Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is one of the most helpful time and stress management books. Greg McKeown advocates not for doing more, but doing what is essential. In other words, prioritizing the most critical tasks and honing in on the most important ideas. While many folks boast about having hectic schedules, this book explains how staying busy is actually a less disciplined approach. Focusing on the right areas and committing to a singular task is more of a challenge than multitasking. Each chapter focuses on a simplifying behavior such as making decisions, setting boundaries, and removing obstacles. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is a manifesto on minimalism, self-care, and frictionless work.
Four Thousand Weeks is one of the newest books about managing time. This work takes a more philosophical and spiritual approach compared to most books in the genre. Drawing on historical evidence, psychological principles, and the musings of great thinkers, Oliver Burkeman challenges modern productivity norms and questions the quest to stay forever busy. Four Thousand Weeks reminds readers that life is short, and suggests strategies for spending time on meaningful pursuits. The book also explains how to overcome anxiety over the uncontrollable and be more mindful of the moment instead of projecting into the future.
If you struggle with your to-do list, then you may think that the last thing you should do is to stop and read a book. However, investing a few hours to read books on time management can help you learn new techniques to structure your day and help you to become more productive and efficient.
Will you carry on working 40 hours per week If you do, your weekly pay will be six times higher than before: $3,600. Or will you decide that you are satisfied with the goods you can buy with your weekly earnings of $600 You can now earn this by cutting your weekly hours to just 6 hours and 40 minutes (a six-day weekend!), and enjoy about 26% more free time than before. Or would you use this higher hourly wage rate to raise both your weekly earnings and your free time by some intermediate amount
The idea of suddenly receiving a six-fold increase in your hourly wage and being able to choose your own hours of work might not seem very realistic. But we know from Unit 2 that technological progress since the Industrial Revolution has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in wages. In fact, the average real hourly earnings of American workers did increase more than six-fold during the twentieth century. And while employees ordinarily cannot just tell their employer how many hours they want to work, over long time periods the typical hours that we work do change. In part, this is a response to how much we prefer to work. As individuals, we can choose part-time work, although this may restrict our job options. Political parties also respond to the preferences of voters, so changes in typical working hours have occurred in many countries as a result of legislation that imposes maximum working hours.
So have people used economic progress as a way to consume more goods, enjoy more free time, or both The answer is both, but in different proportions in different countries. While hourly earnings increased by more than six-fold for twentieth century Americans, their average annual work time fell by a little more than one-third. So people at the end of this century enjoyed a four-fold increase in annual earnings with which they could buy goods and services, but a much smaller increase of slightly less than one-fifth in their free time. (The percentage increase in free time would be higher if you did not count time spent asleep as free time, but it is still small relative to the increase in earnings.) How does this compare with the choice you made when our hypothetical employer offered you a six-fold increase in your wage
While many countries have experienced similar trends, there are still differences in outcomes. Figure 3.2 illustrates the wide disparities in free time and income between countries in 2013. Here we have calculated free time by subtracting average annual working hours from the number of hours in a year. You can see that the higher-income countries seem to have lower working hours and more free time, but there are also some striking differences between them. For example, the Netherlands and the US have similar levels of income, but Dutch workers have much more free time. And the US and Turkey have similar amounts of free time but a large difference in income.
In Figure 3.4, we see that students studying in poor environments are more likely to study longer hours. Of these 42 students, 31 of them have high study time, compared with only 11 of the students with good environments. Perhaps they are distracted by other people around them, so it takes them longer to complete their assignments than students who work in the library.
If we plot this relationship on a graph, we get the curve in Figure 3.5. Alexei can achieve a higher grade by studying more, so the curve slopes upward. At 15 hours of work per day he gets the highest grade he is capable of, which is 90%. Any time spent studying beyond that does not affect his exam result (he will be so tired that studying more each day will not achieve anything), and the curve becomes flat.
Marginal change is an important and common concept in economics. You will often see it marked as a slope on a diagram. With a production function like the one in Figure 3.5, the slope changes continuously as we move along the curve. We have said that when Alexei studies for 4 hours a day the marginal product is 7, the increase in the grade from one more hour of study. Because the slope of the curve changes between 4 and 5 hours on the horizontal axis, this is only an approximation to the actual marginal product. More precisely, the marginal product is the rate at which the grade increases, per hour of additional study. In Figure 3.5 the true marginal product is the slope of the tangent to the curve at 4 hours. In this unit, we will use approximations so that we can work in whole numbers, but you may notice that sometimes these numbers are not quite the same as the slopes.
As the analysis in Figure 3.7 shows, if you move up the vertical line through 15 hours, the indifference curves get steeper: the MRS increases. For a given amount of free time, Alexei is willing to give up more grade points for an additional hour when he has a lot of points compared to when he has few (for example, if he was in danger of failing the course). By the time you reach A, where his grade is 84, the MRS is high; grade points are so plentiful here that he is willing to give up 9 percentage points for an extra hour of free time.
It is important to realize that this is just one possible result. Had we drawn the indifference curves or the frontier differently, the trade-offs Angela faces would have been different. We can say that the improvement in technology definitely makes it feasible to both consume more grain and have more free time, but whether Angela will choose to have more of both depends on her preferences between these two goods, and her willingness to substitute one for the other.
Notice that the extra income of $50 does not change your opportunity cost of time: each hour of free time still reduces your consumption by $15 (the wage). Your new ideal job is at B, with 19.5 hours of free time. B is the point on IC3 where the MRS is equal to $15. With the indifference curves shown in this diagram, your response to the extra income is not simply to spend $50 more; you increase consumption by less than $50, and you take some extra free time. Someone with different preferences might not choose to increase their free time: Figure 3.18 shows a case in which the MRS at each value of free time is the same on both IC2 and the higher indifference curve IC3. This person chooses to keep their free time the same, and consume $50 more.
You can see in Figure 3.19b that with indifference curves of this typical shape a substitution effect will always be negative: with a higher opportunity cost of free time you choose a point on the indifference curve with a higher MRS, which is a point with less free time (and more consumption). The overall effect of a wage rise depends on the sum of the income and substitution effects. In Figure 3.19b the negative substitution effect is bigger than the positive income effect, so free time falls.
We used the model of the self-sufficient farmer to see how technological change can affect working hours. Angela can respond directly to the increase in her productivity brought about by the introduction of a new technology. Employees also become more productive as a result of technological change, and if they have sufficient bargaining power, their wages will rise. The model in this section suggests that, if that happens, technological progress will also bring about a change in the amount of time employees wish to spend working.
The income effect of a higher wage makes workers want more free time, while the substitution effect provides an incentive to work longer hours. If the income effect dominates the substitution effect, workers will prefer fewer hours of work.
Similarly, if we see a person regularly choosing to go to the library after lectures instead of going out, or not putting in much work on their farm, or asking for longer shifts after a pay rise, we do not need to suppose that this person has done the calculations we set out. If that person later regretted the choice, next time they might go out a bit more, work harder on the farm, or cut their hours back. Eventually we could speculate they might end up with a decision on work time that is close to the result of our calculations.
But, even on an individual level, we may influence the hours we work. For example, employers who advertise jobs with the working hours that most people prefer may find they have m