Four Thousand Weeks (2021) | virtual book

Four Thousand Weeks (2021)

Time Management for Mortals

by Oliver Burkeman

#reviews #books #time-management #mortality Mentioned in how to coordinate metaphors, how to live in the moment, what I'm doing now

Highly recommend to anyone interested in reading about time management. This book has a radical message for you: give up hope. You’re never going to finish. Relearn what it means to spend your time well. You have very little of it and your anxiety about not wasting it is founded on bad assumptions and impossible standards.

I’d rate this book higher if I had learned more from it. I’ve thought lots about time management.

Sometimes I feel like Burkeman allows himself doubtful claims, but his ideas are interesting and useful nonetheless. His writing is good, but

not great

how to coordinate metaphors

#notes #essays #imagery #cohesiveness #writing Mentioned in Four Thousand Weeks (2021), The State of Affairs (2017), how to coordinate metaphors #2

It’s important to keep your metaphors from bumping into one another. Take this passage from Oliver Burkeman’s book

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals


…most of us were raised [to] prioritize future benefits over current enjoyments. But ultimately it backfires. It wrenches us out of the present, leading to a life spent leaning into the future, worrying about whether things will work out…

If we are wrenched out of the present, how are we only leaning into the future? Wouldn’t we be thrown into it?

To coordinate these two metaphors, we need to change the word wrenches or the word leaning. (Or both.) The image of being wrenched out of the present is vivid, but I find the image of leaning into the future more precise.

Burkeman could’ve chosen a word other than wrenches to lead better into the image of leaning. Possibilities include: pushes, nudges, tips, pulls, shifts. We are not limited to physicality, either: action words like coaxes and lures are also viable.

We can’t use leads because that would clash with leading in the second part of the sentence. (Although, if we really liked leads as a replacement for wrenches, we could

revise the sentence

to accomodate it.)

To pick a solution, test it against the problem. You know you’ve found a solution when the two images flow into each other or click into place like neighboring puzzle pieces.

If you enjoy analyzing sentences closely like this, check out the last section of

Several Short Sentences About Writing

, where Klinkenborg considers “Some Practical Problems” with sentences written by his students.


I enjoyed his anecdotes and references to other works. The idea of pre-clock life blew my mind. I hadn’t thought about the relationship between clocks, time, industrialization, and wage-labor. A great example of fundamental paradigms we don’t question. Pure ideology!