Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Four Hour Workweek

The Four-Hour Workweek” is one part biography, one part self-help/advice book, and one part life philosophy. The personality and (admittedly cocky) attitude of Tim Ferriss drive and define the style of the writing; the writing itself conveys many useful and interesting ideas about how success is defined and achieved today.

One central thesis of the book could be summarized as: “People are wildly inefficient while they are at their jobs, and could do the same amount of ‘work’ in far less time, especially if they weren’t at the office.” Ferriss cites Parkinson’s law (tasks swell to take up the amount of time they are allotted), and the fact that people are paid salaries and are expected to be at the office during set periods of time, as a perfect explanation for why this is the case. Ferriss recommends a "low-information diet" and "selective ignorance" to boost productivity by single-tasking instead of multi-tasking.

The other major topic the book covers is the automation of income via businesses which are designed with the end of making the maximum amount of cash with minimum oversight and time. Ferriss refers to these businesses as 'muses' and gives several pointers and case studies to help the reader start milking her own cash cow.

As I said, the book is one part life philosophy. Ferriss does get directly philosophical at the end, briefly mentioning hedonism and nihilism; however, the entire idea of the four hour workweek and the choices that he recommends making throughout the book by that point have already laid out a life philosophy of sorts.

The book is an easy read, due in part to the fact that its parts are not so much woven together as they are soldered; this makes is particularly easy for me to pick out the parts which are applicable and will be useful to my life and leave the rest behind. The book did not, as promised in big bold letters on the back cover, make me "want to quit my job." The two major desires I have after reading it are to make better use of my time (which may, eventually, lead me to quit my job) and to take more chances and risks, in nearly every aspect of my life.

The philosophy of Tim Ferriss will be fodder for future posts.


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