One of my favorite books of 2007 was The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris. It was so aspirational (!!!) and a NY Times Best Seller. Timothy told readers to forget the old concept of retirement and use his blueprint for escaping the rat race to experience high-end world travel and earn a monthly five-figure income. Escape the 9 to 5, live anywhere and join the new rich, he said. Tim shared how he went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week, largely by reexamining his priorities, starting a business he could run remotely, and automating routine tasks.
While I achieved a “mini-retirement” (when I went to music school in 2010, and on to Nashville to become a recording artist) I did so by owning a rental property, dipping into my savings and eventually returning to my job as an attorney because the risk wasn't producing a reward. Unfortunately, my dream didn't include an idea for a business that I could automate. The $40K, by the way, doesn't come automatically when you follow your dreams! You have to be an entrepreneur, and that's not for most people.
"The 4-Hour Workweek and the Crown Publishing Group sold me a dream... one that I've been unable to achieve while actually keeping a roof over my head and an occasional craft cocktail in my hands."
I don't blame Timothy for my failed early-retirement experiment, and I'd never say his method is untrue for I'm sure some have been able to duplicate his success. The book was revolutionary. It made you think differently about the value of your time and how you spend it. However, it doesn't work for everyone because it was more of an idea than a blueprint. Great ideas - plus flawless execution - are what make money and give you that independence. Not everyone has a big idea to automate, the confidence, the tolerance for taking risks and the luck all at the same time. However, I'm a big believer in dreams and possibilities, so I still love the book.
How About A 4-Day Workweek?
I don't know whether the dream of the 4-Hour Workweek will ever happen, but I do know that the 4-day workweek is what's happening right now. Consider for a moment that, according to the US Census Bureau, the average commute time in the United States is just over 27 minutes each way. My former hometown, Washington DC ranks the highest at over 44 minutes each way. While no one can promise a 4-Hour Workweek, I can remind you that, if you're part of the new remote workforce, you just earned an extra hour each day. When you add the time (and money saved) for selecting clothing, making lunch, stopping at the gas pump, hitting the drive-thru for morning coffee, you're as close as you've ever come to that 4-day workweek you've always dreamed about.
What Can You Do With A 4-Day Workweek?
The simplified answer is that you can prioritize a new priority that you didn't prioritize before because you didn't have the time (I know some moms and dads with kids at home are screaming at me right now!).
Ten Things You Can Prioritize In Your New 4-Day Workweek
Health and Fitness - go for daily walks or other exercise (alone or with the kids, if you have them);
Motivation - tune in to new motivational or instructional podcasts;
Organization - clean your home so you have more peace of mind without the clutter (definitely with the kids);
Nutrition - learn to cook healthier meals (alone or with the kids);
Relaxation - finally crack open those good books on your list (alone or in a family book club);
Entrepreneurial Dreams - research that business idea and maybe start one;
Finances - track your online spending and make sure you set aside the funds that you would've spent (fuel, coffee runs, lunches out, dry-cleaning, cosmetics, clothing) so that you can use those funds toward a new goals
Career and Education - take online courses and obtain training certifications that move your career forward;
Service - get involved in local community service or politics; or
Exploration - explore new hobbies (much more to come on this one!) - too many professionals focus exclusively on work - we need fun and recreation.
I'm one of the new remote workers in America, and I'm developing the habit of using my extra time in a progressive way rather than absorbing it by piddling around the house or sleeping later every day. This is my challenge and yours!
Our self-confidence and self-image is boosted when we take meaningful steps toward our long-held goals. The opposite is also true. Our self-image is deflated when we know we haven't done what we should do to create the life we desire.
The Two Required Skills for Getting the Most Out of Your 4-Day Workweek
Discipline and time management: these are two skills that Timothy Ferris has probably mastered. We can begin by having discipline over the one extra hour per day. Make up your mind about what thing(s) you will do during that 45-minutes to an hour, each of the five days a week. Set a timer if needed, so that when it goes off, you simply move on to the next thing.
If you still dream of the 4-Hour Workweek, don't give up. The 4-day workweek might be the first step to get you there.