My Love/Hate Relationship with Tim Ferriss

Timothy_FerrissTim Ferriss is considered to be one of the leading experts in productivity right now. His book ‘The Four Hour Workweek’ is immensely popular and I would recommend reading it.  I mean – who wouldn’t want a four hour workweek?

When I tell people I write this blog or about my book Listful Thinking —  they will often ask me what I think of him. While I often smile and tell people he’s great….the truth is, I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Tim Ferriss.

What I ‘Love’ About Tim Ferriss

There’s nothing wrong with him, in fact I agree with him on most things. These are just a few examples:

Go right to the source – Tim believes that if you want the best and most accurate information you should head to the best source. It’s how he made his decision for voting in the presidential election and I completely agree.  He asked people in the know what they thought about each candidate and decided from there.  No suffering from analysis paralysis for him.  

Make time work for you – In his book he writes, “How is it possible that all the people in the world need exactly 8 hours to accomplish their work? It isn’t. 9–5 is arbitrary. You don’t need 8 hours per day to become a legitimate millionaire—let alone have the means to live like one.” You could work on something for an hour or 15 minutes and still get the same amount done. Tim and I both believe in working smarter not harder.

Read fiction before bed – This is one of my favorite tips! I always used to read non-fiction before bed and it would leave my brain feeling wired.  Plus I always want to take notes on interesting facts and ideas that I read. That doesn’t work in bed.  Fiction helps me ease into a relaxed state and get ready for bed.

Avoid all meetings – Tim insists that you should never take a meeting, whether in person or remote, that does not have clear objectives. I couldn’t agree more. I hate meetings! I also don’t answer my phone unless I have an appointment to talk to that person. It’s my way of letting people know my time is valuable and I will get to them when I can.

What I ‘Hate’ About Tim Ferriss

His approach and mine are pretty different.  Hence the hatred part.

In his book he explains that if a professor gave him a bad grade in college,  he would go question the teacher for hours and basically annoy him so much that he wouldn’t ever do it again.

He writes,  “The grader would think long and hard about ever giving me less than an A. He or she would never consider giving me a bad grade without exceptional reasons for doing so, as he or she knew I’d come a’knocking for another three-hour visit.”

Personally I don’t see the need to be such a huge pain in the ass, when I could just work a bit harder next time. I know I’m not in his demographic, so these stories are not aimed at people like me. He is talking to guys like him – young, fitness crazy, tech savvy guys.  Not me.  But still — it makes my skin crawl a bit.

Some of his “classic productivity tips” just don’t do it for me either:

1. Forget Time Management: In his book he tells people forget about watching your time. I think it goes without saying that I disagree.

2. Go on a Media Diet: He advocates going on a “media diet” regularly.  This is where you go one week with no news consumption. Now I may be biased because I work in the news industry, but I think that’s ridiculous. In fact, it’s a pet peeve of mine when people aren’t informed about the world.  Just fake it if you have to by signing up for bite-sized news gathering emails from Need 2 Know or TheSkimm.

3. Don’t Check Email in the AM:  He suggests that you never check email first thing in the morning. Which to me seems unrealistic, and a great way to miss an important email.  I just can’t get on board with this! It’s one of the many productivity myths about email that I debunk in my new course, Take Back Your Inbox!  Sign up here for some free tips to tame your unruly inbox.

Despite having a few disagreements with Tim – I still listen to his podcast often, and read his book. So I do get value out of his opinions (even if I find myself rolling my eyes from time to time). But really it doesn’t matter whether we agree or not, because in the end I always believe you should do what works for you.

I’m sure some of the readers of this blog disagree with some of my tips, and that’s fine. It’s all about finding a productivity style that works for you.

So I’m dying to know — what do you think of Tim Ferriss?

4 replies
  1. Kathy Steck
    Kathy Steck says:

    Point by point, I absolutely agree with you! How could annoying someone for three hours be a productive use of your time? And for those of us who work with customers, we must check our emails in the morning in order to offer good customer service. Thank you for all the wonderful advice Paula! You keep me on track!


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