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Hannah’s Pick of the Week: Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

The real measure of any time management technique is whether or not it helps you neglect the right things.

Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

I don’t know about you, but since the days of errant COVID-19 my conception of time and the passing of time has been wholly transformed. I find myself trying to maximize my time, mold my time into something that can hold everything at once, and failing to do so. After two solid years of doing what I felt was nothing, I’ve attempted to do everything. Oliver Burkeman’s solution to this time crisis? Realize that you’re only mortal, and come to terms with that mortality.

Pulling from anecdotes close to home and placing his own experiences alongside the great philosophers of their time, Burkeman speaks from the perspective of an ex-“productivity hack guy,” one who has tried all of the tricks and tactics to conquer time. He explores the traps of trying to get to the bottom of your inbox, trying to Tetris your calendar into a fulfilling life, and trying to control things that are truly out of your hands. These are not new issues – people have been struggling with distraction, time management and mortality since the dawn of time. Burkeman approaches the subject with humor and grace, studying it in ways that help it go down easier.

Productivity hacks have never really worked for me, whether they’re a Pomodoro timer or a cold shower or fifty million phone reminders. Four Thousand Weeks isn’t meant to help you shove more and more into your life; we already know that ‘we don’t have enough time.’ It’s meant to be a memento mori, a love letter to finite choices and a splash of cold water when you don’t want to face how limited our time actually is.

If the exploration of time management, FOMO, and living contently intrigue you, Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock by Jenny Odell or Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions that Define Us by Russ Roberts are great next reads. Oliver Burkeman is also the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, and continues to blog about productivity and time management on the side. Still pondering if you should pick up this book? Listen to Oliver Burkeman discuss it below on On Being with Krista Tippett.

Credit: Jeff Mikkelson; Courtesy of Faber & Faber

Categories: Books and More

Tags: Books and More

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