When I first read Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, like many of us, I was blown away by the simplicity of the concept and the idea that someone was giving me permission to break out of the mold.
It would be another 10 years before I would get the opportunity to implement some of the tactics that Ferriss shared in his book. It wasn’t until I was being forced into a new responsibility with my day job that the options became clear.
I had a successful career, was at the high end of the pay scale, getting national recognition for what I was doing in the field of education, and yet, I had to walk away from it. It had nothing to do with the organization or the people running it. It was more of a realization that if I continued to trade time for money that I would always come up short, that I would never reach my full potential.
I am not motivated by money. I never have been. But the earnings’ ceiling on the salaried day job never felt as low as it did at that moment a few years ago when I had to make the decision to go into business for myself.
There are only so many hours in the day, and once you’ve put a rate on those hours, you immediately know what your limitations will be. I started doing the math and realized that when I converted my salary to an hourly wage, I had made the equivalent of the minimum wage.
There is nothing wrong with minimum wage if you are earning it. I have tremendous respect for the blue-collar work ethic because I’ve worked for minimum wage in my life more times than I care to remember. But the type of work I was doing was not consistent with the type of work expected for a minimum-wage job. The level of responsibility that was on my shoulders was not commensurate with the money I was making. It would’ve been much less stressful and less responsibility for me to flip burgers for about the same amount of money.
Now that I work for myself and I’m no longer trading time for money, I can restructure how I work and when I work. I’m no longer committed to a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 work schedule. In fact, it would be almost impossible for me to hold those hours in the type of work that I’m doing now.
And while it might be the dream for some people to be in business for themselves, there’s a certain self-discipline you must have. Otherwise, you could end up on the couch watching Netflix or playing video games for most of the day.
Once I abandoned the hour time blocks and realized I could do whatever I wanted with my time, my productivity began to skyrocket. The choice to change how I used my time suddenly became an easy one. I decided to use blocks of time to do similar tasks. In other words, the only thing I do on Tuesdays is first draft. I’m not responding to email, not dealing with administrative tasks, not working on podcast episodes. Just drafting.
I realize that this might sound like a luxury to someone who is still trying to write while holding a day job, but I can assure you that the concept is the same, just at a different scale. If you only have an hour a day to work on your business, decide to do one type of task and only that task.
This will give you the ability to be more focused on what you’re doing and keep your brain in an optimal place, so that is not switching from one task to another every hour just because that is how the corporate world has trained you.
I’ve become so much more productive and efficient by blocking my time instead of working from my to-do list, I can now reserve Fridays for whatever type of work I want to do, or none.
The work still has to get done, but by batching it and deciding when, during the week, it will get done. I seem to have created more time for myself, and the work that I’m doing is of higher quality.
Each week in this blog series, I’ll discuss what it means to live the author life, delving into topics about mindset, craft, audience, finance, publishing, self-improvement, spirituality, technology, and more.
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