Are you a ‘productivity geek’? Author claims the ‘race towards efficiency’ in the modern world is doomed to fail as he urges people to take a break from constant activity in a fascinating book about time
FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS
通过 Oliver Burkeman (Bodley Head, 16.99 英镑, 288 pp)
The title of Oliver Burkeman’s intriguing book refers to the fact that if you live to 80, your entire time on this planet will only comprise about 4,000 周数. Doesn’t sound very much, does it?
Some people respond by cramming as much into their life as possible, methodically organising things to make optimum use of every last second.
Burkeman calls such types ‘productivity geeks’, and admits that he used to be one himself. But now he’s seen the error of his ways and he wants to stop you making the same mistake.
Oliver Burkeman, who admits that he used to be a ‘productivity geek’, has penned a book about time and efficiency (档案图片)
For most of human history we didn’t really pay much attention to time. Before clocks came along we used rough measures — for example, something might take a ‘Miserere whyle’, the time it took to recite Psalm 50 from the Bible, known as the Miserere.
But the modern world has seen a race towards efficiency. The trouble is it’s doomed to fail.
As soon as you empty your email inbox, it fills up again. Many of the messages have ‘PLEASE READ’ in their subject line. 这个, says Burkeman, is ‘generally a sign you needn’t bother reading what follows’.
It isn’t just work — even pleasure torments us, with so many choices on offer that we experience FOMO, the ‘fear of missing out’. Resist it. Instead you should savour the ‘joy of missing out’.
Take marriage: ‘It’s precisely the fact that getting married forecloses the possibility of meeting someone else . . . that makes marriage meaningful’.
FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS by Oliver Burkeman (Bodley Head, 16.99 英镑, 288 pp)
Rather than trying to do everything, you need to make choices. Be ruthless — the word ‘decide’ comes from ‘decidere’, the Latin for ‘to cut off’ (closely linked to ‘homicide’ and ‘suicide’).
Burkeman laments the era when everything closed on Sundays, because the break from constant activity did us all good.
This book kept reminding me of Hamlet’s opinion that ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’.
My favourite parable was the New York businessman who visits Mexico, and is appalled at a fisherman spending most of his time drinking wine in the sun with friends. He tells the fisherman to work harder, so he can build up a big fleet and retire early.
‘What would I do then?’ asks the fisherman. '然后,’ replies the businessman, ‘you could spend your time drinking wine in the sun with your friends.’