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168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think Paperback – May 31, 2011
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"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
About the Author
Laura Vanderkam is the author of Grindhopping: Build a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues.
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“Being busy has become the explanation of choice for all sorts of things,” says the author, Laura Vanderkam. We are too busy to read, spend quality time with our families, attend to our devotions, keep fit, and have a vibrant social life. Is all this only possible if you can find a part-time career paying full-time rates? Or as many work-life balance protagonists tell us, we need to lower our expectations to get it all in.
Amazon list 35,000 books on time management, so why bother with reviewing this one? Because I think Vanderkam has insights worth considering.
A Harvard Business Review article titled, ‘The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek’ suggests that the 60-hour workweek is no longer the route to the top, it “is now considered practically part-time.” But the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics study in which work is actually recorded, shows this to be wrong.
Americans sleep about 8 hours a night, just as we did 40 years ago, and we work a lot less than we think we do – on average ‘full-time’ logs 35–43 hours per week. Another study of those who really do work over 60-hour workweeks reports finding no more than 1.7 million Americans, just over 1% of the workforce.
“I’m more interested in the woman down the street,” writes Vanderkam, “who—without benefit of fame, outsized fortune, or a slew of personal assistants—is running a successful small business, marathons, and a large and happy household.” We all have exactly the same amount of time. When we do meet the “woman down the street” we can only marvel at why and how she is able to fill her time with so many meaningful things, while others just dream of 15 minutes to take a bubble bath. This is the central question that this book answers.
The book reports on the lives of many women (and a few men,) who seem to do it all. Vanderkam explains that “the point of these stories is not to make anyone feel bad or lazy. Rather, I view these stories as liberating, particularly as a young(ish) person trying to build my career and family—as well as nurture my personal passions for running, singing, and other things—in a world that continually laments how hard it is to do it all.”
Here are some facts. There are 168 hours in a week – (24 hours a day times the 7 days in the week.) Planned well these 168 hours are sufficient to accommodate full-time work, intense involvement with your family, rejuvenating leisure time, adequate sleep, and everything else that you wish to accomplish. Do the math: even if you actually put in 8 hours of real, focused work each day, (see the facts above!) that leaves you 128 hours each week. If you sleep 8 hours a day so you are always fresh and well rested, that leaves you 88 hours each week. Put in an hour of exercise a day and you have 81 hours left. Spend 3 hours a day on housework and you have 60 hours each week… You get the point.
We work less than we think we do, and we have more time than we think we have. The hard, but hopeful truth is that you can have all that time to allocate as you choose, but not without effort.
Why do we think we are so time-starved? We lie. We are in so many ways, extraordinarily inefficient.
One of Vanderkam’s hyper-successful women down the street, Theresa Daytner, put it this way: “Here’s what I think is the difference, I know I’m in charge of me. Everything that I do, every minute I spend is my choice. If I’m not spending my time wisely, I fix it, even if it’s just quiet time.”
What if we approached time differently: started with the unfilled 168 hours and viewed every minute, as our own choice? Instead of asserting firmly that we cannot do everything, we tell ourselves that we won’t be doing these things, because they are just not a priority in our life. When you say “I don’t have time,” you are making someone else responsible for your time: a manager, a client, your family. When something is not a priority, it turns those 168 hours back into a blank slate, to be filled as you choose it to be - with the things that you have decided matter to you.
Recording how you spend your time as a time-diary study is a valuable tool, because it forces you to face the reality that a day has 24 hours and a week has 168. Everything we do must be accommodated within these limits. It will also force us to face another reality: we overestimate work and housework, and underestimate how much we sleep and how much leisure or discretionary time we actually have.
Consider this: The problem may not be that you are overworked or under rested, it may well be that you have absolutely no idea how you spend your 168 hours. Perhaps you can be in better shape than you have ever been, because you’re sleeping enough and exercising enough. Perhaps you don’t have to choose between working to climb the career ladder and building a ladder for your kid’s tree- house, because there is plenty of time for both.
To do this you will need to clarify two issues: what are your most important priorities, and how do you really allocate your time. Only then can you take time out to plan how you will use your 168 hours.
While 168 hours is a lot of time, time is a non-renewable resource to be used very carefully.
Readability Light -+--- Serious
Insights High --+-- Low
Practical High -+--- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of Strategy that Works.
School is never out for the "pro" so as a small business owner I find myself always working to improve my time management skills. One of the ways I do this is by reading a time management book every 12 months and have been doing this since 1999. Having read a handful of these books I'd recommend this book near the top of the list. It'll either be a great introduction to time management or it very good refresher. Either way it's worth the time to read. It's a very rewarding and eye opening experience to complete the exercises in this book and to reflect on how I could use the ideas to improve my life. The key to this book is to put the time into the exercises in the book and you'll get a huge value back out.