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Who wants to have a kick-ass lifestyle where you work from anywhere in the world, work less hours and earn more money? If you nodded yes, you might want to check out the book The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (audiobook).

At Asian Efficiency we have written a lot about time management and how you can apply this to any part of your life. Whether you are studying in college, work 9-to-5 or are self-employed, all the techniques we have written about can be used in any field. While we have shown what you can do with it, the application of the techniques is really up to the reader. However, in The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim shows you how to use a variety of time management techniques to free up time and how you can utilize that for setting up an online business and location independent lifestyle.

Lifestyle Design

This term, lifestyle design, coined by Tim Ferriss is all about how you free up more time to do the fun things in life and work less hours. The main premise of the books is to setup a low maintenance and cash flow positive (online) business that you can operate from anywhere in the world.

He really guides you throughout the book to use your time more effectively for this “New Rich” (as he calls it) lifestyle. What makes Tim Ferriss’ book interesting is that it is a mixture of business, lifestyle and productivity. Throughout the book he teaches you a lot of time management concepts but what sets this book apart from any other time management book is that he also shows you how to apply it to set up a lifestyle business (which he calls a muse).

The title of the book is a little misleading as you don’t actually end up working necessarily four hours a week. He defines work as anything you don’t like to do and if you spend time on something you love, it’s not really “work”. The reality is that you will end up spending more time on working on this lifestyle. However, as Tim says, if you spend time on something you love to do it’s not really “work”.

The key to “work” less is where the book really shines. It does not really tell you to follow your passions and work on your purpose in life – other books are better suited for that (like The Power of Story). However, Tim opens up your mind by explaining how money is not that valuable in comparison to time. As he says in the book:

If you can free your time and location, your money is automatically worth 3-10 times as much.

You will find out that having lots of money is not necessarily the key to happiness. A lot of people think that you need a certain amount of money to do certain things in life but the book will show you that’s not true at all. In fact, it will show you how you can enjoy a higher quality of life like those “rich people” without much money.

That’s really the essence of the book – to lead a higher quality of life that you enjoy. Time management and a lifestyle business are just a means to an end. The ultimate goal is to live a happy life. Most people make their lives around work. This book guides you on how to make time to work around your life.

Notes and Takeaways

There are a lot of great concepts introduced in The 4-Hour Workweek and this list is only the tip of the iceberg.

Pareto’s Principle – As the book became more popular, so did this concept (also known as the 80/20 rule). It’s the few critical things that contribute the most output. It’s a great way to prioritize things using this concept.

Parkinson’s Law – In simple terms, this means that if you give yourself a certain amount of time to complete a task, you will naturally use up all that time to complete it. The key is to setting strict deadlines so you don’t give yourself slack.

Combine the Pareto principle and Parkinson’s law – This is a big theme throughout the book: identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.

Low information diet – We consume way too much unnecessary information. Ranging from blogs, social media, news, and general chit chat, you need to cut back on a lot of these so you will free up time to do important things.

Basic email management – Email management is a big time wasting activity for most people and the book introduces simple workflows and ideas to help you minimize this time wasting activity (see our take on it here).

Personal outsourcing – Spend time on your strengths and things you do best, outsource the rest. Anything that does not contribute to your income is relatively a waste of time if you want to have this lifestyle.

Muse business – A low maintenance business that you can run from anywhere in the world. The idea is that you don’t run a business, you own it and use your time for other fun things that life has to offer.


You shouldn’t think that this book is a magic bullet. You will spend a lot of time on setting up this lifestyle but the 4HWW is not only a manual on how to do it but also a great inspirational read on escaping the 9-to-5 gig.

Also, this book is not for the faint of heart. Some of the tips outlined in the book can be perceived as controversial and out-of-line in order to maximize your time. However, if you apply the big ideas from the book you will come to realize that is is actually not that bad. In fact, you will be happy to push the boundaries to setup a lifestyle designed for less work, more time and more money.

We are a big fan of this book and we have many friends living the Four Hour Workweek lifestyle. We have seen firsthand (and live ourselves) this lifestyle that allows you to “work” less, earn more money and at the same time enjoy a higher quality of life. If you have any aspiration to leave the 9-to-5 world and to join the “New Rich”, you should read this book. You can grab a copy of the book here at Amazon.com (audiobook).

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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  1. This is, hands down, one of the best and most powerful books I’ve ever read in my life. I have recommended it to countless people. The fact that you’re seeking it out says volumes about your level of self-awareness as it is and this book builds on that.

  2. This is a fair review and you might enjoy the book. I didn’t.

    For me Tim Ferris come across as a latter day snake oil salesman who lives the high life thanks to selling (in my opinion) unverified diet supplements and then writes a book to brag about it!

    There _is_ some really good advice in the book – how to work smarted and generate a self sustaining lifestyle – but I didn’t find anything here that was new.

    Good on him for all his success but I’m not sure I’d be able to look at myself in the mirror if I was him.

  3. hi guys, loving what you are doing with this website.
    I love this book – it practically changed my life from working 100 hours a week to kicking back and living on a tropical island with an internet business.

    This book was huge… but that was 2008. I’m curious what inspired you to write about this book now? I’m not suggesting it’s out of date as the ideas are still good, just seems odd because your website seems so up to date and cutting edge?

    I recommend subscribing to the Four Hour Work Week blog, lots of great free content. Tim is crazy but in a good way.


    1. Hi Simon,

      Thank you for the kind words! The main reason we wrote about 4HWW is because, like you said, the ideas are still valid today and we think a lot of our readers would benefit reading this book. There are a lot of time management concepts explained that we haven’t seen elsewhere – there is nothing close that combines time management with business concepts and ideas.


  4. Hi my friends,

    Although you start the article with this line: Who wants to have a kick-ass lifestyle where you work from anywhere in the world, work less hours and earn more money? My experience when I am talking with people about the book is “A four hour work week ain’t possible for me.” So right away we have a problem in acceptance of the ideas because the title turns them off.

    Actually to me, this book is one of the TWO greatest time management books (With the David Allen classic). This is the BIG book about determining out life’s direction and then David Allen comes in with how to do the specifics. The problem is all of us in the productivity universe are so concerned with efficiency that we neglect to think about the ultimate objectives. Those objectives are what Ferriss brings vividly into focus.

    And as you mentioned, the four hours per week refers not to what we are doing but to the amount of time we are doing things for others. Ferriss himself works VERY long hours every week but on things that he wants to do…that is the ultimate ideal.

    I thought this was a very good review of the ideas.


    1. Thanks Tom – I always appreciate your feedback here and on Twitter. This book and David Allen’s complement each other nicely, like you said. They cover different aspects of time management but you can mesh them together pretty well.

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