The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9 - 5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

Bottom line: I should have picked this book up years ago but didn't because I thought the title was too obnoxious. The concepts in the book turn traditional working-towards-retirement thinking on it's head and it is worth owning a copy.

Why I read it

Bottom line: I should have picked this book up years ago but didn't because I thought the title was too obnoxious. In my current job, there is absolutely no way I could work just four hours a week and what would you do with all that time?

I've recently become interested in entrepreneurship and Tim Ferriss kept cropping up in my research, other books, and podcasts. After listening to a few of his podcasts and looking over his blog, I finally decided to give his book a read and I don't regret it!

Key insights

New Rich vs. Deferrers

The old way of thinking about retirement is the deferred life plan. Deferrers (D) are those that work, work, work towards retirement and, because of all that work, let life pass them by. This is the traditional way of thinking about retirement. The New Rich (NR), on the other hand turn away from the deferred life plan and build a luxury lifestyle using two types of currency: mobility and time.

Finding ways to increase your own mobility and time are central to all the other ideas in the book. If you reframe wealth in terms of these two resources, you'll see how it's possible to retire early and be financially independent.

DEAL

This is the main structure of the book and the "ste-by-step process for reinventing yourself:"

  • Define. This is where Ferriss introduces you to new concepts and fundamentals of the "new game." Just like the definitions of NR versus D above, he walks you through retirement flaw, how to test basic assumptions of retirement and work, and introduces concepts of eustress (different from distress) and relative wealth.
  • Eliminate. I died a little after reading the chapters related to this step because he kills the concept of time management with his ideas here. He calls the notions of time management outdated and obsolete, but he also introduces counterintuitive concepts that increase productivity and time available to you.
  • Automate. Ferris introduces the concept of a "muse" here. He gives tactics and strategies for creating automatic cash flow so that you have income to fund the NR lifestyle.
  • Liberate. This is about mobility. Geographic arbitrage, mini-retirements, and how to negotiate remote work (if you're still an employee) are explained in these chapters.

Virtual assistants

I've heard lots about getting virtual assistants (VAs) and how low cost they can be. Lots of tasks can be delegated to these VAs, but a key tenant is to eliminate first before delegating. Helpful in this section are a list of companies that provide these VA services and a framework in how to effectively manage your VAs.

80/20 Rule and Parkinson's Law

This is where time management gets turned upside down for me. Although I've known about the 80/20 Rule (aka the Pareto Principle) and Parkinson's Law, Ferriss gives concrete strategies in applying these two concepts to tasks in work and life. The 80/20 Rule simply states that 80% of your outcomes result from 20% of your work. While Parkinson's Law states that tasks will take as much time to complete as you have allotted for them.

Even though I've known these definitions for years, here are the two principles that Ferriss restates as approaches:

  • Limit tasks to the important 20% to shorten work time (80/20 Rule)
  • Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson's Law).

Thinking about the two rules in this way has helped me in the last two weeks in increasing my productivity at work and at home.

Tools and tricks for discovering your muse

This is the most important concept in the book to get towards the NR lifestyle. Everyone needs income. For the NR, an automatic cash flow is essential for funding their mobile lifestyle.

A muse is different from a business because automated cash flow is its objective. A muse is some sort of "vehicle" that generates cash without consuming your time. How to do this? Well, it's mostly an online business that delivers some sort of product and Ferriss outlines ways and different tools to get started.

Get the book or pass?

Of course get the book! I should have picked this up years ago to start on my own muse to generate extra income and applied the productivity techniques to be a better employee. But there's no time like the present to get started on an NR lifestyle.

Because the book is almost 15 years old, I was able to borrow it from the library and save myself $20 or so, but the concepts in it are worth having it on my shelf for easy reference. So it's worth the purchase and hard copy to have at home.