The 4-Hour Workweek

I just finished reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. Between several readers of this site nagging me to buy the book and what is probably one of the best PR jobs I’ve seen in the blogging world, it was hard to miss this book. It seems like everyone has been talking about it. And with good reason.

This book has to be one of the best I’ve read in the last year. I had to slow myself down to fully absorb this book because nearly every chapter had really insightful ideas that went from general philosophy down to the nitty-gritty how-to’s. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the books:

  • Beginners guide to long-term travel. Long before reading this book, I had decided in my mind that this was something I wanted to do, exploring the world and living in various places for several months at a time. Here Tim actually gives a step-by-step guide for how to do it and pitfalls to avoid.
  • How to convince your boss to let you work out of the office and remove the shackles holding you to a specific location. Great negotiating tips for how to get more mobility with your job.
  • How to outsource your routine tasks to workers in India for as little as $5 per hour.
  • How to set-up an easy online business in about a month to get you automated revenue, what Tim calls a, “muse.” From talking to a lot of internet entrepreneurs over the years I can say that earning money online isn’t usually a quick fix for cash-flow unless you already have a lot of experience. But Tim does provide great tips for how to use AdSense to help you build a product and increase your selling rate.
  • How to get past “no” by negotiating with farmers markets.
  • Heck, the book even includes tips on speed reading!

Philosophical to Practical

The main reason I liked this book was because Tim had a fantastic way of bridging the philosophical with the practical. This meant that in some of the sections you were seeing a broad view and overall strategy for life itself and in other sections he was providing very detailed tips. I’ve read few books that do this effectively, with Tim’s being one of the best.

Tim’s guiding philosophy is that you should be trying to experience all of life with your current resources, rather than try to save up for that one day you can retire. Good point. If you aren’t living today you aren’t living at all.

Tim also offers links and resources at the end of each chapter to point you in the right direction. Great to help take the first step after reading.


I really enjoyed this book, so the criticisms I am going to offer are nothing more than thinking points I had after reading. If anything I think that these criticisms should be reasons to read the book yourself to see Tim’s side of the story. Here are a few areas I found myself disagreeing with Tim:

Tim – You Shouldn’t Read Many Books

Here is where I disagree with Tim. I believe that reading a lot is a powerful way to get new ideas, and you should be reading as much as you can. It is possible to read too many books and take too little initiative, but I wouldn’t blame the books for this.

Tim argues that when you are enjoying “mini-retirements” you should do as much learning as possible. Books would definitely be one way to do that. I read not just to get useful ideas but because of the experience of learning itself. Tim might prefer kickboxing in the South Pacific, but books can definitely be one way to learn.

I do agree with Tim that you should cut down other forms of information. E-mail, newspapers and low value information usually has a high amount of noise for value. I wouldn’t go so far as Tim in cutting out all forms of information, but I would be careful managing it to ensure it is valuable.

Tim – You Should Work as Little As Possible

The title says it all, working four hours per week sounds exciting, doesn’t it? But as Tim points out, once you finally get rid of all that extra work time you are often less with a vacuum. Tim suggests you fill it up by learning new languages and service work.

My problem is that the overall premise is that all work is a painful necessity distracting you from real life. Couldn’t work become an exciting part of your life? Tim himself says that he likes to invest time learning new things and challenging himself to keep from boredom. If you were really passionate about your work, couldn’t it fill that role?

I agree with Tim’s overall premise that many people work to earn far more money than they need to fully enjoy life. But what if your reason for going to work goes beyond a paycheck? I believe Tim’s approach is sub-optimal. You don’t just want to work less, you want to work better – where your time at work is just as valuable to you as your vacation time. Not easy to do, but I think that is a higher goal then living on an endless semi-retirement.

Even though it isn’t in the book, I suspect Tim already realizes this. Otherwise why would he be working to become a writer aside from his current business?

Tim – Starting and Online Business to Make Automated Cash is Easy

I have to give Tim credit, he has a thorough process for developing an online cash-flow that requires little work to sustain. But I know from talking with many other internet entrepreneurs that it isn’t nearly as fast or easy as Tim makes it sound. Possible, but don’t quit your day job tomorrow.

Tim’s thoughts on starting a quick online business seem similar to many professional bloggers talking about how much money they earn. Problogging is doable, but if you think it is easy you are kidding yourself. It takes a lot of hard work, even more smarts and a dose of luck. I’ve written hundreds of articles for this site and invested hours in building traffic and revenue. While I don’t consider that my progress has been the ideal, I do think it is pretty average. I don’t earn enough money from the blog to live off it yet, and I suspect most people in my position feel the same.

Starting an online business is possible, but if you think it is just one to-do item before you can start becoming a globetrotting playboy, think again.

Overall Picture

There is so much great info in this book that I can’t possibly hope to summarize a tenth of it. The book has something for everyone from the aspiring entrepreneur to the stay at home mom. Even if you have points where you disagree with Tim, he will definitely change how you think. Get The 4-Hour Workweek.

  • Wulfen

    I was already intrigued by this book after reading about it on problogger. I also want to have a self-supporting website, helped by seminars and workshops, but so far I must say I haven’t had the best of successes – yet 😉 . I am quite eager to read this book, in case I could use some of the practical advice.

    The lifestyle of mobility is also an idea that has been going on in my mind for some time. I know some people that already have this lifestyle and it seems the life of my dreams. Of course people in my real-life social circle would not ever think twice about it: they have in mind the usual socially accepted lifecycle: you finish uni, you get a job, you marry and raise kids. But for a rake like me, the mobile lifestyle would fit like a glove ;).

    Rock Hard, Ride Free,


  • Mike

    I agree, Scott, there were some good things in the Ferriss book. However, I think its best used as a reference for all the resources. His “philosophy” (if you will) is not one I can share and certainly not one to be particularly proud of or aspire to. I have problems with his values and his disdain for gaining wealth the old-fashioned way – by working hard. To be sure, there are definitely some good tips and resources for various things. The launch hype has been a turn-off though. And his “Don’t read too many books,” business? Funny to read that — in a book.

  • Kali

    I think I’ll get it, Scott

  • Keith

    “Between several readers of this site nagging me to buy the book and what is probably one of the best PR jobs I’ve seen in the blogging world”

    Now you’re his PR. Well, I buy it when I want to. :p

  • Scott Young

    Thanks for the comments guys,

    Mike – That’s why I loved Tim’s book. Because often I didn’t agree with him. You need to read people that challenge your points of view, even if you decide not to agree with them later. I read too many books that just appeal to my worldview instead of helping sculpt it.

  • julie

    Very insightful. When you say, “you need to read people that challenge your points of view,” it pops into my mind that it probably is just as helpful to be around people that challenge your point of view. The book you can discard, the actural physical body is harder.
    I’d be interested in reading what you might write on this subject.

  • Shaine

    I had the same difficulty reading the book. There were some parts that generated lots of ideas (and a couple where I was bored). For me, the main takeaway messages were, 1) automate your income 2) don’t defer your dreams.

  • 100 Hour Workweek

    Scott, have you seen the spoof version of the 4 hour workweek? It is called the 100 hour Workweek: NEVER Escape Your Job, Live Alone, and Join the New Poor.

    very amusing.

  • Scott Young

    100 Hour Workweek… that gave me a laugh! 🙂

  • Andrew Norris

    Hi, nice review. I’m up to the time saving tips. Boy they work! Great book so far. You are totally right Scott about reading more non-fiction books. Have you read “authentic happiness”? This books tells you how to enjoy your work using “signature strengths” as often as possible. You can have it both!

  • Robert

    This book has some good tips like going on a Media Diet and being effective versus efficient. However like most get Rich Books it doesn’t really tell you anything that you didn’t already know. It also reminds me alot of The Science of getting Rich by W D Wattles who states we should do everything in a Successful manner which sounds similiar to being effective.

  • Agatha

    The advice on lowering email consumption and getting to rule the job than let the job decide your lifestyle was good. I have since been a regular visitor to

  • Thilo

    Big issue is that his book does not have a good structure. I want to grant him that this is normal though. About 1 or 2 % of all books have a bad structure in terms of usability.

    I read the 1st paragraph, try it, doesn’t work. I read further then an explaination comes. So I learn: You have to read more before you apply it. So I read more. Chapter over chapter. Thousands of tactics.

    And finally, I do not know where to start. Start in a way that I really have all the information I need to start a specific task.

    I have a lot of business ideas but no idea of how to make them real. Or test them first. For instance, he claims to create a website to find out if there is demand. Good idea, but if there is demand, others will immediately recreate such a website and create the actual product, so you are offering your idea to the public without earning anything. And if you’re a small company, just think about the abilities a huge company has when it comes to development time. Any ideas about that ( not only complaining but also actually a “how do I test and make my business ideas real?” )

  • Thilo


    About 1 or 2 % of all books have a good structure in terms of usability.

  • Scott Young


    I disagree. The book is a source of ideas, not a how-to. If you wanted to learn the details and minutia of starting a business, you could read a 400 page manual that lists all of the specific steps necessary before starting.


  • Thilo


    which books give me exactly as much information as necessary to accomplish the tasks I want accomplished? And which of them have the structure I desire?


  • Scott Young

    If you’re looking for step-by-step guides, How to ___ for Dummies or the Complete Idiot’s Guide to ___ are better resources than books like Tim’s.

  • Thilo

    Wrong, they don’t include ferriss’ approach

  • Scott Young

    No, they don’t. But they do give the details of starting a business which you can supplement Ferriss’ philosophy

  • Thilo

    Keep in mind that ferriss approach is new so it can not be used within other media. I am not interested in a discussion with you as you proofed to not be competent to answer.

  • Thilo