Four Thousand Weeks By Oliver Burkeman

Four Thousand Weeks is yet another book about making the best use of time. But it is written in the belief that time management as we know it has failed miserably, and that we need to stop pretending otherwise. The rest of the book is an exploration of a saner way of relating to time and a toolbox of practical ideas for doing so.


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KEY TAKEAWAYS:

• “What makes it unbearable is your mistaken belief that it can be cured” -Charlotte Joko Beck

• The first mechanical clocks came to be invented by medieval monks, who had to begin their morning prayers while it was still dark, and needed some way of ensuring the whole monastery woke up at the required point.

• Opposite of the very idea that time is something you use, is the unfashionable but powerful notion of letting time use you, approaching life not as an opportunity to implement your predetermined plans for success but as a matter of responding to the needs of your place in your moment in history.

• Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers understood limitlessness to be the sole preserve of the gods; the noblest of human goals wasn’t to become godlike, but to be wholeheartedly human instead.

• As you make hundreds of small choices throughout the day, you build a life— but at one and the same time, you are closing off the possibilities of countless others, forever.

• The original Latin word for “decide,” decidere, means “to cut off,” as in slicing away alternatives. Any finite life—even the best one you could possibly imagine— is therefore a matter of ceaselessly waving goodbye to possibility.

• It is by consciously confronting the certainty of death, and what follows from the certainty of death, that we finally become truly present for our lives.

• Advice from Warren Buffet: make a list of the top 25 things you want out of life and then to arrange them in order, from the most important to the least. The top five should be those around which you organize your time. The remaining 20 should be actively avoided at all costs —because they’re the ambitions insufficiently important to you to form the core of your life yet seductive enough to distract you from the ones that matter most.

• You need to learn how to start saying no to things you do want to do, with the recognition that you only have one life.

• “The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.” -Henri Bergson

• Since every real-world choice about how to live entails the loss of countless alternative ways of living, there’s no reason to procrastinate, or to resist making commitment, in the anxious hope that you might somehow be able to avoid those losses. Loss is a given. That ship has sailed—what a relief.

• When you can no longer turn back, anxiety falls away, because now there’s only one direction of travel: forward into the consequences of your choice.

• Hofstadter’s law states that any task you’re planning to tackle will always take longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law. In other words, even if you know that a given project is likely to overrun, and you adjust your schedule accordingly, it’ll just overrun your new estimated finishing time, too.

• Living more fully in the present may be simply a matter of realizing that you never had any other option but to be here now.

• It has been calculated that if Amazon’s front page loaded one second more slowly, the company would lose $1.6 billion in annual sales.


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