Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek

What would you do with an extra 36 hours (or more) each week? Where would go if you could work from anywhere? What adventures would fill your time? The prescription for making these questions a reality in your life, as well as some ideas on how to answer them, is the basis for Timothy Ferriss’ best selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

The 4-Hour Workweek was originally published in 2007, but I only recently purchased the expanded 2009 version after no less than 10 different sources recommended it during a single week, ranging from mentors to other books I was reading. The signs were clear: I needed to read this book now. Five days and 40 post-its later, my “dreamlines” are taking form.

Ferriss is an expert. It’s hard to put into words what he is an expert at, but he sums it up nicely as “lifestyle design.” The roots of The 4-Hour Workweek are grounded in Ferriss’ own reclamation of time and mobility, the currency of the “new rich,” after launching a successful business and falling into the “work for work’s sake” 80+ hour workweek. Fast forward to 2007 (and 70 some hours per week lighter), Ferriss has traveled all over the world, becoming a National Chinese kickboxing champion and the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango during the process.

There are dozens of gems within Ferriss’ hefty guide to living like no one else right now (400+ pages). Here are just a few that will recoup your investment all by themselves:

  • Absolute vs. Relative Income: The paradigm-shifting concept that the $200K per year 80+ hour week attorney is actually poorer than the $40K per year 10 hour week freelancer who chooses when and where he works. “The blind quest for cash is a fool’s errand.”
  • Shoot for the Unrealistic: “The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.”
  • Dreamlining: The application of timelines to dreams; therefore making them reality. Ferriss’ structure takes you from your dreams to your target monthly income in seven pages, priming for the upcoming content. “‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.”
  • Pareto’s Law: Also called the “80/20 principle,” this concept alone has already freed up about 10 hours of my workweek. Seriously. Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of your problems? Eliminate them.  
  • Parkinson’s Law: The definition says it all: “A task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.” There’s a reason we produce our best results when we are on a tight deadline.
  • Batching: The art of rounding up your repetitive routine time consumers and doing them all at once. How about going through your mail only once per month? Checking emails only twice each day? How much time could you save?
  • The Low-Information Diet: A necessary step to focusing your attention during the limited number of hours you will be devoting to work this week. Ask yourself, “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?”
  • Automated Cash Flow: From picking a niche market to extricating yourself from the organizational flow chart once orders are churning, Ferriss has a baby step model that can put you on the fast track to automated income so that you can achieve those dreams.

Whether your “someday” is to spend more time with your kids or backpack through Australia, The 4-Hour Workweek turns the idea of deferred retirement on its head, empowering you to at least consider the possibilities. Thankfully so because when I envision myself in Sicily, I’m certainly not 64, wrinkled, and waiting for a bus tour.

Giveaway! Enter to win The 4-Hour Workweek in two easy steps:

1) Become an email subscriber if you aren’t already. You can subscribe here.

2) Share what you would do if you only worked 4 hours a week and could work from anywhere as a comment on this post. Be sure to identify yourself (rather than commenting anonymously) so that I can get in touch if you win!

The most inspired comment by a subscriber by the end of the day Monday wins. Good luck!

Contest is limited to addresses in the United States, including APO/FPO addresses with US Zip Codes. [post_ender]
11 Comments
  1. The title of this book initially didn’t interest me; I haven’t had experiences where employers recognize value over hours worked. It seems most reinforce overtime as dedication rather than productivity. However, I am very intrigued about the focus on priorities and breaking down your own perceived barriers that keep us from living our “someday.”

    1. The title does at first glance suggest a solitary focus on working less. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of foundational concepts that create the ability to spend less of one’s time working and more time living.

  2. Very interesting concepts. 20% of the sources causing 80% of my problems? That would be people problems every time, whether family drama or employee drama.

    What I would do: Spend Utah winters in Italy and restore classic cars in the summer.

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