13 ways to spend less time doing more

Want to get the most out of your work so you can enjoy what you have? Well, Tim Ferriss is the New York Times best selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek and he has a few suggestions on how to clarify your thinking and maximise your efficiencies.

As keynote speaker at the IFA 2017 convention in Las Vegas he shared his DEAL strategy with the assembled 4000 delegates.

There are four elements to DEAL:

  • Definition, finding what you want, analysing fears

  • Elimination, before you optimise processes and scale

  • Automation

  • Liberation, optimising time and mobility

The solution to making time work for you is provided by posing the right questions, Ferriss suggests. Here are his 13 key questions to set you thinking.

1. What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?

Take a question, sit with it, wake up and write down what could happen. It's counter-intuitive but can field interesting results.

2. What do I spend a silly amount of money on? What makes me frustrated?

Asking yourself, ‘Where am I price insensitive?’ can give you some helpful insights.  

Then ask 'If I had to, how would I accomplish my 10 year goals in six months?'

In brainstorming this there will be a lot of rubbish, probably 90%, but there will be the seed of something exponential in the 10%, Ferris predicts.

3. What would I do/have/be if I had 10 million? What’s my real target monthly income?

“Do the costings, spec it out, your lifestyle not the money is the goal, and once it’s costed out you might find you need less; then question the value of scaling if it detracts in other areas,” he says.

4. What are the worst things that could happen? Could I get back here?

This is an exercise of fear setting – whatever you are considering, starting a new project, expanding, shutting down, write at the top of a piece of paper divided into three vertical columns. On the left list the worst that could happen, and be really specific; in the middle column, what you could do to minimise risk; and in the final column, how would you get back to where you are now?

Ferriss says that for many seemingly huge decisions the risk of an irreversable outcome is small, just 2-3 on a scale of 10.

5. What if I could only work two hours per week on my business? What would I do?

This will get you to really focus. “You have to step outside current assumptions and constraints. You’ll get powerful insights.”

And apply the 80/20 rule to most things, Ferriss says.

6. What if I let them make decisions up to $100? $500? $1000?

“If you want to make large things happen, you have to condition yourself to allow small bad things to happen,” says Ferriss. “Tell employees, ‘I am no longer your boss, your boss is the customer. You can solve the problem.’”

7. What’s the least crowded channel?

Find out how best to achieve what you want by skirting round the obvious route and find the way to meet someone, get the result you want in the emptiest space.

8. What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly?

The key is to sell around the product, to sell the story, work out how you can turn it into a phenomenon. Being polarising can be a strength if it’s part of your story.

“Pitch yourself, pitch your influences. Provide a framework for people to build a community.”

9. Do I need to make it back the way I lost it? What if I created my own real-world MBA?

Ferriss moved out of real estate investments when he realised he would recoup lost funds more effectively doing what he was good ar.

“I expected to lose all investment in start-ups as an angel investor and I yielded 20x+ what I gained in publishing," he reveals.

10. What if I could only subtract to solve problems?

You don't need to add to something to find a solution. Createt a not-to-do list.

11. What rules and systems would I need for a four to eight week vacation?

We’re talking out of reach, no email, not simply being at the office in a more relaxing spot with a view.

And the length of time is important – less time away and you don't get long term benefits.

“By forcing this period off the grid instead of coming back as a firefighter after two weeks, by taking eight weeks you create best practice that outlives your vacation.”

12. Am I hunting antelope or field mice?

“The critical few are the antelope. All the little things you get wrong don’t matter. Are you letting the inbox (everyone else’ agenda) run your day? Consider which one of five things would make things easier or irrelevant. That’s the antelope.”

13. Achievement is great but how are you working on appreciation?

“Developing an ability to appreciate what you have is very important. You have to not just get what you want but like what you have. You have to proactively develop appreciation.”

He has recommendations too for daily practice to boost performance.

"If you want to be proactive you need to focus, so you need to do mind training, be aware of your emotional thoughts, be looking at the storm from inside your house not be in the storm."

Simplify, simplify, simplify, says Ferriss.

“Making a decision is cutting away options. Search for answers by asking the right questions.

“Get better at the art and science of skill acquisition. Learn to learn. Focus on the seemingly absurd to find the powerful.”