Making the 4-Hour Workweek a Reality

A young caveman working 4-Hour Workweek
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Our cave dwelling ancestors only spent a few hours a week on subsistence activities, so why do we work 40-hour weeks now? According to one entrepreneur, four hours is still enough.

Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, is proud of his lifestyle of travel, adventure, learning and keeping fit. “I work less than four hours per week,” he says, “and make more per month than I used to make in a year.”

Skeptics might conclude that he must be selling some kind of new get rich scheme, like a course in flipping real estate or day trading. But what he really offers is a fresh attitude about time and money. He explains, “What I do with my time and what I do for money are completely different things.”

Instead of fixating on accumulating wealth, Ferriss decided to concentrate on getting what money could buy—vacations in ski chalets, butlers, exotic travel, tango lessons—the millionaire lifestyle not the money. “Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard,” he concluded. “It really doesn’t.”

He admits that his approach takes full advantage of “economic sleight-of-hand,” from leveraging currency differences to cheap air fares. But it’s more than that. He rejects the conventional ideas of “dream jobs,” savings and retirement, replacing them with something he calls the DEAL—Definition, Elimination, Automation, Liberation.

“Reality is negotiable,” says Ferriss. “Outside of science and law, all rules can be bent or broken, and it doesn’t require being unethical.” One of his key techniques to free up time is “outsourcing your life” with virtual assistants. Another is “cultivating selective ignorance” by developing “a low-information diet” and ignoring what’s unimportant.

The main ingredient, of course, is to “automate income” or put it on “autopilot.” That’s what allows a 9-to-5 employee to get off the treadmill. Some of the keys to success are using “geographic arbitrage,” flawless “remote control” and bursts of hyper-activity followed by successive “mini-retirements.”

Lest anyone might think Ferriss is bored by working just four hours, he says, “I hate laziness…. The goal is to spend as much time possible doing what we want by maximizing output in minimal time.” He uses the time he saves to enrich his life with experience, from kick boxing to horseback archery… that is, when he’s not writing his blog, Experiments in Lifestyle Design. “It’s time to have fun,” says Ferriss, “and let the rest follow.”

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