Book Review: Four Thousand Weeks - Time Management For Mortals

Posted on Aug 27, 2022 - 0 min read.


The time we have on this planet is incredibly small and finite. Burkeman presents his argument for escaping to-do lists, overfilled inboxes, work-life balance, and the deluge of things to do. There is no such thing as mastering time, and the sooner we accept this, the sooner we can spend our time doing the things that truly matter.

My thoughts

Productivity tools, never-ending task lists, and the drive to getting things done force us to value each moment according to its usefulness for some future goal. This book is a sort of sobering antithesis to the productivity and “Get Things Done” culture that seems to be proliferating with increasing speed. Burkeman makes a strong case for surrendering to the finitude of our time on this Earth and helps us reframe our expectations.

Burkeman was once a productivity guru himself, giving the perspective he presents a lot of weight. This is a great read to put things back into perspective and to make you reflect on how you’re “spending” you time.

Favorite highlights

  • Once time is a resource to be used, you start to feel pressure, whether from external forces or from yourself, to use it well, and to berate yourself when you feel you’ve wasted it.
  • Every decision to use a portion of time on anything represents the sacrifice of all the other ways in which you could have spent that time, but didn’t—and to willingly make that sacrifice is to take a stand, without reservation, on what matters most to you.
  • Adopt an ultra-ambitious time management system that promises to take care of your entire to-do list, and you probably won’t even get around to the most important items on that list.
  • And so it’s not merely a matter of spending each day “as if” it were your last, as the cliché has it. The point is that it always actually might be. I can’t entirely depend upon a single moment of the future.
  • What would it mean to spend the only time you ever get in a way that truly feels as though you are making it count?
  • Let your impossible standards crash to the ground. Then pick a few meaningful tasks from the rubble and get started on them today.
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