EP. 54: LIFE IS SHORT, TO-DO LISTS ARE LONG: OLIVER BURKEMAN ON TIME MANAGEMENT FOR MORTALS

We rarely stop to consider things so rationally… confronting the painful truth of our limitations. We would be forced to acknowledge that there are hard choices to be made: which balls to drop, which people to disappoint, which cherished ambitions to abandon, which roles to fail at 

This podcast is about your relationship to time. 

My guest is Oliver Burkeman. Oliver is a journalist and author. He writes and publishes a twice monthly email newsletter called “The Imperfectionist.” You can find The Guardian column he wrote from 2006 to 2020 online. It’s titled, “This Column Will Change Your Life.” He’s also the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, and his most recent book is Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. It is also the topic of the podcast. 

Four Thousand Weeks explores concepts of time and time management, arguing that our modern attempts to optimize our time leave us stressed and unhappy. The book’s first sentence is: “The average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short.” (About 4,000 weeks,on average; thus the title.). As you can tell, it is not your classic time management book and in it he explores the deepest questions we have in life. 

In the book and on this podcast Oliver prompts us to question the very idea that time is something you use in the first place.

A few of the topics we cover on this episode. 

  • About his last column and what he’s learned about happiness
  • What we should seek besides happiness 
  • Defining personal growth 
  • The importance of frustration tolerance 
  • How we relate  to time 
  • The problems with time management
  • Optimizing the wrong things 
  • To-do list and apps and the trap of planning
  • The challenges of prioritizing 
  • Practical tips on project management 

 

Oliver certainly helped me sort through my struggles with allocating my time so I found the conversation very useful. I think you will, too. 

Enjoy!

Resources mentioned in this episode.

 

 

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