Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek


The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is really three small books in one.

The first thing Ferriss does is make the case that you ought to figure out exactly what you want to do, and then arrange your life so that you can do that. This is one of those ideas that is at once blindingly obvious and completely far-fetched. What else would you do? How many actually manage it? Ferriss spices these parts up with extended examples of the travel, study, and adventure that he has arranged his life around.


The second thing is to provide a bunch of strategies for freeing up your time. Some of these are general, but a large subset are aimed specifically at the ordinary employee who has a boss who expects him to show up every day. Whether these will actually work for you depends a lot on you, a lot on your boss, and a lot on exactly what your job is. If you're a hair stylist or massage therapist, they're not going to work. If you work at a computer and your deadlines tend to be weeks apart, I think there's a fair chance that they'll work to at least some extent.

The third thing is to describe, in considerable detail, a whole category of ways to make money that require very little time. They're not a get-rich-quick scheme, but rather ways to produce a modest income stream that doesn't require you to actually show up and do stuff day after day. The strategies he describes would almost certainly work, although perhaps not on the first or second try. There's no need to risk much money, though, so you're really just risking your own time and effort to see if they work for you.

To decide if the book is for you, ask yourself if you'd be interested in the individual parts. Don't know what you want to do with your life? Or, do you have a firm notion of what you'd really like to do, but consider it impossible because of the demands of earning a living? Are you willing to risk some time and effort up front against a pretty fair chance that you'll make a modest amount of extra money over a period of time? If you say yes to all three (or even just one--if that material could change your whole life for the better), then the book is worth reading.

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Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks for the autopsy on this book... I was looking at reading it when it comes to the library.  :D

Philip Brewer's picture

I'm with you. I do a large fraction of my reading in books from the library.