Book Club
How to work less, live wherever, and make more money

How to work less, live wherever, and make more money

The 4-hour workweek

The cover of the 4-hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss.

Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Author: Timothy Ferriss

Paper | Ebook | Audiobook

Book Rating: 3

Just a few words on time management: Forget all about it.”

Timothy Ferriss


The 4-hour workweek challenges the beliefs that most of us have about our working life. It describes a new way of looking at the process and stimulates you to look for excitement on the way towards your goals. The core of the 4-hour workweek is about designing a lifestyle that enables you to work from wherever you like with the minimal amount of hours needed.

My personal reading notes

The chapters in the 4-hour workweek are build-up through DEAL, which stands for Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation.

“The New Rich are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility”

Fundamental rules of the book:

  • Retirement is worst-case scenario insurance
  • Interest and energy are cyclical
  • Less is not laziness 
  • The timing is never right
  • Ask for forgiveness, not permission
  • Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses
  • Things in excess become their opposite 
  • Money alone is not the solution
  • Relative income is more important than absolute income 
  • Distress is bad, eustress is good
  • Conquering fear = defining fear. Once you write down what you fear, in detail, the weight of the fear will lessen.
  • Don’t be scared to fail just make sure you fail better each time. 


Batch tasks that are similar in nature whenever possible. This helps you focus on the task at hand and stops inefficient multitasking.  If we take email for example this means you work on emails at specific times. Besides these times you don’t look or open any emails.

Before you start working make sure you have a clear image of what you actually want to achieve that day.  Also, make sure you do the most important things in the morning.

To ensure productivity, keep deadlines relatively short. We are more focused on doing tasks when the deadline is near.

Write your goals and dreams down so you have a clear path to work towards. Make sure this is something that excites you (this is what people are referring to when mentioning passion). Break large goals down into smaller tasks so you can start now. 

It is important to take a close look at the tasks you do. First, assess if the task at hand is effective. Meaning, this task will bring you closer to your goals. Only when the tasks if effective consider how to work on it efficiently.

The 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto Principle, defines that 80% of the results come from 20% of the input. Ferriss explains that he sees this as the minimal ratio and that the ratio could go as high as 99/1. He encourages to use this principle to free up time in business as well as your life. 

9 to 5 is an illusion, something that has been generally agreed by the world as normal. Make sure you work effectively and if “trapped” in the office negotiate remote work arrangements. 

Try to outsource all work you don’t necessarily need to do yourself, like administrative work. However, if the work takes less than 2 minutes don’t bother delegating as this will probably cost you more time.

Learn to say ‘no’ more often to create more time for yourself. This enables you to focus on your tasks. 

Consuming information

The low information diet entails selective ignorance of information that is negative, not aligned with your goals, or outside your influence. 
Ferriss suggests learning to speed read for information that is necessary to consume. Even though I was hesitant about this at first, I saw his YouTube video about speed reading and it actually gave some helpful tips.


Timothy describes three different types of inefficiency and wasting time.

1.Time wasters: things which if ignored don’t have any significant consequences. Examples include phone calls, meetings, and emails.

2.Time consumers: most structurally repetitive tasks need to be completed, however, they often take time away from more important high-value work. Examples include personal errands, customer service, email, and phone calls. Batching these tasks can be a true game-changer.

3.Empowerment failures: this often happens when approval is needed to make something happen. It can waste a lot of time for the person who gives the approvals. One easy solution is to stop micromanaging and delegate the approval process to a certain extent. Start small, review the expenditure and output. If the test is positive you could consider delegating more. 

My overall thoughts 

The 4-hour workweek is an easy to read book. The topic of the book, living off an (almost) passive income whilst traveling, certainly has a certain ring to it. I can imagine it being a dream of a lot of people. However, I am not fully convinced of the applicability of this book’s information in the real-world. I will make an exception for the time management elements. Here, I truly think that there are some great tips given by Ferriss on this specific topic. Everyone should spend their time effectively and efficiently to generate the best outcomes. Besides this, I also agree with the notion that the 9-5 routine is not a holy grail.

Something which is quite special about this books is that Ferriss has added practical tips and formats for the readers to use. However, with a lot of these I do question the practicality of them in real life.

To be truthful I have to admit that whilst reading this book there were times when I thought to myself: “this can’t be real”. However, I still recommend the book to broaden your own way of thinking. The beauty is that you don’t have to copy and paste Ferriss his tips into your life. Read the book, find what interests you, adjust if necessary, and choose what to implement.

What I take from the book

The recommendation of combining all tasks with a similar nature was actually very helpful. I implemented it with my work email. When paying attention to it I noticed I check my email way too often. 9 out of 10 times to procrastinate another task. I have changed this and am now checking my email (only) twice a day.

Before doing a task I now assess the effectiveness of the task first. I ask myself: does working on this task bring me closer to my goals? If the answer is no I try not to do the task at all. If the answer is yes then I will think about how to work on it efficiently.

I am personally really comfortable with going to the office every day. It takes me 1 hour to drive there and 1 hour to go back home. This book really got me thinking about my efficiency. So I decided that I will reduce my 4 office days to 2. The other 2 days I will be working from home. With the current COVID-19 situation, this was an easy change. 

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