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Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  8,935 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 10th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  8,935 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews

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Ryan Boissonneault
Sep 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sara G
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
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,” ...more
Nov 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Pulliam
Sep 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
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.
Sep 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audible, non-fiction
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, ...more
Dec 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Hope is a curse. It's putting your faith in something outside yourself, beyond the current moment. It's that future state where your inbox is empty, your tasks well and tightly under control and your time, at last, your own to fully direct towards what gives you joy.

For the productivity minded among us, we live in a perpetual state of hope, inhabiting an imagined future where our lives are well and truly ordered and organized. We need to give up hope and simpl
Jennifer Louden
Aug 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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!

Rachel Grey
Aug 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
When I opened this book to begin reading, I wondered to myself, “Do I really need to read another book about time management?” I’ve already consumed vast amounts of information on the topic and there’s only so many ways you can manage a calendar. Turns out I didn’t have to answer this question, because this book isn’t really a book about time management advice in a traditional sense.

The overall premise is that life is finite and we’re never going to have enough time to do all the things we want
Alicia Bayer
Oct 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mayar El Mahdy
Sep 13, 2021 rated it liked it
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
Jan 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I really like Oliver Burkeman, so when a friend recommended Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (2021) I need no extra persuading.

Life is short. If you live to be 80, you have just over four thousand weeks. Whilst seeking new ways to be ever more efficient, we are less inclined to connect our daily struggles with the most pressing time management problem, how best to use our four thousand weeks.

Drawing on a range of sources, both ancient and contemporary, Oliver Burkeman provides an
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
Jan 12, 2022 rated it did not like it
I started this book and I was so motivated, the first..20 pages(?) were so good and I enjoyed them a lot. But after it…honestly it was like listening to men talk about why you should invest into crypto over and over again. Too many studies, too many stories, too many issues that I was thinking if this is a time management book then why do I feel like I’m wasting all my time??
Maybe it’s because I’m also on my exam weeks and I needed something more chill but this literally exhausted me.
Aug 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
Some interesting thoughts, but the author repeats his main point over and over and over again which becomes tiring very fast.
Diana Pojar
Dec 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, audiobook
Really enjoyed this one and compared to other time management books, I really felt this one presented things in a new perspective— it’s not about becoming more productive, but mostly about accepting that we’ll never be able to do all the things, but instead doing only the things that matter or are an actual priority for you and your finite time in this world.

Listened as an audiobook and works really well in this format too
Sep 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 02, 2022 rated it it was ok
Not a productivity self-help book persay. Not to be overly harsh but it's more of a mess of a thinkpiece on productivity, GTD, and mindfulness. ...more
Marija S.
Sep 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-must-read
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
Jan 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
Not like other time management books at all, more of a helpful memento mori drawing on philosophy and history. I liked it quite a bit and would get my own copy to remind myself of its contents as needed. Among other things -
- The average human has 4000 weeks to live, but you could also step out the front door and die today, hey ho.
- You’re never going to get everything done so stop trying. When you pick some stuff, you’re choosing it over some other stuff, deal with it.
- We seek distraction du
Jan 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
4- I picked this up to get myself in the right mindset for the new year, hoping it would tell me that it's impossible to have time for everything I find essential to do, not to mention just nice or interesting. And it did tell me exactly that, very convincingly and eloquently. The minus is for repetitiveness, but that's something all self-help books are guilty of. ...more
Jan 03, 2022 rated it really liked it

really mixed about this one
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 ...more
Carlos Martinez
Oct 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Another year, another self-help pop-psych type book for my shelves. Some quite useful ideas, lots of fluff.
Dec 18, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
You're all going home with self-help books
Hidden behind
Heat because you're worried about the looks
And you know there is no shame
Because we're all doing the same
- Malcolm Middleton
...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
- Burkeman

A good defence of quietism, and an actually tasteful self-help book. Still completely unconvincing. I’ll never accept
Jan 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I first encountered Burkeman's writing through his article on free will in The Guardian. It was so well researched, nuanced and eloquently written that I was shocked to find out that he wrote regular columns about being a productivity geek and published self-help books. That says a lot about what I think of self-help authors in general, after all, I always feel slightly embarrassed picking up books in this genre.

Coming back to Four Thousand Weeks, I would describe the book as meta self-help. It'
Jan 17, 2022 rated it really liked it
This caught my eye from my local library (whoever buys books for that library has impeccable taste) as one of those productivity hack books and I admit to checking it out to hate-read it. I was pleasantly surprised that this is kind of an anti-productivity book and a really good read. One caveat is that it talks about things from a privileged, white collar/knowledge-worker, point of view, but this knowledge-worker found it really insightful.

We mostly read things to reaffirm our world-view and re
4.5 stars!
Zoe Routh
Dec 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A philosophical and practical insight into living well

I admit, I was frustrated with this book at first. So I flipped to the ‘top ten tips’ at the back. Here I discovered the treasures of the book. Then I went back and read the book properly.

This book is a treatise on living well. Not to squeeze every ounce of life with an ambitious bucket list, or a zealous commitment to a single ambition, but to confront the truths of our existence: we don’t matter, our lives are insignificant, it could all en
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN: 1847924018 4 25 Sep 06, 2021 01:47PM  

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New year, new you! Or perhaps the same you, but a 2.0 version? The start of a new year is known for resolutions, which, as we all know,...
86 likes · 2 comments
“Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster. Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved “work-life balance,” whatever that might be, and you certainly won’t get there by copying the “six things successful people do before 7:00 a.m.” The day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control—when the flood of emails has been contained; when your to-do lists have stopped getting longer; when you’re meeting all your obligations at work and in your home life; when nobody’s angry with you for missing a deadline or dropping the ball; and when the fully optimized person you’ve become can turn, at long last, to the things life is really supposed to be about. Let’s start by admitting defeat: none of this is ever going to happen. But you know what? That’s excellent news.” 10 likes
“mortality makes it impossible to ignore the absurdity of living solely for the future.” 9 likes
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