Initial Thoughts On the 4-Hour Workweek

by Brad Isaac on August 15, 2007

4hr workweek I consider myself pretty good at automating systems and saving time by creating efficiencies for people. I can usually build a process that will shave a few hours here and a there. But what really interested me was the title of a book called The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. I’ve worked some short weeks in my time, but not that short.

So a grabbed a copy and cracked the spine hoping to whittle down my work to a short 4 hours, or even 30 hours a week. ;) Here are my first impressions on it.

The book starts out with Ferriss identifying with the typical pain you might experience if you are working at a ho-hum job and feel your life slipping away at work. He goes into depth on how he felt when he was in that position. Working 80 hours in a job he hated, making the money, but feeling exhausted and like he had no life. Anyone who has worked their way up in any company surely knows the feeling of all work and no play.It’s not fun, it can be exhausting and can spill over into your free time if you aren’t careful. So what you get is time where you work and then time where you worry about work. Not good.

That’s why Ferriss suggests setting up systems that allow you to free more of your time for you and your family. He calls them mini-retirements where you might travel to distant lands, or you might just stay at home and work in your garden. The important point is humans need both work and play and rest. If you deprive yourself of play or rest for one day of freedom in the form of retirement, then you are going about things the hard way. He argues if you do make it to retirement, you’ll be bored out of your mind because you’ll have the habits of racing around like an adrenaline fueled maniac. Peaceful rocking in a chair on your back porch just won’t cut it.

So, the solution he recommends? Set up free time now, when you can. Travel now when you are young enough to enjoy it. Some of the arguments for this type of lifestyle… in many parts of the world, your money is worth 2 to 3 times more what it is worth where you live now. With some lifestyle adjustments, he says, you can live the good life for a few months a year for less than you might be spending for a 1 to 2 week vacation now.

Now I have to say, one part sticks out like a sore thumb. When he decided to live this mini-retirement lifestyle, he says he was making somewhere around $70,000 a month. It’s likely that most of the readers of this blog aren’t in that category. I’ve had some good months in my time, but not THAT good – no where near it. That amount of income before the age of 30 unlocks many opportunities some of us in our late thirties and forties do not enjoy. I don’t know if he is single or not, but if you throw spouse and kids into the mix, things get a little more hairy.

With that said, he does a good job of pointing out how no matter what your income, with the right attitude, you can live a life of work with vacations and time for hiatuses in other countries and ports of call. Obviously, if you aren’t making a fortune, you’ll have to scale back on material possessions and financial obligations. You can’t set up camp in the Bahamas for 2 months if you are over your head in mortgage and car payments back home.

Which brings to mind how possessions can’t make us happy anyway. So, if you are willing to give up some of your stuff so you can live a better, happier lifestyle, than why not?

He says that once he made the jump and gave up working his business for a 2 month peried, his profits almost doubled. I know from experience that by increasing rest and play increases profits anyway. Nobody can run 14-16 hour days and come up with creative (i.e. profitable) solutions. By putting more rest and play into your life, you increase the freedom of your mind, thus the quality of your results. So it makes sense to me.

Like I said, these are my initial thoughts. I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book.

I am sure many of you have read it, what do you think? Have you started your mini-retirement yet? Let us know in the comments below.

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August 15, 2007 at 7:37 pm


Thanks for the review! I saw the book plugged on ProBlogger and was more than a little skeptical.

I really believe there’s a need for play which is why I’ve gone for a bike ride at lunch most workdays for the last 12 years. It hasn’t been unusual for me to be struggling to solve and problem and the solution will just come to me on my lunch time ride when I’ve quit focusing on it.

This year I was told by my boss I needed to be working more and I couldn’t be riding so much. I certainly have been spending more time working but I’m getting less done and I’m unhappy. Bad for the company and bad for me.

August 15, 2007 at 8:06 pm


The tricky part of this book is the outsourcing component. If a 4 hour work week is good for everyone and outsourcing mundane tasks is a key to achieving this goal, ultimately somebody has to do the grunt work and can’t afford a 4 hour week!

The logic starts to break down.

I’m a big fan of the idea of outsourcing tasks to others who can do them more efficiently and then they, in turn, can outsource some of their tasks as well. But, I think that widespread 4 hour weeks may not be sustainable.

I look forward to your further review.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

Brad Isaac August 15, 2007 at 10:30 pm

@Rob, so what you are saying is by making you work longer hours without relaxation, productivity is going down. Go figure!

@Andrew, yes, I’ve thought about this too – even before getting the book. But conclude that not everyone wants to think. Not everyone wants the hassle of building this type of system. They just want to clock in work, clock out, get paid and not have to worry about it in the evenings or weekends. I know many people who are like this.

August 16, 2007 at 11:39 am


Excellent point! After college, I spent a few years working in an automotive factory on the assembly line (long story!) It was hard boring work but steady and it paid well.

One of the people I met there had been a small business owner with a relatively successful business. But, he just hated all of the work that came with owning a business. He hated dealing with employees, and having to think about his business all the time. So, he sold it, got a job on the assembly line and lived for the weekends and holidays.

I never understood that line of thinking. But I’m a lot like my father and my work, my hobbies, and my passions are all intertwined.

Andrew Seltz
The Go-To Guy!

Nick Prince August 23, 2007 at 3:51 pm

I have a friend in a similar situation as Andrew’s co-worker. He started a successful web hosting business during high school. This was back before everyone and their cat had a hosting company. He manged it all from home, while in high school. He even contracted out full time programming positions.

He chose to sell the business, and work a low wage job as tech support at a local internet company. He absolutely loves the change.

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