You know when you become obsessed with a book which then leads you to becoming obsessed with the author? That was us with Oliver Burkeman and “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.” Time management is one of those things no matter how efficient you are or how hard you can focus, there’s just the inevitable truth—there’s simply not enough hours in the day. January was a long month and we’re looking at February as the true start to the year to make real, impactful changes. Oliver gives such sound advice, helping us re-wire our approach towards how we spend and think about our time. Whether you’re a mom who is juggling work, kids, and a partner, or maybe you just have a giant workload and secretly want to take up a new hobby, this episode is for you.
“Four Thousand Weeks, the title of my book is the average lifespan of a human in the West, if you round it down a bit to get a good round number
for a book title. I think what I really liked or was terrified by initially in the use of that is if I stated it in days, the number would be a lot larger, but it doesn’t feel too bad if you sort of waste a day. And often we do. In my experience, you often don’t know where a day went and it doesn’t seem to matter that much. You could state it in years, a lifespan, and then it would be a very small number by comparison, but then it feels like it’s pretty difficult to waste a year. Maybe sometimes you feel you did it, but it’s a long period of time. What’s so terrifying about a week is, on the one hand, you don’t get very many of them, 4, 000 or so is not a large number. But on the other hand, it’s kind of incredibly easy to wonder where the last week or two went in your life. So I just think that calls attention to the preciousness of it.”
“If you’re going to make rules for yourself and for your schedule, make them flexible so that they don’t break the moment that a day doesn’t go the way you planned. Instead of saying you’re going to begin work every single day at, 7:30am say, you’re going to start ‘no later than’ 9:30am. These times can be totally different depending on your situation. Of course, the point being, if you pick a really generous, ‘no later than’ start time, you’re going to beat it almost every day and feel great about yourself because you’re going start before the time you said. If you pick a really strict one, you’re going to miss it many, many times and feel bad about yourself. And then the other thing I’m going to say in counterpoint to an awful lot of stuff on YouTube, especially, you know, where people are laying out the perfect morning routine and the sequence of health protocols, journaling, and all the rest that ‘you should’ do in the morning. By all means, have a few of those that you do or a menu of those that you like to pick from, but it is not helpful to get into the situation of thinking that you’ve got to go through a sequence of like four, five, or six things before you can work. You’re actually putting a barrier there in between you and just getting things done. So it’s great if you meditate, it’s great if you journal, but if you get to thinking, ‘I can’t do anything until I’ve done those things,’ it actually leads to procrastination. It actually leads to doing less.”
“The desire to manage your time perfectly is a kind of perfectionism. The desire to be on top of every obligation that you feel is also a form of perfectionism. It’s all a part of the perfectionist approach that says, if something or somebody is making a demand of me, there’s got to be a way to meet that demand and to meet it in a perfect way. But in all sorts of different ways, I’m always returning to this theme of perfection not existing in the real world. It’s something that exists in our minds to torment us by the gap between reality and that thing in our minds. It’s not necessary anyway, even if it were possible. All we’re doing is choosing among the things we could do, doing them as well as we can do them, falling short of perfect standards all the time, but, but by definition, not because we’re not putting in the right effort. It’s just built into being human. Anything we do or create is going to fall short of what we can imagine it out to be. It’s just built in.”