This week on the podcast, I talked with Laura Vanderkam. We discussed all things dealing with tracking our time and changing our mindsets. Laura is the author of several time management and productivity books, including I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours. Her work appears in publications, including Fast Company, Fortune, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
We had a great time talking with each other, and in case you didn’t get a chance to listen to episode 023 yet, I recommend you head over to iTunes and give it a listen on your way to work or on a lunch break. It’s about 20 minutes long – so it’s very doable and I love the insight that Laura gives!
I want to also give everyone a rundown here on the blog of some of my favorite tips Laura gave for how you can start managing your time more wisely and tracking your time to see where it goes and what you should do about it! Let’s dive right in!
Laura became interested in the subject of time and time management before writing her book, I Know How She Does It, which is based off of her research, The Mosaic Project. Laura says that time is so interesting because it’s very human construct – how much time we all have in a day, week, month, etc. People do very different things, yet we all actually have the exact same amount of time in our weeks.
She also wants people to know that we actually have more time than we think we do – That we aren’t as busy as we think. Laura became fascinated with how women combine and handle work life and family. She recruited over 100 women that met two criteria (earned six figures a year and had kids at home) and had them keep track of their time for a week.
This became Laura’s Mosaic Project. She looked at the numbers and wanted to see where their time was going. She says she wanted combat that stigma of “I don’t know how she does it.” She wanted to see how women are actually doing in it today’s modern world. She answers that question of what their lives look like, how are they allocating their time and what we can learn from that.
I encourage you to listen to episode 023 and see what interesting data and outcomes Laura found from her research. Or pick up a copy of her book! I know you’ll love it and can take away such interesting facts and then implement tips from her into your own life!
Laura says we all have stories we tell about our lives. And keeping track of our time helps us be sure that we aren’t telling ourselves stories that aren’t true. We can truly see where we spend out time when we see where it’s going on a daily basis.
Laura’s main tip she shared with me was that people should start viewing their week as a whole. Not just taking it day by day.
Instead of constantly thinking to yourself, “I never see my kids,” she suggests that people actually look at their time and write down exact hours spent with their kids, at work, personal time, sleeping time, etc. sometimes it’s just that stigma of being busy and never having enough time that keeps people in the same mindset.
Another great tip from Laura is the idea of creating low expectations in the short run that will lead to greater things in the long run. For example, she promises herself that she will run everyday – at least one mile every day. She changed her mindset from, “Will I run today?” to “When am I going to run today?” And by promising to run at least one mile, she creates a low expectation that is easy to fill and still lets her get started and always complete her goal. It turns out that you can (usually no matter what) run a mile per day – even if you’re busy, tired or don’t feel like it. Because it’s a simple, quick goal to complete.
First, track your time for a week. Knowing where the time goes can help you get the courage to make that decision. So, try tracking your time for an entire week and look at where it’s going.
Second, think through your weeks before you are in them. Just having a little bit of mindfulness about where you want your time to go can help you make better choices about where it actually goes. She says a great time to do this is Friday afternoons as you’re heading into the weekend.
Laura recently collected about 900 responses to a time perception survey for her new book, “Off the Clock.” She’s exploring how people feel about their time and what they do with it. She’s found that people who feel more relaxed turn out to check their phone fewer times per hour than people who feel more anxious about time. People who feel relaxed about time are more likely to read before bed than to check social media, and so much more interesting facts, too.
We can take these tips from Laura and implement them into our lives today! Take time to reflect and then redirect your time. Make a short priority list, take time to see where you’re time is going and plan for it to go where you want it to in the week to come. It’s all about being mindful of your 168 hours in a week and planning for what’s important to you!
Let’s set this up as a challenge for ourselves. Maybe you’re reading this on a Tuesday or any other time during the week. In the coming week, I encourage you to make a commitment to tracking your time (starting on Sunday or Monday, whichever you prefer). Use your planner, notepad, journal, etc. and write it down all week long. Come back here in a week and tell me what new discoveries you’ve made about how you spend your time and a new goal you’ve made for spending your time more intentionally.