Concepts from 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris ⌚

Tried reading this book a few years back, but it didn’t resonate with me at the time. I picked it back up again this week to give it another shot and I’m glad I did. Consider buying the eBook or audiobook after skimming this.


The new rich think differently from the old rich by maximizing relative income and taking mini-retirements along the way. It’s important to define what you want to get from the money. What is the end goal? Learn to be more efficient by setting time limits and adopting a low information diet (avoid the noise). Eliminate the unproductive or unimportant activities. Automate your work to free up your time. Be more happy by being more effective, eliminating, and automating.

Essential Concepts

Here are some essential concepts that I learned and hope to apply:

  • relative income vs. absolute income
  • old rich vs. new rich (NR)
  • eustress vs. distress
  • the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle)
  • focus on your strengths
  • Parkinson’s Law; use short and clear deadlines
  • DEAL = [Definition, Elimination, Automation, Liberation]

Additional Concepts

  • mini-retirements
  • being productive vs. being busy
  • effective vs efficient
  • minimalist mindset; less is more
  • excitement = happiness
  • less != laziness
  • dreamlining
  • avoid task creep
  • batch activities
  • most information is useless; practice the art of non-finishing
  • automation ROI by outsourcing work


  • Sports evolve when sacred cows are killed, when basic assumptions are tested. The same is true in life and in lifestyles.
  • Different is better when it is more effective or more fun.
  • If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.
  • NR aims to distribute “mini-retirements” throughout life instead of hoarding the recovery and enjoyment for the fool’s gold of retirement. By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the
  • Focus on being productive instead of busy.
  • If it isn’t going to devastate those around you, try it and then justify it.
  • Too much, too many, and too often of what you want becomes what you don’t want. This is true of possessions and even time.
  • relative income is the real measurement of wealth for the New Rich.
  • People who avoid all criticism fail. It’s destructive criticism we need to avoid, not criticism in all forms. Similarly, there is no progress without eustress, and the more eustress we can create or apply to our lives, the sooner we can actualize our dreams. The trick is telling the two apart.
  • What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear.
  • If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
  • 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. This brings us full circle. The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”
  • Dreamlining is so named because it applies timelines to what most would consider dreams.
  • Create two timelines — 6 months and 12 months — and list up to five things you dream of having (including, but not limited to, material wants: house, car, clothing, etc.), being (be a great cook, be fluent in Chinese, etc.), and doing (visiting Thailand, tracing your roots overseas, racing ostriches, etc.) in that order.
  • Do not limit yourself, and do not concern yourself with how these things will be accomplished. For now, it’s unimportant. This is an exercise in reversing repression.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • (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?
  • What are the top-three activities that I use to fill time to feel as though I’ve been productive? These are usually used to postpone more important actions (often uncomfortable because there is a chance of failure or rejection).
  • Learn to ask, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?”
  • There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day. Never.
  • 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.
  • Divided attention will result in more frequent interruptions, lapses in concentration, poorer net results, and less gratification.
  • Stop asking for opinions and start proposing solutions. Begin with the small things.
  • It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable. Most are all three.
  • Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.
  • Develop the habit of asking yourself, “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?”
  • Information is useless if it is not applied to something important or if you will forget it before you have a chance to apply it.
  • Practice the art of nonfinishing.
  • Batch activities to limit setup cost and provide more time for dreamline milestones.
  • Recall our mantra: Eliminate before you delegate.
  • Short, sweet, and to the point. Clear writing, and therefore clear commands, come from clear thinking. Think simple.
  • It’s called the Criticism Sandwich because you first praise the person for something, then deliver the criticism, and then close with topic-shifting praise to exit the sensitive topic.
  • People can dislike you — and you often sell more by offending some — but they should never misunderstand you. The main benefit of your product should be explainable in one sentence or phrase. How is it different and why should I buy it?
  • Apple did an excellent job of this with the iPod. Instead of using the usual industry jargon with GB, bandwidth, and so forth, they simply said, “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Done deal.
  • Striving for endless perfection rather than great or simply good enough, whether in your personal or professional life
  • Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it.
  • It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  • If you strive to do anything remotely interesting, just expect a small percentage of the population to always find a way to take it personally. F*ck ’em. There are no statues erected to critics.
  • 1. Set rules for yourself so you can automate as much decision making as possible
  • Learn to make nonfatal or reversible decisions as quickly as possible.
  • big part of GTD (Getting Things Done) is GTP — Getting To the Point.
  • The 80/20 principle, also known as Pareto’s Law, dictates that 80% of your desired outcomes are the result of 20% of your activities or inputs. Once per week, stop putting out fires for an afternoon and run the numbers to ensure you’re placing effort in high-yield areas:



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