How I Work: The 4-Hour Workweek


Be sure to check out this month’s issue (May 2007) of Fortune Small Business, where I am profiled in the “How I Work” section. It covers how I limit information intake, fire customers, control voicemail, and otherwise dodge bullets to do one of the things I enjoy most: MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) with professional UFC fighters.

Blame it on my mother, who put me in “kid wrestling” at age 8 to drain the hyperactivity out of me and avoid Tasmanian Devil action at home. It worked like a charm but forever gave me the neck thickness of a small cow.

Getting punched and thrown isn’t everyone’s idea of fun (for those fans out there, my favorite fighter of all-time is Kasushi Sakuraba), but fun is what you make of it. The one ingredient you cannot do without? Time. Learn how to create more of it and do what you want — take a glance at the digital version of this article for free (beginning on page 47).

Adriaaaaaan! 😉

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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63 Replies to “How I Work: The 4-Hour Workweek”

  1. M, where do I know you from? Correct you are! I was born prematurely and my left lung collapsed due to insufficient surfactant (, which means I effectively have one lung for exercise.

    So, how do I have the stamina for an extended bout? I need to train intelligently to increase capillary density, but more important, I need to avoid overheating. Just like dogs, humans actually dissapate a good deal of heat through respiration. Since my cooling system is cut in half, I can suffer from heat stroke at the snap of the fingers. Lots of ice water and no wasted movement.

    Craig, 4 hours is way too much! That’s why I’m hiring my Indian MBAs to write my sequel, The 2-Hour Workweek 😉

  2. Hi Tim,

    I bought your book today….very inspirational!

    I use to love putting the figure four leg lock on my german shepard….

    Talkin’ of dogs is it relatively easy to be a world vagabond with your pet schnauzer?

  3. Congrats on getting all this magazine coverage!

    Is the end of the article cut off or am I just not seeing it?

    Also, what is your opinion of professional wrestling? It’s staged but it requires great physical conditioning and performing ability.

  4. Awesome, Tim. Congratulations.

    I just ordered FHWW and am really eager to read and review. I’m interested in its applications for people like me in time-intensive helping professions. As a pastor, I have a lot of flexibility as to when I do things, but the relational part of my work is a bit like parenting: you can only expedite or outsource so much. I do think, however, wisely applied, many of your ideas will be transferable.

    I’ve learned a great deal from you already, and have half a dozen things I’m eager to try. Thanks for an inspiring example.

  5. Thanks for the link to the digital version of the article. That is greatly appreciated! BTW, where have you been when I needed this info 15 years ago at age 20!?! :0) Waiting (somewhat patiently) for your book from Amazon, but am chomping at the bit to get it. From your recorded talk (downloaded from your site) and what I’ve read in your blog and that article, everything I’m hearing is resonating within me on a deep, deep level… like this is the info I’ve been waiting to hear. (And, unfortunately, had to miss your call with Yanik last night. If you or he recorded it, would love to hear that.) Already implementing ideas from the notes I took from your speech… already on your low-carb diet (from your blog… and I’m shocked at how fast I’m losing BF!)… and, well, I can’t say enough about the new info I’m gaining from you. I’ll stop gushing now and go wait by my mailbox to get your book! Have a great one!

  6. Tim,

    Any chance you could add a comments RSS feed for your entire website?

    Basically it’s an RSS feed I can subscribe to and see every comment that is made on any post in your blog.

  7. That is an interesting article. I’ve been doing a similar system with email (except the outsourcing part) and it works very well. Still fighting the email addiction, though!

  8. Why does it end with “I have the freedom”? It seems like it cuts off in the middle, and the next page starts a different article.

  9. Saku is one of the greats. He brought an unusual style to MMA back when it needed it. I missed your talk at SXSW, but I did catch the podcast when I got back. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the book.

  10. Thanks for the comments! Here’s a quick run-down, as I’m in NYC for radio and running around:

    Peter: vagabonding with pets can certainly be done (mini-retirement relocations are easier), but it’s much easier in pet-friendly countries (Germany vs. China).

    Chris: Pro wrestling requires serious athletic skill, especially the acrobatics. I know Daniel Puder, who won “Tough Enough” and he is amazing.

    Virginia: Thanks for the correction. I need more caffeine 😉

    Mark, thank you for writing. I am familiar with your situation, as I’m a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, so I see a lot of “compassion fatigue” and related issues. I hope to address this in future posts, but here’s the upshot: you are fortunate to be doing what you love, so the question isn’t how to do it as little as possible, but how to avoid doing it excessively to burnout. This is true with editors in publishing, as well, for example. The principles on this site and in the book should help you get closer to that goal.

    Michael, great suggestion on the RSS comment feed. I’ll check into it!

    And to all: thanks again for participating in the dialogue! It’s all I want people to do: to talk about the challenges and realize that, in fact, they are not alone.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  11. You can download Tim’s audiobook immediately after purchasing… no waiting for Amazon to deliver. I bought both so that I could have instant gratification with the audiobook and the hard copy for perusing later…. ahhhh… the joy of having choices!

  12. Hi Tim,

    I just heard you yesterday on Yanik’s call, great stuff, I think a lot of people will agree that the email tips are top notch.

    I started the fastest growing online community for real estate investors, We have thousands of members across the country and I would love to set up a conference call with you and our members as well as have an opportunity to speak with you as I’m an avid adventurer as well.

    In the meantime, check out our site and we’ll be touch. Congrats on beating Potter, he’s kind of a punk anyways. 🙂


  13. Pingback: Chris Schooley
  14. Tim,

    You’re exactly right. Burnout avoidance is the thing. And I am very lucky to get paid for doing what I love. I have big plans to share your book and ideas in my network.

    I look forward to more from you. Keep up the good work!


  15. Tim,

    You’re exactly right. Burnout avoidance is the critical issue. And I am *very* lucky to get paid for doing what I love. I have big plans to share your book and ideas in my network.

    I look forward to more from you. Keep up the good work!


  16. Tim –

    I have many thoughts and will drop you a note in the future. For now, (if you were not aware already)have you thought about creating a lens through for this book or a future project (the help via investor $ for teachers is intriguing). And do you know Mark Hurst of have a feeling it would be good for you two to connect. (He is in NYC, in case you are still there). I will send him an email as well re you. Thanks for inspiring people –


  17. Thanks for the kind words, all! I have much more planned that I hope you enjoy.

    Colin: Drop me a line — I’m glad you enjoyed the call and would love to chat.

    Rita: I’d love to connect with Mark Hurst, and I’m still in NYC for a few more days.

    Have a great weekend and… GET OUTSIDE! I’ll be running in Central Park tomorrow (on second thought, maybe just sleeping on the grass 😉 )



    Sorry it’s cut off! I sent a note to the editor. The last line should read:

    “I have the freedom to enjoy a millionaire’s lifestyle every day without waiting for retirement.”

    I really hope to catalyze a massive backlash against the deferred-life plan. We’ll see what happens 😉


  19. Pingback: Chris Schooley
  20. Hey Tim, Thanks for sharing this amazing article with us. I have just recently finished your book and I must say that it is hands down one of the best books I have ever read.

    I simply couldn’t put it down. As soon as I opened it up there was no turning back. I am very excited to begin outsourcing my life. I have already begun using many of your productivity tips to cut down my hours and get all of my work done faster.

    Thank you for this incredible book. I wish you the best of success.

  21. I could take you in a cage match – I used to watch Wrestlemania and caught alot of wrestling tips there. LOL, kidding.

    Hope you enjoyed Central Park – get yourself a potato knish next time (if you eat carbs).


  22. Great stuff Tim!

    I am a 43 year old stonemason in Northern California and am wanting to apply these principles to the execise I get from work. I work typically 10 hours days and will lift 3 to 4 tons of stone of greatly varying weights daily. I enjoy very much what I do so the hours and work load are fine with me, I’d just like to get the best potential out of what I’m doing….

    Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions.

    Saludos, Bill.

  23. Hello

    I too am a big fan of The Gracie Hunter (Great name)

    What do you think of The Beast from the East, Fedor Emelianenko?

    The way he dominated Matt Lindland on the floor was amazing.


  24. Well done, Tim. I just finished the FHWW yesterday. What great advice. It comes in the nick of time as I am in the midst of burnout. The only hard part must be transitioning from a 10-hour stress-filled day to a day of about 30 minutes.

    You have a great attitude toward life. Thanks for sharing it.


  25. Hi Tim,

    One concept you didn’t mention as a way of geo-arbitraging yourself is that of a house swap, where you swap your house, car and everything with another person or family that comes and stays in your house.

    No accommodation costs/ car hire costs, some good friends of mine have done it over 10 times and have ended up going to some cool places. Check out

    I also have a cool tool for cheap flights in Europe, you mention the low cost airlines in the book and get yourself to London. This tool enables you to insert how much you want to pay, dates etc and tells you what destinations are available. I created a you tube video showing how to use it

    best regards

    Gavin Allinson

    P.S. How about setting up some case studies of people who are living the 4 hour work week.

  26. I purchased The 4-Hour Workweek about 2 weeks ago and since then I found it hard to put down. I love the book and the ideas you wrote about so I wanted to say congrats on the great accomplishment, and thanks for all the useful information! At this point I am still in college and am researching different ways to help pay for it, and this is where your book came into play. I was lucky enough to pick up your book first, and after reading a couple of chapters I was hooked. It was the only book I purchased that day, probably the only one I needed. I’ve also recently started blog, thanks to you, which is basically for me to write my thoughts on college life and I’m hoping to get more people involved in it. I guess it’s the first step in creating my 4-Hour Workweek, but I would be honored if you would check it out sometime and maybe give a little advice about your college experiences. Also, if you have any additional advice that wasn’t covered in the book that would help me to reach my goal of funding my college education this year I would greatly appreciate it. You are probably on a beautiful beach right now, sipping a beverage, so have a blast and drink one for me! Thanks a million for the book!!!

  27. Tim, I bought your book today and I aspire ny hubby and I to work 4 hours a week!! I am only on page 38 but I had to come work at night (bummer!). What a treat! I was laughing most of the time!! Can’t wait to go home and continue reading.

  28. Oops, me again. I meant to say that my Amazon order just arrived today. I didn’t buy it today. All th way here in Singapore, and I didn’t find it here yet. But I can’t wait to finish it! You’re hilarious!!!!

  29. Tim,

    only just came across this post – have been interested in your work for some time, and coincidentally I am the editor of an international Mixed Martial Arts magazine. Didn’t have a clue this was one of your past times. I actually met and interviewed one of your fellow AKA athletes just last weekend, Josh Koscheck. Its always been my ambition to travel over to train with Dave Camarillo, who knows, maybe one day I’ll see you on the mat 🙂



  30. Hi Tim

    Visited your website today after listening to your interview with David Di Angelo. Great stuff – I’ll admit that until I went on your website I didn’t even know what outsourcing meant. One thing though. I clicked on the link to your article (digital) on the four hour work week but it took me to a different edition of the magazine – your article was not on page 47 and the mag didn’t have your picture on its cover. Perhaps you could look into this when you have a mo.

    Shall definitely visit your site again. All the best.


  31. Tim,

    I just bought your book yesterday and am half way through. It came to me at just the right time as I’ve been working seven days for the past several months beginning tourism development in our small mountain community of southwestern Virginia.

    I’d love for you to take a mini-retirement here in the Virginia Mountains some time soon. We have a wealth of beautiful natural resources, which the Nature Conservancy has called one of the Last Great Places on Earth.

    If you would like a new adventure where you can see some of the most scenic natural beauty in Amercia, experience a small town lifestyle for a moment, and enjoy some southern hospitality, please contact me. Our web site is under construction, but is live at


  32. Tim–

    Great job on your landmark book! I immediately decided to rid myself of all negative people, those fine folks who just sucked my energy and left me drained. OK, done–I feel great. Now the biggest issue I have (having the time and money) is what to do with myself at age 53 and in perfect health? It’s hard to find something that really excites me–especially being married and having teenagers. Any feedback would be very welcomed. Thanks again. Brian

  33. Anyone else know of any examples of others living the principles of the 4HWW who blog about it?

    We do – and have been doing for 6 months but trying to find others like us recently is like finding the proverbial needle…Tim, any other 4HWW-ers (or LIPs as we call them) that you can recommend following?

  34. I just purchased and listened to the audio book version of Tim’s book. Fantastic! Here is my question . . . I am a middle school and high school math and english teacher who is looking for a way to create mini-retirements while still teaching. I still love working with kids and showing them how to learn what they have to learn and survive in a networked, high tech environment. (I am heavy into high tech immersed classroom learning). The obvious idea is, of course, to head in the direction of online teaching, virtual school classes, becoming a consultant, etc. But I am not sure how to do that and still be able to do what I love — teach. I know about video conferencing technology, but do you, Tim, have any comments about how to convince my school district to allow me some mobility? Other readers — any ideas? Thanks!

  35. I’m an employee and I like it fine. I did find the idea of a manageable business very appealing, though. I’ve often heard people talk about starting business part time but never seen a doable explication of it until I read The Four Hour Work Week.

    Trouble is, the ideas presented are so foreign, I still have a hard time just leaping into them. I’ve heard about “Bootcamps” where you can have a instructor guide you through setting up an online business that requires minimal attention, but the one’s I’ve heard of all require the thousands of dollars I’d be trying to make in the first place and travel. Any ideas on where to find further guidance for the type of personality that needs a bit more?

  36. to Terry V, the teacher above.

    I would imagine that schools will not allow you to create your own mini retirements.

    The answer I think for you will be found outside the school system developing a product or way of teaching that can them be sold and used within the school system. There are a lot of people being home schooled so there is a market there as well.

    If you do it well then you will be teaching thousands and or tens of thousands. If you had 1000 kids/parents paying you $10 a month then you will have $10 000 per month coming in and you can do what you want then.


  37. Dear Tim, Marvelling at The Four Hour Work Week. Solidified inadvertent paths my life has taken. Worked on average precisely 4 hours per week as a patent lawyer from 2002-2005. Let go because someone at the firm figured it out. Several partners ruled officially to allow me to continue and several partners a year later demanded more hours, to which I responded “gentlemen (mostly men in this field), I don’t work .8 hours a day, I complete projects. Please take it or leave it.” They and I left it in favor of my more important pursuits with my children (ages 5 and 8). My children are getting used to the concept of watching only foreign language films in our house to pursue learning Spanish and Chinese for them (so what if it takes a few years, need to read your 3 month plan, they’ll be 13 anyway someday, too soon, and I’ll enjoy it with them). For my twin sister’s bachelorette party, I hired a professional Argentinian tango dancer to approach her at a NYC walk into history “The Ballroom” with a rose in his mouth (not sure how he got the words out) and ask her to dance the tango; true romance (also trying to convince my son that the way to a women’s heart is through ballroom dancing, unsuccessful so far). My oft expression for years is “what’s going on in the world.” I took a sabbatical for a year in 2001 (same firm, very nice to me) to work with an Internet start-up on a business plan for which I filed patents, but the founders (with funding from Jeff Bezos) beat my patent date. The theory was proven (Eli Lilly site very successful with the same model now) but not Bountyquest’s application of it. Bountyquest failed. I now have some flexibility work-wise (even more than 4 hrs per week with kids in school, I “live” when I’m with them), have patents pending on a new application of the original concept and am starting the business plan. I am intrigued by the concept of outsourcing a business plan — my background is distinctly patents. Do you have a recommendation for a source/mentor for fee or gratuitious to assist me in the execution of this phase? I don’t feel comfortable simply handing over the job without having professional input on it’s optimal execution. And thank you for making me laugh so hard, truly a pleasure. Fiction to recommend to you “The World of Jeeves” by P.G. Wodehouse, hilarious at no one’s expense, sheer frivolity. Thanks again. God bless and all the best. Cheryl

  38. Tim,

    I’m really geeked out on your new book! I haven’t purchased it, but plan on doing it later on today. I work at and have seen you in there a few times. I also saw you at the Andrew KeenBarnes & Noble bash. I hope to personally meet you in the up coming weeks. I’m also good friends with Tom Foremski, who has had nothing but amazingly great stuff to say about you. Hope to speak with you soon.


  39. Tim,

    Just bought your book and am half way through. You are truly on to something and I applaud you for bringing down the “work like a dog” mentality of our country. We have gotten so into working hard instead of working smart that nobody is willing to think outside of the box and do what you are doing. I for one am going to start today applying your techniques and see if I can’t re-create my life. I currently teach high school and coach football and track. I love working with kids and athletes and also compete in powerlifting. I read your ad in Powerlifting USA and got the book the next day. I would love to chat with you more in detail about your methods and techniques. Take care!


  40. Tim,

    Absolutely love your book. Am almost finished with it. Bothering my husband with comments like, ‘Ok, listen to this…!’ or ‘This one’s unbelievable…’ It’s so neat how you combine psychology with business and lifestyle.

    Very inspiring for me as my husband and I have a goal of relocating to London by this fall. We live in the US, both are college grads, and want to experience the UK, and travel. We’re applying through the highly skilled migrant worker program and then applying for full-time jobs. Its a long process but very do-able.

    Also, for someone who just finished culinary school and has a love of life-coaching and networking, this book definitely chose ME. THANK YOU 🙂 Any tips that come to mind, I would love to hear from you.

  41. Hi Tim-!!

    I feel gifted– to have had my intuition drop the Four hour work week in to my lap— it represents such a huge contribution and RELIEF from so many of the traps of society.

    Because of your book— which was so possibility stimulating to me- that I lost sleep for two days..

    a real Kundalini rush — I logged on to find Gavin Allison–of Outsource Success- who I see has contributed here with some very clever posts.

    — My passion is in helping people get their contribution and meaning/creativity muscles…and figure out that there is alot more to life — then chasing the dollar, or what most people are absorbing as Life. We need education on rapidly letting go of some of the “politics” — say in the post above from Brian Fradet– the politics of people who are married, have kids, and can’t free themselves enough or feel obligated to keep a lid on their dreams…

    Everyone is capable of radical joy– experimentation- and discovery…and most especially of living in wonder about life…and keeping it fresh—and you certainly made me laugh with your experiments.

    Thanks for your incredible work.

    It is going to be on of the cornerstones of my offering to clients and telecoaching participants.

    Sue Stebbins

  42. Tim,

    I’m in action! Your book grabbed my attention at Borders while I was supposed to be picking up a trashy novel for a relaxing weekend away.

    I posted my open admin work to elance as soon as I got home.

    I have sketched out a plan for my muse, and one more for a colleague who I will coach through the process.

    Wish me luck!

  43. Tim, THE ARTICLE LINK DOESNT WORK! Sends you to july edition, how do i check out the may version, really want to read this. You should fix this! Or Can anyone help?


  44. Hello Tim,

    In your book, you say the following can be found at http://www.fourhourworkweek, but I can’t find them–please help!

    “Tools and spreadsheets to do calculations” (referred to on page 174 of 4HWW re: how to decide whether to invest or divest),

    “Sample email responses for fulfillment purposes” (referred to on page 189 of 4HWW), and

    “Conversion rate spreadsheets and tools”

  45. Time (I mean Tim)

    Did you read the follow up article in FSB to your write up last month? Comments posted in FSB july/august page 12 from readers of your FSB may/june article….FUNNY!!! Quick to quip without reading your book:)


  46. Hi Tim and 4-hour workweek wannabees

    Any suggestions about pursuing the four-hour workweek for a 38-year old single mom who is also an elementary school teacher and has piles of credit card debt? I am entering my 16th year of teaching and wondering if the dream can be applied to my life. Any thoughts?


  47. Tim,

    I enjoyed your book, and am having a good time perusing your site.

    I hope you don’t take this negatively, but I thought that you’d want to know that you spelled your favorite fighter’s name incorrectly. The “Gracie Hunter’s” first name has a “Z,” not an “S.”

    It should be Kazushi – not Kasushi.

    Then again, you probably outsourced the publishing of this blog, hence the error. LOL.

    Thanks for the great stuff.


    Hi R!

    Oops! That was a typo — must have been hungry. I definitely know him as Kazushi. I’ll get on fixing that. Thanks!


  48. I’d like to buy your new book. Is it, or will it be available as an audio book?

    I’d like to thank-you Tim as your 4HWW book lifted me from the black hole of deppression. I told my doctor that reading your book was like embarassing me out of inaction. Thank-you, it probably saved my life.

  49. Hi,
    Part way through the book, but as a Doctor, I am struggling to implement quite a lot of the principles. Can you help? I can’t not put the hours in, but am trying to see if I can make it work as a part time employee.
    Any other medics out there who can give insight would be much appreciated. I am struggling to keep reading the book as can’t relate it to my work. Likely I am looking at it all wrong.