Have you ever wished there were more hours in the day? If so it may be worth your while to read the 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. Regardless of whether you literally want a 4-hour workweek, or you just want to find a way to fit more things into your day, it is full of information and resources to help. Below are my top eleven takeaways from the book as they relate to parenting.
- Assess your current situation. Decide if it is what you really want. If not what does excite you? Are you able to attend to your top priorities? If not what would a lifestyle aligned with your priorities look like? It is always a good idea to check in with yourself every once in a while. Our priorities change as well as our desires. As my son has reached school age, with the possibility of a baby on the way, I have decided my time is best spent with them. So I have to redesign my situation. I want to homeschool my son, take care of the baby, and make money. A couple of months ago that plan was quite different.
- Outsource: Once you know your priorities outsource all the time-consuming, value-adding stuff. You need to be careful what you outsource. If you hire someone to do something you could do in half the time, you may be wasting your money. It is a fine line between what is clever outsourcing and what is not. I outsource a lot. I am able to maintain the house during the day, but it is hard for me to get to the deep cleaning. I hire a house cleaner for that. I also have a virtual assistant to help with the time-consuming work-related tasks. You can usually find a virtual assistant for any budget, and once you do you will never be without one. I also send my son to public school a couple of days a week for socialization and education. Now if only I could outsource laundry!
- Guard your time: Your time is limited, don’t let people waste it. Be fierce. Schedule time for phone calls and checking emails and stick to it. Don’t keep checking them. The same goes for social media. Schedule the time and stack it or outsource it. Leave a message on your voicemail or email autoresponder telling people that you check messages twice daily and will respond as soon as possible, and thank them for their patience. It is as simple as that. Following the guidance from the 4-hour Workweek, I check and respond to emails and make phone calls two times per day at 12:00 and at 4:00. It frees up time not to be tethered to your phone or computer. The hardest part was breaking the old habit of checking it constantly.
- Low Media Diet: I personally swear by this one. I avoid TV, news, etc. because they are a time suck. I do not read or watch the news. I subscribe to a couple of news apps, and I review the headlines once a day. If there is something I need to know, I can dig deeper then. It is easier to get through when they are one or two-line snippets. If I can reduce and limit my screen time, it makes a better example for my son, when I limit his screen time.
- The 80/20 principle “Pareto’s Law”: The principle means 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs. For example, 80% of your income is derived from 20% of your clients. In the blogging world, you could say 80% of your engagement comes from 20% of your followers. Once you understand the principle it is easy to apply it to many things in your life. It helps guide you toward the activities with the greatest output. It helped me reduce my client load while keeping my income intact when I decided to stay home with my son. Focus on those activities with the greatest impact.
- Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fit the time allotted. This one I use as more of a guide. If I tell myself I am going to write a blog post in 20 minutes, I am just setting myself up to fail. I have found that a combination of outsourcing and reasonable time blocks results in greater efficiency. It maximizes my hours worked and frees up time for my family.
- Dreamlining: This is a method he uses to list your dreams and put them on a timeline. It puts you on notice for action towards those goals. It is a fun activity, it gets your creative juices going, and gives you complete license to dream big. I find activities like dreamlining and vision boards fun and inspiring. I also find that if I do them a couple of times a year, it keeps me on track for my big goals. If not inspiring immediate action then it keeps me open to paths as they present themselves. My most recent example was having bariatric surgery. It was always an option, but not one that I could afford. However, when our new insurance covered it, it became the best option. I am now healthier and more active than I have been in years. I have more than enough energy to tackle my goals. Never give up on dreaming big and improving your life.
- Elimination: Eliminate waste in your life and things that are hindering your progress. Friends who give you the most stress. Activities or commitments that offer no value. Stuff in your house you no longer need. Living in a 900 sq ft house, I have to purge on a regular basis, or we would be drowning in stuff. I also have to pick what I do carefully. My time with my kids is sacred to me, and I make sure that it is as invaluable as possible. However, I also have other responsibilities cleaning the house, visiting extended family, checking in on elderly parents, and work. Having all of that on my plate, I have no time for things that don’t align with my priorities.
- Time Batching or Stacking: This is the most difficult lesson I have learned. The action of blocking off tasks that are similar cuts down on your brains need to reset and refocus. It saves your sanity. I previously mentioned my blocks for email and phone, but I also have blocks for homeschooling, writing, researching, exercise, scheduling, outdoor time, cleaning, and working to name a few. It ensures I get the most out of the time I spend on projects. Starting and stopping is a waste of time. By eliminating it, you open up more time for priorities. I block my writing time when I can do it uninterrupted. This usually only happens for me in the early morning, before the kids get up. I wake up at 5 am write for 2 hours and then I am ready to spend time with the kids when they wake up.
- Automation: If you truly want the freedom to achieve your dreams and goals you will need money. Setting up an automated income source to supplement or take over your employment income is a must. I prefer to have multiple streams of income. I sell stock photography, monetize my website, and sell products. The combination allows me to have enough side income to have all the experiences and travel that drive my kid’s education.
- Mini-retirements: Waiting until you retire before you enjoy life is a bad gamble. You need to enjoy life NOW. Our goal is to pack as many mini-trips into our schedule as possible. Mini trips range from a weekend trip to a week-long vacation. We then try to schedule longer experiences once per quarter. Experiences can be anything from intensive lessons or longer trips. For example, we could spend a month learning tropical marine biology in Florida or take intensive Spanish lessons in Spain. Learn guitar in three months, and play a live gig. The options are endless.
It is not necessary to quit your job and embark on a 4-hour workweek to get value from this book. However, the principles are sound and can be applied flexibly. The key is to know what you want for your family, and what works. It also highlights the importance of now. Do not wait until it gets easier or less scary. The time is now to design your own life. If you need more time or more money apply these ideas and you will be surprised at the results. You can buy his book at Amazon. To learn more, you can follow Tim at https://fourhourworkweek.com/.
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