The 4-Hour Workweek (or “4-Hour Work Week” if you have the UK edition) is a 300-page best-selling book by Timothy Ferris. It outlines his strategy for becoming one of the “new rich” – making a living by setting up a company that essentially runs itself, with a minimal time investment (four hours a week) from you.
You can probably get a copy for under $15.
There are various editions of the book available (including Kindle and audio). At the time of writing this, the hardback edition was available on Amazon.com for $13.57, reduced from the cover price of $19.95. The paperback is available on Amazon.co.uk for £7.79, reduced from the cover price of £11.99.
The 4-Hour Workweek is split into four main sections:
Step I: D is for Definition
- Chapter 1 – Cautions and Comparisons: How to Burn $1,000,000 a Night
- Chapter 2 – Rules That Change the Rules: Everything Popular is Wrong
- Chapter 3 – Dodging Bullets: Fear-setting and Escaping Paralysis
- Chapter 4 – System Reset: Being Unreasonable and Unambiguous
Step II: E is for Elimination
- Chapter 5 – The End of Time Management: Illusions and Italians
- Chapter 6 – The Low-Information Diet: Cultivating Selective Ignorance
- Chapter 7 – Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal
Step III: A is for Automation
- Chapter 8 – Outsourcing Life: Offloading the Rest and a Taste of Geoarbitrage
- Chapter 9 – Income Autopilot I: Finding the Muse
- Chapter 10 – Income Autopilot II: Testing the Muse
- Chapter 11 – Income Autopilot III: MBA—Management By Absence
Step IV: L is for Liberation
- Chapter 12 – Disappearing Act: How to Escape the Office
- Chapter 13 – Beyond Repair: Killing Your Job
- Chapter 14 – Mini-Retirements: Embracing the Mobile Lifestyle
- Chapter 15 – Filling the Void: Adding Life After Subtracting Work
- Chapter 16 – The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes
You also get access to a member’s area on Tim’s Four Hour Work Week website which has a bunch of bonus chapters (as pdfs) on topics from learning languages to getting advertising agreements, as well as a bunch of case studies and interviews.
Tim really knows what he’s talking about. He writes from personal experience, and he shares his mistakes. He’s a great writer, keeping you engaged even in the more technical parts of the book (such as when he explains how to set up tests and websites to check out the market for a product idea).
Even if you don’t like the system Tim lays out, there’s a ton of other great stuff in this book – particularly about effectiveness and productivity. You’ll also learn a lot about things you might well never have heard of, like outsourcing work to a personal assistant.
On the whole, it’s an inspiring sort of book – the kind which shakes you out of complacency and motivates you to get up off your arse and do something! I tend to dip in and read a chapter or two when I’m feeling slightly demotivated, and it always gives me a few new thoughts or a dose of encouragement.
Depending on your personal views, you may think Tim is a genius or you may think he’s a bit crazy or unethical. Personally, I’m always dubious about anyone who makes money selling pills to sports-people. And Tim’s method of “winning” the Chinese kickboxing tournament was, well, amusing, but seemed to go against the spirit of the rules.
You may not want a business that involves creating a product and outsourcing everything (often abroad). If your ideal job is not one where you make money in as few hours as possible, then some of Tim’s suggestions (especially the three chapters on Income Autopilot) won’t really apply to you.
Although there’s some stuff in the 4-Hour Workweek that I found myself feeling uncomfortable or dubious about, there’s a huge amount to learn here. It’s a pretty long (though very readable) book, and I definitely got my money’s worth. It’s also quite entertaining: you can tell that Tim’s real interest is, as he says, writing.
Even if you think it’s not for you, I’d suggest grabbing a copy to see what all the hype’s about. It’s not expensive (in fact, it’s darn cheap compared to many much shorter ebooks) and you’ll definitely pick up some productivity tips and some new ways of looking at the world. These might be a bit of a challenge at times – but that can be a good thing!