Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Four Thousand Weeks

Finished reading: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman 📚

This is one of the most life changing books I have read in a while. It has given me a new way of not just looking at my work, but also life itself.

Meaningful Highlights

good luck finding a time management system that makes any room for engaging productively with your fellow citizens, with current events, or with the fate of the environment.

There is an ‘anti hustle culture’ uprising going on at the moment. All of a sudden people are realising that we do not need to hustle through the best years of our lives and not leave room for things that make us happy. After all what is the point in living if not enjoying it.

Productivity is a trap. Becoming more efficient just makes you more rushed, and trying to clear the decks simply makes them fill up again faster.

There will always be more work. If you live in a capitalist society and you work for a company that holds the notion they are forced to grow, you are always screwed. Companies expect more and more from their workers, and getting towards the end of your list only leads to more tasks. It is only when you realise that you can only get done what you can the real freedom comes.

There is absolutely no point stressing about getting to the end because modern life is a treadmill you can never get off. Much like inbox zero only leads to more emails, all the modern productivity punchlines just lead to more work. By embracing the fact that the end will never arrive, you can relax, knock as many tasks off as you can and get some downtime.

in attempting to eliminate only the tedious experiences, we accidentally end up eliminating things we didn’t realise we valued until they were gone.

Many people must feel as I do that resting and doing atelic tasks are a ‘waste of time’. We are encouraged to squeeze every moment for the most return. A return on a later date that may never arrive.

Where’s the logic in constantly postponing fulfilment until some later point in time when soon enough you won’t have any ‘later’ left?

Using your time wisely is the best thing to do. But constantly using it for the benefit of the future is like a hoarder. Keeping everything just incase. The very definition of the word ‘purposiveness’ (using time well for future purposes) but never actually using it.

By trying too hard to make the most of his time, he misses his life.

there’s usually the unspoken fantasy that you might one day finally reach the state of having no problems whatsoever.

I find some peoples lives as if they are living a [[Provisional Life]] as if they are preparing for the one that comes next by doing all of these things. Confucius says “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realise we only have one.”

Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck puts it, it’s only unbearable for as long as you’re under the impression that there might be a cure.

I like this a lot to our struggles with Luice care. There is not solution or magic bullet to fix it, so there is no point fooling ourselves that anything is ever going to change.

The original Latin word for ‘decide’, decidere, means ‘to cut off’, as in slicing away alternatives; it’s a close cousin of words like ‘homicide’ and ‘suicide’.

This is why deciding feels painful sometimes.

It didn’t take Brown long to figure out that their pulsing sense of urgency was a form of self-medication – something they were doing as a way not to feel something else.

This quote from psychotherapist Stephanie Brown who had a practice in Silicon Valley on the 90’s hit me hard. Not being able to sit still and rest or enjoy a basic activity is a defence mechanism against being alone with yourself. This is an addict self medicating by distracting instead of intoxicating themselves.

keep a ‘done list’,

There is no better example of this than my task list at work. It is constantly filled with things I need to do. Like the heads of a hydra, as soon as I check one off, there is at least another to take its place. Which is fine, until a certain point where you realise you’re on a treadmill with no escape. It starts to feel a bit overwhelming and often leads to a lack of motivation. Pretty quickly, life could become untenable.

So let’s flip the thinking here. Instead of looking at the outstanding tasks, let’s look at the ones already checked off. Focus on a done list rather than a to-do list. Any time I feel a bit overwhelmed by what’s on my plate, not only do I remember there will always be more work, but also flip through my Bullet Journal and look at all the crossed off items.

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