Using The 4 Hour Workweek DEAL System

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 Workweek DEAL system? How does it work and how can you use it?

The components of the 4-Hour Workweek DEAL system are Define, Eliminate, Automate and Liberate. The 4-Hour Workweek DEAL system explains how you can spend less time making money, and more time living out your dreams.

Keep reading to understand the 4-Hour Workweek DEAL system.

The 4-Hour Workweek: DEAL

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 Workweek teaches you how to live the second lifestyle. The 4-hour workweek (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 the 4HWW 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

Most people think they want to be millionaires so they can stop doing a job they don’t like, travel, buy nice cars, spend time with the people they care about, or practice a passion or vocation. However, there isn’t a direct relationship between money and lifestyle. If you have a lot of money but don’t have any control over your time or who you spend it with, you probably won’t be happy. 

E: Eliminate Activities That Waste Your Time

Part 1 covered step D (Define) of the The 4-Hour Workweek DEAL process and Part 2 will cover step E: Eliminate activities that waste your time. Step E explains how to start making the time to achieve the dreamlines you set in step D.

The 4HWW lifestyle requires you to reevaluate your ideas about time. First, note that unproductive busyness is bad. Busyness takes up a lot of time and it’s a form of procrastination. Doing unimportant things gets in the way of doing things that would actually have a high impact but are uncomfortable.

Second, abandon time management. Time management implies that you have so many things to do in a limited amount of time that you have to tetris things into your schedule. This isn’t a situation you want to be in. 

Instead of being so busy you have to manage your time, decrease the number of things you have to do and decrease the amount of time you spend on them. If you want to get more done, you have to do less.

A: Automate Time-Consuming Activities

Part 3 will cover step A: Automate Time-Consuming Activities of The 4-Hour Workweek DEAL process. Step A, like step E (Eliminate), explains how to make the time to achieve the dreamlines you set in step D (Define). This step tends to be the most difficult part of the process for entrepreneurs because they tend to like having control, and in this step, they have to give it up.

To achieve the 4HWW lifestyle, find a way to replace yourself. Almost anything and everything you do could be done by someone else.

The first step to automation is to hire a virtual assistant (VA). You should do this regardless of whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur, and even if you have enough time to do everything yourself.

L: Liberate Yourself from the Rat Race

Part 4 will cover step L: Liberate Yourself from the Rat Race of The 4-Hour Workweek DEAL process. Step L explains how to quit the rat race and live the dreamlines you came up with in step D (Define). If you’re an employee, your job is your day job. If you’re an entrepreneur, your job is your conventional company. 

Once your muse is established, it’ll be earning you enough money that you no longer need to work a 9-5 job to bring in income. Quit your 9-5 job to give yourself more time to pursue your dreamlines.

Using The 4 Hour Workweek DEAL System

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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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