Rethinking Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek: Maybe He’s Not an Asshat

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Image credit Brian Caldwell, flickr creative commons
Image credit Brian Caldwell, flickr creative commons

I’m in the middle of major life reorganization. Two weeks ago, I moved from Illinois to Central Florida, as I mentioned earlier. Since that move, I’ve also started transitioning to full-time freelance editing. I used to teach full-time while editing and writing on the side. Now I hope to flip that: edit and write full-time and teach fewer classes each semester.

I’ve spent the last week re-organizing my daily routines to fit with this new schedule. It is more difficult to do this than I anticipated.

Because it’s always difficult to adjust to a new place with a different schedule, I felt myself drawn to Tim Ferriss’s book 4-Hour Workweek. Most readers of this site know I’m not a fan of Ferriss’s style, but this book, for the most part, is strong. His advice is in line with other writers I respect, like Leo Babauta and Chris Guillebeau.

Ferriss’s main approach is to divide his book into these categories:

D is for Definition

E is for Elimination

A is for Automation

L is for Liberation

For my purposes, I focus on Elimination and Automation. I defined my goals a long time ago, and I wonder if I’ll ever get to liberation.

The first area to consider is Elimination. For now, eliminating commitments has meant not pursuing everything that interests me, but focusing on work for clients or previous commitments.

In order to do this, I make two lists each day and limit them to five items each. The first list is a list of things I need to finish. I’m as realistic as possible with this list. The second list is for things to avoid. This list is either the items that aren’t as pressing to finish that day, or things that distract me from work.

I’m still working out Automation, but my main change is with my daily schedule. I block out times to work on specific tasks and I delegate what I need to. I’m still working out this area, and I welcome your strategies and tips.

With further reading and planning, I’ll get there. What’s most important is that I apply what works best for me, and you should do the same.

Kevin Eagan (@KevEagan) is a freelance editor and writer living in Central Florida. He edits book manuscripts and articles for local and national publications. Critical Margins is his place to share his interests. You can also check out his professional website,