Some mornings Theresa Daytner spends hours hiking. She also goes on trail rides, used to weight-lift twice a week with a trainer, reads nightly, watches her favorite TV show, enjoys massages, gets her hair done and planned a huge surprise birthday party for her husband, with people arriving from all over the country. And she sleeps at least seven hours a night.
Oh, and as journalist Laura Vanderkam writes in her book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Daytner is busier than most. She’s the owner of a seven-figure revenue company and the mother of six children, including twins! She also coaches soccer and regularly attends her kids’ games, is helping her 21-year-old plan a wedding and is expanding her business.
I barely have time to clean my room, do one load of laundry, cook a meal, wash the dishes and complete my to-do list. And I work from home and don’t have a spouse or children.
So what’s Daytner’s secret?
According to Vanderkam, who interviewed the wonder woman — at least in my eyes — Daytner considers time to be precious and realizes that everything she does is her choice. She spends her days focusing on what she does best and what she loves.
She’s also not the only one. In her book, Vanderkam features many interviews with people who regularly find the time for meaningful, fun activities and lead fulfilling lives.
The premise of Vanderkam’s book is that all of us have the same amount of time — 168 hours — each week. And we have a lot more time to enjoy ourselves than we think.
After reading this book, I’ve started viewing my time differently. Like many others, I constantly lament my lack of time and growing schedule, but if busy people like Daytner can find the time for themselves, their families, their businesses and their hobbies, I have hope that I can, too. And so can you.
Of course, there are other issues like having the energy for everything and avoiding distractions. But overall, Vanderkam offers valuable strategies for finding time to do what you love.
Here’s a list from Vanderkam’s 168 Hours.
1. Keep track of your time with a spreadsheet.
This helps you figure out how you’re spending your time and if you’re doing what you want to do be doing. Track your time for a week using various categories, such as sleep, work, food, household tasks, family time and exercise. (Download a spreadsheet here.)
2. Create a list of your 100 dreams.
Think about 100 activities that you’d like to accomplish in your life. This helps you figure out how you want to spend your 168 hours. On her list, Vanderkam included everything from singing “in the Bach B-Minor Mass with a really good chorus and orchestra” to having fresh flowers in her office on a regular basis to having a novel published to reading more fiction.
3. List off your core competencies.
A core competency is basically something you do really well that others don’t. For you, this might be nurturing your family, your health and your small business. People who get the most out of life focus most of their hours on their core competencies.
4. Add your core competencies to your spreadsheet.
Figure out the times that you’d like to be doing everything. Break down your list of 100 dreams into actionable steps, and schedule those in, too. Vanderkam writes:
“For people with regular work hours such as 9:00-5:00 or 8:00-6:00, there are often open spaces for non-work core-competency activities in the morning, during a commute, during a lunch break, in the evenings and on weekends. If you truly need to work 12 hours a day during weekdays, you’re better off splitting your shifts (working 7:30-5:30 and then 8:30-10:30) to fit in other activities, but even if you do need to be gone from, say 8:00 a.m. to 10 p.m., you could still fit in 45 minutes of reading to your children in the morning. Add in a brisk walk at lunch with a friend, and a half hour on the porch with your spouse watching the stars at night, and the day won’t be a complete waste from a personal perspective. Plus, given that very few people work 14-hour days for many days in a row, you’ll be able to fit in even more leisure and family activities on shorter workdays.”
5. “Ignore, minimize or outsource everything else.”
What activities would you rather expel from your schedule? I bet housework, laundry and grocery shopping are on that list. Vanderkam included some great ideas for outsourcing these tasks in her book. But her best point was that we rarely think to outsource laundry or housework. We think it’s too pricey or we look down on ourselves for not being able to keep up with our chores. Yet, we think nothing of outsourcing our childcare. For many people, outsourcing house stuff means more time with kids and more time spent doing things they love.
6. Spend your spare minutes doing joyful activities.
Make a list of meaningful activities that take 30 minutes or less. Vanderkam gives examples of one woman who used her commute to reflect on what she’s grateful for, and another who spent 15 minutes each day learning French.
7. Revisit your schedule regularly. Check in with yourself weekly to see if your schedule reflects what you want it to. Here, Vanderkam reiterates that it’s not easy making changes and of course tons of interruptions will pop up. But if you stick with it and try your best to avoid interruptions and distractions, it’ll get easier.
(By the way, if you’re interested, I’ve written a more thorough review of the book, 168 Hours, here.)
The publisher is generously giving away one copy of 168 Hours. I’ll use random.org to generate a winner, and announce the person a week from today.
To be eligible, just comment below and share your thoughts on time management.
What challenges do you run into with managing your time? What has helped you? Will you be using Vanderkam’s tips? Do you outsource housework or other tasks?
Update: Thanks so much to everyone for their thoughtful comments! The winner of the giveaway is Prof KRG.