Brendan Harris Burns on How to Create a 4-Hour Work Week

Harish Pednekar
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Brendan Harris Burns, born on March 10, 1987 in Manhattan, New York is a great Public Speaker.

Brendan Burns didn’t always have a 4-hour week. After graduating from Cornell University’s accelerated 3-year joint JD-MBA program, Burns routinely worked 100+ hour weeks in his job as a Corporate Attorney and then as an Investment Banker. However, during his time in law school, he read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek which kindled his desire for location independence and an entrepreneurial lifestyle. After working for years on Wall Street, Burns transitioned to Coaching, Speaking, and hosting the podcast The Brendan Burns Show. He now manages a team that executes the majority of his work for him so he can enjoy his own 4-Hour Work weeks. While he loves what he does and often puts in full weeks because of the fulfillment he finds in what he now does, he spends equal amounts of time traveling the world and outsourcing the majority of his work to his team. Today he shares some of his favorite strategies for creating your own 4-hour work week.

Burns says that outsourcing to a talented team has been key to his success. He breaks his strategy into three categories: “Do, Delegate, or Delete.” As humans, we often get in our own way and try to do everything ourselves. “It’s easy to fall into a trap of micromanaging our lives and trying to control everything,” Burns says. Regardless of whether or not you own a business, Burns suggests delegation as an extremely powerful tool that everyone should use. He recommends the rule of 70%: “If someone else can do the job that you need done at least 70% as good as you, delegate it to them.” Doing this allows you to free up your time to focus on the highest level action items that leverage your biggest skills.

As an Executive Coach and Public Speaker, Burns spends the vast majority of his time coaching, traveling, and speaking. However, that wasn’t always the case. “I used to be a one-man show,” Burns says, “and it took a huge toll on my physical and emotional health.” Burns would spend his downtime in between client sessions or in between onstage talks frantically rushing through tasks such as email marketing or social media posting. Once he began to outsource his marketing and communications, his life changed dramatically, and so has he. Now he’s able to focus on the important tasks, like his coaching and speaking, and let others handle the rest.
“Don’t be deceived,” Burns says. If you think that outsourcing requires a huge budget that you don’t have, think again. Outsourcing can be done in an extremely affordable way nowadays. Burns recommends sites like Fiverr and Upwork as good options for finding high-quality and affordable help. He recommends the Israeli company Fiverr as a great place to start, especially for those on a tighter budget. While they do offer some higher-ticket services, most tasks on the site cost as little as $5.00. “It’s a great platform for outsourcing labor intensive tasks like data mining, excel management, or SEO.” As an experiment, he suggests finding one task that you can delegate, have the task done one Fiverr, and see how powerful it can be.

While Fiverr is a more affordable option, some tasks require more expertise. For more in-depth tasks, like custom website coding, accounting, bookkeeping, or situations where you need someone with more experience, Burns suggests using Upwork. Although it can be a bit more expensive, it’s often worth it. Burns describes a time when he paid someone a couple hundred dollars on Upwork to work on email list deliverability and the value Burns received back was worth thousands.
Another great option for outsourcing, especially if you have a lot of routine tasks, is to hire a virtual assistant. For hiring virtual assistants, Burns has found success in sourcing through Facebook groups dedicated to the profession. However, you also can Google “virtual assistant” and look for independent contractors there too.


Lastly, Burns suggests looking into getting an intern. This is more relevant for someone who owns or manages a business. Burns mentions that, “Internships are great because interns are often interested in getting real-world learning experience, which means you can teach and mentor them and in exchange you get to work with amazing, hard-working students.” Interns are a fantastic option because not only can you find great talent at a relatively low cost, but you can also discover talent that you may want to hire long-term as your business grows.

“Don’t be afraid to delegate,” Burns says. People often won’t delegate because they aren’t willing to face the fear associated with letting go of control. But letting go of control is critical to achieving higher levels of success. “When I realized that people can not only do as good of a job as me on certain tasks, but an even better job,” Burns shared, “I was able to install a team to do all of the non-coaching or speaking work for me. And that’s why I really challenge people to go and think about this 70% rule. If someone can do the job 70% as good as you or better, give it to them. Often you’re going to learn from them and you’re going to free up your time to focus on the tasks that require your attention most.”

Delegating is obviously crucial to success, but what about those other two elements of Burns’ formula? Do and Delete. The concept of “Do” asks you to figure out what are the critical tasks that you do best, that are essential, and that can’t be delegated at this stage. For Burns, that’s his speaking. Not only is it his passion, but it’s also an essential way that he’s able to grow his brand and income.

When figuring out what of your tasks fall into the “Do” category, ask yourself: What are the 20% of my tasks that contribute to 80% of my business’ results, revenue, or growth. Known as the 80/20 rule or the Pareto Principle, Burns shares that this guideline has been invaluable in helping him determine what to do himself versus delegate to others.

Finally, the idea of “Delete” is very straightforward but often hardest for his clients to implement. There are way too many tasks that we do on a daily basis that simply aren’t necessary. With such tasks, Burns recommends removing them from your life or business entirely. This is going to look different for everyone according to their unique situation, but Burns mentions that a few things he’s been able to delete entirely include unnecessary emails, coaching clients that don’t meet his requirements, and taking on too many new projects. Figure out what you’re doing that isn’t contributing towards your happiness and growth, whether in your life or business, and simply remove it from your schedule.

For Burns, these concepts have been the secret to unlocking hours of his time, freedom and have allowed him to grow his business while working dozens fewer hours per week than he did while on Wall Street. He encourages everyone to pause and make three lists: Three things that you will do, three that you will delegate, and three that you will delete. Burns shares, “We can’t do everything ourselves, and learning how to prioritize and delegate makes our lives much more powerful.”

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