spent on subject matter that I can’t control and that was putting me into a bad mood.

2.     Batching – I looked to “batch” any chores or responsibilities.  This is completing like tasks at the same time, therefore your brain doesn’t have to transition into new patterns for every job.  If you stay focused on similar tasks and not try to multi-task, you’ll actually get the work done quicker.

3.     Controlling Email – I also limited the times I would accept knew emails into my inbox.  I set a rule of turning on my email filter from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. everyday.  I never felt so productive in my work days.

My business partner liked the batching and email ideas and eventually bought into them.  We talked frequently about how to tweak these new hacks that we learned to make our lives more efficient.  My work life took on a new level of fun.

Taking the Next Step …

When the summer rolled around, I started working from home on Fridays and Mondays.  It was a bit scary at first, but then I found out that I was far more efficient.  It was surprising to learn how much of my day was eaten up by well-meaning colleagues who wanted to come by my office and chat.  To be honest, I did the same thing to those co-workers as well.

However, in the home office, there was only me and I tended to stay focused with my nose to the proverbial grindstone.  I finished my tasks quicker, made cold calls and even felt more creative.  Sometimes I did this from my back patio and in the sunshine.  Talk about a great work environment!

The thing that I hadn’t prepared for, though, was the backlash for stepping out of line.  When you do something that is against the societal norm, be prepared for people to be upset.  People don’t like change, especially when you are getting something better than they’ve got.

In several moments of enthusiasm, I shared my new work philosophy with my co-workers, some of whom are not independent contractors and, therefore, do not have the ability to work from wherever the want. 

This caused one of the leaders of the company to find out.  He didn’t like what I was doing but never told me to stop.  He couldn’t actually tell me to stop since I am an independent contractor.  He knew the limitations on those demands.  However, he did mention his displeasure frequently to my partner who had initially said he liked the idea and wanted to follow in my footsteps.

It All Falls Down

I went through the summer, blissfully unaware of any lingering resentment from my working from home on Friday and Mondays.  When I would get calls from co-workers who would ask, “Are you taking the day off?”  I would politely reply, “No.  I’m working from my office today.  What can I do for you?”

I thought it was all harmless teasing.  I didn’t realize there was an undercurrent of bitterness building up.

Then the unexpected happened in October.  I walked into the office one Tuesday morning and my partner of several years basically made the statement, “I don’t want to be a team with you any longer.”

One of the reasons he gave for this decision was that I was out of the office on Fridays and Mondays.

I countered him and said, “I thought you were okay with it.”

He had said he was initially, but something had changed through the year.  He no longer practiced any of T4HWW principles we were so excited about earlier in the year.  That moment was deeply disappointing for me in that it not only ended a business partnership but also ruined a friendship.

I was forced to sit down with the person in the leadership role and talk about the partnership break-up.  One of the things we discussed was the experiment with The 4-Hour Workweek.  He stated he disliked it and I understood his position.  I didn’t have any heartburn with his feelings.  I knew where he stood from the moment I first attempted to change.

After the partnership break-up, though, I returned to the office on Fridays and Mondays.  At first, people were surprised to see me there.  There were little jokes, but everyone was happy that I was back in the Monday to Friday groove.

I also feel back into my old work habits (it’s scary how easily they come back).

I no longer set my email time limits and was no longer batching tasks.

Quite frankly, I stopped thinking about how to apply T4HWW principals after my business partnership fell apart.

Re-evaluating Where I Stand

It was until recently when I was referring to some old blog posts that I realized I owed some sort of update on this subject.

I firmly believe in the value of The 4-Hour Workweek.  There are many valuable concepts in the book to be used and tested by anyone looking for a way to improve their life.

Above all, the one thing I learned is to temper your enthusiasm around potential naysayers.  The same people who wanted me in the office, wouldn’t want to hear about my enthusiasm for T4HWW, nor would they want to hear about some of the new concepts I picked up from Grand Cardone’s The 10X Rule which is almost the exact opposite of T4HWW.

Unless you’re a blog reader, most people don’t want to hear that your changing your life for the better.

They want you to be quiet in the office or cubicle next to them, shuffling through the day until we can all go home and turn on the TV.

But is that the life we really want to live?