The Myth of Time Management

Have you ever felt that you are endlessly organizing yourself to become more efficient, so that you can make better use of your time and really feel that you have achieved all that you needed to do in the allotted 24 hours and at the end of the day you will feel fulfilled, happy and accomplished because you have been so efficient and busy performing meaningful work?

Does your day feel like the sentence above? It goes on and on and on without real coherence, intention or joy? Oliver Burkeman, in his book, Four Thousand Weeks, argues that we are operating under the delusion that we can achieve perfect control of our time.

Library_Time Management

To counteract this delusion, he proposes what he sees as:

Two facts:

  • We will never be able to finish all the tasks that we (or society) want or expects us to fit into the time allocated. Accepting this allows us to extricate ourselves from an endless loop of guilt, frustration and unhappiness.
  • Our lives are finite (hence the title Four Thousand Weeks), so pay attention and take care in how and what you spend your time on.

Amongst some of his strategies are: 

  • Decide what to fail at (e.g. a perfect lawn or uncluttered kitchen).
  • Focus on what you’ve already completed, not just on what’s left to complete.
  • Seek out novelty in the mundane.

Whether you agree with all his suggestions and discussions, this book is a fascinating and thought-provoking book that challenges us to get off the mindless 24 hour hamster wheel of productivity and re-examine our relationship to time and therefore our lives.

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