Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Five stars all around! If I could give this book ten stars, I would, without hesitation. 

You might be wondering, "What could be so great about a time management book? Aren't there hundreds of those out there, all saying pretty much the same thing?" And you'd be right. There are hundreds of time management books out there, all saying practically the same thing, promising each and every one of us that we can get more than humanely possible done in the short span of 24-hours!

But not this book. Oh no. Oliver makes that abundantly clear right off the bat that Four Thousand Weeks is not that kind of time management book. Instead, he brings a mirror up to your life and plainly says "There isn't enough time. There is never enough time. You are going to have to choose between equally important things. It sucks, but that's life, and everyone has to do it."

I mean, just the fact that Oliver lays out the average lifespan broken down into four thousand weeks (if you were to live to 80) and my calculated life has already used up over 1600 of those weeks is enough to make a heart stop beating for a moment. 

"Any finite life--even the best one you could possibly imagine--is therefore a matter of ceaselessly waving goodbye to possibility."

That might be harsh for many to hear, but for me, reading this book has fundamentally shifted the way in which I view my own life, death, and time. It's given rise to some pretty intense anxiety, I won't deny. A fluttering sense of fear and dread in my chest that makes me want to simultaneously burst into tears and also jump up in excitement, filled with a new sense of both fire and calm. It's a lot of contradictory feelings, to be sure, but they all feel . . . good? Freeing? I cannot place the correct word for how I feel or in what concrete ways my mind has shifted because of this book, but it's there and real and fresh and important. 

While reading this book, someone on my social media had warned me that they found this particular book's information to be better doled out via podcast format because a lot of the book is a reiteration of the same handful of points over and over again. I can see where this person was coming from, and if you are someone who doesn't enjoy being told the same thing in 100 different ways, by all means, check out the podcast! But for me, rehashing the same idea over and over again is actually incredibly beneficial. When I find that I resonate with the same piece of advice shared with me in a myriad ways, it sticks better in my brain It begins to form well worn grooves, and I start to see new ideas flourishing as I examine the same central idea more than once. 

"The reason that time feels like such a struggle is that we're constantly attempting to master it--to lever ourselves into a position of dominance and control over our unfolding lives so that we might finally feel safe and secure, and no longer so vulnerable to events."

In this case, the idea that we are finite, that much of our internal distress comes from avoiding the fact that we are finite or altogether pretending that we are infinite, and buckling down to accept the fact that we are all going to die one day is actually quite liberating, as much as t is anxiety inducing. And when we begin to learn to deal with our finitude and anxiety, a whole world of possibilities opens up!

PS: The chapter that did the biggest number of me personally was Chapter 7: We Never Really Have Time. Just WOW! What a mind boggling chapter. 

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