The 4-Hour Workweek is a self-help book by bestselling author Tim Ferris for overworked employees and lifestyle nomads. It was first published in 2007. The book is centered around what Tim Ferris’ calls lifestyle design which rejects the idea of decades of 9-5 jobs with little vacation to save up for relaxation and holidays after retirement. I have only read this book recently, however I recognized common themes that have been around for years. However, I didn’t know that they originated from this book.
The book is well structured into 29 chapters and reviews case studies by Tim Ferris and his acquaintances.
What did I like and learn?
Limit email checking. I have been disabling email notifications for over a decade now. It really makes a difference when not being interrupted by push notifications whilst trying to focus on something. I am also practicing limited email checking more or less successfully depending on my day.
Virtual assistance. I had heard about virtual assistance in India but to be honest I never met anyone using this service. I would be to safety conscious to hand over my email passwords to a total stranger in India. But Tim Ferris is taking the use of a virtual assistant to a new extreme…in his book he describes a situation where he had an email argument with his wife and he gets his Indian virtual assistant respond in a very polite manner. I found this section quite hilarious and funny.
Making a case for working from home. Ferris give tips on how to market yourself valuable and productive enough to negotiate a better work-life balance. The end goal is to have permission to work remotely or from home. I am not sure how relevant this still is in this age as most companies tend to offer some sort of remote working arrangement.
Sending clear emails. Ferris offers great advice on using clear “if then” statements in emails and in suggesting a range of meeting times to avoid a back and forth of email
What did I not like?
For my liking this book takes it in most examples to the extremes. What happened to engaged employees that find meaning in their profession and enjoy the social interaction with their colleagues? Sure it is possible to work remotely from exotic places for the majority of professions. But what about the relationships formed, trust build through personal interactions and community? All this can’t be replaced by 100% remote work in a virtual world and certainly not with a 4-hour work week. If everyone would like to work like Tim Ferris describes it in his book, then the world would truly be a sad place.
Overall, this is an interesting must read for everyone wanting to learn more about productivity enhancement, self-development and getting some ideas for lifestyle design. One of my 5 year goals that I formed after reading this book is to take my family on an extended two-month ski trip to the European Alps or North American ski resorts whilst my daughter attends local school. Imagine how much our low intermediate downhill skiing skills will improve during this time…I can’t wait! Just for this idea the read was worth it.