We’re all busy these days, balancing full-time jobs along with family and friends. But can you create your own four-hour work week to create the career of your dreams?
Most of us won’t be Tim Ferriss.
That’s not to say we can’t be — far be it from me to tell anyone the limits of their own awesome potential. But in reality, most of us (even in our dreamiest of dream careers) won’t be able to achieve the idealized four-hour workweek Ferriss touts in his famous book. We will, more realistically, spend at least five hours a week bringing home the bacon, probably more.
Which is perfectly fine. It is possible to enjoy your career — and your life — without working next to zero hours. The key is in creating a career you’ll actually enjoy spending some time on.
To that end, I’d like to propose a four-hour workweek of a different kind. One that anyone can aspire to, and achieve, that can be just as life-changing as the one Mr. Ferriss enjoys. This four-hour workweek focuses not on spending the least amount of time possible working, but on making the most of the time you do have to invest in creating the career of your dreams.
Making the time for your career goals
One of the biggest deterrents to chasing our dreams — whether those dreams are to start a side hustle, find a new job or become location independent — is the notion that we “just don’t have enough time.” We have day jobs to hold down. We have bills to pay. We have social lives we can’t completely neglect. Who has time for anything else?
But, if we’re being totally honest with ourselves, very few of us have all 24 hours of every day totally, irrevocably spoken for. Even deducting 7-8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for the standard workday and a couple hours for the non-negotiables such as eating, commuting and occasionally saying hello to our friends and family, most of us can find some time somewhere to eke out a little space for our dreams — if we make them a priority. (Click here to tweet this quote.)
Therein lies the rub. We technically “have” time for all sorts of discretionary activities. Unless you’re a total Spartan who exists solely to eat, work, sleep and die, there are plenty of things you do throughout the day that aren’t really compulsory. If you ever check Facebook, play Candy Crush, read a book or watch TV, you’re choosing to make time for those things. You’re electing to do them at the cost of other things you could be doing with that time.
You can do the same thing with your career. You just need to learn to invest a little more time in you. That’s where the alternative “four-hour workweek” comes in.
Putting yourself on the schedule
I’m willing to wager most of you reading can find the time to set aside four little hours each week to prioritize your own career goals. Divided over seven days, that comes down a mere half-hour (and some odd minutes) a day. Deduct one episode of The Big Bang or wake up half an hour early, and you’ve got the time.
Four hours a week is totally doable for most of us, and may not even seem like all that much, but the point is that you’re making a decided effort to create room in your schedule to work on your stuff. Not your boss’s, not your client’s, not your colleagues’ — yours.
This time is not to be spent getting in a little extra work time; yes, an extra half-hour on the Peterman project might “advance your career” in that it will make your boss happy, but we’re thinking bigger-picture here. We’re looking at where you ultimately want to go in your career, and what steps you can take, right now, to get you a little bit closer to that goal.
Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer…
- Re-examine your client list and see if you’ve got any dead weight that needs to be cut.
- Gather together a mastermind.
- Check out some new sites to boost your biz.
If you’re a side hustler (or wannabe side hustler)…
- Work on a digital product.
- Get clear on your big idea.
- Tweak your home office (or create one) for maximum productivity.
If you’re a 9-to-5 corporate ladder-climber…
- Update your resume.
- Do some of that networking you know you’re supposed to be doing.
- Brainstorm some ways to make yourself irreplaceable to your company.
See where this is going (and how easy it is)? All of these things can easily be done in a half-hour a day. They may not seem like much in and of themselves, but the cumulative effect can equal awesome progress for your career advancement goals.
So what do you say? Are you ready to embark on your own four-hour workweek?
Kelly Gurnett runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits and is the Editor-in-Chief of All Things Career. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.