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The 4-Hour Work Week: Inspiring and Revolting

The 4-hour workweekLast week, I posted a quiz asking our readers about the size of their vegetable garden.  I wasn't really surprised that 75% of the respondants use less than 40% of their potential growing area as a garden of any kind.  I was surprised by the reason, though --- time.

 In retrospect, I shouldn't have been so shocked.  Even Mark and I become starved for time, despite the fact that we strive to live as minimally as possible and only work 25 hours per week outside the home between the two of us.  So I couldn't resist checking out one of last year's New York Times bestselling books --- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.  As the blurb on the back says, "This step-by-step guide to luxury lifestyle design teaches how Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per MONTH and 4 hours per week."

I found this book revolting, edifying, and inspiring.  Nice combination, eh?

Let's talk about revolting first.  The author is awfully young --- okay, so he was exactly my current age when he wrote the book, but I feel like his ethical education is lacking.  Coming from my background as a cause-oriented person who works for a nonprofit, I feel like his book teaches people to be selfish without thinking about the repurcussions to the people and societies around them.  I'm not sure I approve of outsourcing to India to lower costs, for one thing.

The 80/20 principleWith that caveat out of the way, I heartily recommend that everyone read the book.  A couple of my favorite points are:

  • He notes that 80% of the outputs in any endeavor flow from 20% of the inputs.  For example, 80% of your work stress flows from 20% of the people or jobs you're involved in.  Or, 80% of your productivity flows from 20% of your time.  He talks about ways to cut out the deadwood 80% --- meetings, constant emailing, etc. --- to maximize efficiency.
  • If you're interested in producing a product to sell (and Mark comes up with dozens of potential ones per year), chapters 9-11 are a must read.  He makes a good case for developing a product which can be sold for between $50 and $200 a pop to maximize profits while minimizing hassles.  Then he gives step by step instructions for testing then implementing your project.

Despite the fun facts and easy reading level, the main reason I liked the book was because the author tempts you to look beyond the American obsession with defining yourself by your job.  He pushes you to define and chase your real dreams, which is something we can all use a refresher course in.



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