I’m not releasing a podcast this week because next week or perhaps the following week I’m going to become a father, so I want to have a podcast episode in reserve. Podcasts take a lot of time and energy to produce, items I fear will be scarce commodities in the coming weeks.
Very soon, everything in my life will be turned upside down. Many of my normal daily routines will never be the same. That’s what I’m told at least, and I can envision it happening.
Lately I’ve been listening to two books, Atomic Habits: an Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones and Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. Sometimes I listen to the two books one right after the other. Their messages sometimes clash, which I kind of like.
Atomic Habits is giving me tools to manage my time. The book is filled with methods to help me take on new activities to make me healthier, more successful, and hopefully happier.
Meanwhile, the message of 4,000 Weeks is that rather than trying to optimize time in order to squeeze in everything, sometimes it’s best to just choose one activity over another. The book’s author, Oliver Burkeman, a former time optimization zealot, argues that if we try to squeeze in too many tasks, we may never feel satisfied with what we are already doing. We will always want to use the new saved time to cram in new tasks. The title, 4,000 Weeks, stems from the fact that if we live to age 80, we get a mere 4,000 weeks on this earth. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time to me, so I better make that time count. My conundrum is, what does “making time count” mean?
Burkeman says that when he first became a father, his inclination was to try as hard as he could to optimize his time. He would keep tight schedules, automate and outsource tasks, etc. But that didn’t lead him to feel increased satisfaction or fulfillment.
One concept he talks about the book that really struck me is what he refers to as “the joy of missing out.” This is the opposite of the popular term nowadays, FOMO, the “fear of missing out.”
Burkeman believes that making a choice to do one activity rather than try to cram several into your schedule makes that chosen activity meaningful. It’s special because you chose it over something else.
I want to write these blogs and make podcasts. I want to dance and see friends. I want to excel in my profession, the art of turning overlooked, imperfect equipment, into gold—the job that pays the mortgage. I also want to be a great father and husband. I want to spend time with my loved ones. At 42 years old, if I’m fortunate, I should have a good 3,000+ weeks left. Soon I will have to figure out how to fit the myriad of great gifts in my life into my crowded schedule. At the same time I will have to decisively choose what wonderful stuff to sacrifice.
Question: Does anybody have advice for me?