Forget the 4 hour work week — why not go for the zero hour week — and be 1000x more productive?

https://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/ringstrasse

Tim Ferriss’ 2011 book “The 4 Hour Work Week” took over-stressed, overworked America by storm by applying the Pareto Principle and outsourcing. Each of the concepts discussed fall into the categories of Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation -the DEAL method.

This is not unlike a modern version of 1911 book by Frederick Winslow Taylor’s BOOT principle in “Principles of Scientific Management”. In this he drove up to 50x improvement in productivity by Breaking tasks into micro tasks, Observing task length, Optimise until you find one best way and Train your team in that “best way”. Taylor became more famous than Edison or Ford by Robert Kanigal whose fortunes were based on his scientific principles.

I always find however that creativity and innovation is not an on demand task — so although administrative tasks can be dealt with using DEAL or BOOT — my core work could not.

When I started managing global teams in the mid 90s I found I was far more creative when flying half way round the world as the interruptions of the office were eliminated. Focus enabled creativity and effective team building as I could not be present everywhere with engineers in Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Ireland and USA.

In recent years my “habit” of travelling has been eliminated due to the Pandemic and productivity and efficiency of teams working with global clients (all of whom could not travel) was maintained with new ways of working and communicating that were driven by habit elimination.

But that is not 1000x productivity, I hear you mutter, having wasted 2 minutes of your life reading this far.

Well how about only working when you normally sleep?

When I was a teenager and left home alone I did not want to waste time on chores so I did all the washing and cleaning at 2am each week, hence no interruption to those “important” things a teenager must do when his parents are away.

I find my most creative time and uninterruptable as everyone I work with and love is asleep is at 5am. Mostly my task list is complete with creative writing such as this complete by 7am. Thus all work is done before everyone else starts work.

I found this presents an unexpected bonus, since I am close to normal “retirement age” I get asked the question, by those who cannot wait for their retirement — “ What will you do when you retire?” . My answer that “I have retired many years ago — I do this for fun”, seems to stress them somewhat.

So maybe I amnot 1000x more productive and have not really achieved a zero hour work week — but is sometimes seems that way — now for some breakfast as its only 6.30am, followed by a brisk walk around the Ring in Vienna, then maybe a siesta before lunch!

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Ian Beckett MSc

Ian Beckett MSc

Ian is a digital transformation expert who has saved companies over $200m by integrating technologies and diverse global teams effectively— he is a CEO and poet