Procrastination is how you make the most of your time. While you are at it, do thieve some to enjoy yourself. After all, I have just about 800 left and you too have not much left, given that each of us has 4000 weeks, give or take a few.
That’s Oliver Burkeman’s estimate. Just that number immediately tells us what really matters, what is precious. TIME!
So, you have your ways (prescribed and digital) to tame time, you think? “The more you struggle to control it, to make it conform to your agenda, the further it slips from your control,” says Burkeman in his famous book, Four Thousand Weeks.
The problem, he says, is that time management techniques don’t acknowledge that time is limited. When you try to manage it, you no longer enjoy it.
Time was when we worked by the sun. Rise, shine and set, all with the sun. Then came the industrial revolution that made time another asset to divide and exploit.
Are you among those who pine for a bonus 24 to add to your given 24 in a day? It can be liberating if you accept the limit. “The paradoxical reward for accepting reality’s constraints is that they no longer feel so constraining,” says Burkeman.
What if you had all the time in the world to be at your device or at work? After all, there is so much to get done by EOD.
Once you accept time is finite, how do you make the most of it? Burkeman has a few suggestions. Know what must be done now, procrastinate or even neglect the rest. Limit what you take up and know you must choose and settle for some. Most importantly, enjoy what you use your time to do.
As the author puts it, the only way NOT to waste time is to use some of it "wastefully focused solely on the pleasure of the experience.”
Burkeman prescribes giving up some control over time and sharing it with family and friends. You will gain emotional riches when you prioritize the out-of-range, in-person kind human connections over the online.
Want to know how well you gel with time? Burkeman suggests four questions to ask yourself:
Accept the answers and get going. Enjoy it while it ticks.
Based on Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How You Use it by Oliver Burkeman; Bodley Head, 2021.
Dr Christiaan Barnard, the pioneer in human-to-human transplant, had visited India when I was in high school. Not sure if that was the trigger, but around the same time I developed this great interest in medicine, specifically in cardiac medicine.
Even browsed through all of Gray’s Anatomy when I was supposed to be reading Economics much to the amusement of an indulgent family doctor. As a bonus, I had this fascination for science fiction. So, save little details like studying medicine and learning surgery, my heart was set, well, on heart.
Thank God, that didn't happen! They say heart surgeons are dying out. I thought only writers were at risk. Looks like technology is set to bypass my dream surgeons, too.
According to The Economist, until “the late 19th century, surgeons were convinced that the organ was so delicate that even touching it would cause death.” When cardiac surgery emerged around the 1950s, “it quickly became one of the most prestigious and well-rewarded branches of medicine, dominated by vaunting men who gloried in their power to save those doomed to die.”
In 2008-09, heart operations in Britain were at an all-time high of over 41,000 only to fall to 31,000 10 years later. As against this, from 10,000 in 1991, the implantation of stents increased ten times to over 100,000 by 2020. Reportedly, there is ever less work to go around the estimated 250-plus consultant surgeons in Britain, a number that has remained "largely static."
What is happening? Is a ChatGPT cousin taking over heart surgery?
When Simon Akam, the writer of the article asked Dr Dincer Aktuerk, a consultant surgeon at St. Bartholomew’s about the future of the profession, the answer was arresting: “I don’t think that the conventional cardiac surgeon, as we know it, will exist in a few years’ time.”
Dr Richard Galloway, a surgical trainee has chosen to focus on orthopaedics. The rationale is more head and less heart. “Everyone’s going to need knee replacements,” Galloway told the writer. “You’re in good business there.”
Back in 1976, while in India, Dr Christiaan Barnard had told a journalist: “You can't be a heart surgeon and be tense.” Tense they are today, going by what Simon Akam has revealed.
I wonder, the next time I meet my writer friends over pints of a morale booster, and we again aver that no technology can ever replace us, will I also run into some cardiac surgeons asserting that no wire can slip through and cut the scalpel out?