The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

1. Introduction

Are you looking to escape your 9-5 job? Are you ready to join the “New Rich”, traveling around the world and generating an income? Then read on. This will be something for you.

So how do you join the “New Rich” (NR)?

In his book The 4-Hour WorkweekTimothy Ferris describes 4 steps:

  • Definition
  • Elimination
  • Automation
  • Deliberation

Now, let’s have a more detailed look at each of these steps.


Before joining the New Rich (NR), you must first know WHO they are and WHAT they do.

Timothy Ferris describes the New Rich as “those who abandon the deferred 9-5 life plan and create luxury lifestyles utilizing time and mobility.”

Here are some of the characteristics of the NR:

  • They let others do the work for them.
  • They prevent work for work’s sake and do the minimum necessary for maximum effect.
  • They go for ‘mini-retirements’, i.e. small recovery periods and adventures throughout their life.
  • They are free in doing what they love and pursue their dreams.


Examples of “New Rich” people, described in the 4-hour workweek:

  • The employee who rearranges his schedule and negotiates a remote work agreement to achieve 90% of the results in one-tenth of the time, which frees him to practice cross-country skiing and take road trips with his family two weeks per month”
  • The business owner who eliminates the least profitable customers and projects, outsources all operations entirely, and travels the world collecting rare documents, all while working remotely on a website to showcase his/her illustration work.”



The most important task in joining the NR is learning how to eliminate stuff that is NOT IMPORTANT.

As Ferris mentions in his book “The 4-hour workweek” : Way too many people focus on stuff that is urgent, rather than important. Being busy is most often used as an excuse for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”

 There are 2 ways to get rid of this ‘busy’ mentality:

  • Understand Pareto’s 80/20 Principle

This principle states that 80% of the outputs come from 20% of the inputs.

In other words: 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time. This also applies to business: 80% of the company’s profits come from 20% of the products and customers.

You must continuously ask yourself this question:

“Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?”

Understanding this simple principle is crucial in avoiding unproductive ‘busyness’. Being selective and doing less, as Ferris argues, is the sure-fire way to be productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.

  • Understand Parkinson’s Law

This law states that “a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.”

More specifically, if you schedule your work with very short and clear deadlines, you’ll perceive them more important and chances are higher you’re going to execute on them. It is the magic of the imminent deadline.

To conclude: increasing your productivity is the result of these 2 principles:

  1. Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/20)
  2. Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson’s Law)



Automation is all about outsourcing.

As Ferris argues: “getting a remote personal assistant is a huge departure point and marks the moment that you learn how to give orders and be a commander instead of the commanded.”

In the 4-hour workweek, remote management and communication is described as one of the most critical “New Rich skills”.

Becoming a member of the NR is not just about working smarter and eliminating the unimportant, but also about building a system to replace yourself.

Ferris defines 2 golden rules in delegating tasks to other people:

° Each delegated task must be both time-consuming and well-defined.

° Have some fun with delegating tasks: don’t make it too serious.

So… WHAT can you outsource?

Basically, anything that you can think of that is not worth your valuable time, from personal to business tasks: scheduling meetings, web-research, proofreading and editing, managing payments, etc.

And… to WHOM do you outsource?

There are tons of virtual assistants (VA’s) out there on a global level, from India to the US.

Among Ferris, the most important metric to base your decision upon is the cost per completed task. Not the cost per hour, since some VA’s can misuse this and work extremely slow.

It might also be better to hire a VA firm, rather than a solo operator. A VA firm will typically choose the person most apt to perform your specific task.

Off course, before you can delegate tasks, you must have a product / business.

Tim Ferriss suggests 3 steps in his book The 4-Hour Workweek:

  1. Pick an affordably reachable niche market: who’s problem are you solving?
  2. Brainstorm (do not invest in) products: the options you have can range from reselling a product, licensing a product or creating a product.
  3. Micro-test your products: this involves using inexpensive advertisements to test your consumer response to a product prior to manufacturing it.

Once you’ve been through these stages successfully and you start to generate sufficient cash flow, only then can you start thinking of automation and rollout.



This is the last step: the step to freedom.

After automating your business processes, it is time for one of the core characteristics of the New Rich: unrestricted mobility.

Although this last step can apply to entrepreneurs and freelancers, the focus is more on employees.


Simply because they fear the loss of control the most.

In the 4-hour workweek, Ferriss gives a couple of tips for employees to negotiate a remote work agreement with your boss. This is simply the next move to generate more time to work on your side business/passion, while at the same time focus on maximal productivity at your job.

  • Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Based on your work history, would you trust yourself to work outside the office?
  • Practice environment-free productivity.
  • Quantify current productivity.
  • Create an opportunity to demonstrate remote work productivity before asking for it as a policy.
  • Practice the art of getting past “no” before proposing.
  • Put your employer on remote training wheels: propose Monday or Friday at home.
  • Extend each successful trial period until you reach FULL-TIME or your desired level of mobility.

Lastly, Ferriss also introduces the term ‘mini-retirements’.

Instead of working your ass off your whole life to do what you love once you retire, the New Rich go for mini-retirements: this entails relocating to one place for one to six months before going home again or moving to another place.

This is not to ‘escape’ your life, but re-examine it. It’s a way of experiencing life to the fullest, while generating automated income.

To go for these mini-retirements, Ferriss suggests a whole bunch of tactics to do it as cheap as possible. For that, I’ll recommend you to check out the book.

Talk soon,









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Anthony Perez
My name is Anthony Perez. I'm the creator of Book Success. I always believed in self-education. By absorbing the thoughts and ideas of the smartest individuals on this planet, you can truly move forward in life. My mission is to deliver these key insights to you. In that way, you can grow and prosper in all life areas.Besides my passion for reading, I help individuals build their brand online. Feel free to say hi on social!