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Tim Ferriss

Mental Models: Making time

In his book The 4-Hour Workweek,  author Tim Ferriss makes a number of interesting points, but the one we’ll mention here is the concept of never doing something that someone else can do for you. In Ferriss’s case, he recommends hiring a personal assistant, preferably offshore, to handle mundane tasks such as administration, scheduling, and even research. While that may be too extreme for many, there is an underlying germ of truth in what Ferriss advocates.

We live and work in an extremely busy time. Schedules are driven to the minute, smartphones and other devices keep us constantly tethered and available, and even attention spans are seemingly measured in minutes. Given all those time pressures, we can easily forgo the age-old art of delegation.

When we delegate a task, we’re not casting it away as unimportant. We’re simply giving it to someone who can probably accomplish it equally as well as we could. At least, that’s the mental model of the top performers we’ve met. While average performers hold on tightly to all tasks lest something go wrong, top performers actively seek out partners and colleagues with whom to share the load. A hallmark of those top performers is the pride they take in how well others have accomplished tasks on their behalf. Rather than feeling threatened by someone else’s abilities, they are genuinely pleased and willing to celebrate the other person’s success.

One top performing and very senior banking executive working with ultrahigh–net worth clients delighted in enabling other members of her team to handle frequent communications with her clients. Her view was that involving others from the bank, properly aligned and reaching out, simply meant more and better communications with the client—resulting in a more satisfying client experience. She was right, and her results proved it.


Questions to ponder:

  • What tasks do you jealously guard, and which do you appropriately delegate? Are you leveraging your time to maximum advantage?
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