Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management | Book Review

Time Management is a topic that interests a lot of us, and it’s especially pertinent for Agile and Product Managers. But what if the way that we deal with our time is fundamentally wrong? That’s the thesis behind the book “Four Thousand Weeks” which promises to bring a whole new approach to productivity and, in the last instance, a new way to live life in the 21st century.

In this concise article, I’ll try my best to summarise the key takeaways that I had from reading this book and give a bit of my perception of how it can help you be a better Product Manager and live a more tranquil life.

Do we really need to have time to do more?

One of the main misconceptions about productivity that has been widely spread through the internet, even among some called “specialists”, is that we need Time Management to be able to do “more with our time”.

In reality, most of the time, especially being a product manager, our struggle is to prioritize doing what actually matters and bring value to the team and, of course, to the company.

In the book “Four Thousand Weeks”, the author Oliver Burkeman, reasons that in the internet and smartphone era, the real issue is to do less but be more efficient and effective in what you choose to do.

The book goes in line with another piece of work by a famous productivity specialist: Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

If doing less is the key, how to prioritize what really matters?

As a product manager, prioritizing is a challenge that I face almost daily. But, ironically enough, that’s something that I’m learning just in the past year how to effectively in my own personal life.

Honestly, I don’t believe that frameworks can be a silver bullet for everything you need to do. So I’m a big believer that you need to learn how to sharpen your critical thinking.

But, granted, that doesn’t sound too practical. So bringing a hands-on approach to how can you prioritize what really matters in your life and even in business:

  1. Set a “North Star Metric”;
  2. In a complementary way, also set “KPIs” to provide more context to your North Star Metric”;
  3. Have a clear vision of what “success” looks like; 
  4. Be specific about what your challenges are and what are your main hypotheses;
  5. Be honest about the level of certainty you have about your beliefs. A nice manner to put this to the test is to use the “RICE” exercise (yes, this also works for your personal life).


I hope that this short article was able to bring more clarity and “spotlight” to a new wave of productivity works: the ones focused on doing less but achieving more by doing what actually matters, instead of cramping more and more tasks into your daily routine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *