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741 of 820 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I usually try to be fair and tactful in any review, but the only honest thing I can say about this book was it was a horrible waste of time.

For starters, the suggestions the author makes really only apply to people who are (a) professionals in corporate environments who have subordinates and flexible schedules, or people who are self-employed, either way making probably at least $100,000 a year; and (b) people who are married with children. I guess the author assumes if those criteria don't apply to you, you must not be busy enough to worry about.

She certainly shouldn't have needed an entire book to state her suggestions, which can be summed up simply: for every thing you don't want to do in your life, either get someone else to do it, or just ignore it.

The 'getting someone else to do it' involves delegating (at work, to subordinates; at home, to other family members) or hiring someone to do it for you. To be fair, delegating at work is a great idea if there are reasonably people you can delegate to; I knew that wouldn't apply to me, but there's not much I can change about my job, and I got the book more for suggestions of how to create more free time in my home life.

That's the chapter that really bombed for me. If I followed this author's advice, I'd have a maid, a cook, a lawn & garden service, and a laundry service - all on my legal secretary's salary. She blithely talks about the $2,500 a year one of these services costs, or recommends a personal shopping assistant like the one she used - at a cost of $400, all she had to do was "try on clothes and hand people my credit card."

Yeah, because all of us have that kind of cash to throw around. This author often made me feel like those of us making 'average' wages (less than $40,000 a year) are just peasants who, since we can't afford a single one of her suggestions, apparently don't deserve more leisure time. Maybe in her world, only the upper class citizenry deserve that luxury.

I think the dumbest thing I read in this book was this: she suggested that to save hours making dinner night after night, you should either go out to eat, or purchase pre-cooked, frozen meals to heat up (not TV dinners, heaven forbid, she's talking about using some type of catering service or expensive online service that ships you meals) ... and then she graciously says that if you can't afford that option, you might consider taking a second job to pay for it.

Really? That gives me MORE time to myself? I stop cooking to save a few hours a week, and then have to take a second job to pay for this "time-saving suggestion"?

And she got paid to come up with these? Obviously I AM in the wrong line of work.

I realize no one book is perfect for everyone, but this author doesn't even appear to try to offer any useful suggestions to anyone who doesn't fit into her tiny category of people who could afford to do what she suggests. That's fine, but the book really ought to be re-titled so that the rest of us know there's nothing there of use to us. Something like "168 Hours: How To Buy Yourself Some Free Time On Over $100K A Year" might about do it.

I am an avid reader, and have read a LOT of books. Not all of them have been good, but I realize no author can please everyone, and I'm usually pretty forgiving. But I just couldn't do it for this author's elitist attitude and absolutely useless suggestions.

Don't waste your money or time on this book - if you're looking for inspiration, get a good book on 'simplifying your life' instead - real world suggestions that generally cost little to no money (in fact, often save money) and provide tangible results for anyone, regardless of status or income.
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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The demographic this book seems to aim at are women who either (1) are evaluating staying in the work force full-time after having a child; and (2)those who already have children and continue to work full time. Most of the anecdotes revolve around succesful women that had children and continued to work full time. Apparently most men have no time management issues.
It seems that the author never missed an opportunity, no matter how slim, to imply that time constraints could not justify a woman working less than than full-time once they became a parent. Far better to work full time, spend "quality time" with the children doing the things only you can, and then pack them off daily to a quality daycare for all of those routine needs that anyone could perform just as well as you.

As far as most of her time management tips...watch less TV. The rest were most useful to those who (1) are self employed-thus having nobody to answer to; (2) have jobs that are task driven and can be done anytime (ie-writing); (3) have enough cash to hire someone else to do all of the things they do not want to (laundry, cleaning, cooking). If you see yourself here, BUY THIS BOOK!

I had enjoyed Ms Vanderkam's periodical pieces and had high hopes for this book, but would definitely not recommend it to somebody looking for Time Management tips. It took too much time to sift through all the fluff to find the few that were useful.
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135 of 156 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
There is no shortage of books on the subject of time management. In fact, the last time I checked, Amazon offers 11,229 of them but not one of them explains how to increase the number of hours within a seven-day period: it is 168, no more and no less. What sets this book apart from the dozens of other books on time management that I have read is the fact that Laura Vanderkam rigorously follows what Albert Einstein recommends: "Make everything as simple as possible...but no simpler." For example, in the first chapter, she suggests, "Picture a completely empty weekly calendar with its 168 hourly slots." She then helps her reader to document his or her (the reader's) current allocation of time. She achieves that objective as well as each of her other primary objectives such as disabusing her reader of major misconceptions about how much time (on average) people spend on sleep, work, and leisure time components. While doing so, she cites real-world examples (i.e. real people in real time) that both illustrate and confirm basic strategies that produce more and more enjoyable as well as better, and achieved sooner, in less time. She also identifies the core competencies that her reader must develop and then leverage to achieve that same objective. She is at her best when explaining how to determine what the "right job" is, what it requires, and how to obtain it.

[She cites Teresa Amabile's admonition, "You should do what you love, and you should love what you do." If that doesn't suggest what a "right job" is, I don't know what does.]

Vanderkam also explains how to control investment of time so that "there should be almost nothing during your work hours - whatever you choose those to be - that is not advancing you toward your goals for the career and life you want"; how to determine what the "next level" of personal and professional development looks like and how to "seize control" of the schedule while completing a transition to that level; and what a "breakthrough" is and how to achieve it to expedite the transition process. Vanderkam believes, and I fully agree, that our lives proceed through a series of levels above or below, better or worse than where we were previously; the journey to each should be one of personal discovery; and that it is important to know what we value most but we must realize that priorities change at various points in our lives as circumstances, relationships, obligations, and aspirations change. Each life is, quite literally, a "work in progress."

At the outset of this review, I noted that Amazon now offers almost 12,000 books on time management. Several of them are outstanding. In my opinion, 168 Hours is less about time management than it is about self-management (especially self-discipline) as well as decision-making (especially setting priorities). Laura Vanderkam provides about as much information and counsel as anyone needs to alleviate a real or perceived time crunch, leverage core competencies, define and then locate or create the "right jib," control rather than be controlled by a calendar, achieve breakthroughs to greater understanding higher-impact performance, and in all life domains (career, family, personal, community, and society) be happier and more productive.

I congratulate her on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was right on board for the first few chapters... I am a small (and I mean smaaaaall) business owner mompreneur and I run the business from my home. I struggle with striking a balance between housework, work-work and time with my kids (8,4 and 1). I was hoping that this book would allow me to find that hidden balance between home and work that had been eluding me. Well, although some of the core principals are correct, (less tv, focusing on work WHILE working and always thinking on how to advance your work to greater heights, where this book falls far short is showing how to do that on an under $45,000 a year (with BOTH our incomes). If I could hire people to do everything and anything for me, from cooking and cleaning, to my laundry, I wouldn't have needed to get this book. The title of this book should be "168 hours... The rich and pretentious of the world have more time than they think".
I actually started getting somewhat insulted by this book when she began saying that things"making your own jam" or "making your own grout cleaner from lemon juice and cream of tartar" waste are things that women are doing out of a sense of nostalgia, and not simply because, not only are home made things (food or cleaners) healthier for you and your family, without the chemicals or foreign ingredients you can't pronounce... But they are CHEAPER.. With my budget, it's not a matter just hiring someone to do my laundry for 1.50 a lb. Even if (hahahahaa) I could get by on the minimal amount of $25 a week that she talks about in her book for this service, that is $100 a month that I have nowhere but the mortgage or food budget to take from. What should I give up? Minimal time putting wash in a laundry machine, and folding while my kids do their homework or sleep, or the roof over their head? I mean, the way she describes laundry, and the time that it takes, you would think she was going to the river to bang it on rocks, and not taking 1 minute to pop it in the washer. Honestly...
The point I stopped reading was the personal shopper. The joys of (for $400) having someone throw clothing at you to try on and all you have to do is hand out your credit card, is frightening and quite frankly, out of this world ridiculous. I don't know if I spend $400 a YEAR on my wardrobe... Let alone for the personal shopper she hired.
All in all, I was made to feel that my desire to be a successful mompreneur, as well as a successful housewife (and I mean that in the 1960s sense, as cooking and cleaning and building a home are incredibly important to me). Are somewhat not important, because the latter does not advance my business.
Save yourself the $ buying this book...the only good sage advice in this book... For the average person... Is: don't watch TV; spend quality time with your kids whenever you can; track your time, down to the hour, or even minute, to see where your missed time is going; spend time with your spouse; dream big and try to never miss an opportunity to advance your career.
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book seems to be targeted at upper-middle class people with substantial control over their time and money to outsource. Vanderkam has some good thoughts about focusing on what is important in life. To summarize in her own words, "there should be almost nothing during your work hours - whatever you choose those to be - that is not advancing you toward your goals for the career and life you want."

The toughest times of my life have been being there for my 60 year old father-in-law during a complex cancer death and spending a month on my side in the hospital hoping my twins wouldn't be born too prematurely. Another friend has a severely disabled child who requires constant, complex care.

If your life is "normal", with no crises like these, the book has good advice to quit watching TV, etc. But for many of us, careers are not flexible, either by the nature of the job (oil well drilling and cardiology come to mind) or the nature of our employer (who doesn't have to be flexible in this economy). For those outside urban areas or with lower incomes, outsourcing choices are limited.

An OK book targeted at the sort of people who read the NY Times.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
I bought this book in Phoenix when I was on holiday from the UK. I bought it as a holiday read because I was so frustrated and overwhelmed by my home life. I work full time as a nurse & I often work extra shifts. I have a house and 2 children & I am undertaking study in my own time. Overall I just felt utterly depressed with it all and I always wondered why other people seem to cope so much better than myself!
For a start, the book is an engaging read and I enjoyed sitting in the sun and reading it for hours. Whats more I felt compelled to action many of the suggestions in the book. I definitely have more of a can do attitude than before. But on the other hand I also am inclined to say no to things that aren't in my interest. (For example working extra shifts on my day off, if I don't want to do it). I decide my priorities on a daily basis & I certainly feel more in control. In addition, I am due to start an exciting new position next week, which will pay more, meaning I could potentially work less, freeing up time for other important things in my life. I am thankful for Laura Vanderkam for writing this book. I now subscribe to her blog and I have bought her more recent book- All the money in the world.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read this book cover to cover in one sitting on a plane ride, and I love it. Laura divides the book into a few different sections, and discuses strategies for making/finding time at work as well as at home. The end of the book has a number of "time-makeovers", which shows step by step how the strategies in the book were applied to actual people's lives to improve them.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book is how the author backs everything up with research. All the statistics have references, which I'm a bit of a stickler for, I hate seeing a statistic thrown out there as fact with no reference to back it up - thankfully, this book does back everything up.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The biggest advantage of this book is that it gets you thinking about your 168 hours, but beyond that, I'm not sure it's very practical. I have to agree with another reviewer - it is a very upper-middle-class targeted book. While I may not agree with many things (paying for things you can do yourself in just a few minutes and making your kid eat school lunch - ugh! - being the top two), the first chapter or two was useful, as it had me taking a log of what I *actually* do during the week. Seeing where my time goes was pretty helpful. You can do that for free, or with the aid of her website, though... Also useful was thinking about "I don't have time to do X" in terms of "it's not a priority to do X", but, again, free. I guess the "case studies" might be useful, too, but I didn't find them to be a significant aid.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle to Laura Vanderkam's "168 Hours" is You Have More Time Than You Think. Indeed, that is the thesis she carries very convincingly throughout the book. Vanderkam tracks people's activities by the half-hour (real time diaries are included) to demonstrate that people fritter away more time than they think. The upside, therefore, is now that you know this, you can choose your activities more consciously and get this time back.

I loved this book. Full disclosure: Vanderkam cited one of my coaching exercises in this book. But I shared the exercise in the first place because when Vanderkam and I connected, I loved the thesis of the book. I have used time diaries for myself since the 1990's and have recommended them to my coaching clients for 10 years now. Like tracking your food intake or spending habits, tracking your time is very powerful in reshaping your self-awareness and priorities.

Vanderkam tackles both work and home activity as she looks at time spent. She offers a lot of concrete examples and practical suggestions. If you don't have a high degree of flexibility and professional autonomy some of the strategies may be hard to implement. But the intended reader is likely not in that boat so this is a small downside. The book is inspirational and a great time management and productivity resource. It is not structured as a how-to like a David Allen or Stephen Covey book, but it delivers a deeper message: "168 Hours" is about making conscious choices, wise and meaningful choices about what we do with our time. It's not about doing more, but about doing what matters.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am in love with this book. Seriously. It will totally change the way you think about the concept of time - and how you spend it. If "time is money" - then reading 168 HOURS is one investment that will keep on giving. Laura Vanderkam (who I first came across when she wrote an incredible op-ed in USA Today in August of 2009 called "The Princess Problem") absolutely nails it with this book... and if you think you don't have time to read 168 HOURS, then it's all the more reason why you will be high-five-ing yourself if you do. Reading chapters 2 & 3 alone (Your Core Competencies & The Right Job, respectively) are worth the price of the book but that's just scratching the surface. Bottom line: if you've ever felt (like I sure have prior to reading this fantastic book) like a time-starved-rat-on-a-hamster-wheel, you will adore 168 HOURS. Highly recommended.
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