SSS #148: 4,000 Weeks

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Did you pick up anything sweet during Amazon Prime Day?

Hit reply and LMK.

I grabbed a Kindle Paperwhite. 🤓

4,000 Weeks was my first purchase (a productivity book, obvs).

It's a welcomed twist on time management. The premise is we only have 4,000 weeks (80 years) to live so we should stop trying to be more productive and instead be more selective.

This book got a lot of hype in the zeitgeist, but I can't say I'd recommend you spend 4 hours of your precious 4,000 weeks reading it.

You could, however, spend the next 4 minutes reading my key takeaways. 😜

But first...

Livin' La Vida Luna

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Luna's first FroYo tasting.

And yes, our trunk is protected by scrap carpet.

4,000 Weeks

“You teach best what you most need to learn.”

- Richard Bach

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On Productivity:

American Anthropologist, Edward T. Hall says, "Time feels like an unstoppable conveyor belt, bringing us new tasks as fast as we can dispatch the old ones; and becoming “more productive” just seems to cause the belt to speed up."

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.

For example, when you get more efficient at answering email, the result is receiving many more email.

On Deciding:

A decision to do any given thing will automatically mean sacrificing an infinite number of potential alternative paths. As I make hundreds of small choices throughout the day, I’m building a life—but at the same time, I’m closing off the possibility of countless others, forever.

Making a choice becomes an affirmation. It’s a positive commitment to spend a given portion of time doing this instead of that—actually, instead of an infinite number of other “thats”—because this, you’ve decided, is what counts the most right now.

On Saying No:

The core challenge of managing our limited time isn’t about how to get everything done—that’s never going to happen—but how to decide most wisely what not to do, and how to feel at peace about not doing it.

Principle number one is to pay yourself first when it comes to time.

If you don’t save a bit of your time for you now, there is no moment in the future when you’ll magically be done with everything and have loads of free time.

The second principle is to limit your work in progress.

Resist initiating a large number of projects all at once. You might think you're making a little progress on many fronts. Instead, what usually ends up happening is that you make zero progress on all fronts.

Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, authors of Personal Kanban, suggest focusing on no more than three projects at any given time.

The third principle is to resist the allure of middling priorities.

It's easy to say no to the things we don't want to do. It's much more difficult to say no to the things we do want to do.

Actively avoid your second-tier priorities at all costs! These are the insufficiently important ambitions that are seductive enough to distract you from the priorities you value most (read that again).

On Resting:

Most people mistakenly believe that resting = not working. That's simply not true.

You cannot downshift casually and easily, the way you might slip into bed at the end of a long day.

Interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will, one that has to be bolstered by habit as well as social sanction (Sabbath, for example).

Resting should not be a means to an end (recharging to tirelessly work again). It should instead be an end itself.

Taking a walk in the countryside, like listening to a favorite song or meeting friends for an evening of conversation, is thus a good example of what the philosopher Kieran Setiya calls an “atelic activity,” meaning that its value isn’t derived from its telos, or ultimate aim.

Reframing Patience:

It’s fair to say that patience has a terrible reputation because it’s disturbingly passive.

But something shifts as society accelerates. In more and more contexts, patience becomes a form of power.

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

Three rules of thumb are especially useful for harnessing the power of patience.

The first is to develop a taste for having problems. Stop wishing for a life void of all problems. How boring. *The obstacle IS the way*.

The second principle is to embrace radical incrementalism. The most productive and successful people generally make their craft a small part of their daily routine, so that it is much more feasible to keep going with it day after day.

The final principle is originality lies on the far side of unoriginality. The distinctive work begins when those who can muster the patience to immerse themselves in the earlier stage—the trial-and-error phase of copying others, learning new skills, and accumulating experience.

You can often find patterns in the origin stories of the most "successful" people in a given niche. This unoriginality at their base enables originality at their peak.

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Thinking about buying this 4k Weeks poster and hanging it above my desk.

How's that for motivation? 😬