Are you worried about wasting time? Stop it!

168 Hours

You Have More Hours Than You Think

by Laura Vanderkam




Who doesn’t want more time?  This very detailed book is a great read for anyone who wants to rule the world or become a champion.  For people like me, with considerably less ambitious aspirations, it is not inspirational or practical. After reading Vanderkam’s book, I was actually annoyed with myself for spending at least three hours reading about core competencies I don’t have and leafing through a slew of charts to list time spent sleeping or snuggling with your child.  I’m past the snuggling stage with my children, but I don’t think I would have ever spent time writing down such minutiae. While I am certain this author is well-intentioned, she repeatedly uses clinical language that makes me wonder what I’m saving all this time for, if not to follow whims and enjoy impromptu moments of joy. I can’t imagine feeling anything but frustration after filling out the detailed lists that make up 168 hours.

168 hours a week is enough time to work 50 hours a week, sleep 8 hours a night and still have plenty of time for other pursuits.  Perhaps, if one is a robot, but as a human, I don’t think so. What happens on days when when I am not feeling well? Or, days when just about everything conspires against me?  She then goes on to describe a concept from the business world about core competencies. In business, core competencies are “things that a company does best and others cannot do nearly as well.”  If we apply this concept to our lives, we need to find out what we are really good at and spend most of our time doing that to ensure success. Maybe, but suggesting that taking care of our children is a core competency, is a strange statement as it suggests that children are just another line item on our way to success.

To bolster her argument about women’s achievement, she tells the story of Empress Maria Teresa, ruler of the Hapsburg Empire.  She married Francis of Lorraine and bore sixteen children while she ruled the Empire. Vanderkam explains that Empress Maria Teresa had it all.  This story is as inspiring as my high school social studies teacher who told us about how O-Lan in Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth gave birth and went right back to working in the fields.  Hardly an inspiration for saving time.

By the end of this book, I felt like a real sloth.  However, I felt better when I did my own math. So, I’m not counting the 8 hours of sleep I try to get every night.  That leaves sixteen hours to work and play: 8 hours to make a living or contribute to society in some meaningful way, including taking care of my house, family, and kids.  The remaining 8 hours are for binge-watching my favorite movies, chatting with my friends, and loving every minute of whatever I decide to do. No data, charts, or competency needed.  In fact, the less competent the better. Actually, I think I like this book because it has made me realize how rewarding wasting time can be!

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