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Review: The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

This article summarizes the productivity and entrepreneurship bestseller by the well-known Tim Ferriss. “The Four-Hour Workweek” is his first book and, in my opinion, the most valuable.

What is the Four Hour Work Week?

Truth is, the title of the book is misleading. You have to understand the context to see it. Tim Ferriss doesn’t mean to suggest that we should only work for four hours a week. You see, it’s not about laziness.

The Four Hour Work Week speaks of clarity and effectiveness, automation, freedom, and independence. It discusses setting goals and ensuring that all our actions are focused on these goals. It is impossible to achieve your goals if you don’t focus on them.

He also discusses very specific and unrelated topics: how to make quick money, trick bosses, deceive bosses, get virtual assistants and other things that cannot serve very specific purposes. Worse, Ferriss makes it sound so easy that they can cause anxiety or frustration.

When asked if I would recommend the book, I respond, “It is a book you must read with criteria.” It is also a book written by an extremely humble writer with a certain air superiority. When you’re already rich, it is easy to talk of living a life full of new riches.

It is also very practical and true. It sounds like it is about making more money by working less. But it is actually about becoming more effective. It is not about working for work, hence the title. This is where I find its value, and I recommend it. However, there are sections you can skip or scan quickly.

It is also out of date. Like many authors, Ferriss tries to be both strategic and tactical. It tries to provide general concepts and then specific steps, along with tools, to support those strategies. It is also a book that was written more than 10 years ago. Therefore, even though it has been updated, I believe that 25% to 50% of the pages and tools it refers to are not functional.

After I’ve spoken about my opinions and some small complaints, let me now move onto the book’s content:


The book focuses on two concepts: the nouveau riche, and lifestyle design or lifestyle design.

Ferriss says that 20-30 years ago, wealth was measured only by money. The wealthier they were, the more they had. It’s that simple.

He offers a new definition: He doesn’t just talk about money. He also talks about freedom. Freedom of time, freedom from location, and freedom to choose what we do.

It’s not about making $ 10,000 per month. If I make 3,000 dollars per month and work only 10 hours a week then I’m more wealthy than someone who makes a fixed salary of 10,000 but must work Monday through Friday from 7am-7pm. The first example is where I make 300 dollars an hour and have four to five days off to work on other projects. In the second instance, however, I make $ 200 an hour. This does not include the fact that I am exhausted and have no time for any other activities.

The next step is to start thinking of wealth as not just money but also time.

This clears the author’s intention to create a path for these nouveau riche. This means that we need to design a path that allows us to work less, do what we love, and make enough money to live the life we desire. We can be skeptical about what lies ahead. It sounds too good to true and is a lot of self-help stuff. Let’s not forget the book. There are some truths we can apply to our lives, besides the “miracle stories” and “magic formulas”.

The author proposes to change the way we do things. People want to make a million dollars or earn more than 100,000 dollars per year. When they retire, they will ask themselves: What do I do with all this money?

Ferriss proposes designing our path, something he calls “lifestyle design.”

To do this, we need to invert the question. First ask yourself what you want to do and then ask how much time and money it will take.

He proposes a four-step process, which he calls DEAL. It stands for:

  • D efinition
  • E Elimination
  • A automation
  • L ocation

Each section is made up of several chapters. Let’s take a look at each one individually.


Ferriss, like most productivity and effectiveness writers of the 80s and 90s like Drucker and Covey tells us to first define our goals. What we want from our lives. Let’s not talk about 10-year plans. Instead, let’s focus on 6-month and one-year goals.

He also speaks out against setting unrealistic goals. The author claims that exaggerated goals make us more likely to succeed (I disagree).

Let’s now define a plan. This plan will guide everything we do.

Covey would argue, “What’s the point of climbing a ladder if it isn’t on the right wall?”

Ferriss echoes the sentiments of Covey, Drucker, and other authors: What good is being busy if you’re not moving toward your goals? Ferriss asserts that while it would be easy to dismiss those who don’t work all day as lazy, they are actually more productive than those who work all day and never stop to think. What is the point of all this “work?”

He also speaks about mini-retreats. Mini-retreats can be scheduled once or twice per year, so don’t wait until you retire to make the changes you want.

He also talks about how setting short-term goals allows us to fail. If the project fails within six months, we can start over with another goal. The Silicon Valley and American entrepreneurs.


This chapter has the most to offer productivity and is therefore the one I am most interested in.

Ferriss believes that elimination is equivalent to effectiveness. It is about focusing on what I want and eliminating all other things.

All it takes is the Pareto principle.


Pareto is a principle that states that no more that 20% of causes can produce at least 80% effects. It applies to all things:

  • 20% of customers generate 80% revenue
  • 20% of customers cause 80% of the problems.
  • The 20% of people I spend time with are 80% of the positive influence that I need.
  • 20% of my friends cause 80% of my stress and discomforts.
  • 20% of the problems I solve are solved by 20% of my other tasks.

We have so many things to accomplish, so it can be difficult to find the 20% that is most effective. Then, we waste it on other things that do not help us achieve our goals.

Ferriss states that first, we identify our “Pareto” and then we focus only on those 20% activities that are necessary to reach the goals that we have already set.

Once we know the key points, it is time to start looking for systems and tools that can help us accomplish them.

Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s law states that the brain adapts to the time it takes to complete a task based on the deadline.

If the teacher tells us that the semester project will take 6 months, then we’ll most likely wait until the end of the semester. (And we did it the day before).

Ferriss suggests that we use this law to our advantage. We can set impossible deadlines, and we’ll be able meet them.

Low-Information Diet

How can we ensure that the key points are what we focus on and not other things once we have identified them? How can we avoid losing focus and procrastinating?

The diet of low information is to stop consuming too much information and instead focus on producing.

This includes email, social media and books.

Learn to say “No!”

However, we must also help to avoid or divert daily interruptions. This includes limiting meetings, refusing to give in to others’ urgencies, learning to delegate and minimizing mail.


While I don’t like some sections, there are others that I enjoy. It has many useful productivity tips that I want.

Automating must be done after removing, since what’s the point of automating something that isn’t important?

It talks about how important it is to delegate tasks that can be done in less time or at a lower opportunity cost. It is possible to make the website for my business in 40 hours. My hour would cost me 30 dollars. 40 hours would equal 1200 dollars. If someone could make the page for 800 dollars, I’d be happy to use those 40 hours for other activities.

It also discusses the need to find tools that automate tasks we shouldn’t be doing.


The chapter on location has little to do with productivity, but more with digital nomadism (the possibility of working remotely)

This book was written more than ten year ago. The seeds of what is now much more common in developed countries, such as the home office or flexible hours, were already being planted.

Ferriss says that the last step is to choose a location. Ferriss says that once we’re extremely productive, we won’t need to work in an office.

He also speaks about retirement from work and mini-retreats.

Let’s talk about what we can do with the time that is left


For me, the greatest teachings in this book are:

Effectiveness isn’t about working hard all the time, but rather working as hard as I can to reach my goals.

When I’m clear about my goals, I can select those 20% that will help me reach them.

These are the most important things.

To make it easier, I set short deadlines.

I must also eliminate distractions such as news, networks and meetings that distract us from our goal.


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Hey, Campbell here.

I am a literary enthusiast. It's not just books I like but comics to. In fact, I grew up on comics and have now progressed to fiction and nonfiction books. I love them both.

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