The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris Book Summary Notes and Review

Today I will be going over one of the more controversial self-help books out there, mainly to do with it’s bold statement of a title, but I can assure you that it’s worth your time. I would advise you to get a copy of the book yourself so you don’t miss out on any of the stuff that we didn’t add here.

I personally read the revamped and updated version of the book, but I think any form will be appropriate for your reading.

So, here is my summary and notes of the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris… let’s begin!

We are all trying to escape the rat race of life, we are all trying to escape the rat race of life, slaving away over our 9 to 5 job for that insignificant bit more income that we will never use because we don’t have the time or energy left.

One of the first concepts you have to understand to start living a lifestyle by design, is that there are two types of people in this life, the deferrers and the new rich.

The deferrers vs the new rich

Deferrers are the people who are more old school in their approach on how they use their time and money, they sacrifice the period in which they are most capable to work in the hope that when they retire, they will be able to enjoy the money that they earned. The new rich on the other hand, are focused on time and mobility to live the life of luxury before retiring.

deferres vs the new rich, absolute income vs relative income.

To put more simply:

D - Deferrers work their whole lives trying to be rich, but by the time they accumulate an amount of money that is even worth mentioning, they are too old to put that money to good use.

NR - The new rich prioritize their life over their work and live a life that is not constrained, this then allows them to work as much as they want, wherever they want and where they want.

If it’s not obvious by now, the latter seems the better option after the two and is what we should all be aiming for but, how do we become part of the new rich?

Tim provides us with a strategy to live this New lifestyle, which he calls the DEAL.

What does DEAL stand for in the 4 hour work week

 in the book the 4 hour work week, DEAL is an acronym for people to remember the strategy on how to have a 4 hour work week and become part of the new rich, no matter whether they are an employee or an entrepreneur. DEAL stands for Definition, Elimination, Automation and Liberation.

Let’s go over them in more detail now.


This is all about defining who the new rich are, how they operate, and the fundamentals of their lifestyle. The new rich don’t work for money, they make money work for them.

You can quickly tell apart the difference between the Deferrers and the new rich by their approach on how to achieve their goals.

For example:

D – “To work for yourself.”

NR – “To have others work for you.”


D – “To be the boss instead of the employee; to be in charge.”

NR – “To be neither the boss nor the employee, but the owner. To own the trains and have someone else ensure they run on time.”

This shows you the two different mindsets of how each of them lives their life’s.

Another way we can separate the two types of people is looking at how much money they make in comparison with what they have to do for it.

relative income vs absolute income

as you can see in the picture example above a plastic surgeon is paid $500k a year whereas the entrepreneur earns $40k a year meaning that the surgeon has a larger absolute income, however, when you bring in the amount of time that they work on their respective jobs, the relative income of the entrepreneur is higher than the Surgeon’s, not to mention all the extras like tuition fees and length of university courses.

Defining your fears and goals

Mitigating fears

One of our greatest fears in life is the unknown, the lack of control Dennis restaurant That limits us to our comfort zone. Tim explains it like this, most people would rather choose unhappiness over uncertainty, the new rich, however, take the opposite approach.


Dreamlining is an exercise used to identify what you want out of life and guide you on how you are going to achieve it. It puts some kind of timeline on accomplishing your dreams. Your goals will go from distant wants to plausible steps, allowing you to focus on what you will do when you don’t have to work so long.

You need to think about what you want to have, who you want to be, what you want to do and the steps you are going to take to get there.


Elimination is about getting rid of all the unimportant activities that you do, they often take up a lot of your time, but don’t add substantial value to your life. People often think that they are busy, but they are just doing pointless tasks, that won’t get them any further on in life which is ultimately wasting time.

There are two main concepts here, but we have already written about them in other blog post so we won’t go into much detail.

Parkinsons law

Parkinsons law is the idea that work expands to fill the time that is allocated to it. In more simple terms, if you give yourself a long time to complete something, it will take the whole amount of time to do so, however, if you give yourself a short amount of time to complete something, you will still be able to get it done within the allotted period. Tasks take as long as the time that we give them.

The pareto principle

The pareto principle otherwise known as the 80/20 rule is the concept that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. In this example, 80% of results come from 20% of the input.

These two rules show us that you should only focus on the most important things in our day to day life and give them a certain amount of time that you will focus on them.


Automation is about outsourcing your work to others to multiply your income and free up your time, making your money work for you instead of the other way around. Find elevation, go test. You are able to multiply your output, leading to better results.

Geographic arbitrage

Not only does Tim outsource his work, but more specifically he delegates this low value work to people that come from countries with a lower economy so he gets a better service for a cheaper price.

When outsourcing and using virtual assistants is important to select the goals and boundaries for them as well as being good at communicating what you expect from them.

Creating and building a muse

Another part of the automated lifestyle is creating a muse, his is basically a business that can work on autopilot and create passive income for you. Preferably an online product that you can create once and sell repeatedly, over a service that you have to provide, so you don’t have to sacrifice your time.


Now that you’re freed up your time and creating a source for income from defining the life you want to live, eliminated the time wasters and created a automated passive income, It’s time to find the enjoy the money and time that you have gained through this lifestyle design.

Mini retirements

As we stated earlier, most people work all their lives just waiting for retirement to finally start enjoying their life, only to find that they are too poor too old or to unhealthy to do this, that’s why it’s better to take mini retirements throughout life.

Mini retirements is the idea of traveling to a different country for one to six months like a digital nomad, enjoying everything the country has to offer, from food to culture.

Now that we’ve gone over some of my notes from the book, I will quickly go over a summary of some of the best bits.

Top 10 quotes from the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss

  1. “People don't want to be millionaires - they want to experience what they believe only millionaires can buy.”
  2. “Inaction is the greatest risk of all.”
  3. “Don't overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself, you are better than you think.”
  4. “I believe that success can be measured in the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.”
  5. “Fun things happen when you earn dollars, live on pesos, and compensate in rupees, but that’s just the beginning.”
  6. “Becoming a member of the NR is not just about working smarter. It’s about building a system to replace yourself.”
  7. “There are a million and 1 ways to make a million dollars.”
  8. “While entrepreneurs have the most trouble with Automation, since they fear giving up control, employees get stuck on Liberation because they fear taking control. Resolve to grab the reins—the rest of your life depends on it.”
  9. “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.”
  10. “$1,000,000 in the bank isn't the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.”

My thoughts on the book

Although this book has got a bit of a controversial reputation and is very different from the others that I have read, it’s full of short snippets of powerful information and case study examples from Tim’s personal life. I think most people’s problem comes from the title but, if they read the book they would have a much better experience.

I also loved the end of the chapter Q and A sections (no not questions and answers, but questions and actions) where he would give you questions and action steps to practice in your own life as well as the comfort challenges, for example lying on the floor in the middle of a populated area to push you out of your comfort zone.

the 4 hour work week in three sentences

  • define what you really want in your life and how you would live if there was nothing to hold you back.
  • you don't actually have to be a millionaire to live like one if you implement the right systems and strategies.
  • automating your work and limiting the amount of time you waste is the quickest and best way to be free.

Who should read this book

this book is for people who want to explore all of the wonderful opportunities the world has to offer by focusing on creating more time and mobility for themselves from automating their work and drastically reducing the time that they waste.

How the book changed me

This book taught me that there is a lot more to life than working as much as possible in the aim to be rich and instead use my time wisely to get the most out of my money.

I realized that I didn’t need to make a huge amount of money to live the life I desire.

I now understand that my time is worth more than my money so, outsourcing my work is the best way to get what I want, no matter if it comes at a monetary cost (this is hard to get your head around if you are a control freak like myself).

 this was my summary but if you would like to learn more from Tim Ferris, you can do here.

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