I know many people who have read the Four Hour Work Week book. I read it some years ago. It just didn’t seem to apply to me. I couldn’t imagine giving up most of what I was doing to people in another country to get $4/hr. Firstly, why not find people here who are happy with $10/hr? Secondly, there are some things I just wouldn’t delegate.
So as far as I can tell, I know zero people doing what that book suggested with ONE exception. There is a part of the book where he claims you will get SO much of your life back if you only check email twice a day. He’s sure that’s all you need. What is so important that you need to check email more than twice a day? That’s what the book wants you to think. Well, are you also not answering your phone except for at 9:15am and 3pm? This has lead people to set email autoresponders to let people know that they are not reading your email for another 6 hours.
Peter Shankman, general cool dude, wrote a great blog post about how people are doing email autoresponders all wrong. Out of his list of five email autoresponder sins, the fifth one has to do with people who are reading their email twice a day. Among other great points he makes, I think Peter’s best point is that if you are not going to read his email for hours, he will do business with someone who will.
I agree. In today’s world with email on every gadget, we get email constantly. We can choose to respond or not, so if you are looking to do less work and have more “life,” you can check email, make sure nobody needs an immediate response, and go back to that low-work life you were living according to that book.
The book itself is a victim of timing. It came out in early 2007 (so it was probably written in 2006). The first iPhone was announced in earlier 2007, and available to you as of June 2007. And then you became a serious email junkie. I already was. I had a Windows Mobile phone picking up multiple email accounts, and making a different sound for each account. Before that, I had a Palm Treo picking up my email all day. Before that, a Palm i705 with an always-on connection to Cingular. Picked up my email all day from it in 2002.
You don’t need to master ignoring your email just like you don’t need to master ignoring your phone or other inbound communications. You might need to learn time management, and deciding which emails get a reply right now, which get deleted, and which can get a reply later. My trick is to leave everything in my inbox until I’ve dealt with it, and to delete anything I don’t need to deal with or save. Forget the Four Hour Work Week. I doubt even the author has a four hour work week considering all the writing, promo, and investment meetings he has. I think it’s just not realistic for anybody other than the rich and famous, and I don’t think they could do it either.