Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-hour Work Week” book review

Published April 8, 2015   Posted in Reviews

There are very few books that I would consider “Must Reads”.  I am not much of a reader, but when I do read, I always like to pick books that I can learn something from; something meaningful.  I can safely say that Tim Ferriss’ book “The 4-Hour Work Week” is one of the best books that I have read – available at Amazon.

4-hour work week by Tim FerrissAnd for one simple reason: it teaches you how to be successfully lazy.

No, wait.  Not “lazy”.  Economical.  It talks about how to take your regular 8 to 10 hour work day and maximize your productivity.  Imagine starting from a position of spending at least 40 hours a week in an office that you probably hate (or, at the very least, do not hold much emotional attachment to) and ending with the ability to complete your work from home, not taking more than a couple hours a day – all the while being more productive, useful and appreciated.

I like to consider this blog to be a mix between early retirement concepts preached by Mr. Money Mustache (understood to be one of the “founders” of this online personal finance movement) and the “get your mind right, relax, take charge and kick some ass” thoughts from Tim Ferriss.

If you like what I write about on this blog, you will definitely enjoy this read.

I will be honest – in many ways, the title of this book is complete bullshit.  Not many will truly take their 40 hours of work and essentially divide by 10, leaving their work week literally 4-hours long.  But then again, this book isn’t about taking the title THAT literally.

Rather, this book is about revealing the possible and streamlining the way you do business, leaving you with more time during your day to do the things that you feel give your life the biggest bang for your buck.

Tim Ferriss adds an interesting element to the topic of financial independence, but from a much different perspective than mine.  There are two primary ways to achieve a place in your life where you are no longer dependent on a job to provide for your livelihood – otherwise known as financial independence, or popularly known throughout the personal finance community as, simply, “FI”.

The first way is what I primarily preach here through Think Save Retire – maximum saving.  My wife and I save nearly 70% of our combined income every month.  This takes savings to the max and completely floods our long term savings and investments with the resources that it needs to keep growing.

The other way, which is taught by Tim Ferriss, is maximum income.  He approaches financial independence from a standpoint of sources of income and finding the easiest and most profitable ways to generate substantial passive income – emphasis on the “passive” part.  A hands-on source of income is, for all intents and purposes, a job.  A hands-off, or passive, source of income allows for location independence.  Want to travel to Europe next week?  Go right ahead – your source of income will keep doing its thing while you’re away.

How the book is organized

The book is divided up into four main topics that, together, cleverly spell the word “DEAL”.  These topics are the meat and potatoes of the book and gives Tim a neat little easy-to-remember acronym that readers can recognize.

The first is “Definition“.  Here, Ferriss discusses what it means to be a part of the “New Rich” and the mindset that governs the thought process of this new kind of wealth.  The ability to set and achieve specific goals, Tim argues, is what makes the difference.  For example, instead of working towards early retirement, Tim says the New Rich “distribute recovery periods and adventures throughout life on a regular basis and recognize that inactivity is not the goal”.

The second is “Elimination“.  This is your cleansing phase, where lifestyles are examined and negative elements that do not contribute to end goals are eliminated.  In fact, Tim is a big believer in the “low-information diet”, a technique whereby you actively and intentionally avoid contact with the news, especially the 24-hour news cycle.  Focusing on primarily negative worldly matters distracts you from your goal and sometimes, Tim argues, too much information can be more damaging than not enough.

The third is “Automation“, and here is where the transition from hands-on to hands-off – or “passive” – begins to take hold.  Now that you have your specific and achievable goals established, and have eliminated the negative elements of your lifestyle and simplified your interaction with others, the job of flipping the switch to turn on that well-oiled machine begins.  He talks of putting your source of income on autopilot and letting it work without the dependence on the human element to get things done, like chapter 11 “Management by Absence” discusses.

The fourth is “Liberation“, and this is where the fun part begins.  How do you convince your boss to let you work from home (or where ever you happen to be)?  He even embraces the possibility of simply quitting your job, arguing against the notion that quitting is something that can’t be reversed.  Careers, he argues, can always be picked back up at a later point.

My thoughts

I like the way Tim Ferriss writes.  He is not stuck up in the topics that he presents, and he writes not in a “low-brow” manner, but in a fashion that you might hear between two early 20’s millionaires who hit it big in business early in life.

His books talk about the art of the possible and shedding the inane shackles of conventional wisdom that often leave people working dead-end jobs in an unhappy life for way too long.  I particularly enjoy his down to earth nature and ability to connect with the reader on the most basic level – ironically, a combination of drop-dead serious topics and laugh-out-loud antics.  Like other books by Ferriss, “The 4-Hour Work Week” is a fun read.

It is available from Amazon.com through the following link: http://amzn.to/1xN6qXs.

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7 responses to “Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-hour Work Week” book review”

  1. Good post. I read the book a couple of years ago, and I also enjoyed it. My husband and I have been careful with our money right from the start of our marriage: We’ve enjoyed living minimally, and now we are really starting to see the benefits of those choices, as the years progress. I will be checking this blog out regularly!

  2. This is also a book that I read a few years ago. Like you said the title was used as a marketing gimmick to sell more books. Tim Ferriss has even admitted as much on podcasts he has been interviewed on.

    He is a marketing genius. And I doubt there has ever been a week that Tim has actually ever worked 4 hours. But instead he set up systems that let him maintain his business with 4 hours while he worked on other things like writing the different 4 hour book series, investing in start ups, writing for his blog, using himself as a human guinea pic, etc.

    It really gets you thinking as to the possibilities of lifestyle design. Like Tim I tend to be more focused on the income side of the equation. But there is no right or wrong way, its a matter of preference and mindset in my opinion.

    Good Review Steve!

    Probably time for me to go dust my copy off and give it another read since it has been a few years since I last read it. And I am in a way different place now then I was when I first read it.


    – GYFG

    • Tim’s books are fun reads – you might get something new out of it by reading it a second time, too…you never know. I’ll probably start reading some of his other material as well. We’ll see how that goes. 🙂

      Cheers to you too, my frugal friend.

  3. I’ve been considering getting this book for some time now, but I try to stay away from the self-help type books as they can be quite repetitive and stating the obvious. But I have listened to Farnoosh Torabi interview Tim Ferriss on her podcast, and I through it was a very good interview so I might give this book a shot, but I have many others on the list before hand. Huge Michael Lewis fan, but I’ve only read Liar’s Poker and Flash Boys. Thanks for the review.

    • I hear ya, I don’t read many of the self help books either. But this isn’t your traditional self help book with just a bunch of feel-good-isms laced within its content. It has some solid content, too – like how to convince your boss to let you work from home which, for some people, might actually work. It’s a fun read.

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