The 4-Hour Workweek By Timothy Ferriss Review

2010 February 10
by Kyle Bumpus
from → Book Reviews

Note:  This is a review of the Expanded and Updated edition of the book, which I highly recommend over the original.

Timothy Ferriss seems to be one of the world’s greatest self-promoters these days.  Don’t get me wrong, his book is solid, his methodology works, and he definitely practices what he preaches, which is a breath of fresh air in today’s guru-driven self-improvement market.  Still, I can’t help but conclude the good majority of his success comes from his incessant self-promotion.  This guy is everywhere these days telling you how great he is.  Note to self:  constantly tell everybody how great you are.

I still think the whole concept of the 4-hour workweek is unrealistic for most people.  Most just people can’t break out of the 9-t0-5 mindset.  They are happy where they are in life, even if their favorite past-time is complaining about work.  There is nothing wrong with that.  They are not losers.  Just just value security and comfort over adventure and mountains of money.  After all, there is risk involved in embarking down Timothy’s path, much of it he hasn’t even conceived of yet.  But he will, don’t you worry.

The 4-Hour Workweek Delivers On All The Hype

But does it work?  Absolutely it does.  Like most good self-improvement products, this book does a stellar job of laying the practically infinite possibilities in front of you.  Tim makes it sound as though the world is your oyster.  And he’s not lying:  it is, but that’s not the primary strength of this book.  The thing about the 4-Hour Workweek is, it actually shows you step-by-step how to accomplish what it promises.

The book starts with a bit of inspiration.  By the end of the first chapter, you’ll be tempted to run in and quit your job first thing in the morning.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that just yet, but you’ll begin to see how a steady, secure, full-time job can be as much of a hindrance to your happiness as anything else.   Having money and living in a decent neighborhood is nice, but is that really what makes you happy?  Chances are you didn’t spend your childhood aspiring to be a middle-class work-a-holic.

The Nuts And Bolts

The rest of the book reads like an outline for an Entrepreneurship For Dummies book with a twist:  only businesses not requiring a full-time effort will be considered.  The concept of “loving-what-you-do” is exposed as the bunk it is.  Do you love what you do for a living?  Great!  But most people simply don’t love anything enough to want to spend their entire life doing it.  There are plenty of things I like doing, maybe even a few I wouldn’t mind spending 40 hours per week doing for the next 3 or 4 years.  But for the next 40?  No thanks.

Ferriss spends a lot of time on preaching about hyper-optimizing your productivity.  If you’re to get away with working just a few hours per week, you’ve got to make sure you actually get the job done on the rare occasion you do sit down to work.  The theory (it’s totally true, by the way) is that most people spend half their time goofing off at work, and the majority of the work they do get done during the other half of the day isn’t terribly important.  In short, most people invent work to do just so they can feel they’ve accomplished something.  Don’t let this be you.  You can accomplish just as much in 10 hours per week as 40 if you only do what truly needs to be done.

The muse section of the book (that is, the section devoted to creating semi-passive income streams) leaves a bit to be desired.  Ferriss offers broad methodologies to follow for finding good low-maintenance businesses to start, but practically no information you could apply today.  There’s plenty to start, of course, but you’ll still probably struggle for a year or two to figure out exactly what works and what doesn’t.  Still, the basic methodology Ferriss sites is pretty much what I use (significantly less-effectively than he describes, of course) and it does work.  It’s just not quite as easy as he makes it sound.  Still, 4 or 5 years of part-time work is probably more than enough to go from rank beginner to six-figures if you’re persistent.

The 4-Hour Workweek is absolutely, positively, without a doubt worth a thorough read or two.  The time-saving tricks and productivity tips alone are worth the price of admission.  While I already knew much of what Ferriss writes in this book, I still learned plenty.  Many of the online resources and odd time-saving tools were completely new to me, and I’ve delighted at exploring them for myself.  I’ve found Evernote and Dropbox particularly useful.  I now use them regularly.

The 4-Hour Workweek is an easy read in the traditional sense, but don’t think it won’t challenge you mentally.  It will have you questioning everything you’ve ever taken for granted to be true.  I suppose the most complimentary thing I can say about this book is it got my questioning what is and is not possible in life.  I realized that to most people, “impossible” really just means “I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m assuming it can’t be done.”

Buy The 4-Hour Workweek from and learn what it takes to live the good life without the usual 80 hour work weeks!

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5 Responses
  1. 2010 February 11

    Kyle – Great review of the book. Very honest and some great insights here. Like you, building that passive income so that I will only need to work 4 hrs a week!

  2. 2010 February 11

    @Kyle: I enjoyed reading your review of the book. I bought the book and read it about a month ago. I think there are a lot of practical things in it that can be applied, and like you said people who think something is “impossible” means they haven’t done it.

  3. 2010 February 12

    Any book that makes you look at things differently and think is worth a read. I lent out my original copy about a year ago. I might have to go to the library and get the new version.

    I’m not working a 4-hour workweek but a lot of what Ferriss discusses is very helpful. I’m using Evernote now and its awesome. After I read the book I used GoToMyPC and found it very useful )until my job blocked it).

  4. 2010 February 14

    When I first read the book I thought it was going to change my life. It actually did give me the extra kick I needed to get out of a burdensome work situation that was beyond my control and reclaim my freedom. Creating passive income streams is (even semi passive) is indeed much harder than he implies though, or at least you have to be lucky.

    The efficiency and 80/20 stuff is bang on though. I knew all this already, but so many don’t and it’s very easily to slip backwards, especially with all the social networking time wasters around these days. Email is a positively sedate waste of time in comparison…

  5. 2010 September 23

    I’ve been doing a 4 hour work week for years and it has worked out well for me. In the beginning, in my line, I have to put in countless hours to get my business up and running, now I just tweak it.

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