The 4 Hour Work Week Book Helps You Dream Big

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is The 4 Hour Work Week book about? What does Tim Ferriss say about managing your time and living a life you enjoy?

In The 4 Hour Work Week book, Tim Ferriss explains that since we spend our whole lives working, we can’t even enjoy our time. By taking certain steps to free up time, we can start living our dreams now instead of waiting for retirement.

Read more about The 4 Hour Work Week book and how you can take control of your time.

The 4 Hour Work Week Book

Many people want to retire as millionaires, but they don’t actually crave a million dollars; what they want is the millionaire lifestyle. They want to be able to travel, learn new skills, and spend their time doing whatever they want instead of working. There are two schools of thought on how to achieve this lifestyle:

  1. Deferrers follow the conventional system of working for 30-40 years of their lives and then retiring. They use up the prime physical years of their life working, and either run out of money or run out of things to do with their money while they’re traditionally retired.
  2. The New Rich live the “retired” lifestyle throughout their lives, alternating periods of work and fun. Their goal is to spend as little effort and time to make as much money as possible.

The 4 Hour Work Week book teaches you how to live the second lifestyle. The 4 Hour Work Week book (4HWW) lifestyle is a specific version of the New Rich lifestyle in which you create a business called a “muse” that makes you money while not taking up a lot of time. 

You can achieve Time Ferriss’s 4 hour work week lifestyle by following a four-step process with the acronym DEAL: define, eliminate, automate, liberate. First, you’ll define what you want to spend your time doing. Then, you’ll free up that time by eliminating unnecessary activities and streamlining your 9-5 job and life. Next, you’ll automate your 9-5 job and chores and create your muse. Finally, once your muse is earning you enough money, you can leave your 9-5 job and do everything you defined.

D: Define Your Dreams: First Step of The 4 Workweek Book

The first step in The 4 Hour Work Week book involves addressing your fears and defining what you want to do.

Mitigating Fear

Once you’ve embraced the idea of the New Rich lifestyle, it’s time to figure out what might hold you back—for most people, it’s fear of uncertainty. People are so scared of the unknown that they choose to be unhappy instead, because at least they know what that’s like.

Define Your Personal New Rich Lifestyle

Next, it’s time to define what the ideal 4HWW lifestyle would look like for you. Do this with a dreamline—a timeline applied to a dream.

E: Eliminate Activities That Waste Your Time According to The 4 Hour Work Week Book

The second step to living Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour work week lifestyle is to eliminate things that take up time you’d rather use for something else. Stop doing unimportant things and learning unactionable information, and cut down on time spent on email, calls, and meetings. Finally, if you’re an employee, transition to remote work so you have full control of your own schedule.

Do Only Important Things: Efficiency Does Not Equal Effectiveness

Most of us probably approach our chores and tasks by managing our time, prioritizing, and finding efficient ways to get things done. However, the best way to save time is to only do things that matter, and stop doing everything that doesn’t.

A: Automate Time-Consuming Activities

The third step to living Tim Ferriss’s 4 hour work week lifestyle is to automate everything you don’t want to do. That way you can spend your time doing whatever you want while still having money come in. To do this, you’ll hire a virtual assistant, start your muse, and then automate your muse. 

Get a Virtual Assistant (VA)

You should get a virtual assistant (VA) regardless of whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, and regardless of whether or not you think you need one. Getting a VA teaches you to manage, teaches you the value of your own time, and reinforces step E (Eliminate)—if you’re waffling about eliminating something, you’ll cut it loose once you have to pay someone to do it.

L: Liberate Yourself From the Rat Race

The final step in The 4 Hour Work Week book is to achieve the dreams you defined in step D (Define). You’ll leave your non-muse job, “mini retire,” and settle into your new lifestyle.

How to Leave Your Job

Once your muse is up and running, you won’t need the income from your 9-5 job anymore, and you can quit it to earn yourself even more free time.

Mini-Retirements and Decluttering

Instead of going on a vacation or a one-time sabbatical, go on a “mini-retirement.” A mini-retirement is an affordable, months-long relocation to a new place during which you mentally disengage from the rat race and achieve your dreams. A mini-retirement is also an opportunity to cut down on your material possessions—as you decide whether to pack or store belongings, get rid of anything that you don’t need.

The 4 Hour Work Week Book Helps You Dream Big

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Tim Ferriss's "The 4-Hour Workweek" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The 4-Hour Workweek summary:

  • The 4-step process to live a "retired" lifestyle now
  • Find out if you're wasting the best years of your life working a 9-5
  • How to create a business that makes you money without sucking up your time

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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