Book:  The 4-Hour Workweek

Author:  Tim Ferriss

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:   Ferriss, T. (2009). The 4-hour workweek : escape 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich. New York: Crown Publishers.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • Life doesn't have to be so damn hard. It really doesn't. Most people, my past self included, have spent too much time convincing themselves that life has to be hard, a resignation to the 9-to-5 drudgery in exchange for (sometimes) relaxing weekends and the occasionally keep-it-short-or-get-fired vacation. (pg. 7)

  • It's lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is fiercest for "realistic" goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming. If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think. The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is just less competition for bigger goals. (pg. 50)

  • Eliminate and deflect time wasters. Limit email consumption and production. This is the greatest single interruption in the modern world. First, turn off your email alerts. Second, check email twice per day. Once just before lunch and again at the end of the day. These are the times that ensure you will have the most responses from previously sent email. Never check email first thing in the morning. Instead, complete your most important task before 11am. (pg. 96)

Other Key Ideas:

  • Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W's you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the "freedom multiplier." (pg. 22)

  • Retirement as a goal is flawed for at least three solid reasons: 1) It is predicated on the assumption that you dislike what you are doing during the most physically capable years of your life. 2) Most people will never be able to retire and maintain a good standard of living, and 3) One week into retirement you'll be so damn bored that you'll want to look for another job or start another company. (pg. 31)

  • What is the opposite of happiness? Boredom. Excitement is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all. When people suggest you follow your "passion" or your "bliss," I propose they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement. The questions you should be asking yourself isn't "what do I want" or "what are my goals" but "what would excite me?" (pg. 51)

  • Somewhere between college graduation and your second job, a chorus enters your internal dialogue: Be realistic and stop pretending. Life isn't like the movies. When you're 25 you're told to be realistic, get a good job, have babies, and raise them to repeat the cycle. There are several points in my life at which I saw my future as another fat man in a midlife-crisis BMW. Don't turn into the bald fat man in the red BMW convertible - do not accept terminal boredom as a tolerable status quo. (pg. 52)

  • Most entrepreneurs were once employees of the 9-5 culture. Thus they adopt the same schedule of needing 8 hours to generate their target income. The 9-5 schedule is a collective social agreement and a dinosaur legacy of the results-by-volume approach. How is it possible that all the people in the world need exactly 8 hours to accomplish their work? It isn't. 9-5 is arbitrary. (pg. 76)

  • Learn to ask "If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day? Don't ever arrive at the office in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities. You'll just read unassociated email and scramble your brain for the day. Compile your to-do list in the evening. There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day. I use a standard piece of paper folded in half three times, which fits perfectly in the pocket and limits you to noting only a few items. (pg. 82)

  • It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable. The first step is to maintain a low-information diet. Just as modern man consumes too many calories, information workers take in too much data. Lifestyle design is based on massive action - output. Increased output necessitates decreased input. Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside your influence. (pg. 87)

  • Batching is the solution to distracting but necessary time consumers, those repetitive tasks that interrupt the most important. What can I routinize by batching? What tasks (laundry, groceries, mail, payments, etc.) can I allot to specific times each day, week so that I don't squander time repeating them more often than absolutely necessary? There is a psychological switching of gears that can require up to 45 minutes to resume a major task that has been interrupted. More than a quarter of each 9-5 period is consumed by such interruptions. (pg. 106)

  • Empowerment failure refers to being unable to accomplish a task without first obtaining permission or information. It is often a case of being micromanaged. For the employee, the goal is to have full access to necessary information and as much independent decision-making ability as possible. It's amazing how someone's IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate you trust them. People are smarter than you think. Give them a chance to prove themselves. (pg. 109)

  • Your goal should be to free your time to focus on bigger and better things. If you spend your time, worth $80 per hour, doing something that someone else will do for $10 per hour, it's simply a poor use of resources. It is important to take baby steps toward paying others to do work for you. Few do it, which is another reason so few people have their ideal lifestyles. (pg. 128)

  • Best Buy, the consumer electronics giant, is now sending thousands of employees home from their HQ in Minnesota and claims not only lowered costs, but also a 10-20% increase in results. The new mantra is this: Work wherever and whenever you want, but get your work done. (pg. 229)

  • I have quit three jobs and been fired from most of the rest. Getting fires, despite sometimes coming as a surprise and leaving you scrambling to recover, is often a godsend: Someone else makes the decision for you, and it's impossible to sit in the wrong job for the rest of your life. Most people aren't lucky enough to get fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years of tolerating the mediocre. (pg. 243)

  • There are tons of things in your home and lift that you don't use, need, or even particularly want. They just came into your life as impulsive buys and never found a good exit. Whether you're aware of it or not, this clutter creates indecision and distractions, consuming attention and making happiness a real chore. It is impossible to realize how distracting all the crap is until you get rid of it. The first 10 minutes of sorting through clothing was like choosing which child of mine should live or die. But once you pass through the first few tough decisions, the momentum builds and it is a breeze. (pg. 265)

  • As tempting as it is to "just check email for one minute," I know from experience that any problem found in the inbox will linger in the brain for hours after you shut down the computer, rendering "free time" useless with preoccupation. It's the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between. For example, is your weekend really free if you find a crisis in the inbox Saturday morning that you can't address until Monday morning? Even if the inbox scan lasts 30 seconds the preoccupation and forward projection for the subsequent 48 hours effectively deletes that experience from your life. You had time but you didn't have attention, so the time had no practical value. (pg. 312)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.