I recently read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss and wanted to share some of my thoughts about the book, in the form of a top 10 list. (What can I say? Apparently I like lists a lot…) Also, I’d love to discuss this book in the comments, so let me know if you’ve read it. (Or you can come say hi on Twitter, if that’s easier.)
Here we go!
- There are a lot of interesting ideas. Timothy Ferriss is clearly intelligent and savvy.
- He does seem to be more than a little blinded by privilege, though, which I found grating a number of times throughout the book. It’s fair to say that everyone is blinded by their own privilege to some extent, but when the entire premise of the book is based on that, it can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.
- The premise of the book is that what he describes (or alternatives nearly identical to it) is possible for (practically) everyone. The fact is, however, that this is simply not the case.
- I also take issue with the idea of doing the least amount of work you can possibly get away with. I do not think that is a noble endeavor. His idea seems to be, “Get a job that is easy, so that you don’t have to work much, so that you can do whatever you want.” How about trying, “Find a job you love and helps you feel fulfilled. Then work to make a difference” instead? Even aside from that, there is value in hard work–something which seems completely lost on him.
- Despite these problematic aspects, I did appreciate some of what he had to say.
- The 80/20 rule is something I had read a lot about, but I felt like this concept was explained really well in this book. I don’t even remember if he specifically calls it that, but he does definitely stress the idea that a small portion of your efforts (in the end) cause a large portion of your results. Therefore, to be more productive/get more things done/become better at something, you simply need to figure out what that most effective 20% is and then focus on that more.
- The other thing I think this book did well was make a case (albeit a fairly brief one) as to why increasing teleworking options is beneficial to companies. Obviously there are certain positions that legitimately require someone’s physical presence in an office/venue, etc. But more and more of these positions are able to be performed remotely, and this is good for everyone–employers, employees, clients, etc.
- Everyone needs to spend their time doing something that makes them feel fulfilled. I think that’s what everyone craves. It may not be feasible to quit your job, or to (ahem) work only four hours a week from wherever you want in the world. But we can all find ways to seek fulfillment in other ways.
- There is something powerful about developing a mindset that prevents you from equating your job with your personal value and your identity. We frequently become so tangled up in what we do for a living, that it’s easy to lose track of what else make us who we are. If nothing else, The 4-Hour Workweek is a compelling argument that we should not allow ourselves to be defined by how we pay the rent–unless we specifically want to be.
- In 10 words: I am conflicted about it, but it’s made me think.