I had seen the uber-orange cover of The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss all over: Bookstores (duh!), backseats of cars, airplane terminals, frat houses and more. Yet despite its proliferation into the hands (and Kindles) of millions of people all over the world, and its catchy headline, I had yet to read it. In fact, I had no inclination to read it whatsoever.
Quite frankly, I had no idea what it was about. Plus the title made it sound like it belonged on an infomercial and not in my book collection.
Things changed when I started listening to the Tim Ferriss Show podcast just a few weeks ago. The podcast is fantastic and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it; I highly recommend it.
From what I’ve noticed, if I enjoy reading someone’s articles or website, I generally enjoy their podcasts (the same holds true vice-versa). So when I saw that it was available for only $1.99 on Kindle I didn’t hesitate one bit.
Can I really only work 4 hours?
That’s what everyone wants to know. For the most part, no it is not feasible for most. In fact, Tim repeats in his podcasts and presumably other mediums that The 4 Hour Workweek is not to be taken literally. Rather, it drives the point home of what the book is really about: Optimizing your time, eliminating distractions, and finding passive streams of income to allow you to do minimal work while having maximum freedom.
It’s a solid concept. In fact, there really is little basis for the traditional 9-5 schedule:
How is it possible that all the people in the world need exactly 8 hours to accomplish their work? It isn’t. 9– 5 is arbitrary.”
The idea behind this book is to essentially turn the idea of working hard on its head:
Being busy is a form of laziness— lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective— doing less— is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”
Many books of this nature are simply filled with fluff, woo-woo, and other law of attraction platitudes, but The 4 Hour Workweek is absolutely filled to the brim with productivity tips. This makes the book worth the price of admission alone (that goes for the full price hardcover too!)
There are a few concepts that he really stresses throughout the book and that will allow you to eliminate and optimize.
The first of which is the 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto Principle. This principle states that 80% of results (profit, happiness etc.) comes from 20% of output. Once Tim discovered this principle, he applied it to his nutritional supplement company so that he could focus on the select few clients that brought him the bulk of his income, and to eliminate the pesky customers who were nothing but trouble.
Sure, it cost him some income, but it allowed him to reduce his stress exponentially and freed up a plethora of time.
A second major principle is Parkinson’s law, which states:
… that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline. If I give you 24 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution, and you have no choice but to do only the bare essentials. If I give you a week to complete the same task, it’s six days of making a mountain out of a molehill.”
The best approach to Parkinson’s Law is to
1. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/ 20).
2. Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson’s Law). The best solution is to use both together: Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.”
There are a plethora of other tidbits of wisdom throughout, such as:
- Check e-mail twice per day, once at 12: 00 noon or just prior to lunch, and again at 4: 00 P.M.
- At least three times per day at scheduled times [ask] the following question: Am I being productive or just active?
- More is not better, and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it.
Getting Your Own Personal Assistant
One of the most engaging and laughable topics in the book was the chapter on virtual assistants (VA). I say laughable because it’s actually incredibly feasible to have a 3rd world virtual assistant, and I couldn’t help myself from laughing at the idea of having a team of Indians heeding my every beck and call.
If you spend your time, worth $ 20-25 per hour, doing something that someone else will do for $ 10 per hour…”
Makes sense. Plus there are other good reasons to consider getting a VA:
Getting a remote personal assistant is a huge departure point and marks the moment that you learn how to give orders and be commander instead of the commanded. It is small-scale training wheels for the most critical of NR skills: remote management and communication.”
The Original Internet Entrepeneur
When I began to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, I noticed something: I had read this before. But it wasn’t because Aurelius was plagiarizing content 2000 years in the future, rather it was the inverse.
I’ve noticed this phenomena with The 4 Hour Workweek in that much of the content seemed all too familiar with the Digital Nomad and lifestyle design communities and advice of today. But seeing as it was written originally in 2007, one could say it was the first of its kind.
In fact, the proliferation of internet entrepreneurs are likely a result of this book.
On that note, look where Tim Ferris is today. He’s not lounging on a beach in Guatemala making money off his supplements. Rather, he’s busting his ass in Silicon Valley helping startups turn into massive success stories.
This is no fault of his; I just think many readers of this book and these internet entrepreneurs lose sight of this. They get caught in finding ‘passive income’ and settling for 1-3K a month; just enough to make do in a foreign country of their choice.
This is what I wanted for so long, but now this doesn’t seem like enough. I’d much rather be doing what Tim is doing now as opposed to what he recommend in his book.
Don’t Follow This Book Like the Gospel
Again, the 4 Hour Workweek isn’t designed to be taken literally. This is a pattern throughout the book.
In fact, much of the information regarding internet marketing and asking a boss for a remote work agreement is completely useless for me and may be for you. Yet, overall I was really impressed with the book. There was plenty of solid, actionable advice throughout. In fact, I’ve already marked this book down as one I will have to read again to internalize the concepts that stood out to me.
Click here to purchase the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss on Amazon.