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  • Writer's pictureJack Winston

Time Management for Mortals, the Productivity Trap, and Remember Puzzles?


The Friday Focus is a weekly newsletter where we highlight:

1) An interesting read/listen/watch we love so you don’t have to scroll to find content

2) A quote that has us thinking

3) Weekend activity brainstorm - take these as a challenge!

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If you like these posts or have some recommendations of your own, feel free to reach out to us at


Book We Love 📚

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals - Oliver Burkeman For those who know me know that I am a big productivity nerd. In the past I’ve been described as a “workaholic” who always wanted to get more things done. As such, I’ve been obsessed with optimizing my habits, tools, frameworks - you name it - to increase the amount of things I can get done. But there is also a dark side to “productivity hacking.” I started to feel a constant anxiety whenever I felt like I wasn’t being “productive” enough. It became difficult to enjoy the present moment because I would feel guilty that whatever I was doing wasn’t improving my situation in some way. I felt like I was in a rat race of my own making. Additionally, the systems I had built to maintain my productivity became ever more complex, becoming an albatross around my neck that I couldn’t escape from. If you feel like you could’ve written the few paragraphs above, then this book is for you. In Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman explores our current concept of time management. It is a time management book itself, but it doesn’t just focus on maximizing high-performance output in the short-term. Instead, Oliver brings in wisdom from ancient philosophers and contemporary psychologists to create a holistic view of how to approach time management. The end result is a framework that creates a more sustainable approach to managing our time that can increase output while also creating a more well-balanced, happy life. For example, Oliver rejects the notion of constant optimization and delayed gratification for some perfect end-state where “everything will be done and perfect.” We work ourselves to the bone because we think there is some carrot at the end of the stick. We endure misery now because if we do then we’ll somehow have mastery of our lives in the future. We’re trading all of our time in the present for some time in the future that is ostensibly better. But in reality, this day never truly comes. We’ll always feel like we have more things to do, more goals to achieve, better things to attain. And if our mindset is to only optimize for a future state, we end up actually squandering the only time we really have: the present. I read this book last summer before I started Present and I think I read it at the perfect time. I’ve heard so many stories of entrepreneurs working 100 hours per week only to burn out in a year or two. I’m so passionate about what we’re building, and knowing that I’m a natural workaholic, I could have easily followed that path. But I’ve taken a more balanced approach and so far I’m very glad I have. Because instead of feeling existential dread every morning because I’m worried about not getting done what I “need” to get done, I wake up every morning happy and energized to take on the day. I think that’s the true super power to getting things done.

Quote That Has Us Thinking 🧠

“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. Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved “work-life balance,” whatever that might be, and you certainly won’t get there by copying the “six things successful people do before 7:00 a.m.” The day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control—when the flood of emails has been contained; when your to-do lists have stopped getting longer; when you’re meeting all your obligations at work and in your home life; when nobody’s angry with you for missing a deadline or dropping the ball; and when the fully optimized person you’ve become can turn, at long last, to the things life is really supposed to be about. Let’s start by admitting defeat: none of this is ever going to happen. But you know what? That’s excellent news.” Oliver Burkeman - Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Weekend Activity Brainstorm 💪

  1. Remember puzzles? Do one of those 🧩

  2. Put on your boots and go for a hike 🥾

  3. Take out your binoculars and go watch some birds 🐦

If you end up doing one of these challenges, send us pictures at and you can be featured in a future newsletter!


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