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Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

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The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks. Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks. Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and “life hacks” to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. The sense of anxious hurry grows more intense, and still the most meaningful parts of life seem to lie just beyond the horizon. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate time management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks. Drawing on the insights of both ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, Oliver Burkeman delivers an entertaining, humorous, practical, and ultimately profound guide to time and time management. Rejecting the futile modern fixation on “getting everything done,” Four Thousand Weeks introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude, showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society—and that we could do things differently.


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The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks. Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks. Nobody needs telling there isn’t enough time. We’re obsessed with our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the ceaseless battle against distraction; and we’re deluged with advice on becoming more productive and efficient, and “life hacks” to optimize our days. But such techniques often end up making things worse. The sense of anxious hurry grows more intense, and still the most meaningful parts of life seem to lie just beyond the horizon. Still, we rarely make the connection between our daily struggles with time and the ultimate time management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks. Drawing on the insights of both ancient and contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and spiritual teachers, Oliver Burkeman delivers an entertaining, humorous, practical, and ultimately profound guide to time and time management. Rejecting the futile modern fixation on “getting everything done,” Four Thousand Weeks introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life by embracing finitude, showing how many of the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made as individuals and as a society—and that we could do things differently.

30 review for Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    First of all, this is probably not the book you think it is, and that’s a good thing. Rather than offering cheap “time hacks” to get more of the same bullshit done, this more philosophical work is based on two important but uncomfortable truths: (1) In the short 4,000 or so weeks you have to live, you will never be able to accomplish all the things you would like, and (2) even if you could, it wouldn’t matter in the end because, in the words of John Maynard Keynes, “In the long run we are all de First of all, this is probably not the book you think it is, and that’s a good thing. Rather than offering cheap “time hacks” to get more of the same bullshit done, this more philosophical work is based on two important but uncomfortable truths: (1) In the short 4,000 or so weeks you have to live, you will never be able to accomplish all the things you would like, and (2) even if you could, it wouldn’t matter in the end because, in the words of John Maynard Keynes, “In the long run we are all dead.” This is not the most uplifting message you will ever read, but it is liberating and possibly even life-changing. When you stop trying to get an impossible amount of work done in pursuit of accomplishments that won’t really matter once you’re gone, you can start spending the short amount of time you do have pursuing things you enjoy for their own sake in the present moment. However you decide to spend your life—and regardless of whatever fame or fortune (or not) it brings—it should be spent on things that have intrinsic value to you and not for the sake of some destination or outcome that you think will eventually make you happy. If you can’t find a way to be happy now, at this moment, you probably never will be, no matter how many to-do items you cross off your list. One obvious criticism of this somewhat apathetic approach to time management is that, if nothing really matters in the end, there’s no longer any motivation to pursue worthwhile social initiatives. I think this could be a real challenge to Burkeman’s philosophy. Where would the civil rights movement be, for example, if someone like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the long run we are all dead”? Certainly it is the case that some people derive more joy and life satisfaction from pursuing projects that they do feel are worthwhile and that the outcome justifies the massive amount of work and unpleasantness required for its actualization. In situations like this, I’m not sure how well the ideas in this book will resonate. There’s also a bit of repetition throughout the book as Burkeman repeats the main ideas I’ve described above, although he does also cover a lot of interesting philosophical ground. Overall, the book won’t be for everyone, especially for those who remain under the illusion that they will accomplish everything they want to if only they had better “time management skills.” But for those who get the main message—the idea that we should pursue the activities we intrinsically enjoy while accepting our finitude and committing to what’s most important (i.e., not material wealth or fame)—this may be one of the most enjoyable and potentially life-altering books they will read this year.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sara G

    Oliver Burkeman call himself a productivity geek. As he describes it, “you know how some people are passionate about bodybuilding or fashion, or rock climbing, or poetry? Productivity geeks are passionate about crossing items off their to-do lists. So it’s sort of the same, except infinitely sadder.” His newest book, Four Thousand Weeks, is like a self-help book designed to help recovering productivity geeks recognize the emotional and mental traps laid by other books like “Getting Things Done,” Oliver Burkeman call himself a productivity geek. As he describes it, “you know how some people are passionate about bodybuilding or fashion, or rock climbing, or poetry? Productivity geeks are passionate about crossing items off their to-do lists. So it’s sort of the same, except infinitely sadder.” His newest book, Four Thousand Weeks, is like a self-help book designed to help recovering productivity geeks recognize the emotional and mental traps laid by other books like “Getting Things Done,” “Eat the Frog,” or “The Four-Hour Workweek.” Drawing more from the field of philosophy than from time management, he systematically rebuts the arguments of Taylorist time management systems and instead provides suggestions for recreating “productivity” as a concept that encourages building communities and helping “geeks” find meaning in life. As a productivity geek myself, I’ve been following Burkeman for a while. I’ve enjoyed his similar book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking and his occasional newsletter articles. While Four Thousand Weeks covers similar, sometimes repeating ground, I am still glad that I read every word of this book. It is the rare “self-help” book that would not have been better as a bullet point list or an article. I enjoyed slowly struggling with these ideas, the pleasant voice of Burkeman nudging me on, and discussing them over beer with my partner. I highly recommend it not just to geeks like myself but to anyone who struggles with FOMO or a classic mid-life crisis.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I loved it so much I have bought a copy, and plan to give more as gifts! I’ve been a fan of Burkeman’s since his first book, The Antidote, which is a long-time favorite of mine. I loved the way Burkeman reviewed positive psychology through a skeptical lens, and somehow came out with perhaps the most useful, meaningful self-help book I’ve read yet. (I genuinely still think about that book, almost a decade later). W Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I loved it so much I have bought a copy, and plan to give more as gifts! I’ve been a fan of Burkeman’s since his first book, The Antidote, which is a long-time favorite of mine. I loved the way Burkeman reviewed positive psychology through a skeptical lens, and somehow came out with perhaps the most useful, meaningful self-help book I’ve read yet. (I genuinely still think about that book, almost a decade later). When I learned that he had written a book about productivity, I could not wait to read it, and was so delighted to receive an early copy. Well, it’s simply the best nonfiction book I’ve read in years. It’s provocative, entertaining, and genuinely useful. The ideas in this book will improve your life, and even if you read a fair amount of self-help and productivity, I doubt you’ve heard them before. There are a lot of mind-expanding insights here, but the key one is that to be a productivity nerd is to feel existential anxiety. The premise of the productivity genre is that if we can just get our lives ever-more optimized, we need never face the reality that we can’t, in fact, do everything that we care about. Burkeman says we have to start by admitting defeat: our time is limited, and the future we imagine when we’ve become our most self-actualized, accomplished selves, with inboxes empty and goals achieved, is a fun-house mirror that keeps us separate from our real lives. I don’t want to spoil too much of this book in advance, because it’s an absolute joy to read: Burkeman’s writing crackles, he has such big and original ideas, he illustrates those ideas with lively and unfamiliar examples (did you know that the Soviets experimented for decades with their own work week?! Do you know why it failed??), and he’s just so damned humane. He balances his counterintuitive ideas with practical, actionable advice, which, I can say with confidence, have already improved my productivity and mental health way more than a pomodoro timer ever did. If you’re interested but not ready to commit, (or if like me you’re a devoted fan of Burkeman’s already!), I highly recommend Burkeman’s twice-a-month newsletter, the Imperfectionist, which you can find on his website oliverburkeman.com.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    I identified with this author's addiction to productivity and appreciate his attempts to cultivate a more stoic attitude toward time. He wisely encourages us to embrace our finitude and to relinquish the complete control we think we have over our existence—and our to-do lists. All to the good. But I also found something deeply sad about this book, and I think it's that Burkeman can't seem to decide whether life is completely devoid of meaning or beautifully meaning-rich. Are the minutes, hours, I identified with this author's addiction to productivity and appreciate his attempts to cultivate a more stoic attitude toward time. He wisely encourages us to embrace our finitude and to relinquish the complete control we think we have over our existence—and our to-do lists. All to the good. But I also found something deeply sad about this book, and I think it's that Burkeman can't seem to decide whether life is completely devoid of meaning or beautifully meaning-rich. Are the minutes, hours, and days of our lives totally pointless, or of the utmost importance? I think the answer to this question has huge implications for how we use our time, and yet this tension, which runs like a current throughout the entire book, is never really resolved. Big takeaway point: We humans are pretty much destined to have a tricky relationship with time. I'm not sure this book makes that relationship any less tricky.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Louden

    while Oliver doesn't say anything you probably already don't know, he says it in a way that could change your life. I loved this book so much I invited Oliver to be on my podcast as the first male guest. Season 2 debuts with Oliver's interview soon - subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts or on Apple! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast... while Oliver doesn't say anything you probably already don't know, he says it in a way that could change your life. I loved this book so much I invited Oliver to be on my podcast as the first male guest. Season 2 debuts with Oliver's interview soon - subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts or on Apple! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast...

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Pulliam

    1. Could have been condensed into an article 2. Just read Ecclesiastes or a stoic and you’ll get the point 3. Had one good point: embrace what you’re doing and acknowledge that you won’t be able to do anything else in that moment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Grey

    I read this last week and have already given it as a gift once, it's that good. I very much enjoyed the notion that since there are more A-list, important, meaningful, top-rated things that we might like to do than we ever can -- since our problem is not finding the needle in a haystack but of having a haystack's worth of needles -- we will simply never do everything worthwhile, and might as well give up on FOMO and focus on what we can do. For those who'd rather skip the philosophy and get to th I read this last week and have already given it as a gift once, it's that good. I very much enjoyed the notion that since there are more A-list, important, meaningful, top-rated things that we might like to do than we ever can -- since our problem is not finding the needle in a haystack but of having a haystack's worth of needles -- we will simply never do everything worthwhile, and might as well give up on FOMO and focus on what we can do. For those who'd rather skip the philosophy and get to the practical suggestions at the back of the book, here they are: 1. Adopt a "fixed volume" approach to productivity by keeping two to-do lists, one open-ended/infinite and one limited to a fixed number of entries, ten at most. (I do this. I use six.) You can't add a new task to the fixed list until one is completed. A complementary strategy is to establish predetermined time boundaries for your daily work. 2. Serialize. Focus on one big project at a time or, at most, one work project and one nonwork project. 3. Decide in advance what to fail at. Strategic underachievement is okay on a cyclical basis, like if you decide to do the bare minimum at work for the next month in order to focus on a temporary crisis. This replaces the constant pressure to find "balance" with a conscious, managed imbalance that may be more sustainable. 4. Focus on what you've already completed, not just what is left to complete. Keep a "to-done list". 5. Consolidate your caring. Consciously pick your battles in charity, activism and politics. Lots of things may matter but, to make a difference, you must focus your finite capacity for care. 6. Embrace boring, single-purpose technology (like e-ink readers for reading) to help resist distraction. Also switch your phone from color to grayscale to reduce distraction and attention-grabbiness. 7. Seek out novelty in the mundane. Pay more attention to every moment, rather than constantly seeking out novelty and adventure, to make life richer and form more memories without existential overwhelm. 8. Be a "researcher" in relationships. Stay curious. "Curiosity is a stance well-suited to the inherent unpredictability of life with others, because it can be satisfied by their behaving in ways you like or dislike"... true enough! 9. Cultivate instantaneous generosity. If a generous impulse arises in your mind, act on it right away instead of waiting to try to make it perfect. (This one is from meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein.) 10. Practice doing nothing. Meditate. Try to resist the pressure to constantly do things.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    A lovely and short book that I listened to the author read as an audiobook. The last chapter and appendix contained some tips that I wanted to remember, so I wrote them down here. Some of it are quotations from other authors, but that wasn't as clear when listening. Sorry other authors! 5 Questions: 1. Choose uncomfortable enlargement over comfortable diminishment. 2. Are you holding yourself to or judging yourself by impossible standards? Drop them. 3. In what ways have you yet failed to accept the A lovely and short book that I listened to the author read as an audiobook. The last chapter and appendix contained some tips that I wanted to remember, so I wrote them down here. Some of it are quotations from other authors, but that wasn't as clear when listening. Sorry other authors! 5 Questions: 1. Choose uncomfortable enlargement over comfortable diminishment. 2. Are you holding yourself to or judging yourself by impossible standards? Drop them. 3. In what ways have you yet failed to accept the fact that you're who you are and not the person you think you ought to be? No one really cares what we're doing with our life. There's no need to justify your life. 4. In which areas of life are you still holding back until you feel like you know what you're doing? Everyone's just winging it, you might as well get on with it. 5. How would you spend your days differently if you didn't care so much about seeing your action reach fruition? "One lives as one can. ... The individual path is the way you make for yourself, which is never prescribed, which you do not know in advance and which simply comes into being itself when you put one foot in front of the other. ... Quietly do the next and most necessary thing." - Carl Jung Ten tools for embracing your finitude: 1. Adopt a fixed-volume approach to productivity. e.g. Keep two to-do lists one that contains everything you want to do, and a second which contains things you're actively working on, which should be limited to a small number of items (at most ten). Or, establish time limits for your daily work. 2. Serialize! Focus on one big project at a time and see it to completion before moving on. 3. Decide in advance what to fail at. Accept that you'll do a poor job at things which you aren't currently focusing on, and that should diminish the shame of failing. 4. Focus on what you've already completed, not just on what's left to complete. Celebrate your daily achievements, since you'll never finish everything that's left. Keep a "done" list of what you've completed in the day. 5. Consolidate your caring. There are lots of problems in the world, but you only have a finite amount of attention. Pick a few causes and work towards them. 6. Embrace boring and single-purpose technology. Make your devices as boring as possible: delete social-media apps and switch your devices to grayscale. Read on a kindle instead of your phone. 7. Seek out novelty in the mundane. Avoid routines when possible, walk a new way, etc. Experience each moment in greater detail, pay more attention. 8. Be a researcher in relationships. Adopt an attitude of curiosity in which your goal isn't to achieve any particular outcome or successfully explain your position, but "to figure out who this human being is." Curiosity is satisfied regardless of the outcome. Choose wonder over worry whenever you can. 9. Cultivate instantaneous generosity. Whenever a generous impulse arises in your mind, act on it right away. Don't wait until later when you can "do a better job." 10. Practice doing nothing. Stop trying to evade how reality feels, calm down and make better choices with your time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    I am one of those people who constantly tries to manage my time better. I love lists, apps, charts and books that promise to help me become the kind of person who accomplishes far more. I constantly beat myself up for not doing more of the stuff other people get done. My house is never tidy, I have never stuck to any kind of exercise routine, our homeschooling has always been one part magic and two parts mayhem, our living room wall has been half painted for years, and I am quite likely to be fo I am one of those people who constantly tries to manage my time better. I love lists, apps, charts and books that promise to help me become the kind of person who accomplishes far more. I constantly beat myself up for not doing more of the stuff other people get done. My house is never tidy, I have never stuck to any kind of exercise routine, our homeschooling has always been one part magic and two parts mayhem, our living room wall has been half painted for years, and I am quite likely to be found in the bathtub reading in the middle of the day instead of finally catching up on the piles of laundry for our large family. Right now I should be finishing the rough draft for a book I got a grant to write and instead I am here on Goodreads. So this book was right up my alley. It turns out I'm doing a lot more right than I ever realized and I don't really want to change anymore. I've learned that there is not enough time for a fraction of the stuff I could ever do and that's okay. I've come to realize that I really like my life and I am getting done all the things that really matter to me (time with my family, foraging, canning, cooking, teaching my kids, writing books, reading books, helping people, playing, spending time with awesome people, putting out a free monthly nature magazine for kids, starting a community arts center in a 120-year-old church we bought...). It's okay that the house is probably always going to be messy and that I will probably always exercise, homeschool, clean, garden and live in great bursts and long pauses. I don't need lists or apps or ways to squeeze productivity out of every minute of my day. Don't worry - the book does still offer some really good advice about "time management" and how to work with the time you've got. It may not be what you're expecting, but it's all really good stuff. Each chapter expands on another really insightful concept about time and the ridiculous notion of managing it, in addition to the stuff that really doesn't work like multi-tasking. It offers really good suggestions and insights, and it's just plain good reading. I read over 300 books in an average year and there are always just a handful that are my favorites. This is definitely one of my favorites for 2021. I loved, loved, loved it. I read a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    The reality and philosophy of our limited time and its management. It is a quick but deep read. I listened to the audio version narrated by the author. My favorite section was his insights regarding the pandemic, he calls the "Great Pause." It forced us to see what matters. He challenges his readers to consider carefully their return to normal: "But I beg of you. Take a deep breath. Ignore the deafening noise and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to The reality and philosophy of our limited time and its management. It is a quick but deep read. I listened to the audio version narrated by the author. My favorite section was his insights regarding the pandemic, he calls the "Great Pause." It forced us to see what matters. He challenges his readers to consider carefully their return to normal: "But I beg of you. Take a deep breath. Ignore the deafening noise and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal. A rare and truly sacred, yes sacred, opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us. What makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marija S.

    I firmly believe that a clock may be the most dangerous invention humankind has stumbled upon and that we are caught in a rat race of our perception of time as a resource. This book spoke to me in a way I needed to hear on how to put an end to the impossible task of getting everything done in an optimal way and then cramming more stuff in the schedule, while procrastinating with the important things. Also on how to just be happy with what is (and why). This is one of the most important books I've I firmly believe that a clock may be the most dangerous invention humankind has stumbled upon and that we are caught in a rat race of our perception of time as a resource. This book spoke to me in a way I needed to hear on how to put an end to the impossible task of getting everything done in an optimal way and then cramming more stuff in the schedule, while procrastinating with the important things. Also on how to just be happy with what is (and why). This is one of the most important books I've read not only on time management but also spirituality, connection with the nature and universe, meaning of life (a big one, heh?), also for escaping perfectionism and the habit of not living in the present moment. An eye opener in many important ways. A must read, together with The Power of Now by E. Tolle.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mayar El Mahdy

    Existentialism with a dash of self-help. It didn't work. I'm not inclined at all to do anything after someone tells me: "Your life is meaningless, there's no actual need to do anything" I know it is. We all know it is. Doing something = not doing anything. That's why we do stuff. I can't stuff meaningful experiences into my life because their meaninglessness comes from the fact that they'll be meaningful one time -not the first time specifically but only once. I think we should try to cram as much Existentialism with a dash of self-help. It didn't work. I'm not inclined at all to do anything after someone tells me: "Your life is meaningless, there's no actual need to do anything" I know it is. We all know it is. Doing something = not doing anything. That's why we do stuff. I can't stuff meaningful experiences into my life because their meaninglessness comes from the fact that they'll be meaningful one time -not the first time specifically but only once. I think we should try to cram as much as we can of life in our time. Doing 70% of something is better than not doing anything because our lives are essentially meaningless and nothing really matters. They are meaningless and nothing really matters, but why not do anything? What difference does it make?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pooja N Babu

    This book is not a conventional productivity or a time management self-help book. It's more about the limited time we humans as mortals have on this planet, the realization of this finitude, and how to make better use of it by choosing and doing things that matter to us - be it trivial or insignificant - so that we can try to live the life we want to live as best as we can. It's deeply philosophical and eye opening. It is also very eloquently written that I controlled very hard not to underline This book is not a conventional productivity or a time management self-help book. It's more about the limited time we humans as mortals have on this planet, the realization of this finitude, and how to make better use of it by choosing and doing things that matter to us - be it trivial or insignificant - so that we can try to live the life we want to live as best as we can. It's deeply philosophical and eye opening. It is also very eloquently written that I controlled very hard not to underline every line of the book. This is the kind of book that I would definitely want to come back to every few years.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nyamka

    4.5 stars!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Romany

    Ohhhhh THIS was the book I was looking for. All the anxiety, trying to squish more and more into every hour, when you could just… stop. Just watch yourself trying to control it all. And just know that it’s uncontrollable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Martinez

    Another year, another self-help pop-psych type book for my shelves. Some quite useful ideas, lots of fluff.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Manish

    I've been a great fan of Burkeman and eagerly await his newsletters. The ideas of time management from the perspective of our mortality forms the gist of the book. It could be my familiarity with his oeuvre which made me give this a 3 star. I've been a great fan of Burkeman and eagerly await his newsletters. The ideas of time management from the perspective of our mortality forms the gist of the book. It could be my familiarity with his oeuvre which made me give this a 3 star.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    Some interesting thoughts, but the author repeats his main point over and over and over again which becomes tiring very fast.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Veronika Vozarova

    I was waiting for this book for a long time since anything I’ve read from Mr. Burkeman so far was definitely worth reading. During the first chapters, I was a bit skeptical about what the book had to offer – it was more or less repeating that we have limited time on Earth and should then use it properly. But every next chapter unfolded what ‘’using it properly’’ actually means, and that’s where things got interesting. The book puts into perspective the main beliefs of our generations among which I was waiting for this book for a long time since anything I’ve read from Mr. Burkeman so far was definitely worth reading. During the first chapters, I was a bit skeptical about what the book had to offer – it was more or less repeating that we have limited time on Earth and should then use it properly. But every next chapter unfolded what ‘’using it properly’’ actually means, and that’s where things got interesting. The book puts into perspective the main beliefs of our generations among which are: "you only matter if you are productive" and "the only things worth doing are those bringing results in the future". It doesn't speak only about the subject of time, but many other existential topics. I still cannot decide whether author’s rich vocabulary makes his writing super interesting or just difficult to read. Also, some sentences are way too long and it was easy to get lost – especially for us, the modern impatient generation, but I am ready to forgive this because every long sentence still feels like it was thoughtfully crafted to render the idea in the most poignant way. What I admire the most about the author is his ability to portray complex topics in simple situational contrasts while skilfully closing all the possible loopholes for his potential opponents, claiming that the opposite of what he writes could also possibly be true in some cases. But I could not imagine anyone daring to challenge his steady logic that usually presents just plain objective truth. At the same time, he makes sure that every deeply philosophical thought has a touch of his typical cynical humor that makes it so fun to read. As a bonus to his humor, he offers relatability; by showing that himself, like the rest of us struggles to use his finite time in a meaningful way, although this book is definitely proof that he has already made the best possible use of his finite portion of weeks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I found this book to be brilliant and perfect and very helpful. But that might be because it echoes and expands on my own philosophy of getting things done and the pointlessness thereof. I'd like my husband to read it because he is my polar opposite in productivity and prioritization. It would be interesting to see if he finds the book helpful or just thinks it is silly - ie is this book only meaningful to the people who already lean towards it's point of view? I found this book to be brilliant and perfect and very helpful. But that might be because it echoes and expands on my own philosophy of getting things done and the pointlessness thereof. I'd like my husband to read it because he is my polar opposite in productivity and prioritization. It would be interesting to see if he finds the book helpful or just thinks it is silly - ie is this book only meaningful to the people who already lean towards it's point of view?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erik Nygren

    This book is very good and you should read it. As I'm actively deciding what to prioritise during my limited lifespan of 4000 weeks I'm not gonna elaborate beyond that, time for another pomodoro and then off to smell some flowers or something like that. This book is very good and you should read it. As I'm actively deciding what to prioritise during my limited lifespan of 4000 weeks I'm not gonna elaborate beyond that, time for another pomodoro and then off to smell some flowers or something like that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Janna

    This is not a book about "life hacks", like achieving inbox zero. Instead, Burkeman argues persuasively that our thinking about productivity and efficiency is a trap: the real problem isn’t our limited time, but rather our troublesome ideas about HOW to use time. I loved this audiobook so much that I immediately ordered two print versions to lend to friends and family and I’ve already purchased more audiobook copies as gifts. I’m listening to it for the third time… Listen to the podcast review on This is not a book about "life hacks", like achieving inbox zero. Instead, Burkeman argues persuasively that our thinking about productivity and efficiency is a trap: the real problem isn’t our limited time, but rather our troublesome ideas about HOW to use time. I loved this audiobook so much that I immediately ordered two print versions to lend to friends and family and I’ve already purchased more audiobook copies as gifts. I’m listening to it for the third time… Listen to the podcast review on the Audiobook Reviews in Five Minutes podcast: https://podcast.jannastam.com/episode... Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on ApplePodcasts, Anchor, Breaker, GooglePodcasts, Overcast, PocketCasts, RadioPublic, and Spotify

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Four thousand weeks is how much time you have on Earth if you live to be 80. If you live to be 100, you get about 5,200 weeks. But most of us get about 4,000. So what's the best way to use them? In one of his previous books, on happiness, Burkeman's message was basically: Stop trying to be happy all the time because nobody is. This book's message is: Stop trying to do everything you want to do, and especially stop trying to do what you think other people want you to do, because you'll never accom Four thousand weeks is how much time you have on Earth if you live to be 80. If you live to be 100, you get about 5,200 weeks. But most of us get about 4,000. So what's the best way to use them? In one of his previous books, on happiness, Burkeman's message was basically: Stop trying to be happy all the time because nobody is. This book's message is: Stop trying to do everything you want to do, and especially stop trying to do what you think other people want you to do, because you'll never accomplish all of it. Focus on the things that are personally meaningful to you, and plan ahead a little when you can, but understand that much of life is out of your control (or anyone's control). Burkeman also argues that eternal life would be meaningless because you'd never have to rule out anything—there would always be time to try or revisit something later. Maybe, but I'd still like to try it. This is an insightful and entertaining book, and the author does a lovely job narrating the audio.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jake Preston

    So many time management and productivity books are written like we have an eternity to accomplish all we believe we can. As Burkeman so exquisitely points out, this is impossible and destructive to our psyche. Human beings only have around four thousand weeks to live, a ridiculously short period of time. Burkeman's focus on a life lived in pursuit of what matters was refreshing and welcome. It's not about doing all things or the most popular things, but about doing the right things. So often I l So many time management and productivity books are written like we have an eternity to accomplish all we believe we can. As Burkeman so exquisitely points out, this is impossible and destructive to our psyche. Human beings only have around four thousand weeks to live, a ridiculously short period of time. Burkeman's focus on a life lived in pursuit of what matters was refreshing and welcome. It's not about doing all things or the most popular things, but about doing the right things. So often I live as though life will eventually "arrive" in the future, totally neglecting what the Lord has for me in the present. While he doesn't seem to be religious himself, it reminded me of the need to recover the quiet Christian life in faithfulness to the Lord. In a world hungry for celebrity, power, and influence, I am motivated afresh to live life to the fullest, prioritizing what matters in the grand scheme of eternity.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    The premise here is that no matter what you do you will never get everything done and the only hope is to embrace that reality and consciously chose the things you will do. There are a lot of good ideas here about reframing expectations.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Olga

    I haven’t learnt anything I hadn’t known before, but it was a very timely book for me. I am currently burnt out, exhausted and confused to the point of not finding the time to send out invoices and collecting payment for my work (imagine not finding the time for that! Why work at all, one might ask) and this book really helped me see why GTD and all those wonderful systems that work for companies fail to work for my small one-woman business. It also helped me calm down and pick somewhere to star I haven’t learnt anything I hadn’t known before, but it was a very timely book for me. I am currently burnt out, exhausted and confused to the point of not finding the time to send out invoices and collecting payment for my work (imagine not finding the time for that! Why work at all, one might ask) and this book really helped me see why GTD and all those wonderful systems that work for companies fail to work for my small one-woman business. It also helped me calm down and pick somewhere to start cleaning up the mess (spoiler: pick the thing most important to you aka anything at all and see that through). The most memorable part for me was the metaphor of staying on the bus: I love Helsinki; I’ve been on those buses. It is a great way to visualize the life-is-a-road metaphor: I can just see those parts that you walk everyday if you are staying in the city centre and the less familiar neighborhoods the bus takes you to once you ride beyond the familiar and recurring route.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ali Farnoud

    I would've given the book six stars if I could. Do not read it thinking that there are certain time management technics to improve your efficiency at work. It's a book meant to provide food for thought by using ideas from various philosophers and writers on human relationship with time. Phenomenal book. Highly recommended. I would've given the book six stars if I could. Do not read it thinking that there are certain time management technics to improve your efficiency at work. It's a book meant to provide food for thought by using ideas from various philosophers and writers on human relationship with time. Phenomenal book. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vlad

    The author’s choice to counter much of the modern productivity advice is welcome, setting this one apart from the crowd of books in this category. I appreciated the iconoclastic approach, but found the book unnecessarily repetitive and padded out. There was plenty of room to go deeper on the question of how we measure and manage time, and what it means to live a life well lived, and many other topics that are only superficially treated.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Moore

    I’ve a confession to make. I really don’t READ books any longer. At age 73+, my mind is often my adversary. I approach a book, begin at page 1 & by page 2, have absolutely no idea what I’ve just read. None. By the time I reach the end of said book, I can summarize it for you in a few meager words if I've taken notes & may carry a thread of it in my heart but that’s it. Having said that, the author gives us a pearl--a treasure of words, really--making it a treasure of a book that I will return to I’ve a confession to make. I really don’t READ books any longer. At age 73+, my mind is often my adversary. I approach a book, begin at page 1 & by page 2, have absolutely no idea what I’ve just read. None. By the time I reach the end of said book, I can summarize it for you in a few meager words if I've taken notes & may carry a thread of it in my heart but that’s it. Having said that, the author gives us a pearl--a treasure of words, really--making it a treasure of a book that I will return to frequently. And yes. I've taken notes.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    As someone who has dabbled in productivity geekery, only to be left feeling unsatisfied when a new system failed to fully "optimize" my life, this book spoke to me. I used to blame my frequent anxiety and dissatisfaction on being too ambitious, or on these productivity systems (all written by men) failing to account for the unpredictability of motherhood. Reading "Four Thousand Weeks" truly helped me to see my life from a new perspective. Being a perfectionist can bring motivation and good resul As someone who has dabbled in productivity geekery, only to be left feeling unsatisfied when a new system failed to fully "optimize" my life, this book spoke to me. I used to blame my frequent anxiety and dissatisfaction on being too ambitious, or on these productivity systems (all written by men) failing to account for the unpredictability of motherhood. Reading "Four Thousand Weeks" truly helped me to see my life from a new perspective. Being a perfectionist can bring motivation and good results on an individual project, but being a perfectionist about life is to be destined for unhappiness, because life itself is imperfect. I may want so badly to do ALL THE THINGS and do them all well, but there is no avoiding the fact that I will never do ALL THE THINGS, and a lot of the things may not be done well, but just pretty okay, or even badly, and that's okay. The Buddhist approach of viewing life in all its impermanence is relevant here. We may wish to believe we are immortal, or at least that our life's work will live on after we die, but there is comfort in the dark fact that we will die, that day will come sooner than we may hope, and our life's work is fairly insignificant from the perspective of the universe. Turns out I've been engaging in "cosmic insignificance therapy" all my life, looking up at the stars and feeling comforted by my own insignificance in the grand scheme of things. There are practical tips here as well. I've already implemented an "open" and "closed" list of projects I'm working on, which has helped me to focus on the three things I allow on my current radar, and feel motivated to finish them so I can add something else from my long list of possible pursuits. I've also gotten a little better at allowing work to sit untouched and not worry about it as much while I prioritize other things (a little... this is hard for me!) This book is truly an antidote to capitalist productivity propaganda and I recommend it to anyone struggling to find perspective and balance in life. "When you're faced with too many demands, it's easy to assume that the only answer must be to make better use of tome, by becoming more efficient, driving yourself harder, or working for longer ... instead of asking whether the demands themselves might be unreasonable. It grows alluring to try to multitask ... and it becomes a lot more intuitive to project your thoughts about your life into an imagined future, leaving you anxiously wondering if things will unfold as you want them to. Soon, your sense of self-worth gets completely bound up with how you're using time: it stops being merely the water in which you swim and turns into something you feel you need to dominate or control, if you're to avoid feeling guilty, panicked, or overwhelmed." p. 25 "Attention .. is life: your experience of being alive consists of nothing other than the sum of everything to which you pay attention. At the end of your life, looking back, whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment is simply what your life will have been." p. 91 "We have inherited from all this a deeply bizarre idea of what it means to spend your time off "well"--and, conversely, what counts as wasting it. In this view of time, anything that doesn't create some form of value for the future is, by definition, mere idleness. Rest is permissible, but only for the purposes of recuperation for work, or perhaps for some other form of self-improvement. It becomes difficult to enjoy a moment of rest for itself alone, without regard for any potential future benefits, because rest that has no instrumental value feels wasteful. The truth, then, is that spending at least some of your leisure time "wastefully," focused solely on the pleasure of the experience, is the only way not to waste it -- to be truly at leisure, rather than covertly engaged in a future-focused self-improvement. ... From this perspective, idleness isn't merely forgivable; it's practically an obligation." p. 147 "Once you give up on the unattainable goal of eradicating all your problems, it becomes possible to develop an appreciation for the fact that life just is a process of engaging with problem after problem, giving each one the time it requires -- that the presence of problems in your life, in other words, isn't an impediment to a meaningful existence but the very substance of one." p. 181

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