The 4-Hour Work Week


I am a big fan of Tim Ferriss’ work. I listen to his podcast and read his blog every week. The 4-Hour Work Week is not a book that you read only once. It is a manual that you refer to as you build a business and lifestyle that allows you to work less and do more.

While many self-help books share knowledge and vague “things to do”, the 4-Hour Work Week actually adds specific productivity tools with website/app links to back up its ideas. This makes it easier for readers to transition from reading (and forgetting) ideas into actually doing something about it. I, myself, have been prone to forgetting big ideas I get from books. And I found that jotting notes and putting ideas into use make the concepts stick.

This book is not a get-rich-quick scheme, although Tim has a very catchy title. The concept that Tim shares require a lot of hard work and careful planning. 


People don’t want to be millioniares – they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy.

The commonsense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.

One of the universal causes of self-doubt and depression: trying to impress people you don’t like.

Most people choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

Poisonous people don’t deserve your time.

You are the average of the five people you associate with the most.

Big ideas:

  1. Retirement as a goal is flawed. It is predicated on the assumption that you dislike what you are doing during the most physically capable years of your life. Nothing can justify that sacrifice.
  2. If you are offered $10 million to work 24 hours a day for 15 years, and then retire, would you do it? Of course not. The better option is “mini-retirements” throughout life instead of hoarding the recovering and enjoyment for the fool’s gold of retirement.
  3. Less is not laziness. Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater importance is not laziness. Focus on being productive, instead of busy.
  4. The timing is never right. Pros and cons lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
  5. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. People – parents, partners, bosses – deny things on an emotional basis. If the potential damage is moderate or in any way reversible, don’t give people the chance to say no.
  6. Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repairs.
  7. Things in excess become their opposite. Too much, too many, and too often of what you want becomes what you don’t want. This is true of possessions and even time.
  8. Money alone is not the solution. Busy yourself with the routine of the money wheel, pretend it’s the fix-all, and you artfully create a constant distraction that prevents you from seeing just how pointless it is.
  9. Relative income is more important than absolute income. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year ($2,000 for each week of the 50 weeks per year) and works 80 hours per week. Thus, Jane Doe makes $25 an hour.  John Doe makes $50,000 per year ($1000 x 50 weeks) but works only 10 hours per week. John makes $100 per hour. If we compare yearly earnings, Jane is making twice as John, but in reality, John is making 4 times ($100 per hour) than Jane ($25 per hour).
  10. Distress is bad, eustress is good. Eustress – Eu comes from the greek prefix meaning “healthy” like it is used in the word euphoria. Hence, good stress is good. Find role models who will push you to exceed your limits, and take risks that will expand your comfort zone.

Common mistakes:

  1. Losing sight of dreams and falling into work for work’s sake (W4W).
  2. Micromanaging and e-mailing to fill time.
  3. Handling problems your outsourcers or co-workers can handle.
  4. Helping outsources or co-workers with the same problem more than once, or with noncrisis problems.
  5. Chasing customers, particularly unqualified customers, when you have sufficient cash flow to finance your nonfinancial pursuits.
  6. Answering e-mail that will not result in a sale or that can be answered by FAQ or auto-responder.
  7. Working where you live, sleep, or should relax. Separate your environments.
  8. Not performing a thorough 80/20 analysis every two to four weeks for your business and personal life.
  9. Striving for endless perfection rather than great or simply good enough, whether in your personal or professional life.
  10. Blowing small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work.
  11. Making non-time sensitive issues urgent in order to justify work.
  12. Viewing one product, job, or project as the end-all and be-all of your existence.
  13. Ignoring the social rewards of life.

3 important concepts I learned from this book:

Best product to sell: Information. Information are low-cost, fast to manufacture, and time-consuming for competitors to duplicate.

80/20 analysis called Pareto’s Principle. What 20% of efforts are bringing in 80% of your results? Which 20% of your customers are bringing in 80% of your sales? What 20% sources are causing 80% of problems and unhappiness? What 20% sources are resulting in 80% of the desired outcomes and happiness? Eliminate the inefficiencies/weaknesses and multiply the strengths.

Attention should be a currency. It determines the value of time. Income is renewable but attention and time are not.