ESB Book Review – The 4 Hour Work Week
After college, Ferriss took an exhausting sales job at a tech firm, and left to start a exhausting business of his own. He went from working 40 hours a week for somebody else to working 80 hours a week for himself. He hated it. The pay was good, but the business left him drained.
After learning about the Pareto Principle (more commonly known as the 80-20 Principle), Ferriss had a revelation: he streamlined his business, eliminating distractions and automating systems until it was not only more profitable, but also took less of his time. Much less. He took a “mini-retirement”, and then decided to write a book about “lifestyle design”, about creating a life that balances work and play, maximizing the positives of both.
The 4-Hour Workweek describes the specific actions Ferriss took to implement these steps. This book actually is the complete embodiment of the 80/20 principle into an individual’s professional life. The 80/20 principle is the idea that 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your time, and the other 20% of your productivity eats up 80% of your time.
Ferriss argues that by eliminating that 20% of productivity that eats up most of your time, you can live in a much more efficient fashion, and the entire book revolves around that concept in various ways, hence the title The 4-Hour Workweek. In some ways, the book itself reads like a blog, as it’s broken down into lots of little pieces: some of them step-by-step advice, some of them anecdotal, and some of them philosophical.
The 4-Hour Workweek is divided into four sections, each of which explores one of the components to lifestyle design:
- Define your objectives. Decide what’s important. Set goals. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?”
- Eliminate distractions to free up time. Learn to be effective, not efficient. Focus on the 20% of stuff that’s important and ignore the 80% that isn’t. Put yourself on a low-information diet. Learn to shunt aside interruptions, and learn to say “no”.
- Automate your cash flow to increase income. Outsource your life — hire a virtual assistant to handle menial tasks. Develop a business that can run on auto-pilot. (This is the weakest section of the book.)
- Liberate yourself from traditional expectations. Design your job to increase mobility. This could mean working from home, or it could mean using geographic arbitrage to take mini-retirements in countries with favorable exchange rates.