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The 4-Hour Work Week is all about how to change the way readers look at how they live and work and why they should challenge old assumptions.

The author writes from a unique vantage point. He created a life and a career he chose out of consistently questioning the traditional assumptions about life and work. He writes in detail about his challenges, failures, and successes candidly and readers can see in detail his transformation using this new life view. His emphasis is on viewing time and mobility as the ultimate currency. It's not about how much money can be made; it's about how having the time and the freedom to live a good life without being broke is possible.


"The question you should be asking isn't, "What do I want?" or "What are my goals?" but "What would excite me?"

The framework for the book is built with the acronym "DEAL," providing a step-by-step plan for readers to learn how to take back control of their lives.

  • Definition: Replace self-defeating assumptions.
  • Elimination: Forget time management; learn to ignore the unimportant.
  • Elimination: Learn to put cash flow on autopilot.
  • Liberation: Create freedom of location.


The first few chapters help readers redefine what is possible by thinking differently. Readers learn that being financially rich and being able to live like a millionaire are quite different. Money combined with the value of time and mobility takes on a whole new value. It isn't the money that is so important; it's the ability to live life on our own terms.

Thinking differently means questioning accepted methods and ideas. The book gives readers ten ways that old assumptions are wrong.

  • Retirement is worst-case scenario insurance.
  • Interest and energy are cyclical.
  • Less is not laziness.
  • The timing is never right.
  • Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  • Emphasize strengths, don't fix weaknesses.
  • Things in excess become their opposite.
  • Money alone is not the solution.
  • Relative income is more important than absolute income.
  • Distress is bad, eustress is good.

"What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do."

Readers won't be surprised to see that fear is one of the biggest obstacles to changing their life and the book talks about this throughout. By acknowledging that fear and recognizing the very worst outcome, readers can map out steps to recover if the worst does happen. On the flip side, the same approach should be taken with the potential benefit also.


This is all about how to get rid of obstacles. Readers will find that once they define what they want to do with their time, they have to learn how to free up the time to do it. One lesson taught here is that by using the Pareto principle, time management becomes less of a factor. The Pareto principle states that 80% of results come from 20% of actions and readers will learn how to make the best of that 20% in this section. The goal of elimination is to free up time, from working remotely to working more productively.

This may be hard to swallow for many readers, but elimination also includes limiting or even eliminating things like reading or watching the news. The book recommends taking five days off from television and web surfing and other time wasters. By removing obstacles that don't contribute to the ultimate goal, readers will find that they have much more time than they thought possible.

"By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It's the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too."

Readers will find even more time to live the life they want by stopping interruptions and refusing to waste time. The book outlines three major categories:

  • Time wasters. Readers will learn how to eliminate all the wasted time that goes into unimportant emails, phone calls, and meetings.
  • Time consumers. These are all the things that just have to be done. Customer service, reports, and other necessary tasks can be batched together creating a single interruption instead of multiple ones.
  • Empowerment failures. The lesson learned here is to establish clear guidelines up front for delegates to avoid having to stop and approve decisions.


Successfully defining the life they want to live and eliminating obstacles, readers are ready to put some automation in place to make things easier. While many of the lessons here are about creating a product and starting a business, they apply to most business situations. Readers will learn the importance of building systems to replace themselves if they want to break free. From hiring a virtual assistant to handle less important tasks to learning what can be delegated, readers will find ways to automate much of their work.

"Being able to quit things that don't work is integral to being a winner"

Once the automation is put into motion, the challenge for readers will be to remove themselves from the equation as much as possible. By being able to teach a task and then outsource or delegate it, readers will find that they may not be so busy after all. More automation equals more time.


The fourth step readers will learn is how to liberate themselves from the traditional office environment. The book outlines five steps to convince the boss that working remotely is a good idea. Pulling this one off is possible and will free up big chunks of time to live more and work less.

  • Increase investment. Readers will learn how to get their employer to invest in them to increase the cost of losing them.
  • Prove increased output off-site. The book teaches specific steps to find the opportunities to show that remote work can be more productive.
  • Show the business benefit. By presenting the remote work as a business benefit instead of a personal one, readers will be able to better convince their employer.
  • Propose a trial period. Starting small, with maybe a day or two to test out the idea, readers will find that their idea will go over better.
  • Expand remote time. Assuming all goes well, the lesson here is to slowly increase the remote time to make it more acceptable and, eventually, a permanent solution.

"The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world."

The book finishes up with advice and guidelines for readers on how to eventually eliminate their job altogether by changing how they view their work and life balance. Readers will ultimately learn that the goal of having time and freedom to live the life they choose has a specific game-plan that has been proven to work.