Well then, you’ll probably really love The 4-Hour Workweek, a 2007 book by Timothy Ferriss. On the other hand, if you love your job and wish you could do more of it, there’s not much here for you but a few handy email-management hints.
I read most of it and skimmed the rest on the plane back from Ontario, and it’s the kind of book that I don’t feel guilty about reviewing after skimming.
Mr. Ferriss doesn’t come across as very likeable. For example, he seems to regard having won a division of the Chinese national kickboxing championship as a triumph. He accomplished this by gaming the weigh-in rules to compete in a division two below his actual weight, and gaming the scoring rules to win by pushing lighter opponents out of the ring. Way to go, guy.
The premise is that if you’d rather go around the world studying kickboxing and staying in nice hotels, what you need to do is, rather than run a business by doing actual work, to own a business and collect the rent, hands-off.
I have no gripe at all with people who don’t like their work and want to minimize it. I’m just not one of them. I also have grave doubts that there are that many business models out their that will support this sort of hands-off management. Among other things, the people doing the actual real work may become disgruntled at the absentee landlord. But hey, if it works for you...
I found two pieces of good advice, useful even to those who enjoy their work, in the book (maybe there were more in the parts that I just skimmed). First, money is a means not an end. Almost everyone would like more, and people are willing to do extraordinary things to amass it. Ferriss’ advice is to ask yourself what you want the money for, consider just going and doing whatever it is, or at least figuring out if there’s a better way there than building up money.
Second, he advises doing less email. In particular, if you’re under pressure to deliver, just turn the damn email off and do it once or twice a day, or even less. Then, for things that matter, get on the phone instead and actually talk to people.
I can’t disagree with that at all; nor with doing less work if you don’t like your work. But I’d add one more piece of advice: If you’re not happy with your job, instead of re-organizing your life so you can be a vagabond, consider looking for a more interesting line of work.