Our college philosophy syllabus included Epictetus’ The Enchiridion, a manual of Stoic advice and ethics. I loved it for the two reasons; first, it was a very accessible philosophy book loaded with logic and pragmatism and second, despite being so easy to read, it sounded like something people way smarter than me would study.
I read it twice.
And maybe that’s why this recent blog entry on productivity from the remarkable, science-focused writer Eric Barker caught my eye. He ties our quest for productivity back to second century, Stoic thinking and his arguments are incredibly timely, particularly for this digital age. In a nutshell, it comes down to this:
- Protect your Time like Money.
- Manage your Emotions.
- Important Beats Urgent.
- Focus on Effort, not Outcome.
We may consider ourselves impossibly modern with our smartphones and Snapchat and pickles-on-a-stick, but time-wasting is a time-honored, distinctly human tradition.
Which means even if you don’t master the four principles above, hey; you’re only human.