Book Review - The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
At least in the blogging circles I follow, it's been nearly impossible to not notice the book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. It's gotten a ton of airplay online, so of course I had to read it for myself. There are some interesting ideas and options presented, but if you play the full program out to the logical conclusion, it breaks down at some point.
First and Foremost: FAQ - Doubters Read This; My Story and Why You Need This Book; Chronology of a Pathology
Step 1 - D is for Definition: Cautions and Comparisons - How to Burn $1,000,000 a Night; Rules That Change the Rules - Everything Popular Is Wrong; Dodging Bullets - Fear-Setting and Escaping Paralysis; System Reset - Being Unreasonable and Unambiguous
Step 2 - E is for Elimination: The End of Time Management - Illusions and Italians; The Low-Information Diet - Cultivating Selective Ignorance; Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal
Step 3 - A is for Automation: Outsourcing Life - Off-loading the Rest and a Taste of Geoarbitrage; Income Autopilot 1 - Finding the Muse; Income Autopilot 2 - Testing the Muse; Income Autopilot 3 - MBA - Management by Absence
Step 4 - L is for Liberation: Disappearing Act - How to Escape the Office; Beyond Repair - Killing Your Job; Mini-Retirements - Embracing the Mobile Lifestyle; Filling the Void - Adding Life After Subtracting Work; The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes
The Last Chapter - An E-mail You Need to Read
Restricted Reading; Acknowledgments; Index
So when I first started hearing about this book, I thought it was about time management... do less and get more results. And while that's part of it, it's not the main thrust. Ferriss outlines a program whereby you can set up a continuous stream of income, remove yourself from the process, and collect the money. This happens with a combination of things like outsourcing, licensing, and "traveling light". The general concept is to create a program or product that can be delivered and serviced by a fulfillment company or a manufacturer. Allow offshore labor to represent your company in terms of call center work. And in as much as is possible, don't put yourself in a position where the company can't function without you on a hour-by-hour basis. This combination of elements means that you can restrict your "work" to just a few hours per week, and then spend the rest of your time doing things that really interest you, such as traveling. And even in the world of travel, he shows how living for three months in a place like Brazil might be far cheaper than living for three weeks in your home.
For those who are happy working a regular job, some areas of his book still work well. Selective ignorance can do wonders for freeing up time in your life that can be focused elsewhere. Restructuring your email and online presence can have the same effect. Don't let those things control you. Set the times you'll get back to people via email, and then focus on those items which make a difference. I was really intrigued about the offshoring concept. I didn't know you can actually have "virtual assistants" that will take over those mundane tasks like research, scheduling, or miscellaneous tasks. I can see how if you were a writer, you might find spending $5 an hour to have background material gathered would save you far more than that in time spent doing the actual writing.
Where I think the book and idea falls down is that *someone* has to do the physical labor. Yes, you could do the exact things that Ferriss outlines, and you could live his lifestyle. But someone has to be the virtual assistant, someone has to create the product, someone has to manufacture it, and someone has to deliver it. If everyone was focused on generating income in this fashion, then nobody would. So while it sounds easy, it's really not. And if it were that easy, it wouldn't work as nobody would be there to do the grunt work that underlies your income.
Worth reading? Yes... Are there ideas that can help you improve where you're currently at? Yes. Will this work for anyone and everyone? No...