Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek : An Honest Review

Updated: Sep 30

Automate your income, delegate and liberate... Can you say goodbye to your 9-5?



When I read the title of the book “The 4-Hour Work Week” I thought that it was a ‘manifesting wealth’ book, where you visualize your goals and the Universe delivers it all to you, and you only have to do a 4-hour work week for it to happen…


Well it isn’t. It is about how to cut out "unnecessary" work in order to automate an income stream. It is worth reading because it does have some very useful tips, information and ideas. But it comes with a huge health warning.... as you will see below.


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What you need to live the life of luxury are flexibility and mobility which you don't get on the rat-race treadmill.


Tim Ferris offers solutions, some of which are great but many simply cannot be applied universally. Others just do not sit comfortably, perhaps exacerbated by the egotism and arrogant tone of the writing.


The Good Bits..


Transitioning from full time work to the 4-hour workweek doesn’t happen overnight. Ferris worked very hard to implement his 4-hour workweek and it was several years before he finally succeeded. The steps that he outlines are simple, but they are far from easy.


Define your goals don’t ask yourself what you want, ask yourself ‘what would excite me?’


• Eliminate things to free up time – be effective not efficient. Apply the pareto principle, or 80/20 rule and focus on 20% that is important and advances your business. Say no to interruptions.


• Automate to increase income – Delegate, automate, and outsource whenever possible: some tasks can easily be handed off to others which allows you to focus on the more creative and strategic sides of your business.


• Liberate yourself from expectations – take mini-retirements, work from home. Ferris says that you should negotiate to work from home. Something that should be quite easy in the post-covid world .


He tells us to reduce outside requests which can use up our time: Where possible use emails rather than meetings. If you need a meeting, ask the person that is proposing it to send you an agenda with topics and questions to address to help you best prepare and keep the meeting time to a minimum.


He challenges you to change your way of thinking. Consider your worst case scenario, then think about what you could do to solve it. Is that impact really permanent and how big is the chance of it actually happening? He suggests that when you think about the worst-case scenario and the likelihood of it, you quickly realize that it is not the end of the world if you do not succeed.


He says, “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do” defining inaction as the greatest risk of all. It is the things that you don’t do that you regret the most. Go and do those things so that you can live a happy and fulfilled life.


Back when The 4-Hour Work Week was published in 2007 these ideas may have been rather more radical than they are now. These are standard fare for business coaches nowadays … de-clutter, focus on doing less, value your time, busy does not mean productive…


Not So Good Bits..


This book was a NY Times best seller. It clearly made an impression on a lot of people – who were perhaps very impressionable. That it resonated with a generation of young professionals is a reflection on the mores of western society given some of the behaviour that Ferriss advocates.


Much of the strategy simply relies on getting others to do your work for you and among other things:

• He brags about winning a martial arts contest by bending the rules and winning on a technicality.

• He discusses how to get people to stop disturbing you by lying about how busy you are, or using other passive-aggressive methods to avoid them.

• While saying many meetings are pointless and should be avoided, he recommends making up excuses, or lying, in order to leave early or not show up.


When he takes you through the “worst-case scenario” exercise the idea that losing your job and family home could be catastrophic for dependants of a wage earner does not appear to have occurred to him – surely the mindset of a twenty something with no ties or commitments.


At the time of writing this book Ferriss does not appear to have any appreciation of any meaning to life other than making large amounts of money at the smallest personal inconvenience in order to live a life of fun and excitement. He seems to have no qualms in cutting corners to achieve that end. Altruism, service to others, philanthropy and dependability are principles that seem to be alien concepts, though he may have since grown to understand their value.


Conclusion


Getting to a 4-hour work week may have a few more obstacles than you expect. Breaking away from the rat race requires developing a profitable business where most of the work can be placed on autopilot and then fine tuning it so that it provides a passive income thus enabling you to spend most of your waking hours doing what you are really passionate about.


Some parts of his book really need to be filtered to fit your situation - and standards. Read The 4-Hour Work Week with a clear intention of taking from the book what you can use and disregard the rest.


Ferriss actually admits that he doesn't actually work a 4-hour workweek, some are 40-60 hours. It's just that he gets more out of them than most people. In other words if you can find your passion and can make a living doing it then you never actually have to day’s work in your life!


Buy The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss on Amazon


About Tim Ferriss


Tim Ferris graduated from Princeton University in 2000 with a BA in East Asian studies. He moved to Silicon Valley, California where he built BrainQuicken, an online sports nutritional supplements company.


Frustrated at the lack of free time, Ferriss took time off and went on a three week sabbatical in Europe that turned into months where he continued to travel around Asia and South America. It was during this time that the idea for The 4-Hour workweek was born after realizing how he could keep his business going by outsourcing tasks and developing a system of only checking emails once a day.



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