The 4-hour work week

September 09, 2019 · 7 mins read By Timothy Ferriss


  • NR: Nouveau Riche: Having a rich lifestyle without the money.
  • LD: Lifestyle Design
  • DEAL:
    • Definition: Challenge all your assumptions
    • Elimination: Eliminate obsolete information
    • Automation
    • Liberation: meaning geographícally


1. “D”: Deferer

  • Goal: “work for retirement”
  • D vs NR: very different concepts. Cf. “Apple vs Oranges” section

2. Challenge the rules

  • Different can be better
  • Rules to challenge/New visions:
    • Retirement is a backup plan
    • Interest and energy are cyclical
      • Alternate between periods of rest and activity
      • “mini-retirements”
    • Time working != productivity. Productive > busy
    • Timing is never right
    • Ask for forgiveness, not permission
    • Emphasize strengths. Don’t fix weaknesses
      • (note: not sure I agree)
    • Too much free time is a bad thing
    • Money alone is not the solution
    • Relative income != absolute income. Need to take into account conditions of living etc
      • Note: Cf. your money or your life
    • Distress != Eustress. Look for eustress (= good stress)
  • Notes: there is a Q&A section. Can be useful to do with SO

3. Dodging bullets

  • Worst case scenario: define it. What happens then?
  • Fear can be disguised as “optimist denial”: “it will get better”
  • Notes: the questions in this chapter are good

4. System reset

  • Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic:
    • Everyone aims for realistic: more competition
    • Unrealistic: very big excitement/motivation. Pushes through
  • On “what do you want?”:
    • Question too vague to answer
    • “Happiness” is vague. Too vague
    • In practice we seek excitement
  • Dreamlining: budgeting for unrealistic goals.
    • Exercise: see Q&A


5. The end of time management

  • Effective vs efficient:
    • Effective: doing the right things
    • Efficient: doing things well
  • Pareto/80-20
    • 80/20 customer/volume revenue: save time (example)
    • Lack of time is actually lack of priorities
  • Parkinson’s law: work expands to fill the allocated time
    • Set very short deadlines to force focused work
  • Ask yourself often: “am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?”
    • i.e. “am I productive or just active?”

Good Q&A. Priority is key

6. The low information diet

  • Selective ignorance: ignore things that are:
    • Irrelevant
    • Or unimportant
    • Or unactionable

Q&A: media diet

  • Notes:
    • Reading for pleasure is fine
    • What about curiosity? Where’s the limit? Tech skills?
    • => This is only work focused
    • The art of non finishing: you don’t have to finish everything you started

7. Stopping interruptions

Type of interruptions:

  • Time wasters: can be ignored without consequences
    • Check your email only x times/day (x: 1/2)
    • Separate phone lines for urgent vs non urgent
    • Direct people to communicate via: email > phone > in person
    • Avoid meetings. Replace them with email
    • Define end times for meetings. Ask for agendas.
    • Do not disturb me: headphones
    • Don’t check your email first thing in the morning
  • Time consumers: repetitive tasks that take focus away
    • Batch the tasks at definite times
  • Empowerment failures: need approval
    • Give people more freedom: remove yourself from being the bottleneck
    • Limit access to your time
  • Note:
    • Impact on office life?
      • Socialization
      • Awareness from other people that you are there
      • Timeliness for certain tasks (reviews)
    • This only applies to certain positions/lifestyles


8. Outsourcing life

  • Getting a virtual assistant Note: doesn’t feel relevant to me right now. Skippable

9. Income autopilot 1: Finding the product

  1. Pick an affordably reachable niche market
    • Creating demand is harder than finding it
    • Easier with groups of people you associate yourself with
  2. Brainstorm a product
    • Main benefit should be clear in one sentence
    • Price high. Lower number of high maintenance customers
    • Max 3-4 months to manufacture if it’s a physical good


  • Resell a product
  • License a product
  • Create a product
    • Cheapest to create: information
    • Become an expert and resell the experience
    • How to become an expert? Cf. book

10. Income autopilot 2: testing the product

  1. Test the market:
    • Best: look at the competition, set up a landing page
    • Test: google adwords with “real” checkout flow
    • Divest or invest

11. Income autopilot 3: automate

  • Remove yourself from the decisions
  • Automate as much of the process as possible
    • Including empowering outsources to make low impact expenses
  • Make your business scalable using processes
  • Ditch customers that have the potential to create problems
    • Less revenue but less headaches & expenses


12. Disappearing act

  • Trick to force working remotely.
  • Process to negotiate a remote position Note: gotcha: only works with result-driven performance metrics

13. Beyond repair

Quit the job if it’s not right for you

14. Mini-retirements

  • Longer term trips (months instead of days)
  • Preparing for it:
    • Declutter your life
    • Other steps: cf. book
  • Needs to be financed by cash flow from “muse”


  • Social life? Partner? Stability?
  • Pappaledighet in SE: good chance to do it
  • Prerequisite: 1st world passport

15. Filling the void

  • “Post partum depression” is normal: too much free time
  • Take time and reflect on what you want to do
  • Tim’s take:
    • Constant learning
    • Service/Volunteering
  • You can chose what you want to do without the money constraint

16. Top 13 mistakes

See book

17. The last chapter

Poem “Slow down”: I liked it