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Why it's impossible to reach a 4 hour workweek - (Unless you plan on destroying the world)
Andrei Clinciu Article AUthor
Andrei Clinciu
  • 2019-01-26T21:33:00Z
  • 10 min to read

My Recommendation: 3/10

The promise of riches, happiness, and fulfillment! All can be yours for only 4 hours of work a week!
Ah, who can refuse such an offer?

Can we all work 4 hours a week and enjoy the rest of our time with various hobbies and self-fulfilling activities?
Read on and you will find the surprising answer which will change your life forever!

Some of the ideas in the 4-hour workweek are quite shockingly simple to follow by anyone. Who's thinking on destroying the world.

The Premise is Wrong

I'll start with the end in mind. I'm pragmatic in my way of thinking. The answer can be summed up to 1 word: NO.

Unfortunately, the premise of a 4-hour workweek is unfeasible and I will describe why this dream world is not possible.
I won't stop there. I will actually continue to make my point that the 4 hour workweek mentality is actually ruining the world.

Anyone who claims to be working a 4 hour workweek is either

  1. Bluntly lying about everything (s)he is talking about, revealing only the good parts and forgetting to mention the tens of thousands of hours of work that went by
  2. Selling products no one needs and not providing any real value to the world. Taking part in worthless economy
  3. Selling snake oil miracle solutions and "get rich quick" schemes that will only benefit the seller. This is 98.5% of the self-help industry.

Although the book has certain good ideas, they aren't viable for everyone. Naive people will actually think they've hit a jackpot only to run against thousands of walls before they retreat into anonymity.
This book and others have a mentality which is causing problems for our world.

I remember having read the book back in 2012 while I was searching for various ways to become more productive.
Although the book is alluring It's actually one in hundreds of thousands of books maybe if not millions of books that make one promise.
The promise of quick gains and "get rich quick" schemes is what gets people to buy and spend money on:

  • Books with no real value, all promising something wonderful which is unrealistic yet
  • Super expensive Seminars/workshops/bootcamps where you get all pumped up yet you don't get any practical life experience. All you remember is that it made you feel good, so this must mean that it's valuable, right?
  • Courses which do oneupmanship and refer to other courses which are devoid of any meaning

The above 3 examples are what most "successful" get rich quick schemes actually use to get your money. Leaving you with euphoria and nothing practical. It's a win-win after all?

Now, this doesn't mean that the 4-hour workweek book doesn't provide insightful "revelations". It's actually filled with may ideas, tools and productivity tips.
Some of them are quite shockingly simple to follow by anyone.

Missing some important aspects

However, the book misses an extremely important aspect of life. You can probably never reach the 4-hour workweek.
Let me redefine this. Let's say that you create ways to make money while you sleep. We'll call this passive income.
Even if you DO successfully generate passive income you'll still need to manage your systems and oversee everything. This will prove to be extremely time intensive.

The only moment when you may be able to work 4 hours per week is when you go to a planned vacation. Having shut down most of your systems while everything
is running on "autopilot". This is the best case scenario when nothing wrong happens. (Which is pretty rare)


You might argue "Andrei, but you can automate everything!".
I know, I develop automated efficiency systems for small companies and entrepreneurs. Automating everything is extremely costly. You might use some "free tools" and existing software/services on the internet. If you do use those you'll still need a lot of time to set everything up.
Most small businesses can't afford to automate properly and thus still end up working a lot.

Automation sounds easy until you see the bill. Which brings us to the next step.


"Then Andrei, then why not delegate?"
Even if you do get cheap Virtual Assistants by outsourcing and delegating you still need to do a variety of different things if you want your company to exist in the future.
Ok, maybe you can get lucky and outsource almost everything. However, if you DO externalize everything then you lose control of your brand and money.
Getting a craftsman to do his/her job properly isn't cheap. Going for cheap delegation will cost you MORE than going for a craftsman.

You'll need to constantly enhance your branding and marketing. Being new and innovative takes a lot of time and energy.
Securing your servers. Keeping a fanbase. And many other things could be delegated yet if you want them done properly you need to co-invest time.

The book does mention a lot about Virtual Assistants and delegation. The problem with delegation is that you often need to do follow up's. Meaning that you will spend more than 4 hours a week delegating. Defining the problem, explaining, following up etc..

The World is Full of Useless gadgets

Semi-Automated e-commerce and mindless delegation might work for dropshipping products. Buy from China and sell via your site or even better, externalizing via Amazon. Yet aren't you just selling crap that has no benefits and no one wants?
Creating and selling any really valuable product takes time. And only YOU can do it properly.

Just selling products without investing in their value is hurting everyone. With consumerism on the rise mindlessly selling products is harming our planet.

Forgot to mention this..

The one thing the book fails to mention is that the setup and the working time for you to achieve any sort of delegation/automation and passive income is huge.
You'll be working 80-hour workweeks for months if not years until everything is set up correctly.
I might even argue that the total time which you will have worked ( Looking back from your successful future to the past ) will amount to an average 40-hour workweek.

The Path to Mastery

This book misses one extremely important aspect. The Path to Mastery. Everything it does is actually a complete antithesis on how NOT to become a master.
This is counter-intuitive since you'll hit many dead ends and will likely suffer plenty lot of self-image issues and become borderline depressive.
Yet this is the path most people have chosen. I propose to you an alternative to the easy and fast fake gains.
The Path to Mastery.

Copycat mentality

The world is full of copycats. Even if what you're selling now is great, expect to be copied in 2-3 months. Don't forget that China is the world's copycat.
When everyone else starts copying what you're doing. You can't really expect to be unique or offer something of value when other people are already selling the same product 1000 times on Amazon?

Income and profit decreases. I'll argue that the time and money you will need to spend in order to get started with a dropshipping business will far outweight the benefits you'll get in return.


The 4-hour workweek book offers detailed advice on how to become an overnight expert. This is BAD advice. Unfortunately, this is followed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. And this leads to bad products, bad design, and bad decisions.
You wouldn't let a person who joined a trade journal and 2-3 associations and published 1 article and a few video's online do a open heart operation on you, would you?
Given the fact that the person might have never attended university and has never received a Medical Doctorate.

Faking it doesn't cover inexperience.


Masters Offer Rare Skills

There are hundreds of books written on Concentration, Deliberate Practice, Focus and Mastery.
They all have the same conclusions. In order to become a Master you need to purposefully invest time your skills.
In order to offer a rare skill, you need to invest a lot of time in searching which skills are rare and can offer benefits to the world.

Now, If the book - or any self-help book- would have mentioned this then it wouldn't have become a

The truth is that in a world full of fakes and copycats your only chance to actually work less is if you become a master.

If you become so good they can't ignore you'll call the shots. Meaning that you will only work on specific

However, the path to mastery takes from around 7 to 10 years in a domain/skill. If you switch domains/skills often then you are in trouble.

And those 7 to 10 years don't mean that if you sit on Facebook all day you'll become a Social Media Marketing expert.
Nor that if you just "go to work" you'll get the necessary skills. They mean choosing a domain, a skill and then studying, experimenting and continuously learning.

Sounds difficult? Sure it is! This is why people will always all for quick and easy schemes which will take all their money away.

The Path to Mastery is Arduous and Fulfilling

I've spent more than 10 years honing and practicing my Skills. I now have a handful of rare skills which I can combine to create extraordinary solutions.
This has not been easy, I've given up on many things in life in order to get here. I've given away my social life throughout college and a part of my adult life. I've renounced lots of opportunities to have fun.
The time others were wasting in clubs and watching movies I spent in becoming better. Each day after work I'd still be busy learning and experimenting.

Now, most of the people I know envy my realizations without any compelling reason. We all had the same chances. Yet I chose to invest my time wisely to become a master. While they were having fun.

The final thought on Mastery is that you become so good your life will change for the better. Becoming a Craftsman will instantly differentiate you.

Ideas I (almost) liked in the book

Failure, Fear and Happiness

Most Self Help books start talking about becoming courageous and learning from failure. Taking charge of your life and learning from failure is indeed a good option.
However, we should learn from success, not from failure. Showing me someone who has failed 30 times and then saying he's an expert will only make me think that person took risks without thinking about the consequences.

True, failure can be defined in different terms depending on each person's perception.

Taking Action - Elimination & Simplicity

Taking Action and starting to do anything is overrated. Just jumping into anything halfhearted with an attitude of success is a blind spot. Planning, analyzing and waiting for an idea to form is essential.
In the Getting Things Done manner just writing down ideas that bug us will make them prove themselves.
The more those ideas wait, the more we can see if they still drive us with the same intensity in 1 month.

Whenever I had a new idea and jumped at it directly I neglected my priorities and current projects. Often after a few days, I'd get bored and go back to my important projects.
However, with writing down and waiting for a specific time before acting I've noticed that most ideas come back with a small intensity.
This helps me eliminating clutter and saying no to new projects.

At least until I'm ready for them.

Yes. We need to start saying NO. Eliminating what we don't need. Clutter in our lives, minds, and work. Some of these ideas are also in Edward De Bono's book called Simplicity

Time, Productivity and Priorities and INterruption

What I agree with is that whenever we are overwhelmed we're unproductive.
Always busy doesn't mean productive. A lack of time in people is a lack of priorities.
I've noticed this in myself many times that time gets wasted whenever I have too many things and no specific focus or priority.

While the Parkinson's law is misused and misinterpreted in the book I will not discuss it here.
Short deadlines are good yet they're a case of myopia. Since sometimes you can't finish a project that fast no matter how much time you invest.
Many tasks require concentration, idea incubation and creativity. Which can't happen on a tight deadline.

Most of the greatest ideas that propelled people to greatness happened while taking a break from a 5-hour intensive focused project.

One very powerful idea was that of decreasing input and increasing output.

Now, what about interruptions? Well, they need to be limited but we also need to do other things in life.

Meetings should always be kept to make decisions not discuss and define problems. It seems that most people prefer to go offtopic wasting time.

Fast Reading is not helping

There are numerous books on fast reading, thousands of people and guru's claiming that it does wonders.
Yet I can't help to think about the fact that we as humans already read at an average of 200-250 words per minute. While we speak at around 130-200 words per minute.

The problem is that even with these speeds we tend to forget a great deal of what we're talking/reading.
Now, think about the fact that you'd get to "read" at 500, 700 or even 1000 words per minute. Sure, you've recognized those words.
You've got a general idea of what the text is about.
But will you be able to remember and talk about what you read it in 2 hours, let alone a few days?


Final Conclusion

You could reach a 10 hour workweek if you plan on destroying the world. Meaning that you do whatever everyone else is doing. Selling products made in China to the USA or Europe.
Is this what life is all about? Consumerism?

I've never recommended this book to anyone. Nor will I recommend it.
It has some glimpses of potentially good ideas mixed along with half-truths, half lies. However most of the times they were just clichés with no value. Naive people would fall for them easily.

Do you want to do anything in life worthwhile and reach a point where you can work part-time and take long vacations?
Then consider going on the path of Mastery.

Flow and Focus

Mastery is done through Flow which is an elated state of Focus. Read more about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow, The Secret to Happiness
Similarly, Anders Ericsson has written about Deliberate Practice which resonates closely.
Even Daniel Goleman the author of Emotional Intelligence has written a book called Focus.
Cal Newport with his books "So good they can't ignore you" and "Deep Work ~ Rules for Focused Success in a distracted World" touch on key points I've mentioned in this post.

There is NO shortcut to working less. If you really want to work 4 hours a week then you will need to invest at least 4 to 5 years of working 8-10 hours a day to build your company and then automate everything.
And then you can enjoy a 10-20 workweek.

If you truly want to start automating your business and life then you can start by following my Business Efficiency program.

Ideas and comments

Andrei Clinciu
Andrei Clinciu

I'm a Full Stack Software Developer specializing in creating websites and applications which aid businesses to automate. Software which can help you simplify your life. Let's work together!

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