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168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

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How many hours do you spend working? Now, during those hours, how much is spent on actual work – responding to emails, finishing up that project, sitting in productive meetings? How much of that time is spent on truly non-work tasks – checking social media, being in a meeting where everyone repeats what they argued last meeting, or socializing with coworkers at the water cooler? When you begin to break down your time and get a good look at how its spent, you begin to realize you have a lot more time than you initially would’ve thought.

“…You have to place many bets, and leave nothing you can control to chance. In other words, be open to possibilities, and plan for opportunities.”

In 168 Hours, Vanderkam breaks down these hours into the primary categories of work and home, asking what amount of time is spent on the tasks that you are good at (your core competencies). She goes on to make a number of suggestions on freeing up your time to focus on those core competencies such as reading to your children, furthering your career, and getting much needed “me” time. As I read through this book, I went back and forth on how applicable some of the suggestions were. For example, I don’t have any children but a large chunk of the family (and even career) section is on spending time with them. Or, an item that I’ve seen other reviews bash, her opinion on knitting and sewing as being entirely unnecessary which I greatly enjoy (but maybe that’s because it could be considered one of mine own core competencies).

Additionally, I really enjoyed Vanderkam’s writing style and her bluntness with calling things how they are. For example, that women do the bulk of household chores while men may only be responsible for mowing the yard, but that lawn care is one of the most common outsourced tasks. Or that as a society we are okay outsourcing child care but thing it a luxury to outsource household chores. While I don’t think I’ll ever pay someone to do my laundry or cook for me, I do see her point. Much of the time the issue I found with this argument, which she eventually briefly addresses, is multitasking such as using meal prep time to chat with your spouse or teach your children how to cook.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and found some useful tips on better managing my time. I would recommend this to others who are similarly looking to better manage their time. However, with all books of this nature, its important to take away what can be applied to your life and don’t expect any one book to be the answer to all your problems – take it with a grain of salt. ( )
  TrekkieChickReads | Feb 9, 2016 |
Innovative look at how we really use our time. Main take aways: collect your own data about actual time use first. Data driven decisions! Use the time that you have including planning for big dreams and fully using the 10 minute and 30 time blocks available. A good reminder that I'm in charge. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
This books makes me reaffirm my policy of not reading books by journalists. I was expecting a detailed time management study of different people, but in fact it was a very brief outline of their work life and very little on their organisation. ( )
  rlangston | Aug 12, 2014 |
Challenged me to truly examine how I spend my time and to stop insisting that I just "don't have time." I choose how I spend my own time. I have two small children, and I'm starting a small, online business. Tracking my 168 hours was monumentally informative, and I never would have done so without Vanderkam.
I also love that she's freelance writer with two kids, so her ideas on how to manage home and job were inspiring. I'm not at home with the kids so I can clean house. I should focus on time with the kids and not how spotless my floors are. ( )
  MorganGMac | Mar 7, 2013 |
Helpful: 168 hours should be enough time to achieve balance if you stop wasting time on the Internet, etc...The book caused me to look at my schedule and attempt to streamline.

However, the book's format read as a journal the author kept about how she manages to apply time management principles to a privileged, upper-income, urban lifestyle. Outsourcing laundry in New York City probably is a solid idea--and less expensive than one would expect to free up a large chunk of time. But, the book is generally not relatable for average Americans. ( )
  twryan72 | Jun 6, 2012 |
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Explains how to reorganize and prioritize a weekly schedule in order to meet the demands of today's high-pressure lifestyles while still making time for personal needs and interests.

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