The Journey to a 4‑Hour Workweek: Work Less and Accomplish More
I recently began reading The 4‑Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and have been blown away by what I’ve learned so far. Regardless of what your ultimate career goal is — to actively build websites for clients or to turn your business into a thriving digital agency—there are ways in which you can work less and accomplish more. I’m about halfway through the book and I’ve already shaved an hour off of each workday just by using the tips in the book. Today, I’m going to share a bunch of these tips to help you improve your mindset as well as workflow.
How to Work Less and Accomplish More
Ferriss says that people are willing to live a stressful, unhappy, or unfulfilled existence now because they believe it’ll pay off in retirement when they can finally kick back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. He then poses the following question: Why wait decades to claim your reward for working so hard? Instead, why not find a way to make enough money now to fund the kind of life you want to lead? The kind of life that will make you happy while still being successful? Here are some of the tips from The 4‑Hour Workweek that should be of great use to web designers trying to live a more fulfilling life:
1. Set Your Costs Based on Value and Success
There’s a question I see a lot of across web design and WordPress blogs and forums: “How much should I charge for my services?” To answer this question, take two points under consideration: What is the true value of your service? In other words, when you build a website for a client, how much new business and revenue are they going to generate from your well-designed website? Your project rates should directly correlate to their outcomes, not on the number of hours you work. How much does the life you want to live cost? Ferriss has developed what he calls the Dreamline Exercise. You can download a sample of it as well as a worksheet to use from this list of tools. In this exercise, you’re asked to choose the things that will make you the happiest professionally and personally. Then, assign monetary values to them so you know how much you have to earn to live that life. And, finally, create an action plan for making them a reality. With the value of your service and the value of your life calculated, you can set a commensurate rate for your services.
2. Stop Wasting Time
There are a number of ways in which freelancers and small business owners waste time. It’s not their fault really. When a business is brand new, you do what you can to get new clients, get the work done, rinse and repeat. But this is when you start to accumulate bad business practices, unimportant tasks, and unhealthy client relationships. Ferriss says we need to be prepared to remove the waste from our lives. Here are some ways to do that:
- Review your processes and remove unimportant and inessential tasks.
- Remove time-consuming tasks from your plate or find a smarter way to handle them.
- Stop multitasking; it only prolongs each of the tasks you’re working on.
- Get rid of “bad” clients. Clients that abuse you, take you for granted, that suck precious hours out of your workday. Start by identifying who your least profitable customers are and evaluate the rest, one by one.
- Delete unnecessary email subscriptions. Every second you spend distracted by them keeps you from living the life you want.
- Delete unnecessary tools or tools that slow down your workflow.
- Dedicate one or two times a day to check email.
- Set a specific time frame once a week when you can schedule or attend meetings.
If you stop wasting time on distractions and other time wasters, you’ll have more time to dedicate to things that are more meaningful to you.
3. Leverage Your Strengths
For many freelancers and small business owners, they break out on their own so they can work for themselves. The assumption is that if you don’t have to report to someone else, you have total control over everything. But is that always such a good idea? Ferriss suggests that this mindset is flawed. While there’s nothing wrong in wanting to work for yourself, don’t confuse this with working by yourself. When you assume responsibility over every single task, you put the success of your business and your own personal happiness on the line. Instead, what you need to do is leverage your strengths. Ask yourself “What specifically am I good at?” Focus on honing those strengths and delegating the rest. As Ferriss explains, this isn’t about being lazy or unaccountable. If your handling of things like the business’s accounting or copywriting for client websites leads to mediocre results, it’ll cost you more in the long run. Find ways to automate your process. Templates are a good place to start. So is professional software built for a specific purpose. Then, hire team members that fill in the gaps. An assistant to handle incoming quote requests. A maintenance service to manage ongoing support for your clients’ sites. A project manager to serve as the go-to person who interacts with clients on a daily basis. Stop being the reason you don’t earn enough money to live the life you want.
4. Rest Up!
I hear people say this all the time: “I want to retire early.” But as Ferriss explains, that’s not really feasible. You’d have to earn millions of dollars a year and save most of it along the way in order to make that a reality. Rather than burn yourself out trying to do the impossible, start living life to the fullest now. This requires careful planning, but it’s definitely doable. I already detailed many of these tips when I talked about how to take a stress-free vacation. Just remember not to think of a vacation as a time when you lose money. Breaks from work give you time to clear your head and relax, which, in turn, allow you to come back to your business feeling renewed and inspired.
All that said, you should, of course, still be saving money for retirement. I’m not telling you to make frivolous choices in the pursuit of a better life. But stop telling yourself that now is not the time to enjoy any of it. There are ways in which you can work smarter and be more effective with the time you put towards your work. In doing so, you’ll find that you don’t have to work as much and actually have free time to devote to the things, activites, and people that make you happy. Featured image via DepositPhotos.