Tim Ferriss ist ein Typ, der das macht, worüber andere nur reden: Er verwirklicht seine Träume. Und zwar ganz konsequent. „Nebenbei“ ist der 31-jährige auch noch Unternehmer, Globetrotter und Autor des Weltbestsellers „Die 4-Stunden-Woche“. In diesem Interview verrät er uns seine Lebensphilosophie und wie er es schafft, tatsächlich nur 4 Stunden pro Woche zu arbeiten – und trotzdem gut zu leben.
Hi Tim, let’s talk. You call yourself an „ultra vagabond“. What’s your favorite place so far?
Tim Ferriss: Hi Anja and Peter. It’s very hard to pick just one. If I had to pick one, I’d pick where I live now: San Francisco. It has everything. Otherwise, Buenos Aires for winter, Berlin for summer, and Japan for in between.
Apparently, it makes no difference where in the world you are. Do you have a motto that describes yourself or the way you live?
Tim Ferriss: Experimentalist. Testing the unknown, experimenting with simple cutting-edge technologies, pushing the envelope: all of these things result in better outcomes than possible with a traditional menu of options. It just requires that people take the first step. There’s an entirely new world of options waiting.
In your book you show how to arrange your life so that you only need to spend 4 hours per week to attain the income that you need. So, Tim, when you only work 4 hours per week, what do you do with the rest of your time?
Tim Ferriss: In brief, I have fully automated and outsourced my life except for the most profitable or enjoyable activities. I’m also now investing in tech companies as an „angel investor“ in Silicon Valley. For fun, I also write one of the world’s top-1000 blogs at www.fourhourblog.com, which gets about 20 million hits per month. For exercise, I like rock climbing in Northern California.
On a more serious note, I would like to spark a revolution in science and math education, especially in the US, as well as literacy in developing countries. President Bush has led our country back to the Dark Ages, and it’s disgusting. A group of high-profile bloggers and I have already helped fund projects for more than 15.000 students in public schools in the US (see www.litliberation.org), and we’re building schools in Nepal, Vietnam, India and other countries. I’ll also be looking at building alternative education for children in places like Afghanistan, where they might otherwise be sent to Madrassa terrorism schools.
I have some very, very big plans.
Sounds cool. But let’s have a look at people who are just about to take the first step. What’s your recommendation for anyone stuck in a routine job that pays the rent – but is not really fulfilling?
Tim Ferriss: First and foremost, recognize that accepting a tolerable mediocrity (and terminal boredom) is worse than testing other options. Common options generally lead to common results, which are underwhelming.
Here are a few starting tips based on interviews with top-performing CEOs and employees in more than a dozen countries:
Do an 80/20 analysis of how you spend your time and create a „not-to-do“ list. What are the 20 per cent of activities and distractions/interruptions that consume 80 per cent of your time? Use a program like www.rescuetime.com if you must, but figure out what’s eating your usable time. Then write the top 2-4 on a not-to-do list and review them each morning, attempting for just 1-2 days to stop doing them. Don’t check e-mail until 11 a.m. and focus on completing your most uncomfortable to-do before that time. Once determining your „relative income“ – or hourly income – you can start to outsource life with small tasks via a site like www.tryasksunday.com. German-speaking virtual assistants can be found on both www.elance.com and on specific German city pages at www.craigslist.org.
All of these options have been tested by 1.000s of employees and entrepreneurs. Here are five key points from the research and case studies:
1. Don’t work harder to fix overwhelm. Overwhelm is due to lack of clear priorities, not lack of time.
2. Becoming aware of where time is wasted is half of fixing it. Use the free diagnostic www.rescuetime.com, which will show you the details. It’s often shocking to see the results.
3. Don’t allocate more time to something to make it better. Follow Parkinson’s Law: a task will swell in perceived complexity to fill the time you allot it. Short deadlines and clearly defined milestones beat more time almost every time.
4. Don’t try to please everyone. There is no one path to being better at work, but the one sure path to being miserable is attempting to do the impossible: please everyone.
5. Focus on your strengths and „offshore“ the rest with personal outsourcing. Determine your approximate hourly income by cutting off the last three zeros of your annual income and halving the remainder. Thus, $50.000 per year turns into 50/2 = $25/hour. Use sites like www.tryasksunday.com to get a 24/7 digital butler in India for $60 per month, which equals less than 3 hours of your income and could easily save you 30-60 hours.
Now, many people are risk averse. What do you tell people who would like to change the direction of their professional life (or life in general) but are unable to do so because of their financial or family obligations?
Tim Ferriss: This is a common question, but I think it reflects untested limitations versus real ones. More than 60 per cent of the case studies in the book are people with jobs and families. The basic approaches to redesigning life – even extreme examples – are far less risky than postponing life for retirement.
What about the mother who doesn’t want to spend all weekend looking for that one hot toy her son wants for his birthday the following week? She can have a virtual assistant do it, reserve it under her name at the one store that has it, and give her the number. Hours of calling and searching saved, life reclaimed. This can be done in English, German, or almost any language using www.elance.com to find appropriate people – in the case of your readers – in Germany or Poland.
What about the employee who demonstrates to his boss that he’s spending 20 per cent of his time working on administrative tasks, and that the company can save $30 per hour by offloading non-sensitive online research and Excel creation to a virtual assistant at a reputable firm in India or someone else within the company? The employee makes himself more valuable by working on high-impact tasks, engaging in more interesting work and ultimately getting a raise for his greater contribution. And he doesn’t pay the bill. A new father could create similar leverage to work from home once per week, after documenting increased results from fewer interruptions, etc.
Time is time, whether business or personal, and there are dozens of methods – and companies – that can help you create your ideal lifestyle, whether you’re an employee, housewife, or CEO. It is equal-opportunity.
Thanks for the interview, Tim.
Tim Ferriss: Danke, Anja und Peter.
Seine Bücher (Auswahl):
– Der 4-Stunden-Körper
– Die 4-Stunden-Woche: Mehr Zeit, mehr Geld, mehr Leben