Can You Redesign a Life in 48 Hours? Part II

This is Part II of a series of posts following SXSW in Austin, where I issued a challenge to attendees: implement at least one principle from my presentation (“The 4-Hour Workweek: Secrets of Doing More with Less in a Digital World”) and report back on results in 48 hours.

Here are two e-mail of close to 100, edited for length, that show how life can be redesigned if you ask a few uncommon questions. The first highlights the importance of defining a target monthly income (TMI) for your ideal lifestyle to avoid excess hours, and the second highlights the importance of avoiding “crutch activities” and following a low-information diet.

Subject: You changed my life… my response to your challenge

Hi Tim,

Thank you profoundly for your presentation (which I immediately felt the need to share with everyone). I am insanely exhausted and jetlagged: flight got postponed overnight, just got in today, picked up my son, hung out with him, then off to a theater rehearsal. So I have neither time nor energy to fully explain the radical ways I am implementing many of your suggestions. However, I did want to respond before the midnight deadline! So, here’s the brief outline:

* My business partner and I are going to quit our jobs in the immediate future

* We’re starting a new company (the one we were about to start before we got sweet-talked into being employees)

* We have defined the lifestyles we want to live

* We have figured out how much those lifestyles will cost us

* We have determined how many hours we need to bill per week to get there (currently it is only 16 each)

* We are figuring out how to decrease those hours and increase our profits by outsourcing some of that work

* We have already lined up a freelancer to outsource to

* We have identified our goals for our company

* We have set up a time to meet together with both of our spouses to discuss our exit strategy from our jobs and to get their buy in

* And we are insanely excited and can’t wait to free ourselves!

Of course, we have not had time in the last two days to implement all these decisions, but we absolutely will. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!



First, thanks for a great presentation at SXSW! I took your message to heart and put it in action immediately… below is a brief description of what I did as a result of your presentation and the results I enjoyed.

During your presentation I had my laptop on and Outlook active. I had several other windows open too. Not long into the presentation I realized what I was doing and put it away to focus on your presentation. As soon as the presentation was over, I started putting what I learned into action by first analyzing what I had the rest of the day on my schedule.

But before I left, I created an autoresponder for my email account to let everyone else know that I was getting serious about my time too. I went to my next presentation and quickly realized that I wasn’t getting what I expected and rather than toiling on my computer or suffering through the presentation, I left. This meant I had an extra hour in my schedule which came right before lunch. My first reaction was to go to a bar I know with wi-fi to get lunch and “work.” But of course, “work” was just an excuse to stay “busy.” On the way to the bar I realized where I was headed and what I was doing again.

The problem I had was identifying what I should do if I wasn’t “working.” What could I do with a 3 hour break in the middle of my day? Well, this also happened to be the most beautiful day during SXSW and I realized that what I wanted to do most in Austin at that moment was go for a run on the river trail near my hotel. It was the first time in years that I went for a run because I wanted to enjoy my day and not because I had to do it as a task on my schedule. It was then that I realized with a little more effort I could do this every day! How cool would that be?

Today was my first day back to work. It was also the first time I didn’t check my email prior to heading to the office. In fact I set 11am as my first time to check email for the day and I stuck to that. In return for not checking my emails, I completed a long awaiting task that I had been reprioritizing for the past two weeks. I also wrapped up a proposal that I had more than a week to work on and scheduled lunch with one of my employees to discuss his professional growth in the agency and how I wanted to use ideas from SXSW to get him to teach to the rest of the agency. Just before going to the lunch I checked my email, answered the important ones and planned my afternoon. I didn’t answer email again until 4pm which is just before I left – an hour and a half early!

Tonight I went for a jog, unpacked my things and got caught up around the house. I then worked on a pet project for a bit which I haven’t had the time to do in the past.

I’m just getting into this and can’t wait to see how the results pan out over the next several months. Thanks again and I can’t wait to read your book!

Tom H.

Coming next: How do bosses and customers respond to autoresponders? Samples that worked and extreme e-mail detox.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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12 Replies to “Can You Redesign a Life in 48 Hours? Part II”

  1. I am as sorry to have missed your talk as I am inspired by the words above. Keep inspiring, I too look forward to reading your book, as someone who has redesigned much of my life since leaving management consulting early last year in search of chasing that which I am most passionate about.

    Here’s to effective, passionate living.

  2. It’s amazing what we all do to keep “busy.” It’s hard to avoid the constant motion epidemic. Can’t wait to see some sample autoresponders!

  3. Tim,

    I just wanted to tell you an absolutely heartfelt thanks from the bottom of my heart. I graduated college during the first week in May, moved 250 miles from my hometown, and proceeded to start life as a REAL ESTATE BROKER.

    It’s been interesting trying to get started, noticing how everyone in the industry seemed to have news for the newbie. “Do this! Do that!” they’d collectively shout at me. It was enough to make my head spin. I took everything on like a sponge.

    CUT TO: Last Friday 6/8

    I picked up your book at Books-A-Million and flipped through. I was indeed hooked, but didn’t have time to read through it. Bought it, took it home, read it from cover to cover by Saturday night.

    Monday: We had a local meeting at the Realtor Association, a whole lot of huge egos mad that they needed “training”. Lots of bad attitudes, etc. I WAS BORED TO TEARS! After reading your book, all I could think was what are these people wasting their time for? I kind of got irritated, bored, etc.

    I know that I love homes and I enjoy the IDEA of real estate, but I feel like doing a career such as this would be the hard sell. I don’t want to be that real estate agent that calls people to “just talk” as you mentioned in your SXSW talk.

    This weekend and the past two days (Mon. & Tues.) has been a blur of activity. I’ve NEVER felt so energized and productive in my entire life. I went through my apartment and gathered a ton of stuff that I could get rid of to simplify life. It was rather shocking, really. I changed my voicemail on my telephone at the office (which I’ve yet to be back to since reading the book… something about the feeling of wasting time), re-did my computer (erasing hundreds of bookmarks), removing too many applications I did not use, etc. I called to cancel services I do not use, my extra cellphone (PDA) service, magazines, etc. I opted out of emails from companies wanting my dollars, etc.

    I sent paperwork in to the state department applying for a business license, started writing a novel, scheduled a consultation to have LASIC, etc.

    I am truly floored! The best part is that I feel like I have more time than ever.

    Again, thanks Tim Ferriss. I hope to meet you in person one day to give you a face-to-face thanks!

  4. Dear Tim,

    I just finished your book (2 day marathon). Now I will read it again, slowly…My question – how do you make more money and work less if you are a therapist paid per session?



    Hi Leslie,

    Good question with a simple answer: focus on high-end clients and charge more and more until client number (and your hours) decrease, leaving you with a much higher yield-per-hour and most likely higher total annual income. Same answer to: what do I do if I have more business than I can handle?

    Good luck!


    1. Great answer in terms of being efficient. Not so ethical I would say though. By this logic you don’t get to see a therapist unless you are a millionaire. Other ideas I would suggest is train/hire others to do some of the work, write a blog with advice, which if good would attract traffic which again attracts money…

  5. I’m still not convinced that setting up an email auto response won’t make my boss / directors / board laugh. Self importance etc, etc.

  6. Hi Tim,

    I was just checking your blog again last night (it’s been a few months since I was here last), and I stumbled across this post; it meshed really well with several other things that have been going on in and around my life in recent days, and led me to think (and blog) a bit more about some of the specific things that I want to change and achieve in the next couple months.

    I also just wanted to thank you for writing an amazing book – I’ve used very small pieces of it since I first read it, but haven’t made any of the “big” changes yet – and I plan to change THAT in the next 6 months.

    Oh yes – and I’d like to hear more about your recent time at Burning Man; (that’s one of the things on my dreamline for next year…)



  7. Hi Tim,

    I am inspired of what you have done and are doing. You reached out and changed many peoples lives including mine. I have harnessed a lot of your principles and have applied some of them, though not to it’s full potentness, i believe i am on the right track.

    I had businesses over the years and also worked for others. Some went well and some did not, No regrets! Before stumbling upon the 4 Hour Work Week, i somehow had elements of what you have written about infused to what i was already doing. Faced with unemployment, a business gone bad and to top it off Plan B not panning out, family obligations, financial commitments and the list goes on, i knew one thing….i had to overcome.

    I guess i could go back to my old job, they needed me, but i quit cause i cant stay put in one place and i knew there had to be a better way of making money and doing the things i wanted which really mattered to me.

    To make a long story short, i improved on a very POPULAR PRODUCT in the US (i am in Thailand), started selling it and opened a shop to sell similar items or complimentary items. Its slow but its getting recognition. I was broke when i started it. I spent many nights alone trying to get the product out. I had to dig deep and use my network from my previous job.

    Back to the book….when i came upon it, via You Tube. I read a few pages and immediately bought it, i was in Malaysia travelling at the time. It was a revelation. I actually was kinda half way there already and the tips you listed down on outsourcing makes so much sense. The Four Hour Work Week has been the best guide to achieving a lifestyle and personnal transformation.

    Thanks a bunch,


  8. inspirational story, as I experienced in real life I have to rebuild my life. ranging from yourself and the environment around me. I think this book is worth it for anyone who wants a change in his life