Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management For Mortals


The premise of “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” is not like any other productivity book. Author Oliver Burkeman explains that the average human lifespan is brief. If you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks on this earth. So the focus of the book is not to worry about emptying your inbox but deciding how to make the most of your four thousand weeks. So, Burkeman says we should embrace that we will all die, so it is best to learn to live in the moment. We should become more patient.  Along the way, we read numerous interesting and fun stories to illustrate his points.

  • When our expectations are unrealistic, we beat ourselves up because we don’t meet them.
  • The more we do, the more there is to do.
  • We focus on doing the least important thing first rather than spend more time on what is important.
  • So, it’s important to decide not to take on certain tasks and be ok with it.
  • Our desire to have a more perfect future lies in denying our mortality.
  • Social media is “essentially a giant machine for persuading you to make the wrong choices about what to do with your attention, and therefore with your finite life, by getting you to care about things you didn’t want to care about.”

The book concludes with this advice:

  • Put limitations around the work you take on to force yourself to confront the tough choices about using your time. One approach is to restrict your main to-do list to 10 items and not add a task until you’ve completed one. Another is to put hard time bounds around your workday.
  • Focus on just one big project at a time. Become comfortable with the anxiety of postponing everything else, and you can get more done by taking things one at a time.
  • Decide in advance where you’re going to underperform so you can focus on your priorities.
  • Keep a “done list” with tasks you’ve completed. That will make you feel good about what you’re accomplishing, even as you choose not to do everything.
  • Consciously pick a limited number of charity, activism, and political causes. There are many urgent things to support, but focusing allows you to make a meaningful difference.
  • Use boring and single-purpose technology, such as a Kindle e-reader, to reduce distraction. The key is not being lured into social media when that’s not what you intended.
  • Be curious about other people. It requires loosening control over interactions but is more enriching.
  • Act on generous impulses right away. Deferring the thought of giving money or checking in on a friend makes it less likely you’ll do it.

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