Do You Really Want a Four Hour Workweek?

I loved Tim Ferriss’s book, but lately I’m wondering… do I really want a Four Hour Workweek?

I love what I do for money – and I do a lot of different things: copywriter, launch consultant, profit strategist, blogger, author, speaker, conference promoter. I enjoy these things.

I enjoy creating information products.

I wanted to create a newsletter and a “club” for people who are interested in marketing and entrepreneurship – so I’ve been working on that, quietly, over the last few months (opening soon, I promise!). The point is, I wanted to do it.

And I couldn’t do all the stuff I enjoy doing in only 4 hours per week.

I’d be hard-pressed to do it in four hours per day.

And if I wasn’t doing what I enjoy doing – well, what would I do?

So, in light of what I’ve said here, I invite you to consider… Do you really want a four hour workweek?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.SeanMcCool.com Sean

    Ray,

    I think the thing people want, which Ferris describes in his book is the ability to choose a 4 hour week if you want. Let’s face it Ferris is no way working 4 hours per week… heck he does more interviews and speaking engagements than that.

    As for me, I put it in more than 4 hours yesterday on one copy project. But like you, I get great satisfaction from the work. And when the client emailed this morning and says he likes it, that feels good too.

    I used to be a handyman and although I was pretty good at it, I hated doing it. With writing, I can put in a 10 hour day and I get more into it as the day goes on.

    So if it’s work you hate then 4 hours is a good goal. If it’s work you love, throw out the clock.

    Sean

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      Well said, Sean! While thinking about all this, I ran across this bit of wisdom from the great James Michener:

      “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both.”

      • zzdiana

        When you’re in Balance, count hours is as meaningless as counting calories. It’s the content and context that matter.

  • http://www.seoconsultingforsure.com Suzette

    I'm with you Ray, I wouldn't want to work a 4 hour week as I love what I do and it's not work, it is my passion.

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      There are those who would argue that's what Tim is saying, too. But I think the idea of disconnecting what you do with your time from how you get money may be basically flawed.

  • http://www.theagileentrepreneur.com Aj Silvers

    Hi Ray

    I always view my 4 hrs as doing the less enjoyable tasks that I have not found good outsourcers for (my accounting and paperwork I need to sign is top of that list), otherwise I am like you: I love creating products and creating to solutions to new problems.

    The fact I get paid to think is one of the many things I am grateful for on a daily basis.

    AJ

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      Now that is what I'm talking about.

  • http://www.sledgehammermarketing.com David Blaise

    What a great question! Do I really WANT a four hour work week?

    Like you, I love what I do and can't imagine giving up some of those activities. So I'm going to answer it this way…

    I would love to have the OPTION of a four hour work week. I mean, next to having the option of a zero hour work week, wouldn't that be the ultimate in financial independence? Work if you want to, don't work if you don't want to. For me, that's the answer. Just having that option. Sweet!

    Best regards,

    David Blaise
    http://www.sledgehammermarketing.com

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      I'll buy that – having the OPTION.

  • http://directmarketingcourse.com/ Rezbi

    You make a good point, Ray. It's the reason I've never been interested in that book.

    I like working. While some might say their work doesn't really feel like work, the fact is, I like the feeling of earning my money.

    If I wasn't earning, I simply wouldn't do the work I do. I'd do something else.

    There's only so much you can 'enjoy' with all the time in the world.

    And I certainly don't want to spend all my time just lounging.

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      John Piper addresses this in his book, “Don't Waste Your Life”. Highly recommended.

  • http://www.ryanhealy.com/ Ryan Healy

    I've thought about this question often throughout my life. I personally believe work is a gift from God, and that we should work and enjoy it as much as we can.

    Without work, we would never be able to experience that feeling of fulfillment and gratification that comes with a job well done.

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      The key is, of course, to be doing the work that God designed you to do. Too many people struggle doing work they hate – a pretty good sign that something is wrong.

      • http://www.ryanhealy.com/ Ryan Healy

        True, but the work God wants us to do is not always the work we want to do.

        Take Jonah, for instance. He resisted going to Nineveh. When he finally went, he preached and converted the entire city. Yet, he still was not happy. He was really hoping God would destroy the people of Nineveh. So Jonah went and pouted under a plant.

        When we're truly following the leading of the Spirit, it almost always causes the flesh to die. Good in the long run, never pleasant in the moment.

        • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

          Ryan, thanks for jumping to the actual core of what this is about.

          I think you and I mostly agree, but there is one point I feel needs clarifying.

          I don't agree with the idea that we have to be miserable to do God's will. Jesus instructed us to pray “your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. Is God's will in heaven for his creatures to experience even one moment of unpleasantness? By no means. He has done the things he has so that our JOY may be complete.

          The Apostle Paul says (in the Book of Phillipians), “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say rejoice!” And how are we to do that? What does it mean? In the same passage, Paul explains what he means and gives instructions: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

          That doesn't sound like it gives us permission to be miserable.

          Elsewhere, Paul says: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

          Yes, Jonah was miserable — but it was because he was resisting God's direction for his life. The matter of being content or joyous with God's will is a decision. When we are aligned with God and his value system, we value what he values. That is the recipe for contentment on this earth.

          I have this core belief: God is good, all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.

          If something bad happens in your life, it did not come from God. One can only give what he has to give – and God doesn't have anything bad to give us. He doesn't own or create bad-ness. He certainly doesn't give it to his children.

          As to the flesh needing to die… the flesh is dead the minute we accept God's gift of salvation. It's not an ongoing, torturous, miserable process God puts us through “for our own good”. That's not what Jesus taught – and while MY theology may be off on many things, Jesus IS perfect theology.

          From Romans 8: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

          Notice it doesn't say “will set me free after I suffer for a while” – it says it has already been done, in the past tense.

          When we align ourselves with God, and with what he is saying and doing, we don't have to be miserable — because we WANT to do what our Father wants to do. As John Piper puts it: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

  • Gavin Allinson

    Yes I agree Ray,

    There are too many cool things to be doing that take more than 4 hours a week. i think you need to be able to enjoy your work. That being said it's nice having the income coming in so that you dont have to worry if you need to take some time off to do whatever you want.

    Gavin

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      Yes – case in point, because of my business choices and systems I have spent the last 3 months traveling the US with my family. And my business (and income) just keeps humming along.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DrMichaelHudson Michael Hudson

    Interesting point Ray. I pondered this a couple of years ago when I read the book and realized that I liked a lot of the things that I do just as you mention. That said, I also like the concept that is at the core of the book about outsourcing the things you don't do well and creating systems that make things run more effectively.

    My final conclusion was that using the principles of the Four Hour Workweek has a lot of value for individual projects within your business, i.e., seek to make each one run smoothly enough that it requires very little of your time, thereby gaining leverage to do what you love and do best with the time you choose to work!

  • http://www.webbusinessresearch.com/how-internet-marketers-can-triple-their-productivity-in-less-than-24-hours Jon Poland

    I really liked Tim's book and I had a number of takeaways from 4 Hour Work Week that have helped me become more productive and efficient.

    For example, Tim introduced me to the idea of a “Low Information Diet.” Since reading 4 Hour Work Week I have become very mindful the number of email lists I am on and the amount of media that I expose myself to on a daily basis. It's amazing how much you can get done when your mind is free and you limit the number of emails in your inbox.

    Like others have said, I like the idea of having the “Option” of a 4 hour work week. And that is why I decided to become an entrepreneur. It's about having “Control” of your life and being able to live life on your own terms . . . . and not having to answer to “The Man” in the ivory tower.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, Ray. Your content is short and to the point — and you make me “Think.”

    Best Regards,

    Jon Poland

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      That's high praise, Jon – thank you!

    • Matthew Curry

      Thanks Jon, your answer resonates with me, you speak of a place I hope to be one day.

  • chadkettner

    Exactly Ray… it's all about doing something you love. Once you get to the point where “work” is what you would do anyways – even if you didn't have to work – you're in a good place!

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      Agreed Adam!

  • http://www.adamcapriola.com/ Adam Capriola

    I used to think that I wanted a 4 hour work week (after reading the book), but now I think I'd be bored. 4 hours is a blip of a week…I don't even know what I'd do the rest of the time.

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      In fairness, Tim does address this in the book, though I found his answers a bit thin.

  • Banjoman_15

    Hi Ray !
    “Idle hands are the Devils workshop” ….or it goes something like that. I say this a bit tounge-in-cheek, but there is a point to this for me. I find that when I am not busy, I get into trouble….I take up more new projects that I have no business trying to involve myself in.
    If I am not working toward a goal, I just naturally find more work to do. Aaakkk! Stop the madness….stay busy!

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      There's a reason these aphorisms stick with us. They often contain truth!

  • Lanterlu

    'Work' is the stuff I 'have' to do. Where I can do it, yet it's out of my strength areas. If I can keep it down to four hours a week – I'm Skipping! :-)))

    The other stuff is play… just like very little kids do. Deeply absorbing and engrossing and worth lots of repeats. Yeah.

    So, for me, the answer is Yes – to a four hour work week.

    (Totally sideways – is the Jonah mentioned in the post above the same one that went whale-riding? After getting out of such a queasy situation, had he no gratitude?!)

    • http://rayedwards.com Ray Edwards

      It's the same Jonah – and he eventually came around. ;-)

  • http://www.ilenesaidel.com Ilene

    I just wouldn’t accomplish enough of what I believe that I am to do in 4 hours.

  • http://Overallbeauty.com/shop/ Kim Snyder

    I love what I do so much that a four hour week I would get all that I want to do done. Well I don’t know what I would do with the rest of the time. ;) But I am a believer of if you love what you so do and have a ton of passion for it, that makes it not really work anyway.

  • http://everblossom.net/ Kylie Worthington

    Nope! Me neither. I think this sort of attitude implies that work is “bad” – which is not how I feel. There’s joy in work. It doesn’t need to be minimized.

  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Nope. We misunderstand work as a chore. It’s not. It’s a sacred task, a privilege… if we’re operating in our strengths, doing what God made us to do. Which you clearly are, Ray. Thanks for the gift that your work and life are.

  • Matthew Curry

    I think that it could work out great, depending on how you structure your work, how you organize it. I think that you should set your work up with the flexibility for you to have a 4 day work week whenever you want. It can be a useful thing, especially with spending family time. What if God adds a different season to your life, where having a 4 day work week, frees you up to do a specific assignment for the Lord. I guess I just like the flexibility of it.