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Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals Kindle Edition
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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Provocative and appealing . . . well worth your extremely limited time." —Barbara Spindel, The Wall Street Journal
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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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"In addition to whatever help it might offer, Four Thousand Weeks is also just good company; it addresses large, even existential, issues with a sense of humor and an even-keeled perspective. I found that reading it―Burkeman might balk at this particular way of describing it―was a good use of my time." ―John Williams, The New York Times
"Provocative and appealing . . . The discipline of time management has historically been concerned with maximizing productivity and efficiency, but Mr. Burkeman imbues it with existential weight . . . Mr. Burkeman is funny and engaging, and Four Thousand Weeks is an enjoyable, insightful, and occasionally profound book, one well worth your extremely limited time." ―Barbara Spindel, The Wall Street Journal
"Burkeman is the self-help writer for people like me who find self-help books oversold on magical transformations . . . Four Thousand Weeks is full of such sage and sane advice, delivered with dry wit and a benevolent tone." ―Joe Moran, The Guardian (UK)
“Four Thousand Weeks will challenge and amuse you. And it may even spur you on to change your life.” ―Robbie Smith, Evening Standard (UK)
"[Four Thousand Weeks] is perfectly pitched somewhere between practical self-help book and philosophical quest . . . As with all the best quests, its many pleasures don't require a fast-forward button, but happen along the way." ―Tim Adams, The Observer (UK)
"Subtle, provocative, and multi-layered . . . Four Thousand Weeks offers many wise pointers to a happier, less stress-filled life, with none of the usual smug banalities of the self-help genre." ―Craig Brown, The Daily Mail (UK)
"This book is wonderful. Instead of offering new tips on how to cram more into your day, it questions why we feel the need to . . . My favorite kind of book is this one―a book that doesn't offer magic solutions to life because there aren't any. Instead, it examines the human struggle with intelligence, wisdom, humor, and humility . . . Reading this book was time well spent." ―Marianne Power, The Times (UK)
"I have long loved Oliver Burkeman's wise and witty journalism that both interrogates and elevates the 'self-help' realm―revealing its possibilities for absurdity while honoring the deeper human impulses that it meets. Four Thousand Weeks is a splendid offering in that spirit. This book is at once sobering and refreshing on all that is truly at stake in what we blithely refer to as 'time management.' It invites nothing less than a new relationship with time―and with life itself." ―Krista Tippett, host of On Being
"A wonderfully honest book, Four Thousand Weeks is a much-needed reality check on our culture's crazy assumptions around work, productivity and living a meaningful life." ―Mark Manson, bestselling author of Everything is F*cked and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
“This is the most important book ever written about time management. Oliver Burkeman offers a searing indictment of productivity hacking and profound insights on how to make the best use of our scarcest, most precious resource. His writing will challenge you to rethink many of your beliefs about getting things done―and you’ll be wiser because of it.” ―Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of WorkLife
“Four Thousand Weeks is a book to read and re-read, to absorb and reflect on. Compassionate, funny and wise, it has not left my mind since I read it. The modern world teaches us to pretend to be immortal―this book is a dip in the cold, clear waters of reality, returning us refreshed and alive.” ―Naomi Alderman, author of The Power
“We all know our time is limited. What we don’t know―but what Oliver Burkeman is here to teach us―is that our control over that time is also limited. This profound (and often hilarious) book will prompt you to rethink your worship of efficiency, reject the cult of busyness, and reconfigure your life around what truly matters.” ―Daniel H. Pink, author of When, Drive, and To Sell is Human
“Oliver Burkeman provides an important and insightful reassessment of productivity. The drive to get more done can become an excuse to avoid figuring out what we actually want to accomplish. Only by confronting this latter question can we unlock a calmer, more meaningful, more resilient approach to organizing our time.” ―Cal Newport, New York Times bestselling author of A World Without Email and Deep Work
"Insightful . . . Burkeman’s thoughtful, reassuring analysis will be a welcome balm to readers feeling overwhelmed by the (perhaps unrealistic) demands of life." ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
- ASIN : B08FGV64B1
- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux (August 10, 2021)
- Publication date : August 10, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 1476 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 290 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #5,814 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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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.
(I also highly recommend Burkeman’s twice-a-month newsletter, the Imperfectionist, which you can find on his website!)
In the Introduction, Burkeman muses about the futility of trying to exponentially increase productivity. He instead suggests that people accept that they have a limited amount of time, and that most people will always feel like they are behind no matter how much they get done.
Part 1 – 'Choosing to Choose' covers a few different concepts related to your perception of time, and being realistic about your limitations. There are chapters discussing the changes in the ways humans have thought about time over the years; and advice on how to accept that you will not be able to do everything that you want, and must sacrifice some things for others. Burkeman explains that truly accepting and embracing the fact that you are going to die, allows you to live more in the moment and appreciate the limited amount of time you have. A real skill to master, it would seem, is choosing exactly what you should spend your time doing at all.
Part 2 – 'Beyond Control' addresses the problem of anxiety about the “uncontrollability of the future”. Chapters discuss attempting to become more “present-focused” instead of future-focused; and enjoying rest and recovery without making leisure time feel like a task or chore. Burkeman writes about dealing with impatience, and how to try to become a more patient person. He observes that having free time, is often only useful to the extent that other people also have free time to spend it with you. The last few chapters discuss seeing a larger picture, thinking about your irrelevance on a cosmic scale, and coming up with the answers to five specific questions.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. The author makes some good points, and presents some deep philosophical ideas; while still having a good sense of humor and keeping things somewhat lighthearted. This was fun and easy to read, and I think that some of the points Burkeman makes could help reduce some people's level of anxiety and frustration with the world.
I thought it was interesting that this book found itself into weekend WSJ review sections two weeks in a row. Perhaps I am just further down the road than Mr. Burkeman and his readers, but given his credentials I doubt that. So perhaps the explanation is that this book is for what I presume must be a wealth of overachievers working in the business world along with a bunch of ADD people like myself who are trying to find a solution to their unhappiness and busyness. As I physician, I have demands as well, but the solutions here are not even scratching the surface to a real solution in my LIfe
Top reviews from other countries
A self proclaimed productivity geek, Burkeman has come to a lot of the same conclusions that have started to bug me over the last few years. Time is finite. No matter how efficient we get we'll never do everything we feel we're supposed to do. The answer he says is to acknowledge our limitations and be honest with ourselves that the life we're living right now is what we have.
By stopping struggling against the limits of time we can enjoy what we're doing right now, and really invest and commit to it. Instead of believing we're capable of engaging with every opportunity the modern world presents to us, we have to make hard choices about what we really want to do. What if you weren't trying to get somewhere? What if you accepted that you're already as here as you're ever going to be, what would you do then? He highlights the peril the instrumentalisation of time, always doing something for what might happen in the future. Taking a picture of fireworks so you can enjoy it later instead of enjoying the moment.
It's not necessarily an easy thing to do. Because the theme that runs through the book is that you genuinely can't do everything you want to do, and not doing some things means giving up on some of your dreams. But it is liberating to realise that actually, it doesn't matter in the end, you can let go and really focus on what you're doing. It means trading in a flawless fantasy where you do everything perfectly for the messy reality where you do a handful of things in ways you might fail at. It means giving up certainty to some extent, since committing to something means taking a path without knowing exactly where you're going. But the alternative is to go nowhere.
It's a level headed read that takes in a wide range of influences from philosophy and other writers, to great effect as the wisdom of the book is much deeper than you would expect from what is technically a tome about time management. I've highlighted all the way through and I'll definitely be returning to it to absorb it more fully.
There aren't really any tricks or frameworks to subscribe to. A while ago I read books on techniques on how to make better choices, how I could weigh up each option and make the "right" choice. It's more like a guide to confronting reality, accepting that you will fail and you will make the wrong choices sometimes. But that's ok, and it's a lot less stressful than trying to maintain the impossible standard of always choosing right, always filling your time in the right way.
The book presents ideas that, while not necessarily new, he has made infinitely more accessible and relevant by restating them, with wit and self-deprecating humour, to fit the context of today's life and technology. It's not an understatement to say the book has been transformative for me.
Deep wisdom masquerading as a book about time management.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2021