In delivering my small business consulting services, I find that my clients are always wanting to be more productive. Everyone feels like they don’t get enough done.

In a recent interview in Inc. Magazine, Tim Ferris, author of the best selling book, The Four Hour Work Week, said that while the title of his book was not meant literally, it was possible to dramatically increase your productivity by eliminating nonessentials and reestablishing strong boundaries.

He said: “You have to emotionally condition yourself to the point where you’re comfortable declining almost everything.” Being able to say “no” (diplomatically, hopefully, most of the time) is a true power tool that can radically change your work life.

Just like building a bicep, this “no” muscle requires heavy use and repetition to develop. But the rewards are huge – you’ll have the strength to protect your time and your focus.

In addition to being able to say “no” to the trivial, you have to focus relentlessly on your core areas of strength and focus on the 20% of activities and clients that produce 80% of your profit. Almost everyone has heard of the 80/20 rule, but when I really use it to analyze my time and productivity, I have always found that it is remarkably and consistently accurate.

So while a four hour work week is not remotely likely for most of the business people I know, a 40 hour one would be a great achievement.

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