One Friday morning, after an unusually strong cup of coffee, I dreamt up an idea for a book called the 168-Hour Work Week. This revolutionary, self-help manual will teach you how to explode your productivity by filling every hour of your life with profitable activity. Learn how – with a little imagination – you can link any activity to your work and make every action feed back into your business.
Setup a permanent camcorder on your dining room table and you can record training videos while you eat. Take a stack of business cards with you when you take your kids to the park, and you can market your services to the other parents there. Keep a stack of marketing books in the bathroom and . . . you know . . . .
The real clincher though, is that the book title is unassailable. It’s only a matter of time before Tim Ferriss is outdone by someone with a 3-hour work week plan, whereas my book title takes productivity to its ultimate conclusion (admittedly there are the 28-Hour Day theorists but those people are just nuts).
Obviously I’m just kidding around, but hopefully this serves to illustrate the difference between possibility and practicality. As in, just because something is possible, doesn’t mean that it’s likely to happen or that it’s a good idea.
Truthfully, I like the 4-Hour Work Week. Really. It’s a great title. It’s so good the book could be filled with nothing but blank pages and it would still sell in its millions. It calls to our inner laziness with a claim that is highly improbable but is too tantalizing to ignore.
Personally, I could never work just four hours a week, because I enjoy what I do too much to limit myself to such a paltry amount of time. But then isn’t that the point? If you like the idea of only working four hours a week, then it’s most likely because you don’t enjoy your work in the first place. If I had the choice of working four hours a week unblocking sewer lines, or working 60 hours a week as an internet marketer, I’d choose the latter without a moment’s hesitation.
Before trying to whittle your work time down to a handful of hours per week, perhaps you should consider whether you’re really satisfied with your choice of career, especially if you’re angling to be a 7-figure, internet marketer. Because let me tell you what every internet marketing “Guru” already knows: NO-ONE gets to that status on just four hours a week.
I recall a recent video by a popular internet marketer (I won’t identify him directly, but his name begins with “F” and ends with “rank Kern”) in which he gave a tour of his house, highlighting the fruits of his many successes. Yet along the way, I counted about seven or eight computers scattered across his house. And that was before we got to see his external office!
Is it too much of an assumption to suggest that if someone keeps that many computers around, they spend a lot of time using them? “F” has made a LOT of money online, but I very much doubt that he achieved this by working one morning per week and then surfing for the remaining six and a half days.
I’m not saying that “F” doesn’t spend a great deal of his time enjoying life to its fullest but, in all likelihood, like myself and many other successful internet marketers that I know, his schedule will be more along the lines of what is sometimes called a “Lifestyle Business.”
I prefer to call it:
Work Hard – Play Hard
In practical terms, it’s nigh on impossible to say how many hours a week I work, because I have no specific schedule. If I’m on vacation, I work zero hours, but if I’m working to a product launch date, then I might end up working 36 hours straight. This is not unusual.
Mike Filsaime once told me that when working on one particular launch, he worked for 3-4 days straight with just a couple hours sleep a night. I know many other internet marketers who can work 80-100 hours in a week, but then they follow that with a couple of weeks off. Does this shock you? If you think about this business in practical terms, then it shouldn’t.
An internet marketer’s success is, for the most part, driven by personality. You can outsource the creation of the product, the writing of the sales copy, the management of the affiliates, and so on, but it’s still your name on the book, your face at the seminars, your experience and wisdom being communicated. There are huge parts of this process that simply cannot be compressed into handy, four-hour per week, pieces.
Let’s say, for example, that I’m going to attend an internet marketing event and deliver a two-hour lecture. How long does is that going to take me? If you’re thinking the answer is “two hours” then, frankly, you’re not thinking.
As well as delivering the lecture, I also have to:
- Learn and experience the information that goes into the lecture.
- Write my speaking notes and create the visual slides.
- Travel to the seminar location (sometimes half-way around the world).
- Spend countless hours before and after the lecture, catching up and networking with business colleagues and new contacts.
Given how much I enjoy them, it can be difficult to categorize everything on the above list as work, but they are all essential parts of my business. I would go so far as to suggest that everyone who engages in this kind of work absolutely loves the majority of this process; it would be very difficult to summon up the energy and enthusiasm required if they didn’t.
Work hard, play hard, is right; it’s simply that the work part is rarely emphasized. No matter how enjoyable it may be, the word carries connotations of stressful, uninteresting, unfulfilling jobs for minimum wage. “Work” does not sell, regardless of whether or not you choose to use the “hard” suffix. Instead we choose to focus on the rewards. They require no qualification and are universally appreciated.
We might state that our latest and greatest product is “unsuitable for lazy, undisciplined individuals who don’t want to get ahead” but as no-one is ever going to put themselves into this category, the effect is a positive one.
Outsourcing is an essential part of working online. If you never get to grips with it, you’ll always be underperforming and overworked. Is a 4-hour work week possible? Technically, yes. Is it a worthwhile objective? I think not. Reducing the hours you work to leave more time to spend with your family and to make your efforts more productive is a great goal to have, but you don’t need to get down to four hours per week to achieve it.
Anything less than 35 hours work per week is going to leave you with a lifestyle that is far more manageable than the vast majority of the working population. Alternatively, you may find that working three long weeks, followed by one week vacation every month, is even more effective.
In fact, let’s go completely nuts and stop counting. If you have a career that you enjoy, you’ll eventually find it difficult to figure out where the play ends and the work begins. Work Hard, Play Hard, might not sound as glamorous as a 4-Hour Work Week but, right now, there are far more people living and enjoying the former, than the latter.
By Gary Ambrose
This article first appeared in the September 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at http://the7figuresecrets.com