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168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think Paperback – May 31, 2011

3.6 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vanderkam (Grindhopping) offers a new system of time management: if readers want to make more time to spend with their children, get fit, or write that novel, they must slash nonessential time wasters and minimize tasks that are not core competencies, a business term for what a company does best and must prioritize. She offers solid and even excellent career advice, about both how to make the most of time at a current job and how to manage time to get ahead. And there is something curiously fascinating about her bizarrely brutal approach to time management (There's little point... in spending much time on activities in which you can't excel). But given that the author seems to be targeting a very rarefied echelon of upper-middle-class working moms (like herself), the book might have very limited appeal. More alienating, though, is her insistence on pummeling the life out of life. Vanderkam's vision may yield plenty of time to pursue worthy activities, but it's a life leached of color or spontaneity. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"Within a few pages, Laura Vanderkam's crisp, entertaining book convinced me I had time to read it. Then it convinced me I had time to reread War and Peace. In the original Russian. Thank you, Laura, for freeing up my schedule."
-Martha Beck, bestselling author of Steering by Starlight

"We so often live our lives day by day. Laura wants us to think about doing it hour by hour. Living this mantra by example, she gets more done in a day than most of us do in a week."
-Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

"168 Hours is filled with tips and tricks on how you can be more efficient every day. By being more productive at work and home, you'll create more free time to focus on the truly fulfilling activities in your life, rather than the simply mundane."
-Laura Stack, author of Find More Time

"In 168 Hours, Vanderkam packs mounds of real-world case studies and experience to substantiate her system-and I fully agree. You can improve your mastery of time with this invaluable book."
-Dave Crenshaw, author of Invaluable and founder of Invaluable, Inc.

"168 Hours should be an eye-opener for every one of us who leads a busy, hectic life. Reading it made me appreciate how much 'true' amount of time I really have and how to use it wisely and optimally to boost productivity, efficiency, and joy."
-Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness

"Laura Vanderkam shows us how to use our only real wealth-our 168 hours a week- to make our lives richer, not busier. That's a wonderful gift, because it's what genuine success is all about."
-Geoff Colvin, author of Talent Is Overrated

"Laura Vanderkam's fluid style and perceptive eye are just the right tools to help create the life of your intentions. 168 Hours is the antidote to 'living for the weekend.'"
-Marc and Amy Vachon, authors of Equally Shared Parenting

"This book is a reality check that leads any reader to say, 'I do have time for what is important to me.' Full of real life examples, Laura Vanderkam teaches how to pack what matters most into both your work and home life. A must read if you are looking for life-changing strategies to make your next minute, hour or 168 Hours more meaningful."
-Jones Loflin and Todd Musig, Co-authors of Juggling Elephants

"We predict that 168 Hours will fly off the shelves and into the hands of anyone who has ever uttered the words: 'I'm SO busy!' or 'If only I had more time!' Vanderkam's approach is incredibly powerful and resonant given the average American watches 4 hours of television. A day!"
-Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, Co-Creators of Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) and Co-Authors of Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; Reprint edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159184410X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591844105
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karen Hall 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.
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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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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.
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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?
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