4hourworkweek1Here at Music Is My Day Job, we’re always looking for new ways to help you make music your full-time gig, thus our “Musician’s Library” feature, where we look at books, articles and ideas that you should be adding to your reading list. Today, we are focusing on The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris and, more specifically, Ferris’ concept of “Elimination”

(For those not familiar with it, The 4-Hour Work Week is a system developed by Tim Ferris which allows one to reduce the time they spend on business-related items (think selling your music, booking gigs, contracts, etc) to a minimum, allowing you the maximum amount of time to do what you love (writing music, practicing, touring, etc).  While there has been a lot of talk about Ferris, his blog and The 4-Hour Work Week–both positive and negative–none of it has really highlighted how his system can help musicians.)

When Ferris refers to Elimination, he is describing a process of purging your daily routines of those things that produce the least while taking up the most amount of your time, whether that be meetings, difficult clients, email, media/internet distraction or tedious tasks.

Sounds great in principle, but implementation is more challenging.  For example, with regards to media and internet use, his recommended media diet is as follows (from page 87 of The Four-Hour Work-Week):

  • No newspapers, magazines, audiobooks or non-music radio. Music is permitted at all times.
  • No news websites whatsoever…
  • No television at all, except for one hour of pleasure viewing every evening.
  • No reading books…except for…one hour of fiction pleasure reading prior to bed
  • No web surfing at the desk unless it is necessary to complete a work task for that day.  Necessary means necessary, not nice to have.

Now, we’re not saying that you should be as extreme (though you’re more than welcome to try), but in keeping with the intent of this concept, think about your day for a moment: how much more could you accomplish–writing, recording, practicing, marketing–even if you were to do half of what he recommends?

Out thoughts exactly.

He also has similar suggestions for optimizing use of e-mail and social media (including using auto-responses and improved use of FAQs), eliminating difficult clients and more, but the one section that may help you the most as a musician regards eliminating tedious tasks, and batching those that you can’t eliminate.  He suggests that we should all stop looking at tasks in terms of how much money we are saving, and re-frame them in terms of how much money/time they may be costing us.

For example, let’s assume that you are doing all of your physical product shipping by yourself because you don’t want to pay CD Baby’s $4/CD charge.  So, when you sell a new physical album, while you have to spend 30 minutes to package the album in a shipping container, address the shipment and deliver it to the post office, at least you are not losing $4/album to CD Baby.  If you sell seven albums a week, that is approximately 210 minutes of your time, or 3.5 hours–not much time, considering the week has 168 hours–and you are saving $28/week (CD Baby’s $4 charge x 7).  However, if by spending one more hour each week calling venues and promoters you could book one more gig per week–which pays you $300 for two hours of work–wouldn’t it be wiser to batch all of those shipping-related tasks into one and let CD Baby take that $28 so that you can spend your time booking additional gigs?


Your challenge for today: make a list of those things that produce the least but take up most of your time.  Create a plan to get rid of the top three within the next seven days through either straight-up elimination or batching.


You can learn more about Timothy Ferris and The Four-Hour Work-Week by visiting his official website and blog here


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Disclaimer: All Amazon links in the post are affiliate links

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