Perfect for you if:
- You’re sure there must be more to life than just living to work.
- You’re thinking about starting your own business but aren’t sure how.
- You work from an office (when you could be working from anywhere).
“The 4-Hour Work Week” is a powerful book on lifestyle design for anyone that wants to put living before working. I was 19 years old when it first changed my life. Fast forward 10 years and I am amazed at how many of my habits it still influences.
Tim’s goal is to show the reader not only how to design their ideal lifestyle but also exactly how to get there. He combines eye-opening insights and compelling stories with detailed guides and resource lists. The result is a book so full of practical life changing advice that it is very hard to take in on one reading.
There is one catch: Tim offers a reality so alien to most of us that it can be easy to dismiss as unrealistic or unattainable. As an ex McKinsey consultant I can sympathise. The truth though is that Tim’s reality is very attainable. In the last 4 years of travelling the world I have myself met many people living some version of their own 4-Hour Work Week. This includes my Australian girlfriend, Erin, who I met at a Salsa class in Medellin, Colombia.
That said, if there is a major flaw in Tim’s book it is his tendency to favour the catchy ideal over the realistic. Most paths to Tim’s promised land are neither simple nor straight. For many, such a radical shift in world view will mean changing many comfortable habits and beliefs. That process alone is a long one of gradual experimentation. Even then, few will hit on a BrainQUICKEN (Tim’s own success story) on their first or even fifth attempts. Nor will every idea last forever, or be an overnight success. It took Erin 7 years to build her company (along side regular jobs) to the point of becoming a full time “digital nomad”.
But the rewards of experimentation and persistence are worth the effort. As I type this post from St. Petersburg, Russia, Erin is sat across the room, quietly expanding her business into two new continents. She already earns more than most McKinsey partners. What’s more, she does this working less than 5 hours a day (an intense period) from wherever she wants to in the world. Right now we’re half way through a 3 month trip through the Baltics and Scandinavia. Later we’ll plan our next ‘mini-retirement’: two months living in Tel Aviv with adventures in Oman, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. Even if you don’t know many people like her – I can promise you that her story is far from unique.
In the following crunch I’ve tried to draw the main story line out of the book. I’ve also included as much detail on the step-by-step guides as possible. For brevity, I’ve omitted the pages of helpful resources included throughout the book.
Read this book. Take action on Tim’s suggestions. They may not make you an overnight millionaire that works four hours per week.
But they will change your life.
- Life is short and we play it by outdated rules.
- Despite this, we often fail to take action.
- Because we are afraid.
- Because we don’t know how.
- There is a different path, but only you can choose to walk it.
- First you must reconfigure your assumptions and beliefs.
- Always ask “Why? Why? Why?”.
- Do what you fear most.
- Get comfortable with discomfort.
- Think big, aim high.
- Money is the means, Freedom is the end.
- Then, “Define” what you want – motivation requires motive.
- ‘Dreamline’ excitement into your life.
- Fill the void (when none of it seems to matter anymore).
- Next, “Eliminate” all but the non-critical to create time and space.
- Be effective AND efficient.
- Do more of the right things.
- Do less of the unimportant things.
- Now, “Automate” what ever is left.
- Finally, “Liberate” yourself physically and mentally.
Life is short and we play it by outdated rules.
Life is short.
- We get ~ 30,000 days / 720,000 hours.
- We spend much of this time asleep.
- We are rarely fully in the present moment.
And we mostly conform to a status quo.
- We work at specific times.
- We work in specific places.
- We work for ~45 years then retire.
But the status quo is antiquated.
We are influenced by protestant morals of suffering and self-sacrifice.
- Less is seen as laziness (e.g., face time valued over productivity).
- Living to work is championed over working to live.
And our work patterns were designed for the industrial revolution.
- Factory shifts (working at specific times)
- Limited communication (working in specific places)
- Demanding, physical work with no safety nets (work hard and young, retire late)
And the status quo is unscientific.
It is unproductive (bad for business):
- Parkinson’s law: Work increases to fill the time available.
- Pareto (80/20): Extra time fills with unimportant activities.
Unhealthy (bad for us):
- Stressful: Undefined (de)stress rather than good purposeful (eu)stress.
- Sedentary: Long hours indoors, at desks, looking at screens.
- Meaningless: Unimportant activities feel/are meaningless.
Batching retirement doesn’t make sense.
- Financially – retirement ages and savings plans do not reflect life expectancies.
- Physiologically – energy and interest are cyclical.
Neither does batching self-improvement.
- You cannot relive your youth no matter how youthful you are in later life.
- The opportunity cost of missing compounding self-improvement is high.
Major upgrades and alternatives do exist.
It’s being done – many case studies are easily and freely available.
- Pick any number of books or stories from the 4HWW.
- Since quitting my own job I have met many, many people who have made this kind of life a reality. I would never have met them in the course of my old life.
What’s more, improvements are universally accessible:
- Whether entrepreneur or employee
- With or without children
- Young or old
And the benefits are significant:
- Greater productivity
- Better health
- More fulfilment
Despite this, we often fail to take action.
Because we don’t know how.
- We don’t know what we want.
- We don’t believe it’s possible.
- We don’t know how to do it.
And/or because we are afraid:
- Of what could go wrong.
- To let go of what we have.
- Of what others will think.
- To admit we might be wrong.
There is a different path, but only you can choose to walk it.
First, you must reconfigure your assumptions and beliefs.
Changing habits takes time and reinforcement, be patient with yourself.
Always ask “Why? Why? Why?”: just because it is, doesn’t mean it should be.
- Kill the sacred cows: test your basic assumptions about life and the status quo.
- Question their source: Why do I believe this? Is this a received truth? Have I questioned it?
- Be honest and don’t fool yourself to spare your ego (consistency bias).
But remember balance: Things in excess become their opposite.
- Pacifists become militants, freedom fighters become tyrants.
- Blessings become curses, help becomes hindrance.
- Different is better only when it is more effective or more fun.
Do what you fear most, it is usually what you most need to do.
- We often fear what we least understand or threatens to undermine our world view.
- This is why fear is often our best teacher – move towards not away from it.
- Here are some simple tricks to help:
- Understand and accept that the timing is never right.
- See life as a big experiment: don’t get too attached to the results.
- Live by the mantra “There is no such thing as failure, only feedback”.
- Define the worst case: Is it really so bad? How could you mitigate it?
- Write down every excuse you can think of: How how could you solve each one?
- Consider the financial, emotional costs of inaction – can you afford not to act?
Get comfortable with psychological discomfort.
- Being different will make others feel uncomfortable, and that’s ok.
- Get used to letting small bad things happen so you can focus on the big things.
- Have the courage to be the one to propose solutions others can build on.
- Make lots of mistakes, admit them openly to yourself and others.
- Seek forgiveness rather than asking permission.
Get used to letting small bad things happen.
- You cannot please all of the people all of the time.
- To do the big things, you must sometimes let small bad things happen.
Set unrealistic goals, they are often easier to attain than realistic ones.
- We overestimate what we can achieve in a day, we underestimate what we can achieve in a year.
- Aiming for a higher goal incentivises better performance and more creative solutions.
- The fishing is best where the fewest go (there’s just less competition for big goals).
- Our failed scenario is often better than the outcome of the realistic goal.
Remember that “money” and “things” are only as valuable as the freedom they create.
- Time and freedom are your most valuable and irreplaceable assets.
- This is why relative income is more valuable than absolute income ($1k in 2 h > $2k in 6h).
- Freedom of What, When, Where and with Whom also multiply the value of money (allow you to do more with less).
- Understand that everything you own has a call on your time; this is the reason the things you own end up owning you.
Then, “Define” what you want – motivation requires motive.
Whenever you feel lost or purposeless, return to this stage.
Initially: ‘Dreamline’ excitement into your life
- Imagine you have $100m in the bank and are the smartest person you know.
- What would you: “Have”, “Do” and “Be” in the next 6 and 3 months.
- Convert any “Be”s to “Do”s to make them actionable.
- Pick any 4 things on your list to set as goals.
- Calculate the financial cost (ongoing, monthly).
- Calculate the monthly / daily income needed to make them a reality:
Target Monthly Income = [ Monthly Goals + (One Time Goals / Total Months) ] * 1.3 Monthly Expenses
- Define the next actions to move you closer to those goals (Today, Tomorrow and the Day After).
- Complete those actions by 11 A.M. each day.
Later: Fill the void
- Financial freedom is just the beginning of the journey.
- Eventually many things which excited you will lose their thrill.
- Existing outside of conventional society may also feel socially isolating.
- This loss of external structure and meaning often leads to an existentialist vacuum and depression.
- Stick with it, you are not alone! Defining your “Who” and choosing your “Why” are daunting but liberating.
- It doesn’t much matter what purpose you choose – many tend towards continuous learning and serving others.
- Once you’ve decided, act. Your new source of meaning will reconnect you with the world around you.
- You could also seek out and connect with others who share these values and circumstances. *
- Most important of all: fill your life with different projects and enjoy the social rewards of life.
* Locations with high lifestyle to cost ratios (e.g., Medellin and Berlin) are good places to start.
Next, “Eliminate” all but the non-critical to create time and space.
N.B., employees should see the next section, “Liberate”, before they “Eliminate”.
Be efficient (do things right) AND effective (do the right things).
- Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
- Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
- “What” you do is more important than “How” you do it.
Do only what matters: Apply the Pareto principle (80/20) to your happiness.
- In your personal life: friends, social groups, commitments.
- We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
- Life is too short to fill it with poisonous or even neutral relationships.
- In your business: customers, advertising, affiliates, partners, committees.
- Which 20% of the customers deliver 80% of the profit / problems?
- Which 20% channels of channels drive 80% of the traffic?
- Begin distancing yourself from anything on the wrong side of the curve.
- Experiment initially. Make permanent anything that shows results.
- Repeat the process every two weeks for your business and personal life.
Do it faster: Apply Parkinson’s law to your work time:
- Ask yourself: How would you get your work done tomorrow if:
- You only had 2 hours per day?
- You only had 2 h per week?
- Write down max 2 mission critical items and test by asking:
- Would I be satisfied with my day if only they happened?
- What are the consequences if they don’t?
- Complete these tasks by 11 AM the next day
- Don’t multitask.
Stop doing unimportant things: Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities.
- Identify the activities you use to avoid doing difficult/important things.
- Write a not-to do list (e.g., email shuffling, web browsing, status meetings).
- Ask yourself frequently: am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?
- Don’t waste time and energy on things you can’t define or influence.
Practice selective ignorance.
- “News” is often time consuming, negative, irrelevant and outside of your influence.
- Processing information also costs time and energy and is often not immediate or important.
- Experiment with cutting down on both by:
- Trying a one week media fast:
- No news whatsoever
- No non-pleasure television
- No non-task related web browsing
- No non-fiction books
- Letting others synthesise for you:
- Talk to people who know what you want to know.
- Trust their synthesis of the subject.
- Trying a one week media fast:
- Ask yourself “Will I definitely use this for something immediate and important?”
- Practice the art of non-finishing: let go of sunk-costs.
- Set up rules (automatic or via assistant) to eliminate or defer unimportant emails.
- Streamline responses to prevent back and forth (be specific, provide alternatives).
- Wean yourself and others off instant email gratification.
- Use “Limited access to email” autoresponders to train response time expectations.
- Divert urgent enquiries to an urgent only phone number.
- Divert non-urgent enquiries to a voicemail (that can be emailed to you).
- Batch emails to as few concentrated sessions per day as possible (aim for 2 or less).
- Free up time by saying no to low consequence work and commitments (keep excuses vague).
- Reduce switching costs by batching time consuming and repetitive work (e.g., emails).
- Prevent bottlenecks by trusting and empowering others to act for you.
- Trust beyond your comfortable zone (but set up protections).
- Empower: “Fix anything that costs less than 100 USD”.
- Review and adjust periodically.
Avoid meetings where possible.
- Refuse meetings without clear objectives.
- Force clarity by requesting an email with specific objectives / outcomes.
- Solve any objectives you can by email, then by phone and only then if you must in person.
- Force others to the point and avoid chit-chat.
- Set a defined end time (use a real/imaginary next commitment).
- Keep things short (< 30 minutes).
N.B., Don’t sight of your dreams: remember, work and money are means not ends.
- Don’t micromanage and email to fill time.
- Don’t handle problems your outsourcers or co-workers can.
- Don’t reply to emails that won’t result in a sale or that can be answered by an FAQ or autoresponder.
- Don’t strive for perfection when good or simply good enough will do.
- Don’t blow minutiae and small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work.
- Don’t make non-time-sensitive issues urgent to justify work.
- Don’t handle the same problem twice: set up rules and processes instead.
Now, “Automate” what ever is left.
Entrepreneurs struggle here because they fear giving up control.
Employees should first “Liberate” and then return to “Automate”
Outsource what is left and cannot be eliminated.
Outsource whatever you can to focus on more important tasks.
- Never outsource what can be eliminated.
- Never delegate something that can be streamlined and automated.
- Tasks must be time consuming and well defined.
- Have fun with it: professional and personal tasks.
Hire a Virtual Assistant (VA).
How to: hire a VA.
- Avoid single point failure (consider an agency/team vs an individual).
- Measure cost per completed task (consider impact of e.g., cultural / language barriers).
- India / Philippines (4 – 15 USD per hour) vs.
- Europe / America / Canada (25 – 100 USD per hour).
- Request exactly what you need (e.g. types of task, excellent english, phone calls required).
- Interview and trial several VAs with a difficult task on a short (48h) deadline.
How to: outsource tasks.
- Define the task precisely:
- No ambiguity
- 2nd grade English
- Assign only one task at a time.
- Break the task up into 24/48h chunks.
- Set a 3h check in for any task.
- Set clear priorities within the task.
- Create rules and define processes to handle frequent questions / scenarios.
- Empower and trust others (e.g., fix if under X), review weekly > monthly.
How to: mitigate risk
- Never use the new hire and prohibit VA firm subcontracting.
- Avoid debit cards for online transactions (hard to reverse if fraud).
- Create new unique log-ins and passwords for each VA.
Create an automated income stream.
Start with the end in mind.
- Aim to “own” a business rather than “run” or “work for” it.
- Keep it simple: Don’t try to create the next Amazon.
- The goal is cashflow for low time investment.
Launch a product based business.
- Scalable and not a function of time (unlike service businesses).
- Start small – test a minimum viable product early and cheaply.
- Think big – design and develop the business to scale.
Step 1: Aim at a specific and affordable niche.
- Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is much easier.
- What niches do you belong to / understand? Which of these have their own interest/hobby magazines?
- Look for repeat, direct advertisers in these – the more frequent their ads, the more profitable the niche.
Step 2: Brainstorm (do not invest in) products.
- Encapsulate the main benefit in one sentence – What is it? For who? How is it different?
- Price high then justify: aim for a 50 – 200 USD retail price point.
- Less competition than the mid-range.
- Fewer, better customers.
- Higher profit margins.
- Create a margin of safety: aim for 8 – 10 x markup.
- i.e., 5 – 25 USD unit cost
- Get pricing for 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 units
- Additionally aim for a product that:
- takes max 3 – 4 weeks to manufacture (ideally 1 – 2 weeks)
- is explainable in a good online FAQ (not ingestible)
- is testable for < 500 USD
- is automateable within 4 weeks
- will require < 1 day per week of management
Create, License or Resell a product (in that order of preference).
- Creation: New product or private labelling.
- Licensing: profitable, can be complex (fees ~ 3 – 10% of wholesale).
- Reselling: lowest profitability, shortest life span (wholesale cost ~ 40% of retail).
Information products are a great choice (high margin / difficult to duplicate).
- Create them yourself (see generating credibility).
- Repurpose public domain content (check local copyright laws).
- Licence or compensate an expert (~3 – 10% royalties on sales).
There is a simple formula to generate credibility when creating information products.
Member of AAA organisation, trusted by BBB University and CCC companies, featured in DDD publications
- Join trade related organisations.
- Read the three top-selling books.
- Give one free, two hour seminar.
- At a nearby major university.
- At the local branches of a big company.
- Write for trade magazines.
- Either: Use credibility generated above.
- Or: Offer to interview an expert.
- Join e.g., ProfNet to become a source of quotes for journalists.
Step 3: Micro-test.
Micro testing uses inexpensive adverts to test consumer response prior to manufacturing.
- Intuition and experience are poor predictors of profitability.
- Don’t ask people if they would buy, ask them to buy.
A good micro testing strategy has three stages: (i) Best, (ii) Test, (iii) Divest or invest.
- Best: Create a 1 – 3 page website with a more compelling offer than the competition (1 – 3h set up).
- Test: Test the offer using a 5 day Google Adwords campaign (3h set up).
- Divest / invest: Cut losers and roll out winners.
(i) Best the Competition.
- Look out for and collect adverts that catch your attention in print or online.
- Visit the three sites that consistently top the search and PPC positions for your product’s keywords.
- Write a more compelling proposition (use the collected adverts as models).
- More credibility indicators (media, academia, associations).
- Better guarantees, selection, shipping, testimonials.
(ii) Test viability.
- Buy a domain and set up a simple 1 – 3 page website to captur conversions.
- Capture contact details via an online form or calls to your phone.
- Redirect to an “out of stock” or apologise re the same.
- Don’t capture billing data (illegal before manufacture).
- Set up Google Adwords campaigns with 50 – 100 search terms at < 50 USD per day.
- Keep terms as specific as possible.
- Aim for second through fourth positioning.
- Pay no more than ~0.20 USD per click.
- Focus ad copy on the differentiators.
- Test variations (headlines, guarantees, product and domain names etc…).
- Disable serving of only best performing Ad.
- Aim for qualified traffic only (don’t try and trick people).
- Alternative options include setting up an eBay auction and then cancelling last minute.
(iii) Invest or divest.
- Review data from testing phase.
- What was the click through rate? Which adverts performed best?
- How many conversions on site? Where/when did abandoners leave?
- Estimate potential demand and profitability from conversion data.
- Consider improving the offering (e.g., a better guarantee) and trying again.
- Decide to invest in the product or move on to another idea.
Step 4: Rollout and automate.
This is where most entrepreneurs get stuck.
- They fail to move on from bootstrapping and replace themselves.
- The reward is a scalable business that can shift from 10 to 10k orders per week.
Start with the end product in mind.
How to: make the system the solution.
- Contract specialist outsourcing companies (e.g., fulfilment / call centres).
- Ensure that outsourcers are willing to communicate among themselves.
- Give them written permission to make inexpensive decisions without consulting you.
Phase I: 0 – 50 units shipped (Do it all yourself).
- Take all calls and emails yourself.
- Write down FAQs.
- Make pay per click advertisements and website more specific.
- Personally pack and ship products to determine best / cheapest options.
- Investigate merchant account options with a bank (esp. for card processing).
Phase II: >10 units per week (Outsourcing fulfilment).
- Add the FAQ to your website and continue to develop it.
- Find local fulfilment companies under “fulfilment services” or “mailing services” TIP: call local printers and ask them for recommendations.
- Limit to those with:
- / negotiate no set up fees and monthly minimums (often smallest).
- ability to respond to order status emails or phone calls from customers.
- Ask for three customer references and ask those for examples of specific past issues.
- Ask for net-30 terms (payment for services 30 days after rendered).
- Have manufacturer ship directly to your fulfilment house.
- Put fulfilment contact details on online “thank you” page and for order status questions.
Phase III: >20 units per week (Assembling an architecture of friends).
- Research bigger fulfilment houses that also handle refunds and returns.
- Ask for referrals to call centres and credit card centres they already work with.
- Set up with credit card processor first (important for returns and refunds).
- Review online vs. call split at testing and optionally test the call centres.
- Call toll free numbers of some of their other clients.
- Should be answered within 3 – 4 rings.
- Any wait / on hold time should be < 15 seconds.
- Ask difficult questions and gauge sales ability.
Minimise decisions and avoid complexity.
- Offer one or two purchase options.
- Offer one, fast shipping option and charge a premium.
- Don’t offer over night / expedited shipping (too much headache).
- Eliminate phone orders completely (online only).
- Do not odder international shipments (customs are a pain).
Eliminate low profit and high maintenance customers (80/20).
- See customers as equal trading partners.
- Do not accept payment via Western Union, checks or money order.
- Raise wholesale minimums to 12 – 100 units and require a tax ID.
- Refer resellers to an online order form and never negotiate price on higher volumes.
- Offer low prices products instead of free products to capture information.
- Offer lose-win guarantees (“deliver in 30mins or it’s free”) instead of free trials.
- Do not accept orders from common mail fraud countries (e.g., Nigeria).
Look bigger than you are when approaching large resellers or partners.
- Use a mid-level title like “VP” or “Director” instead of “CEO” or “Founder”.
- Makes the company look bigger than it is.
- Avoids making you the obvious decision maker in negotiations.
- Put multiple emails for different departments on your website even if they forward to just 1.
- Set up an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) remote receptionist.
- Do not provide a home address (use partner addresses or a PO box).
Finally, “Liberate” yourself physically and mentally.
Employees often struggle here because they fear taking control.
Escape the office.
Be smart about how and when you try to liberate yourself from the office.
- Ask: If you don’t ask you don’t get.
- Put yourself in your bosses shoes: adjust slowly and demonstrate benefits to them personally.
- Time your requests for a period when it would be difficult to lose you.
Step 1: Increase your company’s investment in you.
- Suggest a company funded training course.
- Mention the benefits to your boss and the company.
Step 2: Prove increased output offsite.
- EITHER: Call in sick but not Monday or Friday or it looks like a 3-day weekend.
- OR: Use a preplanned project or emergency (family/personal issue, relocation etc…).
- Request to work remotely: compromise on salary during that period if necessary.
- Collaborate with your boss on how this will work to get them invested.
- Work from home and double your output on those days in a traceable way.
- Keep records of productivity for reference during later negotiations.
Step 3: Prepare the quantifiable business benefit.
- Communicate ongoing remote working as business sense, not a personal perk.
- Write bullets of quantifiable out of office results achieved (e.g., more hours billed).
- Identify causes (e.g., no commute, fewer distractions out of office).
Step 4: Propose a revocable trial period.
- Approach boss one week after absence.
- Propose e.g., two days from home for two weeks (fall back to one day).
- Use the evidence identified in step 3 to demonstrate value to business.
- Make it clear the trial can be cancelled by your boss at any time.
Step 5: Expand remote time.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 on remote days (no need to call in sick).
- Propose e.g., four days from home for two weeks (fall back to three days).
- Ask for and address specific concerns if you come up against resistance.
- Re-emphasise the revocable nature of the trial.
N.B., If a job is simply beyond repair, let go of it.
- Don’t let your pride stand in the way of making the right decision now.
- Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner.
- Investing a lot of time or effort into something doesn’t make it productive or worthwhile.
- In any case, quitting is not permanent, the bills will get paid, it won’t ruin your benefits or resume.
- Don’t forget to define the worst case: Is it really so bad? How could you mitigate it?.
- Imagine you had a heart attack: How could you work remotely for four weeks?
- Put yourself in your boss’s shows: Would you trust yourself to work remotely? If not, why? Now fix it.
- Practice environment free productivity. Work out the kinks before you go for liberation.
- Quantify your productivity. These measures will help you and your proposal.
- Practice getting past no e.g., be smart about timing, get specific conditions, look for precedent.
- Remind yourself there are other options: post your resume to a job site under a pseudonym.
Replace binge travel with mini retirements.
There is a strong case for replacing end-of-life with frequent mini-retirements:
- Physiologically: Energy and interest are cyclical, you wouldn’t / can’t batch all your meals at once.
- Psychologically: It takes time (~2 – 3 months) to unplug and get perspective.
- Emotionally: Relocation forces decluttering, simplification and prioritisation.
- Financially: Relocation is much cheaper than both vacation and home life.
Mini-retirements are different from traditional escapes.
- Vacations – one to six months of relocation vs. two weeks
- Binge travelling – few/one vs. many locations
- Sabbaticals – frequent and recurring (3-4 times / year)
Mini-retirements are not limited to those without children.
- Take a trial run for a few weeks before an extended trip.
- Use a week of language classes to help with transportation and making friends.
- Use bribery and incentive schemes to keep children under control.
Four months out: Prepare mentally.
- Take an asset and cash-flow snap shot.
- Fear-set a one-year mini-retirement in a dream location in Europe.
- Research starting points / region to begin exploring from.
Three months out: Eliminate.
- Perform 80/20 on your belongings: Pack, store, sell, give away or bin.
- Scout out travel insurance.
- Prepare to rent, swap or sell your home.
- Counter doubt/fear with “If I had a gun to my head how would I do it?”
Two months out: Automate.
- Set up auto payments on reward point credit cards with regular billers.
- Set up automatic direct debits for credit cards or any billers that refuse.
- Set up online banking payees for any remaining billers.
- Cancel all paper statements (and other bills).
- Give a trusted member of your family and/or accountant power of attorney.
One month out:
- Forward all mail to a friend / family member / personal assistant.
- Get all immunisations for target region.
- Set up software / processes needed for remote work.
Two weeks out:
- Scan all identification, health insurance and credit/debit cards.
- Give printed copies to family members and take a few of each with you.
- Downgrade cell phone plan to lowest tier possible.
- Set up email and voicemail autoresponders.
- Do location level travel planning and book accommodation.
One week out:
- Move remaining possessions out of your apartment.
- Put digital copies of documents on a USB drive / upload to drop box.
- Prep any automobiles for storage (tires, fuel stabilisers etc…).
- Day 1: Take a hop-on-hop-off duty bus tour.
- Take a bike tour of potential apartment neighbourhoods.
- Buy an unlocked cell phone and SIM.
- Email apartment owners or brokers (online, news papers).
- Days 2/3: Find and book an apartment for one month.
- Later: Eliminate extra things your brought but won’t use.
TANQ entries for “The Four Hour Work Week”
TANQ is WhyWhatHow’s growing central library of thoughts, anecdotes, notes and quotes.
Much of what I recommend will seem impossible and even offensive to basic common sense – I expect that. Resolve now to test the concepts as an exercise in lateral thinking.
Oftentimes, in order to do the big things, you have to let the small bad things happen.
The Freedom Multiplier: Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: What you do, When you do it, Where you do it and with Whom you do it.
An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But… What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American laughed and stool tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years. 25 tops.”
“But what then, señor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
Things in Excess Become Their Opposite.
Pacifists become militants.
Freedom fighters become tyrants.
Blessings become curses.
Help becomes hinderance.
More becomes less.
What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is just less competition for bigger goals.
Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.
Getting what you want often depends more on when you ask for it than how you ask for it.
If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.
Too much free time is no more than fertiliser for self-doubt and assorted mental tail-chasing.
1. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
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.
A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations they are willing to have.
Never make a first offer when purchasing. Flinch after the first offer (“$3,000!” followed by pure silence, which uncomfortable salespeople fill by dropping the price once), let people negotiate against themselves (“Is that really the best you can offer?” elicits at least one additional drop in price), then “bracket”. If they end up at $2,000 and you want to pay $1,500, offer $1,250. They’ll counter with approximately $1,750, to which you respond: “I’ll tell you what, let’s just split the difference. I’ll overnight FedEx you a check, and we can call it a day”. The end result? Exactly what you wanted: $1,500.
1. Define a to-do list.
2. Define a not-to-do list.