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Book Review – The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

I was drawn to this book because of its cute title. It sounds amazing, right? I was doubtful it would live up to the expectation, but it did. Rather than just being about reducing working hours, (although there is a very good guide here about how to achieve just that), the book is really about taking an approach to life that Ferriss calls Lifestyle Design. This removes the traditional link between hours spent at work and money earned. This approach goes against many perceived truisms about money, such as “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work”. To Ferriss, time and money are not linked in this way.


This book is also very funny. It takes ideas that sound impossible and explains how ordinary people have achieved them, with lots of entertaining stories along the way. It is a book that opens the mind and shows that there are radically different ways of living that can be achieved


I feel that this book is really about efficiency and outsourcing. It describes in detail how to automate and outsource your life, and then how to use the free time you have for travel or “mini-retirements”. It describes how the old model of putting off all the good stuff (travel, relaxation, excitement, new experiences) for retirement is broken.


This book is for anyone who wants to be more efficient and effective – at work and play. Those with the most control of their time would benefit the most from it. A lot of the book is aimed an entrepreneurs. Those working for other people can still benefit from the methods, and I think that those who are willing to take risks and be challenged will get the most out of it.


My favourite part of the book is the case study about a guy who worked for a large company as a permanent employee and went on a month long trip to China without his boss even noticing. I just love the way this challenges so many assumptions about work and how we are rewarded. For me, it echoes some of the work of Dan Pink who says that monetary rewards are not enough and autonomy is much more important.


Leaders can learn about empowering their staff and I took away from the book a reminder that employees are generally honest, want to do good work and are often more effective if they are left alone to get on with it!


The one thing I felt could be improved in this book was the fact that, apart from the general ways to be more effective such as email management and outsourcing, the business focus here is on a product business model. As a service business owner, I felt that there could be more information here on how to use these ideas in a service led organisation. Perhaps this might be included in the next edition?


So how many hours a week am I working? The normal 45-ish, not bad for a business owner. 4 hours sounds great and I may get there one day, but for now I am happy with making the most of my working week and being as effective and efficient as possible.


How are you managing your time?


Here is an excerpt from the book on the author’s blog, which is a case study in outsourcing:




And here is the book on amazon, if you would like to find out more: