Productivity guru Tim Ferriss, author of the best-selling book “The 4-Hour Workweek,” popularized the idea that many seemingly difficult pursuits — running a business, getting in shape, learning a language — can be achieved in much less time than most of us imagine.
Ferriss started out as a small business owner working 90-hour weeks to grow his online supplement company, Brain Quicken. Dissatisfied with his workaholic lifestyle, he transformed the way he used his time and spent his days. Focusing in on the effective use of his time quickly increased sales and helped him drastically cut his hours.
He’s exploring this time-use theory again in a new television show, “The Tim Ferriss Experiment,” which premieres on Sunday on HLN. On each episode, he uses rapid-learning techniques to master a new skill, such as learning to play a musical instrument and competing at the professional level of a sport, in just five days.
We caught up with Ferriss to get his advice for small business owners who want to be more productive and effective with their time. Here are his three best tips:
Create a new category rather than try to dominate an existing one.
“From a positioning standpoint, if you’re undifferentiated in a crowded market, it’s going to be a race to the bottom, in terms of lowering prices and increasing hours per week,” says Ferriss, who adds that attempting to dominate an existing category will only result in small incremental improvements. “From the outset, positioning yourself intelligently can save you a ton of work and make it a game that’s easier to win.”
Schedule an 80/20 analysis of your efforts once a month.
Doing a regular 80/20 analysis helps you identify the most important things you should be focusing on. Essentially, you determine the 20% of activities that are producing 80% of results that you want, as well as the 20% of activities that are consuming 80% of your time.