Should We Really Strive for a 4 Hour Workweek?
The concept of a “4 hour” workweek is very compelling. You have your interests, and then you have your work. If you can spend less time on work and still make enough money, simple math will tell you that you have more hours in the day for the things that really capture your interest.
This is what Tim Ferriss envisioned when he redesigned his life and outlined his story and methods in The 4-Hour Workweek. The plan is simple to describe: DEAL. Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation. It’s obviously much more difficult to implement.
I run the risk of contradicting the very name of my blog when I ask this question: Should we really strive for a four hour workweek?
[Warning: This post consists mostly of my entrepreneurial ramblings.]
Of course this question doesn’t have a definite answer, but I’m in the mood to examine both sides of this discussion. Let’s start with “yes,” some people should strive for a four hour workweek. If you’re in a job or business that you dislike (or hate) and there’s no end in sight for reasons beyond your control (although I believe you always have some control over the situation), you probably should try to work as little as possible while remaining sufficiently productive.
There are a lot of ways to work less while remaining productive, especially because we spend so much of our time “working for work’s sake” (or W4W as Ferriss describes it). I’m not going to get into those right now, but I’ve already written about trimming down your “9 to 5” day, avoiding conversation, staying focused to get more done at work, and how to say “no.”
The bottom line is, if you’re not doing what you love right now, you should be focused on efficiency and reducing your time spent working, so that you have extra time to do what you enjoy. There will always be 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to you to allocate those hours to best of your ability. A literal “four hour workweek” is very likely impossible if you’re a regular employee, but I think with a little bit of strategy, you can knock 40 hours down to 30, or 60 down to 40.
Say NO to the 4 Hour Workweek
I don’t mean the book – you should definitely read that. What I do mean is that you should never even put yourself in a position where you want to work less. You certainly don’t want it to negatively impact your relationships and your other interests, but I strongly believe you should find a way to do what you love, because the reality of life is that most of us will spend more than 50% of the hours we’re awake, working.
A lot of people try to quit their jobs and go into their own businesses hoping to free themselves of the long work days. The fact of the matter is, if you’re doing it right, your work days will get longer. There’s a lot of reasons why people fail in business, and this is certainly one of them. Some people are just not cut out for hard work, and that trait doesn’t translate well to entrepreneurship.
What About Me?
As you may know, I’ve been trying for the past few months to escape my job and start my own business, and it still hasn’t happened yet. It’s not because I don’t have ideas or because I enjoy my 9 to 5 job (trust me, I don’t). If anything, I have too many ideas and can’t pick one to focus on. The biggest reason has been that entrepreneurship is about risk and I haven’t been willing to take on that risk yet.
My day will come, and I’m hoping it happens this year. What I’m really trying to do is get something in motion before I quit my day job, but it’s very difficult to work hard on a business when there simply aren’t enough free hours in a day. I know it’s going to come down to taking on the risk, and it’s something I will eventually be willing to do.
What I know for sure is that I’m not looking for a four hour workweek. Even when I’m at a retirement age, I don’t think I’ll ever stop working. I love work – I love challenges and keeping my mind constantly engaged. Competition is my ultimate motivator, and I thrive on it. I’m not sure how I could get any of that without working more than “four hours” a week.