Case Study: What Does a Real 4-Hour Workweek Look Like…With a Family?

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Now that’s a happy kid. (Photos: Brandon Pearce)

One common challenge for readers of The 4-Hour Workweek is the creation a “muse”: a low-maintenance business that generates significant income. Such a muse is leveraged to finance your ideal lifestyle, which we calculate precisely based on Target Monthly Income (TMI).

Despite the dozens of case studies I’ve put on this blog, and the hundreds elsewhere, one knee-jerk objection always crops up: “That might work for a single 30-something guy, but what about families? I have a mortgage, kids, and…”

The following is a guest post by Brandon Pearce. Brandon has three kids and first appeared on this blog as a muse case study for his business, Music Teacher’s Helper, which generated more than $25,000 a month at the time.

Things are even better now.

He and his family have now been leisurely traveling the world for 1,128 days. They are currently living like royalty and surrounded by palm trees.

This post explains exactly how Brandon spends his time over one week…

Have you implemented The 4-Hour Workweek with your family? If so, please let me know in the comments!

Enter Brandon

Three years ago, I’d already moved abroad with my family, automated my businesses, and was living the 4-Hour Workweek lifestyle. At one point, I decided to track every minute of every day for one week to help me visualize how much time I was spending on what really mattered to me.

Many people seem to think that if you only have to work a few hours per week, you must be spending the rest of your time relaxing in a hammock drinking piña coladas. I mean, what else is there to do? Actually, everything!

As you’ll see, I do spend my fair share of time relaxing, being with family and friends, and even doing “nothing.” But I have plenty else to keep me busy, and I enjoy the freedom to adjust my activities according to my changing interests.

While it takes some effort to track each minute of every day, when I’ve done so, I’ve found it helps me be aware of what I’m doing in the moment, and I feel less pressure while doing tasks I don’t enjoy. I also realize that time will keep moving on, no matter what I do. As long as I’m enjoying life, growing, and helping others where I can, I feel like I’m living my life well.

With that introduction, here is one full week of my life, organized by task.

Disclosure: Even though these tasks are recorded to the minute, they’re not always accurate to the minute. Sometimes I forgot to switch my timer right when I switched tasks, so had to modify it later with a little guess work. Being off by a few minutes for several things has led to being off by a couple hours overall. But it will have to do. For this exercise, I used SlimTimer, a free on-line time tracking tool.

Work Time

I define “work” as activities done specifically to help produce income. This week I “worked” a little more than usual because I was getting some video tutorials written for one product, and launched a special offer with another. I also planned some important new features to work on next. For me, it’s normal for this category to be under 5 hours per week total.

- Business: Music Teacher’s Helper: 5 Hours, 18 minutes. This includes advertising/marketing (1:35), checking programmer’s work (1:30), customer support (0:48), and the rest in business planning, finances, and checking stats.

- Business: Studio Helper: 2 hours, 1 minute. This includes working on video tutorials (1:27), business planning (24 min), and the rest dealing with feature requests and checking stats.

- Other: 33 minutes. This includes times spent researching a new business idea.

Total Work Hours: 7 Hours, 52 Minutes

Update: I’ve since hired more programmers and support staff, a project manager, and a marketing director, so I’m doing different tasks, but still working about the same amount of time each week.

[Note from Tim: Before you literalists scream "But that's more than four hours per week!" read the book for context. Greatly simplified, the goal is to increase your current per-hour output 10x.]

Family Time

One of the things I like most about my lifestyle is that I have so much time to spend with my family. We’re together pretty much all day, even if we’re not doing the same thing. Meals, driving, and time with others outside the family are under “Personal Time.”

- Playing with kids: 11 hours, 32 minutes. I try to play with my kids a little every day. Much of this is computer or iPad games with one daughter while my wife is doing homeschool with the other one. But it also includes reading to them, playing hide and seek, “restaurant” and other imagination games.

Watching Movies: 6 hours, 51 minutes. We watched a few movies with the kids this week, in the evenings, including the 1969 Doctor Dolittle, and Tarzan in Spanish.

- Family Outings: 5 hours, 15 minutes. This includes a little hike up the mountains behind our house, and a trip to the park to ride ponies and bicycles. We also spent time together with our friends, which I’ve included in the Personal: Visiting with Friends section.

- Talking with Wife: 3 hours, 56 minutes. Jen and I enjoy just sitting and talking, as well as reading together.

Total Family Time: 27 hours, 34 minutes

Update: My kids are older now (9 and 7), and we have another baby who is almost two years old. Our two oldest daughters attend a homeschool group most weekdays. And we now enjoy the services of a full-time nanny, housekeeper, driver, and chef. Consequently, my wife and I get more time together, we each get more personal time, and we enjoy different types of activities with our kids.

Personal Time

Even though it looks like I have lots of time left over for myself, I don’t feel like I have much “free time.” I guess that’s because I try to fill my time up with things that I like to do and am passionate about. I still have a full to-do list, and do spend time on things I’d rather not, but I try to work on the most important items first each day. Overall, I’m doing what I love with the majority of my time.

- Sleep: 57 hours, 21 minutes. That’s just over 8 hours per night. This week, we’ve been sleeping in a different room where the sun hits us warmly every morning around 6:30 through the windows. It’s not conducive to sleeping in, but is a very relaxing way to get up.

- Visiting with friends: 11 hours, 22 minutes. We had some friends over for a late lunch one day this week, and we spent an afternoon out with another friend.

- Meals: 11 hours, 2 minutes. We ate out a lot this week (almost every day), and took time to enjoy our food. The meal with our friends is included under “Visiting with friends”.

- Reading: 9 hours, 8 minutes. I have some really interesting books I’m reading right now, although half of this time was spent reading articles and blogs on-line.

- Personal Email: 8 hours, 13 minutes. I had a LOT more time-consuming email than usual this week. I’ve been getting lots of emails from people starting businesses who want advice. I’ve enjoyed being able to help people in this regard. Maybe soon I will have to start charging for consulting and move this into the “Work” category. :)

- Writing: 4 hours, 31 minutes. This was time I spent working on my new book about how to create an online business. I suppose this could also be considered “Work” since I will eventually sell the book, but that’s not my main purpose in writing it.

- Daily Hygiene: 3 hours, 27 minutes. It’s amazing how much time this takes. But I do love a hot shower.

- Sex: 3 hours, 9 minutes. No, it wasn’t all at once.

- Meditating and spiritual time: 2 hours, 41 minutes. I have a great place to sit for my morning meditation overlooking the hills and the city view. Very relaxing.

- Finances: 2 hours, 3 minutes. This is higher than normal because I’ve been working a lot with my accountant trying to figure out taxes, and have been looking at other investment opportunities.

- Exercise: 1 hour, 47 minutes. This includes my daily stretching and tai chi, and a little weight lifting. This doesn’t include all the hiking and walking we did as a family this week.

- And I spent anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes on each of the following: cleaning and organizing, house maintenance, driving, facebook, games (pool, and angry birds), journal, playing the piano, shopping, time tracking, vacation planning, writing on my blog, and selling stuff on Craigslist.

Total Personal Time: 128 hours, 52 minutes

Update: About a year ago, I started charging $150/hour for consulting and it reduced my email while increasing my income. I’ve also put my book on hold for the time being. And these days, I’d probably count “Finances” as “Work,” since it’s income related. Lately, I’ve been spending more time meditating, reading, and journaling, and am learning more about myself in the process. I’m also taking Qi Gong (Chi Kung) lessons, learning the guitar and ukelele, playing in a small band, studying dreams, and experimenting with connected breathing and emotional awareness techniques to help me be more present to enjoy each moment fully.

How to Improve In the Future

Now that I’ve gone through all the effort of tracking my time for a week, it would be a shame to simply write a blog post about it and not use the data to see where I can improve. In the weeks ahead, I would like to make the following changes:

- More time with my wife, especially reading and talking with her.

- More family time together with the kids at home. We spend a lot of time together outside the home, but when we’re inside, we tend to do our own thing. I also want to take a more active role in homeschool, helping the kids with their blogs, music, as well as math and reading, etc.

- More time working on my book. I’m excited to complete this project and hopefully it will help a lot of people looking to create a business.

- Less time reading online. I want most of my reading time to be focused and intentional, not jumping from item to item.

- Less time on email. I had built up a practice of checking email just twice a day and leaving it alone the rest of the time. But I didn’t follow that so well this week, and found my productivity waver because of it.

Update: I definitely spend more time with my wife now, but probably less with my kids. I’ve stopped working on my book, but have put more time into other interests. My reading is more focused now, and I spend less time on the computer. I still think I have too much email, but most days I can get it all done in one sitting.

Have you ever tracked your time? If you’ve ever charged per hour, chances are you’ve tracked your time working, but have you ever measured what you’re doing with the rest of your time? Yeah, maybe it is a bit fanatical. But I think there is value in it at least every once in a while. If a week seems like too much, even tracking your time for a single day can reveal insights and help you see areas you want to improve.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts below, and what changes you’d like to make in how you spend your time.

###

[Note from Tim: An older version of this time table originally appeared on Brandon's outstanding blog. If you liked The 4-Hour Workweek, you'll enjoy his personal stories of entrepreneurship, travel, and more.]

Posted on: February 1, 2013.

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180 comments on “Case Study: What Does a Real 4-Hour Workweek Look Like…With a Family?

  1. I’ve been following Brandon and his blog for a while now. He offers some great insights about quite a few different aspects of life.

    Thanks for sharing Tim, and thanks for putting yourself out there Brandon!

    Like

  2. Cool Article. Its always inspiring if someone life this lifestyle. Its not the “standard” muse stuff.
    @Brandon: How do you get Clients? Are you always working for the same people?

    Cheers from Germany
    Max

    Like

  3. I’m late getting to the Four Hour Work Week game and I JUST started the Four Hour Body diet and exercise bit, so I cannot tell you how much this reinforces my drive to make my vision come true.

    We have three children and our goal is to live globally, too. However, with a new freelance writing business (just over a year old), it’s slow getting there. But it’s great to know that you’ve been able to do this, as I was wondering if I were being illogical thinking we could.

    Thank you sooo much for sharing this. I’m going to have to be more focused in timing my activities to find out where my time losses are (although I have a pretty good idea).

    Like

    • Tania, I am also late to the 4-hour workweek game and appreciated your comment. I am also a newbie freelance writer, having left a six figure, high pressure, crazy workweek job to design a new lifestyle. We writers certainly need to focus on high income muses to accelerate progress! Good luck!

      Like

  4. This is great. I was able to work from Chicago, Tokyo, Mt. Fuji and Taiwan over Christmas/New Years. I have a family of 3 (but planning on 4 in the future). Thanks for sharing this.
    Doing the exact opposite seems to be a decent route to happiness. At least it’s a good starting point.

    Like

  5. Brandon, great write up and case study. Tim, thanks for posting, perfect timing for us. We are a family of 4 (myself, wife, 2 kids ages 6 and almost 2) currently living in Chile. While I cannot fully automate my business, I have successfully applied many tips from 4HWW (batching, 80/20, checking email 1x day, etc) allowing me to spend more quality time with my family and friends. In addition we are able to work remotely from Oct-June, travel more, and fully enjoy weekends.
    Brandon, we are considering a move to Brazil or do travel the world like you are doing. How do you manage home school with the constant moving and traveling? This is my biggest fear, pulling my child out of the traditional school system and relying on homeschooling. Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Gracias!

    Like

    • My question too David, not quite made the jump you have, still building the “automated” business, but with a 1 year old, making the jump to living abroad is tough. Mini retirements I can see (2x 6 weeks abroad say, whilst keeping UK base)

      Thank you Brandon for sharing your great story, what a start in life for your kids!!

      Like

    • Even before we moved abroad, we decided to homeschool. We prefer to let our kids direct their own education and focus on the areas they’re most interested in, rather than the generic one-size-fits all approach of traditional school. Education is not sitting in a classroom for several hours a day. Life is education and we all learn as we go. Here’s a post I wrote about how we made the decision to homeschool: http://pearceonearth.com/home-school/

      Like

  6. This was tremendously insightful. It’s cool to read about the case studies. It de-abstract-ivises (yeah, I coined that word … just now … ).

    My problem deals with finding and vetting out manufacturers. That’s a hurdle I have yet to tumble over.

    Anyway, great work.

    Like

  7. I can appreciate trying to balance work + family. I’ve not yet designed my life where I can only work 8 hours a week.

    I have found a tool that’s helping me track my on-computer time (I’m a web developer/marketer). It’s RescueTime, runs in the background and tracks everything you do on the computer. I’m amazed at how much time I spend reading emails and social media (although I do social media for my clients).

    At least, measuring is a start to moving in the right direction.

    Like

  8. I love the fact they decided to homeschool their kids. Thinking about it, it was the only logical thing to do and not just because of travelling.

    If they decided to educate them in the ‘classical’ public school system manner, the kids would grow up knowing next to nothing on how to achieve their dad’s lifestyle. This way he can further educate them how rules can be bent, broken and re-wired.

    Fantastic read.

    Like

  9. This is really great!! I am a huge fan of the 4 hour work week as well as Tim Ferriss in general. He is an Amazing guy!! I think Brandons product and his commitment to live this life style is great. The only thing that bothers me is that there are so many products sold to musicians and music teachers that only help with the work the have. The real challenge these days is getting the students..

    John

    Like

  10. Thanks Tim, and thanks Brandon!

    This is a great inspiration for all us hopeful “musers”! If someone can manage a marriage, children, homeschool, travelling, AND a business that lets them live abroad 1,000+ days straight, then I CAN TOO! :)

    Way to go, and keep it up.

    Like

  11. Great stuff.

    After recently finding a folder of saved “4HWW Success Stories” post’s I was wondering if you would still be showcasing great stories like this considering you are two books past the 4HWW.
    Thanks again for sharing these continued success stories.
    I hope my business and life to be very close to this as I grow my own company.
    It launches 2.5 and I am so excited.
    Forever grateful, Tim!

    Like

  12. Yeah :)

    More and more families start doing that.
    Recently I travelled in Thailand and met many young Ukrainian ad Russian families enyoing life far away from cold Easter European winter…

    It was great opportunity also to inteview them and get great tips for New Rich Family lifestyle…

    Thanks for the article, Tim…

    Like

  13. This is motivating and I’m sharing with several friends who need to hear this. I am an entrepreneur + parent, it’s been hard to make it all work but I see the light. Thank you!

    Like

  14. Whao, that’s some nice analysis there man. I’ve also dreamt about this all my life and it seems the time is right to start living that life style. Though I’m in the kindle publishing niche (at least for now) and it brings me much more money with less than 4hours work per week.

    I’m thinking of setting up other internet business (like an authority niche site) so that more money will flow in while i travel all over the world.. I’m single so less spending!

    Like

  15. wow brandon. you are god., you’re ok too tim! i read four hour work week years before we hit the road, and now, entering year three, i read this and wish i had that kind of self-discipline and clarity. i find myself jumping from task to task and spending way too much time in social networks and way too little time on focused activities to bring our family income. i have a dozen great projects in line but follow through, between the kids’ studies (4 hours a day), making food (during studies usually), online- answering blog comments, writing new material, facebook)- 5 hours a day, exploring our changing environment- 4 hours average a day, sleep- 8 hours, exercise – 2 hour every other day…. and more. so writing this comment helps me see already how even as i travel the world and remain very active with my kids on the road and in family, couple, and alone activities, i can limit my work time to be 80/20 productive and focused. my first step will be to check facebook every other day. that is huge for me. next, i will check email twice a day. huge as well. i will devote 1 hour slots to get work done and check the clock to limit myself to get it done within the hour and then get up. reducing online time, and clarifying my goals will make this traveling who happily lives off of her online income, a freer mom. thank you brandon. thank you tim- you’ve inspired us way back when to become the nomadic family. would be honored to be a case study any time friend. gabi

    Like

    • note: we can’t possibly be a 4hww case study, yet. but we can be a case study in how to leave the 9-5 rat race to be free, find creative ways to fund your travel adventures, and live according to your own rules. time management with 4hww principles- next on to do list. :-) really inspired to see this again. thank you.

      Like

  16. Great to see another family doing this and amazing how he tracked all his time. It still stuns me how few people know how doable this is with a family and how rewarding!

    “Living richly does not require riches” – Tim Ferriss

    We’re case studies in that fabulous 4HWW book and for 71/2 years we’ve been location independent – living a luxurious non-stop world tour lifestyle to 46 countries on 5 continents on $23/day pp with a school age child ( from 5 to 12).

    Best decision we ever made with no plans on stopping. We’re monolingual parents but raising our child as a fluent as a native trilingual/triliterate in Mandarin, Spanish and English and she plays piano and violin as we roam. Best free lunch in the world is to learn other languages as a kid.

    She’s years ahead in school from age peers, writing her own book series, swam with sharks in Bora Bora, road camels in the Sahara(6), at Petra (10) and the Great Wall (12), Swam with dolphins in Portugal and Florida, worked with a master chef in Shanghai, ate reindeer meat in a kota in Sweden, climbed Tigers Nest in Bhutan at 10 etc and has BFF’s in 3 languages, writes beautiful songs in 3 too. .Taking on French next!

    You couldn’t ask for a better education for a 21st century kid with quality AND quantity TIME together bonding as a family and meeting amazing people around the world. (My daughter landed in a Japanese TV show with a top star in Croatia and offered a scholarship to Harvard in China etc).

    It’s true, ANY ordinary person can live an extraordinary life. Listen to Tim who wisely said:

    “The only rules and limits are those we set for ourselves”

    More families who dream about it should consider this life…it’s much easier and better than they imagine.

    Like

  17. @Tim and his team: the Facebook plugin on the right sidebar needs fixing, it currently says:

    “You and 52 others are following Tim Ferriss.” seems to suggest Tim has only 52 FB followers vs actual >164k… and no I dont unfortunately have 52 friends who follow Tim so that’s not the answer!

    Like

  18. Interesting read. I’m going to check out that slim-timer app, I’d love to know the breakdown of how I spend my days.

    I would love to read a case study in the future of a woman entrepreneur who has a muse and is also a full time mom. Do you think you can find one of those Tim?

    Cheers from Connecticut!

    Like

      • Johanna – I have seen your Clever Travel Companion store and am a happy customer. I’m developing my own idea and trying to figure our how to go about it, maintaining some kind of stability (above all financial) which will be the corner stone of my planed future freedom from the traditional and predictable life. Stability and unpredictably at the same time… it sounds contradictory when I read it now but I guess that’s what we all want here.

        Brandon – you’re an inspiration!

        Travel safe and live free everyone!

        Like

  19. Brandon, I have to ask, how did your wife respond to you rolling over and pulling up SlimTimer to log your sex hours? :)

    More seriously, how did you test the market to find out Music Teacher’s Helper would hit the spot?

    Thank you for your post!

    -Adam

    Like

    • She didn’t mind. It only took a few seconds on my iPhone, and she knew it would only be for one week anyway. :)

      I wrote Music Teacher’s Helper for myself initially (to help with my own piano students) so I didn’t test the market at all. Just kept at it with persistence as customers trickled in.

      Like

  20. Great article lads. Music Teacher’s Helper is one of my favourite entries in the “Engineering a Muse” Case Studies series…a frequent reference for me in developing my own muse.

    One of the primary attractions for me to the precepts of the 4HWW is not massive wealth, but rather the freedom of time, and not just for the here-and-now, but also in the future when I am ready to settle down and start a family. All the effort I have put towards improving my dating life was meant to lead up to that, and it is reassuring to know that work and organisation can lead to an even more fulfilling family life later on. I find that very empowering!

    Thanks Tim and Brandon for the very interesting post. Brandon, I had no idea you had a blog, but I am headed directly there after clicking “submit”. I’m looking forward to reading more!

    Like

  21. Went back and read the original post………. Did you do any testing before you first wrote/ marketed the program? Or just put it out there? Have an idea or two percolating, but I would have to outsource the web design/programming, so I wonder about the upfront costs.

    Also… I tell people to track everything they do at 15 minute increments whenever they tell me how busy they are. Amazing how many people shut up right there; because they know they played solitare, farmville, and watched 2 hours of TV in their busy, busy evening. I started doing that 25 years ago, and it made a big difference in keeping me focused. You really hate to write down “screwed the pooch, did nada, zip, nuthin” for your last 15 minutes……

    but a good story. Hope you like the island life!

    Like

      • Thanks- and good luck. BTW, my kids are grown and gone now; I think the ages your kids are at is the best. Enjoy your time with them now, because they will start pulling away (as they should, and as we all did).

        Like

  22. I don’t know. This family and some others that posted are travelling, and that helps a lot in self improvement. However, some 4 hr week people seem to be just wasting their lives in a way – they watch a bunch of movies, they eat for a huge amount of time, and don’t contribute that much.

    What I think is troubling is the problem to economics as a whole. If everybody starts working 4 hours, the economy will be about 10 times less efficient than it could be. Maybe today people are wasting 36 hours of their work week and so the economy will just suck the in the same way. But if people work smart and for more than 4 hours, productivity can improve, and we have a better shot of getting rid of hunger and basic health issues around the world.

    Or we can just watch movies all day…

    Like

  23. Tim –
    I get a little choked up in writing this, but I finally have to post to your blog. I am the guy in this post. I have 4 children and am blessed that my business allows me down time during particular seasons. Yet, when things heat up, I am running and gunning and far from automation. You’re teachings are both inspirational and educational, a rarity for sure.

    Thank you for everything you’re doing and PLEASE keep it coming. I am struggling to get my muse off the ground right now, but look forward to being one of your case studies by 2014.

    Like

  24. Can we get the “pre-story” You know, the story of the beginning, how they launched how much it cost to get rolling and how they got help form others to spread the word. I’m still struggling with my muse but I know there is a huge market for it, just can;t figure out how to tap it. Ideas appreciated.

    Like

    • I built the site myself, as I was a programmer, so no upfront costs. Customers slowly trickled in as I studied how to spread the word and run a business. Over the course of several years, it grew to the point it’s at today. There is no secret formula. Just diligence, persistence, and patience.

      Like

  25. Great discipline. I admire what you´ve done.

    I´ll see if i do the same to optimize my daily activities as well.

    P.S. Definetely you should spend more time having sex, it might replace a few hours of excercise, meditation, relaxing and bonding with your wife. All in one, plus its really good XD.

    Cheers

    Like

  26. Brandon,

    I remember reading about your case study before. Thank you for putting this outline together. Fantastic to see what can actually be accomplished with our time. Congrats to you and your beautiful family.

    Continued success

    Like

  27. I have a family as well (girlfriend + two kids aged 1 & 3).

    Last year I worked 3 months as an IT consultant, the rest of the time I could do pretty much what I wanted: 1) spend time with my kids, 2) write a book, 3) take an NLP certification, 4) help and inspire other people to live the 4HWW.

    We’re currently in our second house in Hua Hin, Thailand for a few months while it’s crappy weather back in Denmark where we live most of the year.

    One positive side effect of our life (and economy) is that my girlfriend has been able to take an extended leave from her work and just be with the kids (something she is very passionate about doing instead of leaving them with daycare while working her ass off for – sigh – money).

    So yeah, it’s absolutely possible to do this while having a family.

    Like

  28. Excellent! I did the same in moving to Costa Rica a little over 2 years ago via Web Development. I’m happy to have this family case study story to share now. One of the best moves I have made in my life :) Salute!

    Like

  29. Inspiring guys! We’re just married and on our second year long mini retirement but this gives us some great tips for when we ‘take it to the next level’ with a bigger family! Great work on the homeschooling.

    Like

  30. Hey Brandon,

    Great post. I learned when creating products the best ones are the ones you create for yourself. Your business almost seems like it is close to running itself if you are spending that amount of time on it. Glad it is working out for you and that you are able to balance it with your family life.

    Like

  31. If this isn’t additionally motivating enough, I don’t know what it is.

    By the way, wouldn’t monitoring sex time make the deed a little too technical? Personally, I prefer it to be unscheduled. But of course, if that’s what it takes to get rolling in this ‘new rich’ paradigm, I guess we’ll just go through it. :)

    Like

  32. Brandon,
    That was a very encouraging and inspiring post! With three young kids as well (1, 3 and 5), getting the 4HWW model launched is a priority and also harder than preferred.
    Thanks for being a trail-blazer and sharing your journey with the rest of us behind you on the path!

    Like

  33. Chris, your book “The 4-Hour Workweek” has helped me understand that what’s important in life is not only how we live each and every moment. But why we live.
    Brandon, thank you for the inspiration to me to make life an adventure. Life doesn’t happen to you, you must make it happen. You are making what most people think impossible, POSSIBLE.
    Domenic A Chiarella

    Like

  34. I have always had some reservations about having kids simply because the common belief is that “you can’t travel if you have kids.” Lately more and more people have been dispelling this myth. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Like

  35. Great case study. But the analyst in me wonders about the longevity of spending only a few hours a week on a business that inherently seems to have very few barriers to entry (online services). All businesses have a lifecycle and even with automation you can’t assume that your income will stay the same forever.

    Do you really only worry about competition and work on growth for less than 1 hour a day? Do you trust that you have enough of a moat that your revenues will either keep growing or stay the same forever? Or have you made enough money already that your monthly income doesn’t even matter?

    Like

  36. Thanks Tim for Sharing this insight into Brandon’s family life.

    I bought your book 5 or 6 years ago from an airport bookshop and read it cover to cover on the flight to Sydney. It opened my eyes to the possibilities beyond 60 or 70hour weeks running my own business in the construction industry. A revolution, It inspired me to start to looking outside the box for a while but recently I’d thought I had let life, family & business life, get in the way of designing my life. Just now I realized that lately I’ve even been falling back into old patterns, getting frustrated at not being able to spend more time working…. that’s ridiculous. Well the point that I’m making is that since reading Brandon’s weekly task tracking in the family environment it’s really encouraged me greatly and feel a renewed sense of achievement, realizing that I am heading in the right direction. We are currently in Bali, 3 months into our first leg as a traveling family and despite the challenges we are moving forward together, learning by living in fun.

    Thanks again Tim, after reading this article I am inspired to read your book again.

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  37. I am a single mom of 2, and I own my own business that is thriving after only 1 year. I started this business in February of 2012, with no income, a new apartment, new bills, a fresh divorce, 2 kids, and $20. Throughout 2012, I felt a pull to live- really live, and not the conventional way that everyone expected me to. I had gotten out of a horrible marriage, and I felt like I got a 2nd chance at life- why waste it conforming?

    I began making plans in November to take my 2 small children (now ages 2 and 4) to live in Cozumel for the summer, so I have been taking steps towards doing that for a couple of months. EVERYONE thinks I’m crazy… :)

    I just found 4HWW on a travel blog and I was happy to find out that I was making the correct steps toward my goal. Actually, I cried my way through it because it opened up a world of possibilities, and made me feel like I wasn’t alone in wanting more out of life. It was eye-opening, enlightening, and exciting. Someone told me the other day that if I felt like I needed to “experience the world, go ahead, and then come back and be more stable.” I told him that I wanted my whole life to be the experience, and that there is no reason I can’t also create stability for my kids and myself.

    Does my travel have to end after Cozumel? Of course not… This will just be the trial run. And instead of my kids reading about other places in text books, they will live it. Touch it. breathe it. We can’t wait.

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    • Autumn, I’ve spent 30 min. reading down this comment thread in the hopes of finding a story as amazing and inspirational as yours, so thank you for sharing! I’m only halfway thru the 4HWW, but I first heard Brandon’s story in Chris Guillebeau’s recent book “The $100 Startup”. Looking forward to trying some “Comfort Challenges” as I baby-step into the “impossible”.

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  38. I like your article. I bought the 4 hour work week over a year ago and it sets in the book case with only the first chapter or two read…I think I will knock the dust off of it and get busy reading. I am also going to start measuring my time fore I waste way to much of it.

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  39. Hello everybody!

    What are some good resources to get started creating an e-learning platform similar to this case study? Something ready to go that includes monthly payments, video uploading, task checking and taking exams to ‘level up’. Thanks in advance.

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  40. Brandon,

    Thanks for the timeline breakdown. How long did it take you to go from your previous 9-5 life to having your business built up to where it is now? I have a family as well and would love to show them a different life from the traditional 9-5.
    I realize after reading the book that exchanging hours for dollars is a zero sum game! I’m a very innovative and creative IT consultant with great programming skills so I’m focusing on what I know best. I’m just starting out and I am investing a lot of time up front creating my muses (a simple web conversion tool for the oil & gas industry: http://www.fracezfile.com and an invention I submitted to quirky: http://www.quirky.com/ideations/384618, more in progress!)

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    • Sorry I missed your question earlier. I created MTH around 2004-5, so it’s been a good 8-9 years. I quit my job in 2008 (MTH was bringing in $1,500/month at that time). We moved overseas in 2010.

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  41. @Brandon has accomplished a respectable goal but I find it interesting this is looked at as a 4HWW case study. The age of the domain for Music Teacher’s Helper predates the book.

    The principal of his lifestyle and work habits do mirror those of the book but it doesn’t seem (chronologically speaking) as though he followed the book as a guide. Perhaps @Brandon can comment?

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    • Yes, I had built the business before I read 4HWW. But at that time, I was also working full-time as a programmer, and working way too many hours on my business, too. 4HWW helped me see what was possible with automation and outsourcing, which made a huge difference in how things progressed.

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  42. You commented above, “I worked 50 hour weeks for years to build the site to where it is.” and I think it’s important that you did. You (and Tim) aren’t proposing Get Rich Quick schemes and I appreciate that. But what you are proposing is that the goals are the lifestyle, the passive income, something that you do that can be built to scale (to grow exponentially without an exponential increase in work).

    Also, thanks so much for really taking the time to do the whole timer for a week. I know it’s difficult to do, but it can be so beneficial to see, “What am I REALLY doing with my time?!”

    Finally, I just wanted to comment that international travel doesn’t always have to be the goal. I’ve traveled the world and will travel more, but I currently “choose” to live where I do and I’m happy with it. We need to remember what’s working for our current lives and enjoy those times. Sure, we can always improve, but enjoy where you currently are. That reminds me of this: http://passthesourcream.com/the-mexican-fisherman/.

    Thanks again, Brandon!

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  43. I understand you recently gave a talk in which you praised my Linkword languages courses. That was very kind of you and I just thought I would thank you for your kindness
    Michael gruneberg
    Author of linkword language courses

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  44. Thank you for this informative and entertaining blog post. I love seeing people actually carrying out their dream lifestyle. Brandon has done a beautiful job crafting his lifestyle with his family. I have been crafting my own dream lifestyle. It has been a challenge, but it the only way I want to live.

    Brandon- Where is your favorite food in the world? I love cooking and studying various ethnic cusines.

    Blessings,

    KC

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  45. Wow. Tim thanks for posting this. Brandon, reading this has come at the perfect time for me, wife and 3 year old. Very very inspired! You have so many similarities to us.We have traveled extensively without our daughter but have been wondering how possible it would be to do it with her whilst working on our muse / website Primal Health. Will be in touch for sure. I think you are the mentor we need to take our site to the next step!

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  46. Great post, and very inspirational.
    Tracking time is a great thing to do and will give you a lot of insights. I’m the CEO of TimeSheet Reporter, which makes it possible to track time via your Outlook calendar, so I know what I’m talking about. :)

    Best regards,
    Thomas

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  47. Hi Tim, late last year I was watching my diet and working out regularly, unfortunately in September I found out I had a torn meniscus and had to stop my work out due to the discomfort, since then I’ve gained back all I’ve lost. I had surgery in November, but is still unable to go to the gym because of a lot of inflammation in my knee. I am starting your diet today, and was wondering if I definitely had to work out. I am doing therapy but its nothing much to talk about, do you have any suggestions.

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  48. Hi Brandon, this is really outstanding I have to admit. This is the lifestime I’m currently dreaming of and working on (no kids for the moment).

    I’m currently myself in the online business (SEO to be more precise) and I’m having quite a good start for my official first year.

    Anyway, what is interesting me here, if you don’t mind, is how much time did it take you to get to that point? I mean, you now have a pretty amazing lifestyle, but before you got there, what was your “lifetstyle”? I much time per week were you working on those 2 businesses before getting to the point where you only have to work 7 to 8 hours a week?

    Thanks for your reply :)

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  49. Anyone can work 4 hours a week or less, its called hiring staff to do the work while you supervise.

    I knew a guy in the south of france, he worked 30 minutes a day, if that, he lived on a yacht and told me he actually sometimes spent about 4 hours a day thinking about those 30 minutes while lazying around, in the sea, going for walks.

    He told me that he often did not work at all some days, as leaving people to get on with things was very effective.

    If you want to work less, you have to be the boss, you can start doing that while you have a ‘day job’, which is often the best way.

    Think ‘i need to get this done’ not ‘i need to do this’ :)

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  50. Great guest post! We wrote about this a bit on our blog as well. Has anyone used RescueTime to analyze their time usage as it pertains to computer usage?

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  51. Does anyone else wonder if Ferriss uses Adderall? I’ve never read anything where he mentions his opinion on it or any drugs like it. I’m not trying to troll. I’m a fan. Just curious.

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  52. Wow! I’m definitely going to check out Brandon’s blog, sounds very interested. I’m actually really tempted to track how I spend each minute for a whole week, I can imagine it’d be hard though!

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  53. I haven’t heard back from Brandon but I’ve decided to post my schedule to share with others for comment. I’m in the process of creating/finding my muse(s) right now and I think others may be interested. Here’s the breakdown:
    5:15am – Wake up drive to rock climbing gym or regular gym (listen to books online).
    6-7:30am – Climb/workout (listen to rockin’ tunes to maximize workout, no offense Tim, but your narrator isn’t the best to workout to!)
    8-9am – Take bus to work – listen/read books like 4HWW.
    9-12 – Work
    12-1 – Work on creating/finding muse – mostly research on the web.
    1-5 – Work
    5-8 – Play with kids eat dinner help with homework
    8-9 – Read to kids, get kids to bed
    9-12 – Serious time devoted to working on creating/finding muse
    I was able to negotiate working remotely 1 day a week this year where I am more productive and find at least 6 hours to work on my muse(s). I played the “my wife really wants to volunteer at school which means I need to stay at home with the younger child but only for a few hours” card (which she really does!) Thanks Tim!
    The only emails I respond to immediately are to my superiors unless I’ve created what I call “heads down” time on my calendar which means I’m deeply concentrating on getting my work done and can’t be disturbed for any reason short of the building is on fire! Everyone else (depending on the email) gets a response within 6 hours.
    Weekends are spent with the family and enjoying where I live, Boulder, CO. It may take me longer than most but at least I’m enjoying the ride. I’ve set a goal to replace 30% of my active income with passive income by the end of this year. Wish me luck!

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  54. Hi Tim. A hearty thank you for your outstanding book. I’m a training designer and am really fortunate do be doing work I love doing. My bug bear has been how to work more effectively and with more flexibility. Your book has been a treasure trove of ideas which I’ve been implementing with relish. The sections on negotiating work from home and eliminating wasteful meetings is pure gold. Your book is mandatory reading for anyone who works in an office, even if they are not planning to set up a muse. In fact I’ve been telling everyone I know who wants to work and live life differently. It’s brilliant. Lastly, a big raspberry to all the publishes that knocked your book back…as if they know!

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  55. Awesome! I’m using the SlimTimer website to track my time. Currently trying to get my hourly income to over $200 and even over $1000. Let’s see how it goes for this month.

    “You manage what you measure” – Peter Drucker.

    I’m definitely spending time more efficiently now and combined with Tim Ferriss’s effectiveness tricks, I’m getting a lot done

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  56. Interesting post. As a guy with 4 kids and a wife working full time I’d really love to get more data on this. I’m particularly interested in how you do your work time around the days of the week. I’d love to see the weekly calendar with the times colored in.

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  57. Great example of how it’s done! My personal view is Outsourcing is critical to living the 4 hour work week. Another important factor in saving as much time as possible is having effective systems in place. Lastly you need a some way to manage everything from a central online place which also keeps you mobile.

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  58. Great post! As a homeschooling mother of three children reading The 4-Hour Workweek, I was intrigued to read this post. Thank you, Mr. Pearce, for sharing your experience so candidly.

    I have a question for Mr. Ferris: Do you also cut costs and save money by traveling within the United States? Do you have tips for travel within the US as well? I’m interested in doing both United States and international travel.

    In fact, we have already traveled internationally with our children three times, all from one to three weeks. Granted, it was to visit my mom in my native country, but it is international travel nonetheless.

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  59. Thanks for sharing this! I have to admit, I’m one of those people who’s wondered how you make this kind of lifestyle work with a family, although I’m more curious about how people make it through the initial business-building stages with young children than how life works with an established business. Seems like the strain of building a new company while raising kids would be a much different case study!

    Great example though, and I look forward to following Brandon’s blog in the future :)

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  60. “Less time reading online. I want most of my reading time to be focused and intentional, not jumping from item to item.” –> I love this, I’ve got mad trigger-finger when it comes to online searches, I always have multiple windows open that I jump from; when I watch a show, I make it half screen, so that I can search other things in another open window beside. No good–> I’m setting intention to focus on one thing at a time. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  61. I would really like to spend less time online checking email and Facebook. However, this can prove to be difficult given that I have a business with online marketing.

    Anyone got any good solutions for this that are practical?

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  62. Tim,

    Just wanted to say that I read your book about 4 years ago and decided to travel the world. I ended up in the Philippines and now I am LIVING the 4 hour workweek! I am the founder and editor in chief of the top online magazine here called WhenInManila.com.

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the insights you shared and the mindset you helped me to achieve.

    If you’re ever in this part of the world let me know!

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  63. Great post Brandon. Thanks for sharing.
    I’ve been tracking my time since the beginning of 2013 and it’s been amazing how much it makes your realize where you are spending your time and also helps you make decisions and prioritize your week. Was funny to see that we have some of the same “categories” in there!
    I use an iPhone app called Office Time. Cost $8, but well worth it. It’s awesome.
    All the best with the your muses and with the family mate.
    Looks like you’ve never been to Oz. You should come check it out. The kids will love it. Happy to share info about it if you need any.
    Keep living the dream.
    Hass

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  64. I’m so glad that I found this article, it has really given me the motivation to continue to get my muse off the ground. I started a real estate investment muse last May 2012 and my goal is generate at least $25,000 per month in income so I can replace my job income, quit my job, have a surplus of income to take care of my mother (69) so she can stop working and experience new cultures, places of interest and people by traveling the world.

    I can certainly relate to Brandon and Tim in their (pre 4 hour) lifestyle because many times, I have to invest extra hours building my muse: marketing, making/returning seller calls, productivity tools, property evaluations & research, online presence etc. While still working a 9-5 (and dealing with rush hour traffic) Although I just got married in 2011, I have no children yet, so I really have no excuse. And I just started reading and listening to the 4 Hour Work Week since Sept 2012, so I’m still fresher than most at just 30 years young.

    I have my 2013 goals still in place (which I read daily) and I’m determined to build and automate my muse income to not only create the lifestyle I want, but to be a blessing on teaching others how they can achieve their dreams outside the income, time and location constrained lifestyle, most popularly known as a job…if that is what they choose to do!

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  65. What an inspiration! I have a daughter that is currently in a small Montessori preschool and karate, and I would like to relocate somewhere out of the city that will still support a similar social structure that we have now.

    Where did you end up settling that is so beautiful yet has homeschool groups for your kids? City life is not for me (but multiple social groups is a must for my butterfly of a kid!).

    If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate it. :-)

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  66. Hey Tim- looked you up because of the PAW article about you mentioning field dressing a deer- funny, I thought- something I have in common with a guy 16 years behind me at Princeton. I need to check out his book, no wait, I bet he has a blog too!
    I found this first and was attracted to the picture of Brandon’s lovely daughter drinking what looks like a granadilla smoothie (jonesing for Ecuador right now, and did you know granadilla is sort of an eggplant?), so now I have to get 2 books. The portable income stream with plenty of time for my DH sounds good.
    But I bet my bloody deer shots are grosser…..

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