The Four Hour Workweek: Does It Really Work?

The book may be quite old now, but the impact of the Four Hour Workweek is still very much being felt. This is a book from author and life-coach Tim Ferriss which outlines precisely how we can whittle our workload down to a meagre four hours a week thanks to the advantages of the digital age. It talks about our need to ‘create work’ for ourselves and how we get trapped in the rat race, and then it discusses how to get out of that cycle and to automate, outsource and eliminate a lot of the work that takes up the most time. Through the book, Ferriss pretty much invented the concept of the ‘lifestyle entrepreneur’ or ‘digital nomad’, or at least brought it to a wider audience.

But as with anything that makes such a big splash, this book was not without its controversies or detractors. There are many who claim that Tim’s advice is nothing but empty drivel, and some who even use words like ‘scam’ or ‘fraud’. So what’s the real story?

This Book is Not Literal

Those who get too hung up on the details of Ferriss’ infamous book are somewhat missing the point. While there is broadly the claim that in theory you could reduce your work load to just four hours a week, the number four is really more arbitrary. Likewise, Ferriss never explicitly claims that the advice in the tome will apply for everyone. This is a book aimed mainly at tech savvy entrepreneurs in their late twenties/early thirties, though it certainly contains lessons that will apply in to others who fall outside of that category.

Another point to bear in mind going in, is that some of the advice does need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Tim is somewhat cavalier for instance when advising on cutting friends and contacts out of your life (when it’s not always that easy), will often apply simple quotes to far more complex situations, and makes several suggestions that will involve a fair amount of financial investment (testing ads on AdWords is not as affordable as he would have you believe).

This Book is Useful

That said though, there is also a lot in this book to praise, and if nothing else it will certainly provide food for thought.

If you work in an office right now, then you may not be able to arrange a remote work agreement quite as easily as Ferriss suggests, but it certainly won’t hurt to try. And perhaps there are other avenues you can pursue?

If you run your own business and it’s weighing you down heavily, then Tim’s advice might not get you down to four hours a week, but it can certainly help you to streamline your e-mail and to consider more outsourcing options.

For an entrepreneur it can suggest quicker business models that might help you to gain more revenue without too much extra work and provide a range of useful ideas for tools and services to use from moving and storage to virtual assistants.

And that’s really how to approach this book – as a meditation on a subject that at the time really needed to be discussed, with a lot of very useful tips. The problem is the title which makes many people think this book is going to change their lives. It’s not, or at least it won’t without a fair amount of work, dedication and nerve on your part.

But even if you only take one or two lessons from the book, it can potentially put your life on track and start you moving in the right direction towards more free time and less stress thanks to technology.

My favourite piece of advice in the book? ‘Ask for forgiveness, not permission’. If you’ve been thinking about doing something but have been putting it off because you’re worried how others will react, then just do it and say sorry afterwards. Nine times out of ten you’ll find the repercussions are much less than you feared.

The internet age has provided us with a new way of doing business, but we have yet to embrace it. This book might be the first to start that discussion.

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The author of this post, Nancy Baker, is a freelance blogger who often writes for Tender Touch, a moving company in Toronto. She likes to keep herself updated with the latest happenings in the world of sports and shares her opinions via blogging. Follow her on Twitter @Nancy Baker.

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