In a fast-paced world obsessed with hustle culture, Oliver Burkeman’s “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” is an antidote to the rat race, providing tips on how to slow down, smell the roses, and enjoy our finite time here on earth.
Since its August 2001 release, the book has become a runaway hit and surprise instant New York Times bestseller.
Burkeman, a New York City-based psychology columnist for The Guardian, told the Post he “spent years as a ‘productivity geek,’” obsessively searching for the time management technique that was finally going to bring [him] peace of mind and a feeling of being in control of [his] time.”
And yet he didn’t. Instead Burkeman found the realization that our lives are short— as he puts it “absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short.” An 80 year lifespan is just four thousand weeks, hence the title.
In our short, silly little time to be alive, we’re bombarded with tasks and time management tips on how to make the most of every single second. But, rather than become more productive, we become more stressed — and frankly miserable.
“What we’re really looking for when we’re trying to ‘get on top of everything’ is the capacity to do more with our time than it’s possible for humans to do,” Burkeman says.
Instead, “Four Thousand Weeks” advocates for an embrace of the finitude of our short time here. Drawing from the wisdom of ancient philosophers, spiritual leaders, and psychologists alike, Burkeman urges readers to accept that being the most productive might not mean being the most fulfilled.
His number one tip for readers: “I think it’s all about tolerating the anxiety of not getting things done, so you can focus on what counts the most, instead of endlessly tying up loose ends and never getting around to the things that matter. If some activity or project or relationship really matters to you, you just have to give it some of your time and attention right away, even if other things may get delayed or fall by the wayside.”