Imagine you’d ask an oracle (like the one in the Matrix movie) how much time left you have on this planet before the inevitable takes place - you die. Suppose she/he/it Who knows, maybe some day OpenAI will also answer these kind of questions will tell you at the age of 80 years your life will come to an end.
In my case this means I still have 80 - 34 = 46 years to go. These are ca. 46 x 52 weeks (per year) = 2392 weeks left. What would you probably do with this information and more important will this have an impact on your remaining time?
We use to say “Life is short”. But how short? The human lifespan is quite brief, at around 80 years which gives you ca. 4000 thousand weeks. The “Four Thousand Weeks - Time management for mortals” book is about our obsession with productivity, efficient workloads, life hacks and all the things that stress us.
One of the books key message is: The more you try to empty your inbox (I talked about this in this blog post) the more you’ll get on your plate. In other words: The more you try to master your time, the more frustrated and empty you’ll feel. Why? Because the influx of “things” you want to accomplish will never stop. Instead of trying to get everything done, you should focus on the things that really matter.
Our relantionship with time is kind of toxic as we not only try to make the most of our limited time on Earth but we also see time as a resource rather than a concept. We tend to use time, rather then exist in it. According to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger human existence is bound to time. To phrase it in a more philosophical way: We are the time we spend on Earth. And therefore our existence is limited.
What should you do about this? Face this limitation, cultivate a deeply meaningful life (concept by Cal Newport) and stop distracting yourself with nonsense. Maybe you also finally give up that “when I finally” mentality where specific events have to occur, projects have to be finished first before life can begin and you finally do what resonates with you. We literally live for the future: We keep track of things we want to visit, we perfectly manage our time in order to finish projects, we learn/train for future goals. Well, the present moment is the only one that really exist. Here, now, in this moment.
In my humble opinion this book is against the “life purpose” mentality taught by many New Age enthuasists where life has to have a meaning and every minute should be dedicated to something special. In reality (comparing our lifespan with the age of the universe), our activities don’t really have a significance in the eyes of the universe. Accepting this fact will probably release you from the high standards you have set for yourself to make your life time on Earth remarkable. Not everybody will become the next Bezos, Einstein or Mozart. Spending time with family and friends is a worthy way to spend your 4000 weeks.