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The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief.

If you live to be 80, you’ll have had about 4,000 weeks. But that’s no reason for despair.

Confronting our radical finitude – and how little control we really have – is the key to a fulfilling and meaningfully productive life.

Out now in hardcover, audiobook and ebook

and in UK paperback from April 7



This is the most important book ever written about time management. Oliver Burkeman offers a searing indictment of productivity hacking and profound insights on how to make the best use of our scarcest, most precious resource. His writing will challenge you to rethink many of your beliefs about getting things done—and you’ll be wiser because of it”

ADAM GRANT, author of Think Again and host of WorkLife

“A wonderfully honest book, Four Thousand Weeks is a much-needed reality check on our culture's crazy assumptions around work, productivity and living a meaningful life”

MARK MANSON, author of Everything is F*cked and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck


A book to read and re-read, to absorb and reflect on. Compassionate, funny and wise, it has not left my mind since I read it. The modern world teaches us to pretend to be immortal—this book is a dip in the cold, clear waters of reality, returning us refreshed and alive”

NAOMI ALDERMAN, author of The Power and Disobedience 

“I have long loved Oliver Burkeman's wise and witty journalism that both interrogates and elevates the self-help realm—revealing its possibilities for absurdity while honoring the deeper human impulses that it meets. Four Thousand Weeks is a splendid offering in that spirit. This book is at once sobering and refreshing on all that is truly at stake in what we blithely refer to as time management. It invites nothing less than a new relationship with time—and with life itself” —KRISTA TIPPETT, host of On Being

“We all know our time is limited. What we don’t know—but what Oliver Burkeman is here to teach us — is that our control over that time is also limited. This profound (and often hilarious) book will prompt you to rethink your worship of efficiency, reject the cult of busyness, and reconfigure your life around what truly matters”

DANIEL PINK, author of When, Drive, and To Sell is Human


“Oliver Burkeman provides an important and insightful reassessment of productivity. The drive to get more done can become an excuse to avoid figuring out what we actually want to accomplish. Only by confronting this latter question can we unlock a calmer, more meaningful, more resilient approach to organizing our time”

CAL NEWPORT, author of A World Without Email and Deep Work  


More about the book 

We live in an age of impossible demands, infinite choice, relentless distraction and spiralling global crises. Yet most productivity advice, like other modern messages about time, makes things worse. It encourages the fantasy that we might one day “get everything done”, becoming the fully optimized, emotionally invincible masters of our time. The pursuit of this limit-denying delusion systematically leaves us more busy, distracted, and isolated from each other – while postponing the truly important parts of life to some point in the future that never quite seems to arrive. 

Four Thousand Weeks is (I hope!) an entertaining and philosophical but ultimately deeply practical guide to the alternative path of embracing your limits: dropping back down into reality, defying cultural pressures to attempt the impossible, and getting started on what’s gloriously possible instead. It’s about actually getting meaningful things done, here and now, in our work and our lives together – in the clear-eyed understanding that there won’t be time for everything, and that we’ll never eliminate life’s uncertainties.

In it, I explore why the central challenge of time management isn’t becoming more efficient, but deciding what to neglect; why, in an accelerating world, patience – letting things take the time they take – is a superpower; and why, in conditions of limitless choice, burning your bridges beats keeping your options open. I look at how to resist the soul-destroying lure of too much convenience; how to rediscover the benefits of communal ritual; why it’s so hard to “be here now” –and more.

I began this book before the pandemic, but I honestly think it couldn’t be more timely. The last year left many of us feeling utterly unmoored from our familiar routines. As we re-emerge, we have a unique opportunity to reconsider what we’re doing with our time – to construct lives that do justice to the outrageous brevity, and shimmering possibilities, of our four thousand weeks.

OLIVER BURKEMAN is the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking and Help! How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done. He wrote a long-running column for the Guardian, This Column Will Change Your Life, and has a devoted following for his writing on productivity, mortality and the power of limits. To receive his writing as soon as it’s published, subscribe to his twice-monthly email The Imperfectionist.
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