The 4-hour work week myth

The 4-hour work week as popularized by Tim Ferriss is an interesting postulation: try to establish a lifestyle for yourself where you only work 4 hours a week and do what you want to do the rest of the time.  The sales pitch is that you can make a decent living only doing the day job for 1/2 a day.  The idea is that work get in the way of the life you always wanted to live.  The premise is that you toil away at work and pine for the ‘other’.  In my book, the premise is flawed.

I like what I do.  I like to work.  In fact, I probably like to work too much.  I live a life that is the envy of many in that I set my own hours, schedule and take as much holiday as I allow myself.  But you can ask most of those around me, I don’t disconnect easily and without something to accomplish, I tend to twitch and wander randomly.  I’m an overly driven person with the need to create and accomplish.  Quite frankly, the 4-hour work week scares the hell out of me.

Lets look at the supposed benefits of the four hour work week (disclosure: this is purely as assessed through hearsay on my part as I haven’t read the book) :

  • I can spend the majority of my time doing things I _want _to do
  • I can focus my energy on the things that are important to me
  • I can re-adjust my schedule to meet ever-changing needs In most cases, I want to be doing my job.  Sure there are things about work that I don’t like, but there are things about every facet of life I don’t like (how many people like taking out the garbage).  In most cases, my work and the accomplishment and recognition I receive from it are important to me; so I tend to focus on it.  In at least the last one, I guess I’ve already made the changes in my life necessary to obtain an entirely flexible schedule, so I guess I can’t argue that one.

The flip side is that yes I want to plant my garden, make beer and play with my kids.  Those are all things I that are important to me and I do focus on them, and the flexible schedule allows me to balance.  But the thought of _depriving _myself of work for as much as 6.5 days a week seems like punishment, not nirvanna.

There’s a smarter man than I out there who once said  ”The key to happiness is not to have what you want but to want what you have.”  I want the work that I have, and I love it and I sure as anything want to do it more than 4 hours a week.


Jon Holt

A coach, an entrepreneur, and a no-bull advisor in growing small businesses through the use of practical strategy, light-weight governance and sitting back and thinking about running your business, regardless of what you do.

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