The 4-Hour Work Week

The 4-Hour Work Week

Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

Tim Ferriss

Summary in 100 words or less

Money is multiplied in practical value depending on what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. The new rich is about having cash flow and mobility. The process of becoming a member of the New Rich is known as DEAL. Define your desired lifestyle and the cash flow you need to live it. Eliminate unproductive tasks and unimportant things. Automate your work, business, and cash flow. And liberate your life by constantly exploring and learning.


My Highlights

Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the “freedom multiplier.”

Options—the ability to choose—is real power.

Different is better when it is more effective or more fun. If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.

Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most to accept because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.

For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.

Ask for forgiveness, not permission. If it isn’t going to devastate those around you, try it and then justify it. People—whether parents, partners, or bosses—deny things on an emotional basis that they can learn to accept after the fact.

It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.

Too much, too many, and too often of what you want becomes what you don’t want. This is true of possessions and even time. Lifestyle Design is thus not interested in creating an excess of idle time, which is poisonous, but the positive use of free time, defined simply as doing what you want as opposed to what you feel obligated to do.

Distress refers to harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less confident, and less able.

Eustress, on the other hand, is what pushes us to exceed our limits, physical training that removes our spare tires, and risks that expand our sphere of comfortable action.

Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows. Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?” —Seneca

Fear comes in many forms, and we usually don’t call it by its four-letter name. Fear itself is quite fear-inducing. Most intelligent people in the world dress it up as something else: optimistic denial.

To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.

It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time and energy-consuming.

Remember—boredom is the enemy, not some abstract “failure.”

Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.

Doing something unimportant well does not make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important. What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.

Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective—doing less—is the path of the productive. Focus on important few and ignore the rest.

Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline.

You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.

What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. —Herbert Simon

Ignorance may be a bliss, but it is also practical. It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable. Most are all three.

It is your job to train those around you to be effective and efficient. No one else will do it for you.

For employees, the goal is to have full access to necessary information and as much independent decision-making ability as possible. For the entrepreneur, the goal is to grant as much information and independent decision-making ability to employees or contractors as possible.

Never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined.

Principle number one is to refine rules and processes before adding people. Using people to leverage a refined process multiplies production; using people as a solution to a poor process multiplies problems.

Cash flow and time—with these two currencies, all other things are possible. Without them, nothing is possible

Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is much easier. Don’t create a product, then seek someone to sell it to. Find a market—define your customers—then find or develop a product for them.

The bulk of companies set prices in the midrange, and that is where the most competition is. Pricing low is shortsighted because someone else is always willing to sacrifice more profit margin and drive you both bankrupt.

Intuition and experience are poor predictors of which products and businesses will be profitable. To get an accurate indicator of commercial viability, don’t ask people if they would buy—ask them to buy.

Serving the customer is not becoming a personal concierge and catering to their every whim and want. Customer service is providing an excellent product at an acceptable price and solving legitimate problems in the fastest manner possible.

Looking at the customer as an equal trading partner and not as an infallible blessing of a human being to be pleased at all costs. If you offer an excellent product at an acceptable price, it is an equal trade and not a begging session between subordinate (you) and superior (customer).

Instead of dealing with problem customers, I recommend you prevent them from ordering in the first place.

Being bound to one place will be the new defining feature of the middle class. The New Rich are defined by a more elusive power than simple cash—unrestricted mobility. This jet-setting is not limited to startup owners or freelancers. Employees can pull it off, too.

Getting what you want often depends more on when you ask for it than how you ask for it.

While entrepreneurs have the most trouble with automation, since they fear giving up control, employees get stuck on liberation because they fear taking control.

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. —Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner. Going into a project or job without defining when worthwhile becomes wasteful is like going into a casino without a cap on what you will gamble: dangerous and foolish.

Don’t confuse the complex with the difficult. Most situations are simple—many are just emotionally difficult to act upon.

One cannot be free from the stresses of a speed- and size-obsessed culture until you are free from the materialistic addictions, time-famine mindset, and comparative impulses that created it in the first place.

The retired and ultrarich are often unfulfilled and neurotic for the same reason: too much idle time.

Too much free time is no more than fertilizer for self-doubt and assorted mental tail-chasing. Subtracting the bad does not create the good. It leaves a vacuum. Decreasing income-driven work isn’t the end goal. Living more—and becoming more—is.

Most big questions we feel compelled to face—handed down through centuries of overthinking and mistranslation—use terms so undefined as to make attempting to answer them a waste of time.

If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.

To live is to learn, I see no other option. Language learning deserves special mention. It is, bar none, the best thing you can do to hone clear thinking. The benefits of becoming fluent in a foreign tongue are as underestimated as the difficulty is overestimated.

Slowing down doesn’t mean accomplishing less; it means cutting out counterproductive distractions and the perception of being rushed.

If you cannot find meaning in your life, it is your responsibility as a human being to create it, whether that is fulfilling dreams or finding work that gives you purpose and self-worth—ideally a combination of both.

Life is too short to waste, but it is also too long to be a pessimist or nihilist. Whatever you’re doing no is just a stepping-stone to the next project or adventure. Any rut you get into is one you can get yourself out of.

Surround yourself with smiling, positive people who have absolutely nothing to do with work. Create your muses alone if you must, but do not live your life alone. Happiness shared in the form of friendships and love is happiness multiplied.

Life is neither a problem to be solved nor a game to be won.

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