An Astonishingly Simple Take on Time Management

This Week’s BIG Idea

I recently started reading Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. But don’t dismiss this as yet another time management self-help book. The book’s premise is that the average human being lives for four thousand weeks (around eighty years). While that doesn’t sound like much, that’s probably because most people want to do everything without sacrificing anything. So instead of trying to tackle every item in our to-do lists and inboxes, there’s an alternative way to feel less overwhelmed and anxious. According to Burkeman, we must embrace the fact that time is limited and make hard choices. In other words, the book encourages readers to think about what truly matters and ignore everything else.

Over time, I’ve read several books on time management and most of them push you to become more efficient. This means cramming as many tasks in as little time as possible. Four Thousand Weeks offers an alternative and as a result, you’ll have a less overwhelming life. The question “what’s important to you?” might seem simple enough, but few people stop to think about it. The author argues that this happens because it would mean accepting one of the most difficult facts of life: we’ll never have the time to do everything we want to do. But if you stick with the question, you’ll figure out what’s worth doing and what isn’t.

An idea that resonated with me is that you should never have more than three projects going on at the same time. Examples of projects include writing a book, moving houses, redecorating your office, or getting married. This means that you won’t be able to start a new project unless you postpone a previous one or finish it completely. This completely removes the feeling that there’s too much on your plate and that you can’t handle life. Although extremely simple, this sounds like a terrific idea.

What I’m Working on

I recently decided to overhaul my website. I’ve been learning a lot about SEO thanks to books like 3 Months to No. 1. I recently started reading a book called Lifestyle Blogging Basics which, as the name suggests, covers some of the basics of blogging. I also switched to a more reliable (not to mention attractive) theme.

One of the problems with being your own boss and being in total control of something is that it’s hard to look at the thing you’re working on objectively. This reminded me to try and look at my website from the eyes of someone visiting it for the first time and ask myself a series of questions. Do you think the person visiting will be able to find information easily? Are they likely to come back? Will they be interested in reading more articles like this one? It’s hard to get honest feedback when you first start working on something because the first people who use your site are probably friends and family, but doing these exercises can be tremendously helpful.

What I’m Listening to

Since I recently read Four Thousand Weeks, I came across this interview where Abdaal interviews Burkeman. I haven’t had the chance to check out the episode yet, so there’s not much I can share about it. I’m sure the episode revolves around the idea of time management and it references many passages from the book too. Even if I know what to expect, I’m excited to dive into this podcast episode as soon as possible.

What I’m Reading

  • The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz: I’ve heard a lot about this self-help book over the years, so I finally decided to read it. Originally published in 1959, The Magic of Thinking Big discusses how your thinking can motivate you to be a better and more successful person. The book is filled with lists of actionable steps so that you can actually pull it off since The Magic of Thinking Big is packed with steps to avoid failure, think creatively, use mistakes to learn lessons, and use goals as a compass. Here’s a link to my summary.
  • Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman: I already discussed some of the ideas from this book above, particularly how it approaches time management in a refreshing manner. I enjoyed the book so much that I’m sure I’m going to be coming back to my notes often.

What I’m Watching

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning another language for some time. Whenever the topic of learning a new language comes up, I immediately think of Japanese. I tried different resources over the years, such as listening to podcasts, watching anime, and listening to pop songs. Other than some basic expressions and vocabulary though, my knowledge of the Japanese language is poor at best. After researching some of the most popular books to learn Japanese, one that kept coming up was Learn Japanese from Zero. This series has five volumes overall, as well as some complementary books in the form of Learn Kanji from Zero. Apparently, there’s a good reason why these books are so popular, they work! A lot of people swear by them, so I’m thinking about getting the physical or Kindle version as soon as I can.

This Week’s Quote

“Your demons may have been ejected from the building, but they’re out in the parking lot, doing push-ups.”

Dan Harris, 10% Happier

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