The 4–Hour Workweek

4 min read
The 4–Hour Workweek

Author: Timothy Ferriss

Published: 2009 (381 pages)

Started reading: 30.July.2016

Finished reading: 8.August.2016

Brief description


The The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich succeeded in overturning my assumptions about what sort of work-life configuration is necessary in order to enjoy the lifestyle ostensibly enjoyed only by millionaires.

Rather than following common the slave > save > retire model, in which real pleasure is reserved for your twilight years, once you’ve built up enough wealth as a 9-5 corporate drone, Ferriss exposes hacks and methods to generate vast, previously hidden quantities of the three currencies (time, money and mobility) so that you can spread pleasure over your entire life, starting now.

The book requires you to be socially unconventional, and in that sense it is truly entrepreneurial. For example, Ferriss advocates not attending meetings or regularly checking email (time-wasters), creating a ‘muse’ (an online, outsourced business) to automate income, and asking your boss for remote work arrangements (to do your job from any exotic location in the world).

If this sounds quixotic, give it a chance. Every new idea is followed up with excruciating detail and strategy to allow you to execute it. And Ferriss, who tried them out himself, is the real deal, a Silicon Valley angel investor (and adviser to companies such as Twitter, Uber and Evernote), entrepreneur and three-time bestselling author.

Each chapter ends with ‘comfort challenges’, ‘questions and actions’ lists, and recommendations of websites and services to implement the principles covered in the chapter. You’ll want to read the 4-Hour Workweek armed with a highlighter and post-its, stressing that you’ve missed something of value (the book is among the top 10 most highlighted books of all time on Amazon kindle).

Being socially unconventional is by definition difficult, especially for those already climbing the corporate ladder. As such, adopting every element of this book will not be feasible for everyone.

But it’s a book that can be cherry-picked. If you’re interested in nothing more than being effective (doing the right things) and efficient (doing the right things well) in anything you do, there’re a handful of key insights that will quite possibly change your life.

“You spent two weeks negotiating your new Infiniti with the dealership and got $10, 000 off? That’s great. Does your life have a purpose? Are you contributing anything useful to this world…”

-Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

Actionable insights

> Check your email and social media accounts in one batch, no more than three times per day. I have been doing this for a while now and it is a game-changer. I check at 11am, 2pm and 5pm, although lately have been checking only twice, at 11am and 3pm. Usually, I follow this sequence: Facebook > personal emails > work emails, because checking Facebook last can be a time trap. I’ve also turned off push notifications on my phone. If checking email only a few times per day seems radical, Ferriss actually recommends less frequency: once or twice per week, gradually moving to once a fortnight or month if possible . (NB: this obviously requires the setting up of an email auto-response, which should refer people to your phone number for urgent matters.) Checking emails at set times frees up time and attention to focus on the tasks that genuinely matter…

> Ruthlessly apply the 80/20 principle to all aspects of your life. Also known as the Pareto Principle (after the Italian economist who formalised it), this pattern appears repeatedly throughout the world and can be summarised as: roughly 20% of inputs produce roughly 80% of outputs. To cut the fat in your own life, focus on what matters and be effective, it helps to ask “what are the 20% of people, things and tasks in my life that result in 80% of my wellbeing or positive emotions?” Once identified, focus on these. Similarly, ask “what are the 20% of people, things and tasks in my life that result in 80% of my negative emotions?” Eliminate or minimise these. Essentially, this is about prioritising tasks under conditions of finite time and resources (aka ‘life’). The 80/20 principle helps you decide what goes to the top of the priorities list.