I will be sharing reviews of many of the books that I read during my Read 100 Challenge this year. I would also love to hear about books that you are currently reading! Reply in the comments with any suggestions that you have for books I might enjoy.
Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is the reason that I started The Orthodox Mama. No, it isn’t a book about how to start a blog (I’ll be reviewing one of those, How to Blog for Profit Without Losing Your Soul, in a few weeks for those of you who are interested). The book did convince me, however, that despite the fact that I am a working mother of three young children, I really did have more time than I thought. And, I should use that extra time to pursue my passions–in this case writing.
Vanderkam’s book is bursting with ideas, stories, research, and practical tips to implement. For the sake of this review,though, I will only discuss two of her chapters that had the greatest impact on me personally.
Keeping a Time Log
All of us have the same 168 hours in a week. Yet, some people seem to accomplish a great deal more than others during that time period. They run businesses and marathons, write books, raise children, spend time with spouses, volunteer, and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. How do they do it?
Vanderkam points out that these people make certain activities priorities in their life and then fill their schedule with those priorities. They have learned how to budget their time. Vanderkam suggests keeping a time log for a period of at least a week to see how you currently use your time. Does the amount of time that you spend on certain activities reflect your life’s priorities?
I was excited to try this exercise and found it incredibly revealing. After documenting my life down to the half hour for a week, I discovered that I do several things well:
-I get at least eight hours of sleep a night.
-I spend a good amount of quality time with my children.
-I spend time really connecting with my spouse.
-I make my spiritual life a priority.
-I make time for reading.
I was excited about these findings! They affirm my priorities and re energize me.
However, I also discovered that I had a lot of down time that was truly wasted.
-I spent hours mindlessly checking social media or blog hopping.
-I watched television shows I wasn’t really invested in.
-I checked e-mail several times during the day and got sidetracked from other tasks.
Once I realized how many hours (gulp!) I was spending on activities that did nothing to help my priorities in life, renew my soul, pursue my passions, or connect with others, I decided to take action. I would turn those wasted hours into hours that counted. And so I began to write and read books about writing–which eventually turned into The Orthodox Mama.
Vanderkam also brings the idea of core competencies, used in the business world, into everyday life and time management. Core competencies are those abilities that people have which no one else could do as they do.
For example, if you are married, one of your core competencies is being a spouse. No one else can fill that role in the way you can. The same goes for parenting. You are your child’s best parent.
Other core competencies may be writing, managing, encouraging, singing, solving problems, cooking, building things, creating new ideas, etc. Hopefully your jobs and your core competencies line up in some way. You may also have other core competencies that are expressed in your hobbies. If, however, you are not able to express your core competencies, you likely feel frustration and a sense of purposelessness.
Vanderkam asks readers to consider their core competencies and if those competencies are being fully utilized.
After deliberating, I decided that I have four core competencies:
-wife to my husband
-mother to my children
I realized that I have ample opportunities for the first three, but I was not utilizing the last one. This, again, prompted me to being seeking opportunities to write and to eventually begin blogging.
I cannot recommend 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think highly enough. Before I read it, I was concerned that it would make me feel guilty or overwhelmed. I wondered if it would push multi-tasking and “having it all together.” My experience of the book was completely the opposite, though.
When I finished reading it, I felt a renewed sense of purpose and direction in my life, and I had the confidence to believe that I could actually reach my goals.
Have you read 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think? What did you think? What books are you currently reading?
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