Book Review: 168 Hours
In this book, Laura Vanderkam rigorously follows what Albert Einstein recommends: “Make everything as simple as possible…but no simpler.” For example, in the first chapter, she suggests, “Picture a completely empty weekly calendar with its 168 hourly slots.” She then helps her reader to document his or her (the reader’s) current allocation of time. She achieves that objective as well as each of her other primary objectives such as disabusing her reader of major misconceptions about how much time (on average) people spend on sleep, work, and leisure time components. While doing so, she cites real-world examples (i.e. real people in real time) that both illustrate and confirm basic strategies that produce more and more enjoyable as well as better, and achieved sooner, in less time. She also identifies the core competencies that her reader must develop and then leverage to achieve that same objective. She is at her best when explaining how to determine what the “right job” is, what it requires, and how to obtain it.
[She cites Teresa Amabile’s admonition, “You should do what you love, and you should love what you do.” If that doesn’t suggest what a “right job” is, I don’t know what does.]
Vanderkam also explains how to control investment of time so that “there should be almost nothing during your work hours – whatever you choose those to be – that is not advancing you toward your goals for the career and life you want”; how to determine what the “next level” of personal and professional development looks like and how to “seize control” of the schedule while completing a transition to that level; and what a “breakthrough” is and how to achieve it to expedite the transition process. Vanderkam believes, and I fully agree, that our lives proceed through a series of levels above or below, better or worse than where we were previously; the journey to each should be one of personal discovery; and that it is important to know what we value most but we must realize that priorities change at various points in our lives as circumstances, relationships, obligations, and aspirations change. Each life is, quite literally, a “work in progress.”
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