The Bottom Line
Where does the time go? That's the question author Laura Vanderkam asks, and answers, in the book 168 Hours. Review how you spend each of the 168 hours in a week, and you can find time for anything, Vanderkam explains convincingly in this gracefully written, information-packed book.
Combining data from time use surveys and interviews with highly productive people, she builds a powerful case for planning to spend time on a few top priorities, rather than letting the week unfold in a blur of child care, errands and work. Aren't your life goals worth the discipline needed to seize control of your time?
- Fresh look at how we spend our time that defies conventional wisdom
- Well-researched and reported with data to support the idea that we aren't truly starved for time
- Creative and practical ideas for making the most of the 168 hours in every week
- Elegantly written, with smooth transitions, a personal voice and stories about interesting people
- Challenges you to re-examine your life and live up to your stated priorities
- Suggestions may feel ambitious for people with inflexible workplaces, thin household budgets or both
- Hardcover business book is 272 pages, released May 27, 2010, and priced at $25.95
- Aims to show readers how to find time for the things that matter most to them
- Reviews time use data to highlight how much time the average American wastes
- Includes worksheets on your life goals and charts for tracking your time
- Author Laura Vanderkam previously wrote Grindhopping: Building a Rewarding Career Without Paying Your Dues
- Companion Web site my168hours.com includes author blog and "time makeovers"
Guide Review - A Book Review of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
The core message of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think isn't easy to digest, but it's worth hearing. How we spend our time is largely under our control, if we live intentionally and maximize our productivity, Vanderkam says. Rather than bemoaning the scant time to exercise or to focus on our children, we should deliberately carve out room for those priorities. Building a career, nurturing your family, writing a novel or running a marathon is worth the discipline required to creatively plan a weekly schedule with room for your goals -- and then stick to it.
The book 168 Hours reviews data from time use surveys and interviews happy, productive people, concluding that the widely reported time crunch of modern life is simply a myth. According to Vanderkam, we watch too much television and fritter away our precious spare time through inefficiency and performing tasks that don't use our core competencies. She proposes budgeting your weekly 168 hours the way you'd budget your paycheck: subtract the mandatory amounts for work, sleep, eating and personal care, and then make creative use of the remainder to pursue your passions. For instance, use your commute to write poetry, read great literature or exercise. In a 10-minute block of time, you can call an old friend, read to your kids or even pray.
The first step is to make sure you're in the best job for you -- one that you enjoy and provides energy for the rest of your life, rather than draining you. This is no small feat, but it's important to ask yourself the career questions Vanderkam poses in the book 168 Hours -- as well as composing a "List of 100 Dreams" that you'd like to achieve in your life. Writing it down is the first step in making it happen. And even changes around the edges, like bowing out of unproductive meetings or delegating more, can improve your life.
Next, eliminate as many household tasks that you loathe as possible, and plan activities that lead you toward your family and life goals. Most families won't be able to afford all the outsourcing that Vanderkam proposes, but everyone can learn to ignore dust bunnies or stop making elaborate dinners from scratch. (Unless housekeeping or cooking is your passion.)
There's no way to sum up all the theories, interviews and fresh ideas in this engaging book, but I'd recommend 168 Hours to anyone looking to make the most of life. To be sure, not all the suggestions will work for every reader or family. I don't see how you can deny that extreme commuters face a real time crunch, for instance, when two or three hours are spent traveling to and from work each day. For them, finding time for young children is difficult, and may require more flexibility that the typical workplace is willing to give.
A cross between an inspirational business book and a practical guide, 168 Hours demands a lot of the reader, but the promise of a full, happy, productive life is certainly worth the effort!