Book review nr 3: the 4 hour work week

So far I am keeping my promise of reading every single damn day. Sometimes it is though, like when you know you won’t get a lot of sleep but still need to read those at minimum damn 2 pages, or when your eyes are falling down after 3 sentences. But when I finish a book, I’m satisfied in knowing I have at least made that poor tree not being cut into pieces for nothing. I also feel a bit smarter. Time for a new book review, this time on a subject that has nothing to do with sports. “The 4 hour work week” is a New York Times bestseller by Tim Ferriss.

What, no sports?

No sports this time. Some may shake their head in disbelief, thinking “but isn’t that what you do?” Well yes, of course, but it’s not all I do. The quickest way for any personal trainer to go from hero to zero real fast, is by ignoring the business side of it. As shown in this figure below, it is a undeniably important aspect of being an entrepreneur, no matter what industry you are in. So I decided to go for another route this time around and read this very hyped book with the spicy title.


So what’s in the book?

“The four-hour work week” is set as the dream scenario which you should aim for. By doing this, you free up the most valuable asset in life: time. This book is not about being rich, but being free to go and do what you want. Ferriss beliefs you should fill most of your time travelling and exploring. In this way, you become one of the “new rich”: people who have time, yet still enough money to survive and do well. He beliefs people who earn millions yet work 60-80 hour weeks are not really rich because they can never actually use their money and time to persue something they actually want to do. They fall into the trap of capitalism and end up depressed, burned out and unhappy. You only get 1 round of this life, better make it worthwhile and not stuck behind a desk.

But how?Afbeeldingsresultaat voor the four hour workweek

There is a 4 step guide to achieving a 4-hour work week:

  1. Definition: Replace self-defeating assumptions. 

    In this part, Ferriss tackles some of the wellspread myths on this planet which prevent you from becoming one of the “new rich”. There are too many to sum up right now, and to some I disagree, but in short:
    – you don’t have to be stuck behind an office
    – you should prioritize productivity and efficiency over time spent on something
    – don’t be afraid to try things, just go for it
    – time is the real thing you want, not money

  2. Elimination: Forget time management; learn to ignore the unimportant (provides time)

    Here, Ferriss focusses on eliminating the things in your life which cause the majority of your problems. He uses Paretto’s rule for this; 20% of your clients/friends/… are often responsible for 80% of your problems. By eliminating this 20%, you free up a ton of time and headaches. He also tries to eliminate meetings and other time-consuming matters which have limited added value to your life. Try to limit checking your email to 1-2 times per week instead of opening that inbox every single time. In this way, you become distracted too often, and therefor you cannot focus on bigger things.

  3. Automation: Learn to put cash flow on autopilot. (provides income

    This one will make you shake your head for sure. The underlying thought here is that anything someone else can do for you, should be outsourced. That means getting (virtual) assistants from lower-wage countries such as India and Chine. Ferriss suggest they handle as much workload as possible for you, while you spend your time doing other things. After doing that and freeing up your time, now you can spend some time to create a product to sell. There are some tips on how exactly to find what you want to do or sell. Ferriss insists in making this as automated as possible, so there is not a lot of time to be spent on it. He focusses on productivity: maximal output for minimal input. It should be something that can sell itself.

  4. Liberation: Create freedom of location. (provides mobility) 

    Now that’s all done, it’s time to grab your bags and actually do something valuable with the time and money you generated. Ferriss insists on travelling and exploring the world. If you set up your business correctly, you should be able to keep everything under control in… a 4 hour work week.

My thoughts on the book

There are some key insights in this book which are very valuable: freeing up time, shifting mindsets, breaking barriers, … They are absolutely valuable and I agree on most of these points.

What bothers me most though are some of the -in my opinion- quite selfish statements and behaviors he suggests. Increasing productivity is 1 thing, but there is a thin line to ignoring others and deliberately doing things which can negatively affect others. Some of the product creation steps also feel kind of “sketchy” and “bending the truth” a bit. There is also no part on ethics in this book, which in my opinion -especially when you are working with lower-wage countries to maximize profit- is a bit questionable. Then again, I might just be a softy.Afbeeldingsresultaat voor mastery

Tim Ferriss is also the author of books like “the 4-hour body” and “the 4-hour chef”. I haven’t read any of them, but from what i read on reviews, the principle is the same: maximal outcome for minimal input. In other words: productivity. Then again, the question is: do you really want to be hyperproductive in everything, so you can relax and do nothing in the rest? I can become a pretty good chef in a reasonably short time, but to be the abslute best I will need much more than 4 hours a week. That said: is hyperproductivity really what you are after, or is it mastery? I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer for that question, but everyone is free to answer it in whatever way or shape they like.

But overall: a great read for anyone who wants to change his view on the world!