Productivity can easily sound like a unicorn fantasy.
It’s frustrating because many of the wild theories about how to be more productive and get more work done are phenomenal.
But the packaging is all wrong.
Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Work Week didn’t help. It sounds almost impossible and it’s entirely unrealistic for most people.
The new trend I’m loving is 4-hour work days. Let me explain.
The revolution of 4-hour work days can change your life
The concept appeals to me because once my unborn daughter is born, I won’t be able to work the crazy schedule I have anymore.
So I’m preparing for post-daddy life. The 4-hour work day is the system that most aligns with me. The point isn’t to work a minimum of 4 hours less than you used to. The point is to…
Become mindful of how you currently work
Most of us piss our work time up against the wall.
Especially while working in an office. The real work of the modern worker is to reply to emails, analyze data, do deep thinking about a problem, build relationships with key people, and do live business presentations.
The challenge is all those things are hard.
So we have endless coffee meetings, engage in office gossip, send too many random Slack messages, and walk over to other people’s desks or call them on the phone to talk nonsense.
If you purposely look at all the time wasted during a work day, you’ll see huge amounts of fat literally dripping off your calendar.
Mysterious deep work over shallow work
Shallow work is busy and unfocused. It makes us accidental losers.
Author Cal Newport made the idea of deep work popular. He called it an economic advantage, and I agree.
Deep work is about focusing your attention on one thing, not letting your attention spin out of control all over your computer screen like a drunk.
The power of focusing on one thing sends your mind into a trance-like state. Deep work has more meaning too. And when you finish a deep work session you feel ecstatic because you’ve made meaningful progress.
That progress becomes rocket fuel for your goals in life.
You no longer need rah-rah motivation. Work starts to just happen.
This is why only 4 hours of work is needed
The 4-hour work day is built on deep work combined with a flow state.
A flow state is where you get so into the zone of deep work that your perception of time starts to warp.
4 hours in flow feels like doing 12 hours of normal work. So you can achieve a lot more in a flow state. Workplace expert Sandeep Kocher goes even further:
One hour in the flow state is probably equal to 100 or even 1000 hours of normal state both in terms of output & in terms of joy.
The purpose of a 4-hour work day isn’t to be a lazy ass or work less. It’s to do deep work in a flow state so that all you energy is used efficiently and your output increases as a result.
Strangely, working 4 hours a day gives you more free time to fill the void with human connection and mindless entertainment (if you choose).
The hidden benefit of 4-hour work days
I’ve noticed that when I combine deep work with a flow state for 4-hours in a single day, the value of my work increases enormously.
And the cool part?
I then get paid a lot more money for that work. Some people complain about not making enough much money which is fair enough.
In that circumstance you can reduce expenses and simultaneously reduce the quality of your life. There’s a better way…
Experiment with 4-hour blocks of deep work done in a flow state.
Let the state of mind you do your work in improve so it naturally increases the value of your work.
Then you have the opportunity to make more money. Making more money is always a better solution to money problems. The headline of this article is inspired by productivity expert Ali Abdaal. He agrees.
Use 4-hour work days to reach your version of financial freedom faster.
Practicality of the 4-hour work day
Let’s wrap up on the practicality of 4-hour work days.
Obviously not every form of work will be suited to this model and that’s to be expected. The point isn’t for us to become 4-hour work day angels and spread the gospel.
The focus here is to be mindful of how you work and see if you can implement 4-hour focused work chunks into your week. Maybe you have to be in a lot of meetings and there’s no way out.
Instead, maybe you change your calendar to have more 4-hour batches of time. Or you speak to your boss about the current schedule and use this article to pitch them a different way of working.
The bottom line is this: shallow, busy work will get you nowhere in life. It literally wastes the most precious resource you have: time.
4-hour chunks of deep work aren’t a nice to have. They’re one of the few ways you can buy back your time and one day reach a level of success or freedom your parents will be proud.
Society can’t function anymore in busy work full of Slack distractions.
It’s time we wake up and try something new. That something new is the concept of 4-hour work days.