I’m a big fan of fiction books. They’ve always been one of my most enjoyable forms of entertainment. Up until recently, I hadn’t read many business or self-help books. But I’m making an effort to change that for this blog. So, I just finished reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and I wanted to share my opinion on it.
I loved some parts of the book and could take or leave others. But I suppose that’s true of most books.
A little history:
The book was written in 2007 and updated in 2009. But most of the recommendations seem up to date as of this writing (November 2015). It became a huge success and sold more than 1.3 million copies worldwide. Timothy Ferriss has gone on to write The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef. But neither has been as successful as The 4-Hour Workweek.
The basic premise of The 4-Hour Workweek (full title The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich) is that people work too hard doing things they don’t enjoy. Ferriss shares some strategies he used to cut back on the time he spent working. These strategies can be done by anyone. And you can do this while still making enough money to support your lifestyle. I found his strategies on managing email particularly enlightening. In a nutshell, he thinks people lose a lot of productivity by checking email often. He suggests only checking email twice a day. You can change the settings in your email program so that it doesn’t synch more often than that.
He also spends a large part of the book discussing travel. He thinks it’s important and is easier and less expensive than you may think. I actually felt inspired by this section of the book. I really identified with what he said about “binge traveling.” Binge traveling is traveling for periods of time less than a week. This type of travel can be fun, but has always been exhausting for me. If you stay in one place for a month or longer, you can live like a local. And you won’t feel that you have to see and do lots of things every day. You’ll have a longer period of time to do everything you want to do.
Plus, if you stay at a location for a longer period of time, it may actually be cheaper. You can rent an apartment instead of a hotel, and you won’t need to go out to eat for every meal. Ferriss has a lot of recommendations for keeping costs down while traveling.
Of course, most people can’t take a month of vacation from their jobs. So, Ferriss discusses strategies to start your own business. He also talks about getting your current employer to allow you to work remotely. The section about getting your employer to let you work remotely was uncomfortable. It involved a level of deceit that I think many people would balk at.
I agree that working remotely is ideal and opens up a world of opportunity. I just don’t think you have to lie to get this type of arrangement.
Which brings me back to the section of the book on starting your own business. Ferriss has some great ideas about how to start businesses with little or no investment. And this is a book about working less hours, so his ideas involve setting yourself up to spend as little time as possible managing your business.
I actually work for a small, direct-response company, so I brought some of these ideas to my boss. He loved the concepts, and we are incorporating a few of them as we speak. So, even though Ferris wanted people to start their own businesses, the ideas are good enough they’ll work in many situations.
I would recommend The 4-Hour Workweek for anyone looking to escape the drudgery of 40+ hour workweeks. I don’t agree with every section of the book, but I still give it 4 out of 5 stars. It was inspirational for me.