Book of the Month: 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam

How many times do you find yourself saying, “I’d love to do X, but I just don’t have the time!” I was totally guilty too at one point. Between law school, work, maintaining my long-distance relationship and everything else I had going on in my life, I honestly believed the days were simply too short to pursue passion projects. This attitude didn’t make me successful, it made me burn my candle at both ends. I felt like all I did was go to uni, go to work, go to the gym and sleep. My life felt like it was on this monotonous repeat of all work and little play. That is, until I read 168 Hours.

I picked up this book out of sheer desperation. The author, Laura Vanderkam, makes the bold claim that you really can have it all – a successful career, meaningful relationships, a healthy lifestyle, passion projects, and still have time to get eight hours sleep each night. Sounds like a far-fetched dream, right? Wrong! Vanderkam interviews several people who lead very busy lifestyles, and delves into how they view time differently to most folks. It’s not about a magic fix; it’s all about perspective.

Based on the notion that every person has the same amount of time in a week, Vanderkam breaks the average week into hourly increments and shows you how much time you really have. I was baffled at first. How can people work a 40-hour week, run marathons, maintain a successful business, give their best selves to their relationships and still get adequate sleep? It seemed like a juggling game that would get very old very quickly. My favourite exercise Vanderkam gets you to complete is to fill out a chart via hourly slots of what you get up to in a week. It’s a surprisingly difficult task – you have to firstly remember to log your hours and then you also have to be incredibly honest with yourself about how you spend your time. Spent two hours watching Netflix? Write it down. If you’re not totally truthful, you won’t get anything out of it. This exercise highlighted where I spend my time on things that are not necessary/adding high-density value to my life, and once you recognise these, it frees up a surprising amount of time for things that do.

This book is great because it gives the reader practical solutions to finding more time. For instance, prioritising is something Vanderkam stresses. Some things are just unnecessary, or some things you feel obliged to do but don’t want to waste your time doing, like having coffee with that super negative friend. If it’s not bringing value to your life, cut it completely and focus on things that do. You may have 168 hours but they are not infinite and you should spend them wisely. By filling your cup with value, you will naturally be able to give more to what is important, ultimately making you a more successful and happy person.

I highly, highly recommend this book and I think it’s something everyone needs to hear.

Caitlin xx

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