A few months ago I received a request to review a new book. For the most part, I’ve stopped accepting books to review, but this one was different. Not only did the author himself email me (as opposed to the typical PR firm), but the topic was actually pretty interesting and something that I haven’t seen covered previously: assuming you work 8 hours and sleep another 8, the premise of the book is that a large part of your success and happiness come from (or don’t come from) the other 8 hours in the day. Hence, The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth and Purpose by Robert Pagliarini.
Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m not the target market for this book. I can, however, empathize with the intended audience. In college or during my short engineering career, I would have been. This book is for the person who is stuck in a rut – either because they don’t have enough time or money or a satisfying job – and wants to change things. Pagliarini has a financial services background, which I think puts an interesting twist on the book because he talks with knowledge about traditional financial planning and how it fails.
One of my favorite parts was early on where he lists 24 “lifeleeches” – things that waste time and suck the life out of you (TV, gossip, porn, etc). Then it actually gets pretty in depth on how to start your own part time business…if that’s how you choose to spend your other 8 hours. Overall the book is a really good supplement/compliment to The Four Hour Workweek. I’d read both around the same time in life – you’re sure you don’t want to work your current job and that you kind of want to start a business, but don’t know where to get started.
Anyway, for me, the measure of any book is whether or not I learned something. There are two really interesting concepts that I picked up from this book.
I’ve always suggested getting a non career job to fund your first business. I usually suggested something simple that can be done on off hours, like bartending. However, this book takes it another level and advocates getting a “boost job where you get paid to show up and do absolutely nothing”. It has to be:
- Brainless and action-less
- Accommodate your schedule
- Flexible hours
- Pays $8 – $15 per hour
- Is close to home
- Has internet access
Sounds great right? I’m sure you’re thinking what I was thinking: how many jobs like this actually exist? More than I suspected:
- Security guard
- Dispatch operator
- Computer lab attendant
- Toll-booth attendant
- Gym front desk clerk
- Kiosk worker
- Hotel front desk clerk
- If you’re in college, almost all work-study jobs (this one is mine…at least where I went to school all work-study jobs were brainless and paid $10/hr+)
These jobs are perfect because you get paid AND have time to work on starting a business or learning a new skill.
Chunking is the correct way to “multitask”. Multitasking as most people do it (you know, IM + text messaging + email + trying to work or study) doesn’t work because you’re using your brain to try to do several things at once. You jump back and forth and get far less done than you would with a singular focus. Chunking is different – you’re doing two things at once but one is using your brain and one is using your body. For example, my new habit of listening to podcasts while I drive combines my brain (listening) with my body (driving), and it works. I never really thought of it this way, but this is something that all successful people I know do well. They don’t waste time.
The book recommends making a list of things you do where you feel like you have dead time (taking out the garbage, cooking, jogging, riding the train, etc) and then make a list of all the things you want to do more (learn a new language, talk to your friends, etc). Then look for opportunities to pair a head activity with a body activity. A few examples from the book:
- Learn a language or listen to audio books while exercising
- Go for walks when talking on the phone
- Have meetings while going for a hike
- Keep a book/iPhone/Kindle handy for whenever you have down-time at the doctors office, on public transportation, or while your car is getting serviced.
You get the idea. The possibilities are limitless. I just like how Pagliarini made the connection. There’s really no reason not to chunk your time like this.
I’ve always wondered if I could take it a step further and do my morning email check and day to day tasks while exercising. I see these people who build laptop trays on their treadmills and bikes. Imagine starting every day with an hour long brisk walk on a treadmill while you bang out your email. I certainly couldn’t/wouldn’t program this way, but I think it’s possible to get a good set up where you can read the news and answer email. It wouldn’t replace any exercise I currently do, but it’d be a great supplement. I always want to be more active. It probably won’t happen until I have a more permanent living space, plus can justify the spending on a decent secondary laptop and a nice treadmill. But it’s kind of always been on my mind and this just re-emphasized how good of an idea that could be for me.