Lessons From Tim Ferriss’s “The 4 Hour Work Week”

Get More Out Of Life. Get More Out of Music.

This blog falls under the categories: Efficiency, Effectiveness, Time Management, Career counseling. 🙂

Following are notes I made when I was reading the book “The 4-Hour Work Week” a couple of years ago.

These notes and ideas will give you insights in how to become more productive, more successful, more efficient and more effective with your practice time, or with your approach in achieving your musical goals.

Here’s the notes I made while reading the book.

  1. Anyone who lives within their means, suffers of a lack of imagination. (Oscar Wilde)

  2. Do not let your “job-description” be your ‘self-description”.

  3. Consider a study by Dunn and Bradstreet showed that credit-card users spends 12 to 18 percent more when using credit instead of cash.
    Always try to pay cash for most stuff.
    It is probably due to the fact that people think twice about purchases when they are using their own cash.
    Make it a habit to pay cash today.

    This is important! It means more money is left to buy guitar pedals and amps. (just kidding) 🙂

  4. Outsource your life.
    Everything you can pay someone to do for you, do so.
    It leaves you more time to earn more money playing or learning music.

  5. People don’t want to be millionaires, they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy.

  6. Reality is negotiable: be a deal maker

  7. Elimination: leads to more “time”
    Automation: leads to more “income”
    Liberation: leads to more “mobility”

  8. Some Quick Thoughts about Lifestyle:

    1) Don’t work for yourself, but have others work for you.
    2) Prevent working for work’s sake: do the minimum necessary for maximum effect
    3) Distribute recovery periods and mini-retirements.
    4) It is not about buying all the things you want to have, but about doing all the things you want to do, and being all the things you want to be.
    5) To be neither the boss or the employee, but the owner. Own the trains and have somebody else ensure they run on time.
    6) To have more… more quality and less clutter.
    7) To make a ton of money with specific reasons and defined dreams to chase.

  9. If you can free your time and location, your money is automatically worth 3-10 times as much.

  10. Eliminate the least profitable customers.

  11. Replace assumptions.

  12. Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life. (John F Kennedy)

  13. Do NOT try to please everybody all the time.

  14. Do less meaningless work, so that you can focus on more things for greater personal importance. Focus on being productive instead of busy.

  15. The timing is never right.

  16. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
    Get good at being a troublemaker and saying sorry when you really screw up.

  17. Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses.
    Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.

  18. It’s all an illusion: don’t work for the sake of work.
    By the same token: don’t just practice for the sake of practicing.
    Know what kind of guitarist and musician you want to be, then focus your practice routine to achieve that specific goal.

  19. Create (good) stressful situations: create deadlines for yourself that push you beyond your capabilities. Live a full life.
    Distress makes you weaker, less confident and less able.
    Eustress makes you achieve beyond your limits.

  20. Risks aren’t that scary once you take them.
    Audition for that band you can’t believe you make a chance getting into, book that scary show in front of 20,000 people, book your own national or international tour and jam with the musicians who you think are much better musicians than you.

  21. Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows.

  22. Define what the worst would be that could possibly happen.

  23. Conquering fear = defining fear.

  24. Eliminate physical and psychological baggage.

  25. Map out the worst case scenario, and you will see the risk is typically a lot less than what you believe it is.

  26. Understand this: “THINGS WILL NOT IMPROVE”. (take action)

  27. What are you putting off out of fear??
    Define the worst case, accept it, then do it.
    What we fear doing most, is usually what we most need to do.
    Resolve to doing one thing every day, that you fear.
    Get into this habit by attempting to contact a celebrities and famous businesspeople for advice.

    BE FEARLESS… BE BRAVE.

    Act now… even if you’re afraid, do what you need to do anyway. Do not postpone: life is too short.

  28. All progress depends on the unreasonable man. (George Bernard Shaw)

  29. Doing the unrealistic is EASIER than doing the realistic.
    Things are as easy as believing they can be done.

  30. It is lonely at the top.
    Ninety nine percent of all people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, hence making these the most time and energy consuming.
    It is easier to pick up the one “perfect 10” in a bar than the five 8’s.

  31. Dissolve assumptions:

    It’s always interesting to see how surprised guitar students act when you point out things like following:

    1) You do not have to be a better guitar player than you already are right now to join Metallica, or play with Madonna.
    2) You don’t need more than you already have at this moment, to be fronting your own band under your own name.

  32. If you are insecure… guess what: the rest of the world is too.
    Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think you are.

  33. The opposite of love is “indifference”, the opposite of happiness is “boredom”

  34. Don’t ask yourself: “what are my goals”… but ask yourself: “What would excite me??”

  35. Set goals like: “I want to make $1000 a day”.

    Be specific!

    I want to learn one jazz standard a day.
    I want to sight-read 10 songs a day.
    I want to write one song a day.
    I want to learn 1 new chord a day.

  36. Dreamlining: apply a timeline to your dreams.

    The goals have to be unrealistic to be effective.
    It focuses on activities that will fill the vacuum when work is removed.
    The goals shifts from ambiguous wants to defined steps.

  37. Don’t engage into long-term planning and far off goals.
    Set 3-months and 6-months dreamlines.

  38. ALWAYS call someone for advice or customer support… never waste time trying to find things out by yourself.

  39. Doing something unimportant well, does not make it important.
    Requiring a lot of time/work does not make a task important.

  40. What you do you is infinitely more important than how you do it.

  41. Efficiency is important, but is useless when applied to the wrong things.

  42. STOP contacting people so often.
    20/80% rule: only stay in touch and regularly contact people who are utterly important in my life: spend more time towards the right people.

  43. “The customer is always right!” is a hoax…
    NO they are not!
    You always have the power to choose and decide who you will work with and who you won’t work with.

  44. Maximum income from minimal effort is the goal

  45. “Lack of time” usually means “lack of priorities”!
    Think about this interesting thought next time you claim that you didn’t have enough time to practice. 🙂

  46. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time
    Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important.

  47. Give yourself deadlines:
    Book a studio first, then try to finish up the song, get a band rehearsed, etc…

  48. Ask yourself at least 3 times a day: “Am I being productive or just active??”

  49. Make a list of all the things you can avoid doing:

    1) COOKING; hire someone to cook for you.
    2) Emails: only once a day.
    3) Calls: respond to all of them at night.
    4) Deposit checks: have someone else do this or get your bank’s check deposit app.
    5) Run errands. Run all errands all at once every 2 weeks, or once a month, instead of every week.
    6) Stop work meetings.
    7) Clean house: hire someone.
    8) Do dishes: hire someone or get a dishwasher.
    9) Clean your car less frequently or pay someone to do it.
    10) Cut conversations down on the phone and in person.
    11) Only meet with people you really want to meet with or if you really have to.
    12) Stop contacting people for the sake of wanting attention/approval.
    13) STOP following the news. This is a huge waste of time.

  50. Learn to ask yourself: “if this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”

  51. Do NOT multi task.
    Get one thing done at a time, and get it done right the first time.

  52. Have, at most, 2 primary goals or tasks a day.

  53. Use impossibly short deadlines to force immediate action while ignoring minutiae.

  54. Stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions.
    When someone asks: “which movie should we watch??” “Where do you wanna eat?’ etc…
    DO NOT counter with: “Well… what do you want”. Instead: make a decision and decide on the spot, immediate, propose solutions.

    Practice this!!!!!
    A few lines that help:
    “Can I make a suggestion?”
    “Let’s try… and then try something else if that does not work.”

  55. A wealth of information, creates a poverty of attention.
    Only practice one thing at a time.

  56. Problems, as a rule, solve themselves.

  57. Maintain a low-information diet.
    Cultivate selective ignorance.
    Let other dependable people synthesize hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of media for you.

  58. Practice the art of non finishing.
    Starting something does not automatically justify finishing it.
    If you’re watching a movie that sucks, don’t continue watching it, if you’re reading something that sucks, put the book away, if you’re full, don’t finish your plate, etc…

  59. Ask for at least 2 phone numbers of incredibly attractive members of the opposite sex each day.
    The outcome is unimportant: this is just to get over the fear of asking.

    Use some variable of the following script:
    “Excuse me. I know this is going to sound strange, but if I don’t ask you now, I’ll be kicking myself for the rest of the day. I’m running to meet a friend [i.e. I have friends, I am not a stalker], but I think you’re really drop dead gorgeous. Could I have your phone number? I am not a psycho – I promise. You can give me a fake one if you’re not interested.”

    As silly as it might seem, this technique WILL help you with your networking as a musician.

  60. Learn to be difficult when it counts.
    Have a reputation for being assertive, this will help you receive preferential treatment without having to beg or fight for it every time.

  61. Be short on the phone:
    Your first sentence should be:
    “Hi John, I am right in the middle of something. How can I help you?

  62. Be focused, and resolve to keeping those around you focused.
    Remaining on task is your policy.
    Get specific and remember: no stories.

  63. Always respond to voice messages with email: it is faster… the time it takes to listen to the message, is time you could already be typing… and then the time it takes to actually leave a message back (with the waste of time having to listen to the greeting message), is just too much of a waste.

  64. 9 out of the 10 times, a meeting is unnecessary.
    Use email, and impose the same onto others.

  65. Always define the end of time for meetings…
    Don’t socialize.

  66. Always “batch” your work:
    1) Do all calls all at once
    2) Send out all emails all at once
    3) Pay all bills all at once.
    4) Order larger (batch) quantities when ordering.

  67. Empowerment failure:
    Give employees full access to all information and as much independent decision-making ability as possible.
    Give employees a chance to prove themselves.

  68. Prepare someone to replace you.
    Take baby steps towards paying others to do work for you.

  69. Eliminate before you delegate.

  70. NEVER use debit cards for online transactions.

Conclusion.

Those are some of the many ideas in the book that will help you be more productive, more effective, more successful.

The book is amazing and has a wealth of incredibly useful information.
This above listing isn’t even the tip of the iceberg yet.

While this blog is not specifically about playing guitar or learning music, the above ideas can help you streamline your life and improve your time usage, your finances, and many other areas of your life.
As an example: the time management ideas will give you more time to have fun learning music.

Many of these ideas are also applicable to musicianship, to how you practice, to how you organize your practice, how you plan to achieve your goals, and will greatly influence the quality of results you get in your musical goals.

All the being said; it’s worth it to ponder many of the above ideas and to ask yourself: “How can I apply this to music? How can I apply this to learning guitar? How could my musicianship benefit from trying out this idea? In which ways can I use any of these ideas to become more successful with my band?”

Buy Tim’s book here:
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

Be on the look out for more blogs about everything guitar, music, songwriting and music education.

Meanwhile: give this blog a rating and give me your feedback in the comments section below. I believe everything can always be improved, and I gladly would implement your suggestions and ideas in this blog or the next.


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