Cultivate instantaneous generosity by Oliver Burkeman

4000 Weeks: Make Time for Kindness Now

I recently read a great book on time management.  But it wasn’t chock full of “life hacks” on how to be more productive.  Oliver Burkeman’s latest book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, confronts a reality we don’t think about very often.  Most of us live about 4000 weeks.  I know, it seems like a small number.  All the more reason to make time for kindness now.

I am constantly looking for quicker ways to get more done so I can finally achieve that state of bliss when I’m all caught up.

Confessions of a Productivity Fanatic

I admit it.  I am a productivity zealot.  If there is a time management book, I’ve probably read it.  Any news article on efficiency sucks me right in.  Checklists, apps, Apple watch…these are a big part of my daily life.  I’ve even written an article, Making the Habit of Kindness Stick, about my efforts to efficiently habitualize kindness in my life.  I am constantly looking for quicker ways to get more done so I can finally achieve that state of bliss when I’m all caught up.

It’s Never Gonna Happen

If I’m so productive, why do I always feel like there’s so much more to do?  Check one thing off and, bam, 3 more things are added.  Clear my inbox and it’s full again by the end of the day.  (Please – I never really clear my inbox…I try to keep it around 20.)

That’s why Burkeman’s book was just what I needed – a breath of fresh air.  He put down in print what I needed to hear.  It’s never going to happen.  We will never catch up.  There will always be more to do.  The more emails you answer, the more will come back to you.  And then you die.

Make Time for Kindness Now

We only have a limited amount of time in this beautiful world.  I guess the question is not – how can I get more done?  But actually – how can I make sure what I’m doing is meaningful to me and those whom I love?

“Cultivate instantaneous generosity.”

– Oliver Burkeman

In the appendix of the book, Burkeman lists his “Ten Tools for Embracing Your Finitude.”  I want to highlight one of them that really resonated with me: “Cultivate instantaneous generosity.”

Burkeman admits that the idea originally comes from the meditation teacher, Joseph Goldstein.  As he explains: “whenever a generous impulse arises in your mind—to give money, check in on a friend, send an email praising someone’s work—act on the impulse right away, rather than putting it off until later.”

Acts of kindness increase the happiness and well-being of the doer and the receiver, as I explain in this article.  Everyone wants to be happy and healthy.  So, it just makes sense to prioritize kindness. 

It’s So Simple

That’s why I love Burkeman’s tip.  It’s so simple.  When a way to be kind crosses your mind – do it.  Don’t wait till you have more time, because we will never feel like we have enough time.  


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