Book Review – The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek I had heard about “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss for quite a while, but it took me some time to get around to reading it.  That was probably because I have ~200 books on my “want to read” list at any point in time, not because I wasn’t super excited to read it.  Then it seemed like I started to hear about it every day.  What finally made me bump the book to the top of my list was when I compiled a list of the Top 12 Real Estate Books as Recommended By BiggerPockets Podcasts Guests.  I read a lot of books, so I expected that I would have read most of the top 12 books.  I had read #1 (Rich Dad Poor Dad) and #2 (The E-Myth Revisited), but I had not read #3 (The 4-Hour Workweek).  So I decided that it was time to bump it to the top of my list.

The subtitle of the book is “Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich”.  As Tim goes on to explain, “The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility”.  To say it another way, instead of working a job for 40+ years while waiting until retirement to enjoy your life, Tim suggests an alternate path of using “Lifestyle Design” to enjoy your life as you live it.  He suggests that people don’t want to be millionaires, but instead want the lifestyle that they think can only be had if they are a millionaire.  This is a key distinction and the main premise of this book.  Instead of becoming a millionaire so that you can live the millionaire lifestyle, instead define the things you would do if you have a millionaire lifestyle and design your existing life around making them happen.

After getting past the intro, the book is divided into 4 sections using the acronym DEAL which allow for Lifestyle Design (LD).

Step I: Definition

Define what is really important.  Set some goals and figure out what you really want out of life.

Step II: Elimination

Eliminate the items that are not valuable.  Utilize the 80/20 rule, focus on the 20% of important items and eliminate/outsource the rest.

Step III: Automation

For the important items that need to be done, automate them or outsource them so that you are not involved.

Step IV: Liberation

Once you free up your time and create automated (passive) income, live the life you really want.

My Thoughts

The Good

  • Enjoy Life: Getting people to focus on what is important and sprinkle it throughout their lives, instead of waiting for a retirement that may never come.  I believe it is important to set long term and short term goals and mix them into life.  This is one of the core concepts of this book and Tim shows some steps and several example of real life people who have done it.
  • Core Themes: The themes ring true.  With the advancement of technology, there are a ton of opportunities.  These can be good and bad, such as the convenience of getting email on your phone, but the downfall of always being “on” and checking email constantly.  There are many practical examples for how to eliminate the unneeded pieces from your life.  For the pieces that you do need, there are practical examples and advice on how to automate them.  I had always been interested in outsourcing work to others (besides my poor wife), but this book and the focus on the steps and expectation for outsourcing to a virtual assistance (VA) as kicked me into gear.  This also ties very close to the concepts in The E-Myth Revisited, which is to work on your business instead of in your business.
  • Actionable Suggestions: Some things can be implemented right away.  I will have some future blogs with more details, but since reading the book I have implemented an auto-responder for my email, implemented a batch-and-queue approach where I only check it twice a day (11:30 am and 3:30 pm) and increased my productivity quite a bit.  These concepts also tie into another system that I use called Getting Things Done (GTD) and lead me to be uber-productive.
  • Lifehacks – Not only does Tim provide practical tips and advice to make your life easier, he often provides several urls or actual products that can help.  While it is useful to say to hire a VA, it is even more useful to say check out these 5 websites that a ton of people have actually used.
  • Insight into New Product Development: Again with practical knowledge, he actually dives into some of the details behind how to create a product (or the idea of a testing a product before creating it).
  • How to Spend Freed Up Time: We are so accustomed to fill out days with unimportant fillers, such as email.  When you free yourself from several of the daily shackles, it is almost confusing and weird.  Tom addresses this topic and explains some ways to deal with it.  When I started batching/queueing my emails, I kept having these impulses to check email, even though I knew that I didn’t need to.  It is very important to fill the free time with things you enjoy, not the empty fillers.

The Bad

  • Questionable Morals: I’m big on integrity and there are pieces of advice that go against that for me.  An example is to intentionally lower your output at work so that when you experiment with working remotely, you look even more productive.  I split my work between the actual office and my home office.  I work more from my home office now that I did a year ago.  I truly am more productive at most tasks when I work in my home office.  I was able to achieve this without being deceptive.  I simply made a case for why it made sense and showed increased productivity when I did.  I would hate for an employee of mine to be deceptive in order to get a better work life balance.  I would instead hope that they truly were more productive when I provide them some of that time freedom.
  • Big Focus on World Traveling: Not really a bad thing, but there was a lot of discussion around traveling, living in other countries and doing lots of different things while there.  This is awesome, if that is what you want to do.  I have little interest in this, so these parts of the book were slow for me.  This is Tim’s lifestyle desire (and probably other’s) but there could have been less focus on it and more on the aspects to get people to their lifestyle dream.  One of his ways of living his lifestyle was to make money in an area that was more expensive, then live in a place that was less expensive.  This is a great concept, but again, my dream are not to sell my house and live in a different country each month out of a 5 star hotel while eating great food.
  • Could be Shorter: The book, the revised and expanded version in my case, was ~400 pages long.  There was a ton of great information, but a book half the length probably could have contained all the same value without a lot of the fluff.
  • Easily Shunned: This is not a problem with the book, but with people reading it.  Often times, people say something can’t be done because they have not done it, but plenty of other have.  I had lots of nay-sayers when I first suggested investing in real estate, even though you can be successful and there are a ton of real estate investors.  You can definitely have success from this book if you really try the ideas, or you can just say they don’t work and move on.

I love the theme this book.  There are obviously some aspects that I do not agree with,  but if you take the theme and apply it to you situation/life, then you can get a lot out of this book.

Tom Sylvester is an Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor and Lean/Agile Coach.  He has started multiple businesses and is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, both personally and professionally.  He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife and daughter.  Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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One comment on “Book Review – The 4-Hour Workweek
  1. Nice Review, Tom! I agree 100% with what you said here :)

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  1. […] recently finished reading The 4-Hour Workweek (full review here).  Among many things, it reminded me that I should not be checking my email constantly.  I had […]

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