Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, was first published in 2007 and spent four weeks on the bestseller lists. Since then, it’s sold over 2 million copies, been translated into 40 languages and continues to change lives. The first foray into lifestyle design for busy professionals, Ferriss shared his experience and teachings in company automation and lifestyle development from working 14-hour days on his supplements company to being able to escape his workaholic lifestyle.
The 308 pages hold a plethora of concepts to apply to your life and work. Here’s how to use ChatGPT to implement the most powerful five.
How to apply The 4-Hour Workweek to your work
Apply Pareto’s Principle
The Pareto Principle is named after the scientist Vilfredo Pareto, who found that approximately 80 percent of outcomes result from 20 percent of causes. This pattern repeats throughout nature and human behaviour. Ferriss applies the concept to entrepreneurs, suggesting ways they could do less to achieve the same in their business. Here’s how you use ChatGPT to assess your work and make personalized recommendations.
Copy and paste in and edit the square brackets. The more detail you include, the better the response: “I’m an entrepreneur looking to optimize my business operations. I’d like to perform a Pareto analysis to identify the 20% of activities that yield 80% of my desired outcomes. Can you help me identify which tasks or areas I should focus on to achieve the most significant impact with less time investment? My business is [describe your business], my goals are [outline your business goals] and each week I [outline how you spend your time each week].”
Join the new rich
A significant part of the book’s introduction is the definition of the “new rich”. This group, compared to the “old rich”, is described as being “rich in life, which is not related to being rich in dollars.” Becoming part of the new rich means, in part, that rather than deferring retirement to some unspecified time in the future, you enjoy mini-retirements throughout your career. A mini retirement could take many forms, so use ChatGPT to suggest what yours might be.
“I’m an entrepreneur striving to achieve a ‘new rich’ lifestyle where wealth is measured in experiences and freedom, not just finances. Inspired by the concept of mini-retirements from The 4-Hour Workweek, I want to design a life where I have the flexibility to enjoy extended breaks throughout my career. My business is [outline your business] and my role is [describe your role.] The experiences I value are [describe what you do outside work] and I enjoy spending time [outline other activities you enjoy doing]. Can you (1) define my version of the ‘new rich’ and (2) identify potential opportunities for mini-retirements I could take?”
Delegate, automate, eliminate
The acronym DEAL is used in The 4-Hour Workweek to represent: delegate, automate, eliminate, liberate. If you assess, outsource, and reduce your tasks down, you will be free. But many business owners aren’t free. They are trapped in meetings, admin and processes. They are doing things that could be done by someone else, and they don’t experience the benefits that entrepreneurship can bring. Here’s how to use ChatGPT to find out what you could change.
“Within my business I believe there are tasks I could delegate, automate and eliminate. Given that our revenue goal is [describe your revenue goal] and the activities that contribute towards this are [outline what contributes towards making sales], of which I am personally responsible for [say which you do yourself], can you identify tasks that could be delegated, automated or eliminated? For each one, say why, outline the next steps and explain how much time it could save.”
Cultivate selective ignorance
Chapter six of The 4-Hour Workweek is about cultivating selective ignorance which includes going on a “low information diet.” As Ferriss explains, “most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.” So ignore the news and get more done. Not only that, but remove yourself as a source of information for your team. “Problems, as a rule, solve themselves or disappear if you remove yourself as an information bottleneck and empower others,” added Ferriss. Help them figure things out and feel happy about doing so. Here’s the prompt:
“Within any given day there are a lot of things that try to get my attention. These include people such as [describe the people who ask you for things and what they ask for] and websites [include the websites you are notified or distracted by]. Cultivating selective ignorance means being happy to let things slide in order to free up time and headspace for what matters. Imagine you’re a productivity expert, can you suggest (a) what processes I should put in place so my team can progress without my involvement and (b) what I should intentionally ignore in order to protect my headspace?”
Create your email autoresponder
Interruptions are the enemy. If someone can tap you on the shoulder at any moment, you can’t get deep work done and you can’t escape. The biggest culprits are time wasters, time consumers and “empowerment failures.” Take control of interruptions starting with email. Ferriss recommends you, “Limit email consumption and production,” “Never check email first thing in the morning,” and “Create an email autoresponse so people respect your new rule.” For some brilliant examples of autoresponders, see Ferriss’ blog. Ask ChatGPT to create yours based on information you provide.
“I want to create a [tone, for example friendly and direct] email autoresponder that will be sent to everyone that emails me and serve the purpose of [purpose, for example them being directed elsewhere to have their problem solved and not expecting an immediate response from me]. People usually email me about the following items, and I respond with the following answers: [list common topics people email you about the corresponding answer]. Can you create an email autoresponder that politely directs people to visit the appropriate web page or how-to video to solve their problem, so they are not waiting on me for a response? Use the style of this one: [paste an example of which you like the style and tone, perhaps from Ferriss’ blog].”
Use ChatGPT to apply The 4-Hour Workweek to your work
Get help implementing the methods of everyone’s favourite lifestyle design book with these five simple prompts and ChatGPT. Apply Pareto’s Principle, join the new rich, delegate, automate and eliminate your way to freedom, go on a low media diet and create an autoresponder that releases your inbox’s hold. Escape the 9-5 and do more by doing less. Take control of your work and live by design.