ICE Book Review – Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

By Rob Cooney (@EMEducation)

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals
By Oliver Burkeman

I have reviewed several productivity books already, such as Essentialism, Smarter, Faster, Better, Deep Work, and Scrum. While each of these offers useful advice, this book takes a much different approach. The author is a former “productivity geek.” This book offers a mea culpa to his prior focus on productivity and instead focuses on a philosophical approach to time management in light of our guaranteed mortality.

As he explains in the introduction, “Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the deck simply makes them fill up again faster… the day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control.” Each following chapter then seeks to set forth a different way of working. First, we must acknowledge our finite time and embrace our limits in order to use our limited time well. From here, he explores the efficiency trap. I particularly enjoyed his comparison of inbox zero to Sisyphus’s curse.

Each subsequent chapter delves into additional philosophical musings related to productivity and time management, including distraction, procrastination, perfectionism, social media and more. While much of the book simply inspires reflective thinking, he does close book with five critical questions and 10 tools to review your current approach to getting things done. Spending time with the questions and solutions will help you embrace your finitude and make the best possible use of your short time on this planet. I highly recommend this read for anyone feeling overwhelmed by our current way of working.

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