Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Workweek Book Summary





The 4-Hour Workweek was turned down by 26 out of 27 publishers.



  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. (Mark Twain)
  • Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. (Oscar Wilde)
  • Gold is getting old. The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as Lifestyle Design (LD).
  • From leveraging currency differences to outsourcing your life and disappearing, I’ll show you how a small underground uses economic sleight-of-hand to do what most consider impossible.
  • People don’t want to be millionaires – they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy.
  • $1,000,000 in the bank isn’t that fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows. The questions is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?
  • How do your decisions change if retirement isn’t an option?
  • What if you could use a mini-retirement to sample your deferred-life plan reward before working 40 years for it?
  • Is it really necessary to work like a slave to live like a millionaire?
  • I’m not going to spend much time on the problem. I’m going to assume you are suffering from time famine, creeping dread, or worst case – a tolerable and comfortable existence doing something unfulfilling. The last is most common and most insidious.
  • The goal is fun and profit.
  • The perfect job is one that takes the least time. The vast majority of people will never find a job that can be an unending source of fulfilment, so that is not the goal here; to free time and automate income is.
  • Reality is negotiable.
  • The DEAL of deal making is also an acronym for the process of becoming a member of the New Rich
  • D for Definition
  • E for Elimination
  • A for Automation
  • L for Liberation
  • An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field. (Niels Bohr)



1) Cautions and Comparisons

  • Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. (Albert Einstein)
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. (Richard P. Feynman)
  • Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the “freedom multiplier.”
  • Options – the ability to choose – is real power.
  • Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life. (John F.)


2) Rules That Change the Rules

  • I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time. (Herbert Bayard Swope)
  • Focus on being productive instead of busy.
  • The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up all the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
  • It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armour. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.
  • Lifestyle Design is thus not interested in creating an excess of idle time, which is poisonous, but the positive use of free time, defined simply as doing what you want as opposed to what you feel obligated to do.


3) Dodging Bullets

  • Many a false step was made by standing still. (Fortune Cookie)
  • Action may not always brig happiness, but there is no happiness without action. (Benjamin Disraeli)
  • You have comfort. You don’t have luxury. And don’t tell me that money plays a part. The luxury I advocate has nothing to do with money. It cannot be bought. It is the reward of those who have no fear of discomfort. (Jean Cocteau)
  • I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. (Mark Twain)
  • What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.
  • A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.
  • What is it costing you – financially, emotionally, and physically – to postpone action?
  • How will you feel having allowed circumstances to impose itself upon you and having allowed ten more years of your finite life to pass doing what you know will not fulfil you?
  • If you telescope out 10 years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcomes,” inaction is the greatest risk of all.
  • What are you waiting for?


4) System Reset

  • The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. There all progress depends on the unreasonable man. (George Bernard Shaw)
  • Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic.
  • It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time and energy-consuming.
  • You are better than you think. Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reasons. Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal.
  • There is just less competition for bigger goals.
  • Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all. When people suggest you follow your “passion” or your “bliss,” I propose that they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement.
  • Adult-Onset ADD: Adventure Deficit Disorder
  • This is how most people work until: “I’ll just work until I have X dollars and then do what I want.” If you don’t define the “what I want” alternate activities, the X figure will increase indefinitely to avoid the fear-inducing uncertainty of this void.
  • I believe that success can be measured in the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.
  • Just as words are inadequate to explain true happiness, so too are words inadequate to express my thanks (Tibetan Buddhism)
  • You won’t believe what you can accomplish by attempting the impossible with the courage to repeatedly fail better.
  • Life is too short to be small (Benjamin Disraeli)
  • The most important actions are never comfortable. Fortunately, it is possible to condition yourself to discomfort and overcome it.
  • There is a direct correlation between an increased sphere of discomfort and getting what you want.






  • One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity. (Bruce Lee)


5) The End of Time Management

  • Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away. (Antoine De Saint-Exupery)
  • It is vain to do with more what can be done with less. (William of Occam)
  • The employee is increasing productivity to increasing negotiating leverage for two simultaneous objectives: pay raises and a remote working arrangement.
  • Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.
  • Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
  • What gets measured gets managed. (Peter Drucker)
  • Pareto’s Law can be summarized as follows: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. Alternative ways to phrase this, depending on the context, include:
  • 80% of the consequences flow from 20% of the causes.
  • 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time.
  • 80% of company profits come from 20% of the products and customers.
  • 80% of all stock market gains are realized by 20% of the investors and 20% of an individual portfolio.
  • Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
  • Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective – doing less – is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.
  • Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.
  • The best employees have the most leverage.
  • Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline. If I give you 24 hours to complete a project, the time pressure forces you to focus on execution, and you have no choice but to do only the bare essentials.
  • Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.
  • Am I being productive or just active?
  • Am I inventing things to avoid the important?
  • The key to having more time is doing less, and there are two paths to getting there, both of which should be used together: (1) Define a to-do list and (2) Define a not-to-do list. In general terms, there are but two questions: What 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness? What 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcome and happiness?
  • Who are the 20% of people who produce 80% of your enjoyment and propel you forward, and which 20% cause 80% of your depression, anger, and second-guessing?
  • Identify: Positive friends versus time-consuming friends. Who is helping versus hurting you, and how do you increase your time with the former while decreasing or eliminating your time with the latter?
  • Identify: Who is causing me stress disproportionate to the time I spend with them? What will happen if I simply stop interacting with these people? Fear-setting helps here.
  • Identify: When do I feel starved for time? What commitments, thoughts, and people can I eliminate to fix this problem?
  • Poisonous people do not deserve your time. To think otherwise is masochistic.
  • You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker. Remove the splinters and you’ll thank yourself for it.
  • Learn to ask, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”
  • Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?
  • If you prioritize properly, there is no need to multitask. It is a symptom of “task creep” – doing more to feel productive while actually accomplishing less.


6) The Low-Information Diet

  • Learning to ignore things is one of the great oaths to inner peace. (Robert J. Sawyer)
  • Go on an immediate one-week media fast
  • Develop the habit of asking yourself, “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?
  • Practice the art of nonfinishing


7) Interrupting Interruption and the Art of Refusal

  • Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess players, not the chess piece. (Ralph Charell)
  • The best defence is a good offense. (Dan Gable)


  • It is your job to train those around you to be effective and efficient.
  • Create systems to limit your availability via e-mail and phone and deflect inappropriate contact.
  • Batch activities to limit setup cost and provide more time for dreamline milestones.




8) Outsourcing Life

  • A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. (Henry David Thoreau)
  • Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. (Malcolm X)
  • This is how e-mail was meant to be! It’s mail, not a chat service. (Jim Larranaga)


9) Income Autopilot 1

  • To create an automated vehicle for generating cash without consuming time.
  • Cash flow and time. With these two currencies, all other things are possible. Without them, nothing is possible.
  • It is critical that you decide how you will sell and distribute your product before you commit to a product in the first place.
  • Genius is only a superior power of seeing (John Ruskin)
  • Creation is a better means of self-expression than possession; it is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed. (Vida D. Scudder)


11) Income Autopilot 3

  • Fewer than 5% of the 195,000 books published each year sell more than 5,000 copies.
  • Customer service is providing an excellent product at an acceptable price and solving legitimate problems (lost packages, replacements, refunds, etc.) in the fastest manner possible. That’s it.
  • The more options you offer the customer, the more indecision you create and the fewer orders you receive – it is a disservice all around. Furthermore, the more options you offer the customer, the more manufacturing and customer service burden you create for yourself.
  • It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.



  • It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains. (Thomas H. Huxley)


12) Disappearing Act

  • By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day. (Robert Frost)
  • Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. (George Bernard Shaw)
  • It’s too big a world to spend most of life in a cubicle.





13) Beyond Repair

  • All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. (Niccolo Machiavelli)
  • If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time. (Chinese proverb)
  • Now that we’re all on a level playing field: Pride is stupid. Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner.
  • The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain. (Colin Wilson)
  • Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. (Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM)
  • Only those who are asleep make no mistakes. (Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA)
  • In the world of action and negotiation, there is one principle that governs all others: The person who has more options to search for them. Take a sneak peek at the future now and it will make both action and being assertive easier.


14) Mini-Retirements

  • Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment. (Paul Fussell)
  • One of the biggest self-deceptions of our modern age: extended world travel as the domain of the ultrarich.
  • This the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfection. (Saint Augustine)
  • True freedom is much more than having enough income and time to do what you want. It is quite possible – actually the rule rather than the exception – to have financial and time freedom but still be caught in the throes of the rat race. One cannot be free from the stresses of a speed- and size-obsessed culture until you are free from the materialistic addictions, time-famine mind-set, and comparative impulses that created it in the first place.
  • It takes two to three months just to unplug from obsolete routines and become aware of just how much we distract ourselves with constant motion.


15) Filling the Void

  • Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labour by taking up another. (Anatole France)
  • It is critical to stop repressing yourself and get out of the postponement habit.
  • Learn to replace the perception of time famine with appreciation of time abundance is like going from triple espressos to decaf.
  • People say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive. (Joseph Campbell)
  • Outdated comparisons using the more-is-better and money-as-success mind-sets that got us into trouble to begin with.
  • If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.
  • What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. (Viktor Frankl)
  • I believe that life exists to be enjoyed and that the most important thing is to feel good about yourself.
  • What can I do with my time to enjoy life and feel good about myself?
  • The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive. (Thich Nhat Hanh)


16) The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes

  • If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake. (Frank Wilczek)
  • Losing sight of dreams and falling into work for work’s sake (W4W)
  • Micromanaging and e-mailing to fill time.
  • Handling problems your outsourcers or co-workers can handle.
  • Helping outsourcers or co-workers with the same problem more than once, or with non-crisis problems.
  • Chasing customers, particularly unqualified or international prospects, when you have sufficient cash flow to finance your nonfinancial pursuits.
  • Answering e-mail that will not result in a sale or that can be answered by a FAQ or auto-responder.
  • Working where you live, sleep, or should relax.
  • Not performing a thorough 80/20 analysis every two to four weeks for your business and personal life.
  • Striving for endless perfection rather than great or simply good enough, whether in your personal or professional life.
  • Blowing minutiae and small problems out of proportion as an excuse to work.
  • Making non-time sensitive issues urgent in order to justify work.
  • Viewing one product, job, or project as the end-all and be-all of your existence.
  • Ignoring the social rewards of life.
  • Happiness shared in the form of friendships and love is happiness multiplied.



  • Recognize that the only rules and limits are those we set for ourselves.
  • Once you realize that you can turn off the noise without the world ending, you’re liberated in a way that few people ever know.
  • Any problem found in the inbox will linger in the brain for hours or days after you shut down the computer, rendering “free time” useless with preoccupation productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.
  • Time without attention is worthless, so value attention over time.
  • Develop the habit of letting small bad things happen. If you don’t, you’ll never find time for the life-changing big things, whether important tasks or true peak experiences.
  • One of the most universal causes of self-doubt and depression: trying to impress people you don’t like.
  • It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  • Too many choices = less or no productivity
  • Too many choices = less or no appreciation
  • Too many choices = sense of overwhelm
  • Not-to-do lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. The reason is simple: What you don’t do determines what you can do.
  • Calvin Coolidge once said that nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
  • Expect small problems. Life is full of compromises, and it’s necessary to let small bad things happen if you want to get huge good things done.


Living the 4-Hour Workweek

  • For those just getting started
  • Start small think big
  • Identify what excites you vs. what bores you
  • Eliminate and focus on what excites you
  • Stick to what excites you no matter what people say. It’s your life, live it the way you know is right for you.
  • Read 4-Hour Workweek, obviously! (J. Reiter)







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