Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek Expanded Edition

I recently finished re-reading the updated edition of the popular book The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I read it quickly when it first came out in 2007 or so, but this time I think was more ready for the message.

In the last lifestyle book I read, The Art of Non-Conformity, the goal was to find a convergence between your work and your passion. Ferriss goes the opposite way and clearly separates them. Forget “dream job”, matching your true dreams with a job is too hard for most people. Instead, the ideal job is the one that gives you enough money in exchange for the least amount of time. Now you can pursue your dreams.

This is a critical difference. The overarching goal is now to create automated income and free up time.

Highlights & Notes

Motivation and getting started. The timing will never be just right. Just go for it and correct course as needed. The price of failure is often low, while the price of never trying is often high.

Creating your own income. Includes various ideas on starting your own business with the goal of high income and low time commitment. Resell someone else’s products. License a product. Create your own product. Physical objects are okay, but informational products are even better if you can pull it off. Ferriss himself made his first big money by selling nutritional supplements using ads in magazines. (Not exactly a product to be proud of, which I guess fits into his point above. Good thing he’s great at marketing.)

Shifting from 9-5. Let’s say you don’t want to quit your current job yet. The goal is again to separate work from time. If you can do the work that you spread out over 40 cubicle hours in just 20 hours at home, that will create a lot of free time for you to start that side business. For some, this may be enough to start pursuing your other dreams. Detailed instructions on how to negotiate a remote-working arrangement, starting with a two-week trial and reaching a full-time remote situation.

Time management. As said elsewhere, it’s critical to stop wasting your time and energy on things are really aren’t important. Being busy is not necessarily the same as being productive. Cut out interruptions, stop time-wasters like checking e-mail all the time, and batch tasks together.

Have others work for you. Hire virtual assistants from India. They aren’t just drones, if you teach them a system and allow them to use their own discretion, they can really remove a lot of your workload. Outsource whatever you can, remember that you’re not trying just to maximize profit.

What if I actually succeed? How will you spend your time? Instead of the potentially vague pursuit of “happiness”, he asks why not simply pursue what excites you and makes you feel alive. Ferriss enjoys “mini-retirements” where he does long-term international traveling. People also tend to find satisfaction with tasks that require continuously learning and/or include helping others.

Recap

Even though sometimes I have the urge to go against popular opinion, especially when the author’s primary skill seems to be marketing, I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this book. For me, it provided a good balance of big picture theory and practical advice. As with any book of this type, 99% of the readers won’t be able to actually attain a 4-hour workweek. But in return for ten bucks and a few nights of reading, I definitely felt I got good value.

I would recommend anyone who has the entrepreneurial urge to read this book, and I’m keeping my copy around because the included companies and links are useful for future reference.

Comments

  1. Sounds like a nice read. I hate motivational books that end up being totally unrealistic for most people, but this seems to have some really practical applications. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is one of my favorite books ever, and I’ve actually never finished it. I read it and I start getting ideas on how to implement these strategies, and then I get so immersed in his suggestions that I don’t ever get around to reading the book again. I’ve probably started reading it 4 times and never got to the end. I will one day though. :)

  3. I have couple more to add that I think complements the list
    1) get better at investments (passive investing is good, but it doesn’t hurt to see if you can be half a Warren Buffet)

    2) learn programming. while a virtual assistant from India is nice, some task computing could deliver better result and is cheaper. this is esp true cause there are so many framework and languages that makes programming less tedious than ever before.

  4. Thanks for the comprehensive review. I have the original edition and I enjoyed reading it. In fact, it kind of helped me decide to quit the corporate world and focus on my real estate business. This is a dangerous book!

    If I may ask, is it worth getting the updated edition?

  5. Jordan @NecktieNinja.com says:

    I thought the book was really entertaining and it got my wheels turning on the possibilities of virtual assistants. I’ve used the website Fiverr to outsource some stuff for $5 and it has been helpful. I don’t know how realistic working 4 hrs per week would be. All the entrepreneurs I know love life and love work but put in more hours than most cubicle dwellers do.

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