168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. This is the book I claim as changing my life. Maybe I just read it at the right time …a time when I was ready to leave my full-time job at a professional theatre company doing Communications, and move on to opening my Music Studio full-time. Just to give you an idea, at the time, I worked at the theatre from 7:30am-3:30pm Monday to Friday, and then headed to one of the multiple music studios or homes I worked at, and taught for as long as 4:30pm-9pm minimum 4 days a week! What’s crazy, is I gained more energy when I went to teach, even though I should have been tired and ready to relax – I knew that was my calling. 168 Hours helped give me the push I needed to make it happen!
Since then, I have read the book again, and will continue to read it every few years to refresh how I want to spend my hours! I gave this book 5 stars, even though I don’t agree with every single aspect of the book, because it resonated so strongly with me, and I think everyone can take something from it.
If you haven’t guessed already, 168 hours are how many hours we all have in a week. I’m going to overextend the hours that Laura Vanderkam usually suggests, and argue that if you spend 50 hours a week working (depending what your job is and commute time, you may not even want to count all of those hours…for example, when I was working downtown, I commuted with two of my girlfriends, so I considered that not only commute time, but friend time. On days, we didn’t go together, I would take the train and read a book, or study for an exam, so I considered that reading or study time…where could you designate time differently? Workout during your lunch break? Meet a friend during your coffee break?), if you spend 60 hours sleeping (that’s more than 8 hours a night), you still have 58 hours left in your week. How do you want to spend those hours? I know, I know…there are obligations…cooking dinner, running errands, cleaning the house, but when you look at those hours, you see what you can do to make those hours quality!
My favourite takeaway from this book, was mapping out how you actually spend your time in a week. You could do this for multiple weeks, but when I tracked how my week was spent, I could see where I was falling short, where I could improve, AND where I could change my mindset, such as that example of looking at my commute time in a whole new way, and not adding 10+ hours to my work week when I spoke about it.
On top of that, Laura Vanderkam talks about how to focus on the things you are good at and how to find your dream job. Lastly, I wanted to note that the section that resonated least with me the first time I read it, and probably resonates least with most people, is her topic of outsourcing. She talks about lowering your standards of how clean the house needs to be, etc., and then outsourcing where you can, such as having someone clean the house, do the laundry, cook the food, etc., in order to get more time in your week. I know this can be a very privileged point, but when I read it the second time around, I looked at it from a new lens. Two things: 1. When you look at how you spend your money, there may be a way you can use your money in a different way. Buy one less outfit that month, to cover the cost of a monthly cleaner? Or cut down on your Starbucks run, so you can order a food service, if you wish to do so. 2. Ask for help! You may not have the funds to outsource, but maybe you have a family member that would love to babysit your kids, or maybe you can do a babysitter swap with a friend, so both of you have time to go to a workout class or do something you enjoy. You can be creative with the outsourcing – it doesn’t simply need to be handing over those dollar bills. And on the other hand, if you have the funds, outsource the jobs that don’t make you happy, and use that time doing something that does make you happy and/or more productive! But, even if that is the only part that doesn’t resonate with others, I feel like this book did a pretty great job of breaking down our time spent and taking a look at how we truly want to spend it!
Before I end up writing my own 168 Hours novel, go give it a read, and let me know what you think!!