Sunday, April 2, 2023

Book Reflection - Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

 I just finished a book - Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman.  It was time well spent - see what I did there?

I related to it quite a bit - it largely assumed an audience of people who are averse to being idle.  People trying to optimize their way to self-worth and counting their days and hours by what still remains on the to-do list that includes such meaty goals as  “save democracy” and “learn all the programming languages”.   Those of us who never feel like they’ve “earned” a break, who only slow down when they have a documented illness and only then because they don’t want to do something silly like get hospitalized where you REALLY couldn’t get anything done. 

My main takeaways from the book are: 

  1.  We can’t do everything.  As the title suggests, we will die.  Instead of trying to fit it all in, just work on accepting this.  Of course, this is something I’ve known forever with my brain but doesn’t seem to be absorbed by all of my cells as truth.   So I’ve been trying to work on this, mostly in the case of places to visit, things to learn, or hobbies to start.  I grieve each thing as I consider it and know that probably won’t be able to do it.  I sit with the thought, appreciate the fact that I appreciate that it’s something cool, grieve a little bit that one day I will die and then try to settle my mind back to a shorter list of equally cool things rather than continue in the grief/disappointment space.

  2. Don’t spend too much time choosing - don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  A short note you actually send telling someone you think they do awesome work is better than the perfect letter you never write.  This is, again, true because one day we will die.  Or the other person will die. 

  3. Be mindful of how we are spending our time - Make sure you are making conscious choices and not continually scrolling on our phones, especially about things that bum us out and sap us of the energy that we could be using to do the things that actually could make the world less of a bummer.   The sum of our individual moments of attention will eventually be our life lived.  

The book was humbling and comforting and empowering.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and will likely think of it often.