The four-hour work week is still a dream

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By Greg Ashton, founder of GROW, a media company and conference series specializing in online retail. Follow Greg Here.

Image: This is 2007. The Sopranos ends on HBO, Alicia Keys’ “No One” plays widely on the radio and self-help guru Tim Ferriss releases his hit book 4 hour work week. For the first time, a man dared to ask, What if we worked less?

Since the dawn of corporate America, CEOs and college graduates alike have adopted a “work hard, never play” mentality, often wearing 60+ hour work weeks as a badge of honor. So, after working 10 hours at a coffee shop called Italian Vacation, Ferris asked himself, “Does it really matter to work that much?” A successful lecture circuit later and a seven-year run on the NYT bestseller list would lead us to believe it works smart Better than working hard.

Fast-forward to today’s “Great Resignation”—in which employees are volunteering and resigning en masse post-pandemic—and Tim Ferriss’ ideology seems more relevant than ever. As the founder and CEO of my own growing company, I face many of the same challenges that headlined last year’s Plus. Do people really not want to work anymore? Can I hire top talent? Does Gen-Z change the perception of input and output, which includes the perception that financial compensation is less than happiness and job satisfaction?


No, yes and yes.

No, people don’t want to No Work, they no longer want to work in menial jobs. In fact, many studies show that people who work are actually happier. Last year, writer and psychologist Brian Robinson discovered that remote work Increases employee happiness by 20%.

Yes, you can hire top talent. Top talent wants to be compensated for what they bring to the table. I’m talking about the traditional things we know and love: good pay, benefits, vacation time… but I’m also referring to the intangible. A collaborative work culture means your employees can trust you to go to the dentist And Do their work for the day, etc

When Tim Ferriss published his book in 2007, he actually had chapters describing how employees could create remote work by taking sick days, still working, and then creating a paper trail for their employers. It is!” Today, that sounds a bit excessive, but the point remains. Trust your employees to be able to do their jobs without being forced to stick to a 9-to-5 schedule.

Yes, Gen-Z is definitely changing the workforce. In my experience, there’s a big difference between how Millennials and Gen-Z handle work interactions (and TikTok creators never stop poking fun at this dichotomy). But really, their “work less, enjoy life more” mentality embodies the type of message Tim Ferriss was trying to spread 15 years ago. As he once said As for the journey of self-improvement, “[there are successful people who] Having conquered every mountain, slain every dragon, they were still not happy. Both Tim Ferriss and Gen-Z agree that it’s not a person worth it.

All this suggests that more than ever, a four-hour work week should be our goal. But how is this actually possible?

Consider that, according to Ferris, “doing something unimportant well doesn’t make it important.” As a CEO, I live by the 80/20 rule—spend 20% of your time on things that get 80% of the results, not the other way around. That is Work smarter, not harder. Getting more granular, the only way to achieve a shorter work week is through total delegation. Outsource key projects, delegate key responsibilities, and if you’re a founder, trust your team to take on your original work. Make it better without you.

As a business leader, it’s important to constantly remove yourself from key roles. It’s tricky, but you have to let go; Many people struggle to make the transition from “founder” to “CEO” because they don’t know how to delegate, or aren’t willing to give. As Ferris says, “You can start your own business and if you decide to be someone you’re not, you can handcuff yourself.” Finding freedom from long ago is all about daring your work and trusting the people you hire to have your back.

Additionally, consider this fact – as an entrepreneur, you are always working. You spend four hours a week answering emails and taking calls, but the rest of the week you’re thinking about the business and moving it forward. This way, spending less time on day-to-day tasks is actually good for business. When your mind is free to focus and create the bigger picture, your clarity of thought improves and your best ideas sprout.

In short, while no one can guarantee a consistent four-hour work week, the basic tactics Ferris outlines in his book can get you there. The only components are delegation and time management. If you’re starting something new, expect to invest a lot of your time, but remember Newton’s first law of motion: an object in motion stays in motion. The momentum you build will ultimately allow you to reduce your workload and reduce your time. The goal is to let you do your job and enjoy your life at the same time.


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