HR & Management

The definitive business advent calendar: 4 December – The fun continues...

4 min read

04 December 2015

Despite everyone gearing up for Christmas, business continues as normal. As such, with the number four in mind, we head to a topic that has been the centre of much debate: the number of hours one should work in a week.

Employers are not going to want their workers to hear this, but according to Timothy Ferriss, who developed the ideas present in his book entitled “The 4-Hour Workweek” while working 14-hour days at sports nutrition supplement company BrainQUICKEN, you only need to work about four hours a week for a business to be successful.

To get there, however, you’ve got to be ruthless, Ferriss explained. The concept relies heavily on people spending less time on trivial things, and spending more time on important things. His first practical tip: put an auto-responder on your email that says, for example, that you only check email between 11am and 4pm.

He suggested that people should make it clear that emails not requiring answers shouldn’t expect, well, answers. However, the auto-responder should still contain a full list of contact details for people to find the right person they need to talk to within the company.

Furthermore, email should not be checked first thing in the morning! Instead, focus on getting the most important task done before noon. Elimination is about identifying the crucial from the many. 

“If you do that,” Ferriss said, “you’ll waste much less time.” He also advised outsourcing any task that you couldn’t find someone to do for less money than you make. “I have a team of MBAs in Bangalore who work for $4 an hour,” he said. “And I’m pretty ruthless in my personal encounters too.”

Ferriss also suggested that bosses needed to determine what it was that they wanted to create from a lifestyle standpoint and how much it would cost them. What do you want to do, be, and have? Determine what portion of your efforts are producing those results. He referred to the 80/20 principal, which dictates that 20 per cent of your actions will produce 80 per cent of your results.

In the book, Ferriss refers to his own experience. When he realised that out of 120 wholesale customers, five of them were contributing 95 per cent of the profit, he immediately put all non-productive customers on a holding pattern. He made it difficult for them to place orders because what he was after was not more customers, but more income. Then he found the commonalities between the remaining five clients and worked on duplicating those types of clients.

Furthermore, he suggested that bosses and employees alike need to get out of the office. Tell yourself: “I recognise that I need to continue working, this is not a vacation and this is how I plan to do it.” Make a plan and be extremely productive while you’re gone. If you or your employees come back to the office and show how productivity was twice as high as when you were in the office, then contemplate a one-day per week out of the office for a month. Once you’ve created more time for yourself, take advantage of that time and find out how to fill that time in a fulfilling way.

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