Everyone has an opinion, anecdote, or horror story about women and work. Now the acclaimed author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam, shows how real working women with families are actually making the most of their time.
“Having it all” has become the subject of countless books, articles, debates, and social media commentary, with passions running high in all directions. Many now believe this to be gospel truth: Any woman who wants to advance in a challenging career has to make huge sacrifices. She’s unlikely to have a happy marriage, quality time with her kids (assuming she can have kids at all), a social life, hobbies, or even a decent night’s sleep. But what if balancing work and family is actually not as hard as it’s made out to be? What if all those tragic anecdotes ignore the women who quietly but consistently do just fine with the juggle? Instead of relying on scattered stories, time management expert Laura Vanderkam set out to add hard data to the debate. She collected hour-by-hour time logs from 1,001 days in the lives of women who make at least $100,000 a year. And she found some surprising patterns in how these women spend the 168 hours that every one of us has each week. Overall, these women worked less and slept more than they assumed they did before they started tracking their time. They went jogging or to the gym, played with their children, scheduled date nights with their significant others, and had lunches with friends. They made time for the things that gave them pleasure and meaning, fitting the pieces together like tiles in a mosaic—without adhering to overly rigid schedules that would eliminate flexibility and spontaneity. Laura shares specific strategies that her subjects use to make time for the things that really matter to them. For instance, they . . .
- Work split shifts (such as seven hours at work, four off, then another two at night from home). This allows them to see their kids without falling behind professionally.
- Get creative about what counts as quality family time. Breakfasts together and morning story time count as much as daily family dinners, and they’re often easier to manage.
- Take it easy on the housework. You can free up a lot of time by embracing the philosophy of “good enough” and getting help from other members of your household (or a cleaning service).
- Guard their leisure time. Full weekend getaways may be rare, but many satisfying hobbies can be done in small bursts of time. An hour of crafting feels better than an hour of reality TV. With examples from hundreds of real women, Laura proves that you don’t have to give up on the things you really want. I Know How She Does It will inspire you to build a life that works, one hour at a time.
There's little point in trying to save minutes when you're wasting hours. I also think the fact that we can choose how to spend our hours makes us incredibly blessed. Rather than complain about our busyness, we can build the lives we want in the time we've got.
Getting to a place where you are happy with how you are choosing to spend your time takes work.
Time will pass. It will be filled with something. You have to sleep and eat. But in our free and prosperous society, what else transpires during that time will be a choice.
About the Author
Laura Vanderkam is the author of the book I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Build Lives That Work. Based on a time diary study of 1001 days in the lives of professional women and their families, this book takes a practical approach to the question of how people combine work and family while enjoying their own sweet time too. Laura is also the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2013), 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Wealth. She is also the author of a novel, The Cortlandt Boys, available as an ebook. Laura is a frequent contributor to Fast Company’s website and a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, City Journal, Fortune, and Prevention. A 2001 graduate of Princeton, Laura enjoys running and singing and serves as the president of the board of trustees for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children. She blogs daily at lauravanderkam.com
Why LoA loves it….
As women entrepreneurs, we all constantly battle time, especially when trying to balance work life, family life and personal time. It can sometimes feel overwhelming for many. But in Laura’s new book, she takes a fresh new look at appreciating just how much time we really have in our lives and shows us that it’s all about how we use that precious time in the most effective way. We may not be able to have it all, but this book shows us that we can come pretty close if we just take a different approach to our day to day time management. A great read for all those who feel time pressured in life. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa