168 Hours

168 Hours

How many hours are you going to love this week? Out of the 168 hours allotted to each of us each week, how many will you enjoy, really enjoy?

168 Hours book review, organizing time

The premise of the book 168 hours is that, essentially, most of us think we don’t have enough time in our day. As a result, we feel stress, guilt, and ill health because of our time crunch. But through stats and case studies, Laura Vanderkam posits that our weeks aren’t too short. Rather, they might be too cluttered or ill-focused.

If you are sitting amid household clutter that is stressing you out, it probably wont surprise you to learn that calendar clutter may be stealing your hours and days.

She states, “You do have a choice on how you spend your 168 hours, and you have more time than you think you do.” While this may seem confrontational, she sets out to clarify that when you know what is important, and you focus your energies on your values and dreams, you can mostly get in the important stuff. But too often we allow TV, unpleasant and unwanted faux-obligations, and assumptions about how society says we should spend our time to eat up our valuable energy and limited time.

I’ll warn you now that quite a few of her examples and case studies have to do with parenting choices, which may not apply to you. A fair number of her points also describe outsourcing options, such as hiring out meals or hiring a professional organizer. You may think of these as luxuries, but when you compare the value to other priorities in your life, you may find that they aren’t luxuries at all, but a better use of your money and time.

I loved the stats on the studies about how much time we spend on household tasks today versus in previous decades. Vanderkam illustrates that just like our work attire has become more casual, our attitudes and efforts at organizing and housekeeping have relaxed, too. However, this doesn’t always square with expectations that we may have been raised with, and a perceived level of clutter sometimes causes stress.

Salary.com puts out the value of a wife every year. Here’s the link for What is a Stay At Home Mom Worth in 2016. Chances are that no one is paying you for all these services you provide to your family, but it’s nice to see that they do have economic value, if you choose to spend some of your 168 hours on them.

She also makes an argument for buying fewer clothes of higher quality. “What else could you have done with the time you spent earning money to buy clothes you don’t like?” Actually, this same idea easily extends into all the things we buy and own.

Dave Ramsey, author of Financial Peace and The Total Money Makeover has a line about, “We buy stuff we don’t want with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even know. That’s crazy.”

In the chapter called “Don’t do your own laundry,” she addresses professional organizers head on. “The hilarity of professional organizing is not that it exists, it’s that in the past all women were expected to have this skill among their core competencies.” Eureka! There is no such thing as an organizing gene attached to the X or Y chromosome. We can’t all be awesome at everything. “Organizing is a skill, just as composing advertising jingles is a skill. In theory, anyone can do it, but some people do it much better than others.” And here’s the clincher, “The only reason we consider household organizing expensive is that we, as a society, largely expect women to do these things for free.”

She states, “The key message of this book is that there is time for anything that matters, though I realize that in the middle of a crazy Tuesday, this can be hard to believe.”

The key, really, is being intentional with your 168 hours. Seven days seems like too little. A year is too long. 168 hours seems like the right amount of time to manage a full schedule, even though what that 168 hours looks like day to day changes throughout the year, and over time. A week allows a stretch of time to focus on the big projects and the little tasks, the strategic and the tactical.

If you are struggling with chronic stress about time stresses in your life, I recommend picking up 168 Hours at the link below. There’s sure to be some wisdom to help you spend more time on what matters to you.

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