Four Thousand Weeks - Deepstash

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The real problem of time management today, though, isn't that we're bad at prioritising the big rocks. Is that there are too many rocks - and most of them are never making it near that jar. The critical question isn't how to differentiate between activities that matter and those that don't, but what to do when far too many things feel at least somewhat important, and therefore arguably qualify as big rocks. 



940 reads

Pay yourself first

Pay yourself first

Whether it's in time, activity or object of focus, prioritise the things that are really important for you.

Start doing that thing that matters most to you.


832 reads

Limit your work in progress

Limit your work in progress

Fix a hard upper limit to the things you allow yourself to work on at any given time.

Working on everything is simply not an option.


760 reads

Resist the allure of middling priorities

Resist the allure of middling priorities

You need to start saying no to things you do want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life.

Make a top 25 of the things you most want in life. Focus on the top 5 and completely ignore the 20. They distract you from what matters most.


661 reads

Procrastination vs Perfection

Procrastination vs Perfection

Procrastination has to do not with how much we'll be able to do in the time available, but rather that we won't have enough talent to produce work of sufficient quality.

It prevents us from making the work that matters most to us.

It's a strategy of emotional avoidance


598 reads

Attention is life, not a resource

Attention is life, not a resource

At the end of your life, looking back, whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment is simply what your life will have been.


591 reads

Stop resisting

Stop resisting

Some Zen Buddhists hold that the entirety of human suffering can be boiled down to this effort to resist paying full attention to the way things are going, because we wish they were going differently, or because we wish we felt more in control of the process. 

There is a very down-to-earth kind of liberation in grasping that there are certain truths about being a limited human from which you'll never be liberated.

You don't get to dictate the course of events.

And the paradoxical reward for accepting reality's constraints is that they no longer feel so constraining.


508 reads


You can never be truly certain about the future.

And so your reach will always exceed your grasp.



535 reads

Keep improvising

Keep improvising

Hopefully, when the future arrives, we'll have what it takes to weather it.

If you're willing to endure the discomfort of not knowing, a solution will always present itself.

Rather than race towards a solution, let reality unfold at its own speed.


478 reads

You are here vs 'when-I-finally' mind

You are here vs 'when-I-finally' mind

We find ourselves living in the future , locating the 'real' value of our life in some time that we haven't yet reached, and never will.


485 reads

Principles of patience

Principles of patience

Develop a taste for having problems

(problems are the very substance of life)

Embrace radical incrementalism

(tolerate the fact that you won't produce much on a daily basis, but produce more over the longterm)

(be willing to stop when your daily time is up - help strengthen the muscle of patience that will allow you to return to your work again and again)

Originality lies at the far side of unoriginality

(stay in the trial-and-error phase of copying others, learn new skills and accumulate experience)

(the willingness to stop and be where you are, make the most of whatever part of the journey)


418 reads

You're not Einstein

You're not Einstein

You won't put a dent in the universe.

It's a relief to be reminded of your insignificance.

The things you are already doing are more meaningful than the things you're supposed to be doing.


428 reads

Give up hope..

Give up hope..

... of being in control

... that with more work you could meet other people's limitless demands

... that painful experiences aren't coming your way

... that this isn't really it.

The average human life is terrifyingly short and this is cause for relief. Let go of the quest to become optimised. Just roll up your sleeves and start work on what's possible.


384 reads

10 tools for finitude

10 tools for finitude

1.A "fixed volume" approach to productivity (predetermined time boundaries for work + two to do lists (one closed and one open, keep max. 10 items on your closed one, add things from the open one only after completing tasks in the closed one)

2.Focus on one big project at a time (postpone everything that you can, but one thing; the satisfaction from completing one big project will make the anxiety seem worth wile)

3.Decide in advance what to fail at (strategic underachievement, conscious form of imbalance, underperform in some things on purpose, come back to them later)


374 reads

10 tools for finitude

10 tools for finitude

4.Focus on what you've already completed (keep a 'done' list, the motivating power of small wins, fight the productivity debt and the wish to reach a zero balance by evening)

5.Stop caring for too many things (social media, news, logic of attention economy)

6.Embrace boring technology (single function)

7.Seek out novelty in the mundane (pay attention to everyday things)

8.Curiosity in relationships (your goals isn't to achieve something, but figure out who the other human is)

9.Instant generosity (if you feel like giving a praise or a gift, act on impulse and do it)


339 reads

10 tools for finitude

10 tools for finitude

10.Practise doing nothing

"I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot sit quietly in their own chamber."

Blaise Pascal


326 reads



I'm a Deepstasher passionate about history, art and community projects.


I've been looking for ways in which to balance what I want to do with what I need to do. This book puts things in perspective in a mix of self help and philosophical bits. The weeks we live in a life really are finite.

Different Perspectives Curated by Others from Four Thousand Weeks

Curious about different takes? Check out our book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash curators:

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