This Terrifying Poster Motivates Me More Than Coffee

Sean Knight
4 min readSep 17, 2021

How facing your own mortality can make you more productive

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

My Life in Weeks

This poster shows your life in weeks. It shows the past and — based on life expectancy — it shows the future. Each box is one week. At 32 years old, I’ve got a lot of full boxes.

Each row on the chart is 52 boxes meaning each row shows one year. You can also see that the boxes are sub-divided into grids: small column grids to show months and larger row grids that show decades.

At the end of every week, you have to fill in one of those boxes and acknowledge that that week is now done forever.

Image by author

Why would I want this?

When I tell friends about this the responses have all been pretty similar: “That’s terrifying”, “Why would you want to see that?”, and “Wait, you paid money for that?” were some of my favorites.

Image by author

For me the answer is simple: I want to see that I have limited time because it’s true. In fact, it’s actually on the optimistic side. I got mine to show the number of weeks I would still have if I lived to the age 100, even though living to 80 is more realistic. And that’s just flat out ignoring all of the chances of early death by other means, which, in a COVID-19 world, doesn’t seem like the remote possibility it once did.

It motivates me to use my time better

No joke, after getting this poster, my Facebook and Twitter use dropped immediately. Do I still use them? Yes. Do I still get sucked in and let them drain my time away? Sure, sometimes. But not nearly as much.

Being faced with my own mortality stops me from mindlessly scrolling my newsfeed after waking up (Photo by Shane on Unsplash)

It motivates me to take diet and exercise seriously

Sean Knight

Physicist doing non-physics things