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Four Thousand Weeks

I may have left it until the final day of my mini break, but I finally finished this excellent book. I had intended to read it in January to support my new approach to life and work in 2024, but despite getting half way through I put it down and struggled to pick it up again. I’m glad I took it away with me though as it resonated greatly with how I wanted to use my time whilst away.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

The title is based on the fact that if you live to 80 you’ll have lived for just over 4,000 weeks. Hearing it that way puts in perspective how much of a person’s life a week is, and makes me question why people are so happy to wish a week away so they can get to the weekend.

Many of the ideas weren’t new to me. I’ve spoken to people a lot over recent years about the issues with living in a society that focuses on productivity and efficiency, the benefits of starting before you’re ready and sitting in discomfort, and the problems with unachievable to do lists. But reading them the way they are approached in this book helped cement these changes in attitudes in my mind and I’m hoping I can embed them into how I live the remaining 2,000 or so (if I’m lucky) weeks of my life.

The book was partly written during lockdown when our relationship with time suddenly changed. Working from home removed the need to have a daily commute. People were furloughed and suddenly had more choice about how to spend their time – be it on pursuing hobbies and learning new skills, or spending more time with family. We spent less time doing things we didn’t want to do but did due to the fear of missing out (FOMO). Suddenly we had more control over our time but it’s so easy to fall back into those old habits.

This book challenges the time management techniques we all will have read about, and in my case have tried and failed numerous times to apply to my life. We can’t do it all. Decisions have to be made.

I know I’ll revisit sections of this book in the coming weeks, months and years as I try to reset my relationship with time, busyness, why I do some of the things I do. There are a number of questions he asks and techniques he outlines towards the end that I want to spend more time thinking about.

I don’t know why it took me so long to finish reading this book, but maybe now, as I get ready to go back to work tomorrow, is a good time for these ideas to be percolating in my head.

One thought on “Four Thousand Weeks

  1. Lindsay

    Not long to go then!!? This is a real problem as there are not enough days in the week, weeks go at such speed I run out of hours to do all the things I want to achieve and now it is spring I will be in a total panic… seeds to sow and prick out beofre needing to get them nto the ground, more weeding and yet more weeding, finish the pruning and then I have art to do for an exhibition in June. Already convinced it is Thursday when it is Wednesday, a nice surprise. Perhaps I should just ignore all those annoying things like preparing tax returns and paying bills as only 271 to go and no time for time wasters!

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