Book review: The 4-Hour Workweek

Guest Post by Ryan Scribner

The 4-Hour Workweek is one of my top 3 reads in the self-development department. This simple book offers tremendous value and new perspectives on life (at least to me), entrepreneurship and time management. I first saw it displayed in a bookstore, but my initial thoughts were: “Yeah, probably one of those American get-rich-quick/Too-good-to-be-true books again”, I paused, thought about it,… and went out of the store patting myself on the back as I did not give in to the temptation of buying it (sigh).

Would you buy it?

A few years later and thanks to my friend Tony who enthusiastically recommended it, I eventually picked up a copy and read it. And, wow my friends, I cannot recall being hooked by a book from page 1 like this before (true story). From the first minute, the author Tim Ferriss challenges your views on time management (works whether you are employed or if you are an entrepreneur), introduces concepts such as the mini-retirement and puts you to various tests to get you out of your comfort zone,… it really gets you thinking about your life goals while providing practical guidance.

The book is an absolute must-read and Ryan Scribner is doing us the honors of providing his take on the book today. Ryan runs a popular Youtube channel (317K subscribers!) geared towards investors looking to learn the basics of investing as well as personal finance skills. In addition, you can also follow his blog Investingsimple (their Instagram is gold as well!). 

Ryan Scribner – Your host today!

4-Hour Work Week book review

The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss is one of the most iconic books in the world of entrepreneurship. In my opinion, it is one of the most brilliantly marketed books. This title is alluring to almost anyone. How can I go from working 40 hours a week to just 4? If you are an entrepreneur, you need to read this book. I can honestly say that this book drastically changed the way I think about my time and my business. After reading this book, I began implementing the strategies from day 1. 

I am ashamed to say that I did not read this book until I was nearing my second year of being an online entrepreneur. How I made it that far is beyond me! I was on a plane ride from NY to San Diego and I had grabbed the book for something to occupy my time. Little did I know, I would be mapping out a brand new blueprint for my business on that flight as a result of reading this book!

I want to share with you some of the pivotal lessons from The 4 Hour Work Week. These are the nuggets of information that were most meaningful to me, but I encourage you to read the book yourself to see what your main takeaways are.

1. Stop responding to emails

Seriously. Stop responding to 90% of the emails you receive each day. In the book, Tim Ferriss talks about how he checks his email on a weekly basis! As someone who would obsessively check emails throughout the day, this was a huge wake-up call to me. Not only does Tim recommend checking emails once a day, he also recommends ignoring the vast majority of them. When it comes down to it, how many of the emails that you receive are actually important? One of the other important lessons from this section of the book is to set up an autoresponder that provides answers to the most common questions you receive. Have you ever seen a FAQ on a site? Create one for your email inbox. This will drastically reduce the number of emails you need to respond to and cut down on distractions!

2. The 80/20 Rule

For me, this was the most important lesson in this book. What you will find in business is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort and the remaining 20% of your results come from 80% of your effort. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are in sales and you earn a commission when you close clients over the phone. You probably spend an hour or so on the phone each day closing. What are you doing with the remaining hours? Odds are, that one hour a day yields at least 80% of your results or income. Or, maybe those networking events and meaningless conversations with bad prospects are not worth it. Focus on the 20%! The 20% of your day that puts money in your pocket. The top 20% of your prospects. Spend more time focusing on the most profitable or result-yielding efforts and you will see massive results! You do not have to waste time on the phone with bad prospects, or feel pressured into attending networking events if they are not yielding results.

3. Productive versus active

Another huge lesson in this book was understanding the difference between being productive and being active. It is very easy to fall into this trap of simply being active instead of being productive. Believe it or not, as much as people complain about emails and busy work, they are addicted to it. Think about it for a moment. When you run out of things to do during your workday, what do you do? Most people start double or triple-checking work they have already completed or obsessively checking emails. In my opinion, the reason behind this is because people are addicted to the stimulus of “productivity.” I am putting this in quotation marks because these activities are far from productive! The trick here is to identify what the essential tasks are each day. While you are completing those tasks, do so with minimal interruption. Once the work is done, it is time to stop working! Seriously. These time-wasting tasks are not benefiting you in any way. 

4. Delegate

There are a lot of solopreneurs out there (entrepreneurs who work alone with no help) who seem to take pride in the fact that they don’t have any help from others. Guess what? This is nothing to be proud of! This simply means that you are unable to delegate tasks or understand the value of your time. Consider the business owner who insists on doing the landscaping outside of his business once a week. He could pay someone $50 to do this, or he could “save” money by doing it himself. The only thing is, he isn’t saving a penny! In fact, he is probably losing money. If this business owner brings in $150,000 a year in profit, that makes each hour of his time worth about $72. If it takes him two hours to do the landscaping each week, that is $144 of his time. Why would you do this yourself when you could pay someone $50 to do it instead? Now, this business owner can focus on making more money for the business and not raking the lawn out front. It truly amazes me how many business owners and entrepreneurs do not understand this simple concept.

Anyways, these were the most valuable lessons I learned from The 4 Hour Work Week. If you learn and adapt these beliefs, you will be eons ahead of most entrepreneurs and business owners out there. Like I said, I would highly encourage you to pick up a copy to experience the book yourself. This book is in my top 5!

Bringing it all together


Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

I have read the book in 2016, so Ryan’s review is very helpful in reminding me of some of the key lessons to apply. The productivity and time management are clearly the topics that resonated the most with him as an entrepreneur. And you do not have to be an entrepreneur to benefit from these lessons if you think about it :

  1. E-mail: You need to deal with them too.
  2. The 80/20 rule: You can apply the 80/20 rule at your current job, in your diet, exercise routine, relationships,…
  3. Productive vs active: How many times have you heard some colleagues tell you they are busy and all they do is walk around with the laptop under their shoulder, talking on the phone…? Weirdly enough you have never seen a presentation or anything tangible from the same colleagues,…
  4. Delegate: Time has become more precious than money, so being able to delegate has likewise become an essential skill. Find out what your time is worth here.

The book offers even more “nuggets” and your takeaways will be different based on your situation and goals. You really have to read it for yourself.  With the Christmas holidays coming up now is a good time to go to the store (or online), to buy it (oh yes, and to pat yourself on the back for actually buying it!) and read it as you plan your New Year’s resolutions.

If you have read it, I will be glad to hear your thoughts on the book: What are your key takeaways? Have you applied any of the tips? If so, what results did you achieve? Leave a comment!

I want to end this post by thanking Ryan Scribner once again for taking the time to share his thoughts with us (be sure to check out his Youtube, blog and social media) and if like Ryan you wish to collaborate please do not hesitate to reach out by e-mail or through FacebookInstagramTwitter, and join our e-mail list.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you make a purchase. This will help to support Joney Talks!

7 thoughts on “Book review: The 4-Hour Workweek

  1. Nice piece guys. Personnaly the most important thing I got from the 4HWW is the “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” . You can go much further in life by applying this way of thinking 🙂

    1. Forgot about this one although it is in the back of my head, well here goes another golden nugget from the book! Thanks for sharing

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