Last year, the RCM Virtual Book Club read I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam. Laura is a time management guru who has done extensive research on how people succeed in managing their time. I love reading anything that inspires me and provides practical tips that I can incorporate into my life. However, I was skeptical. After all, I have read at least three books that she has written on the subject (I Know How She Does It; 168 Hours; and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast) and wondered what more could there possibly be to learn. But, being a time management junkie, I couldn’t NOT read it. And this is what I discovered.
I was wrong.
There is so much more to learn. Yes, some ideas and tips may have been previously discussed, but in Off the Clock, Laura – after three books we are on a first name basis – goes beyond those basic tenets and does a deep dive into the WHY behind spending our free time wisely. She has divided the book up into seven strategies that will help you to “feel less busy while getting more done.” In addition, the back of the book contains a summary of the strategies of each section; you don’t even have to read the whole book and it is a great way to refresh your memory later. She also includes a space for to track your time.
To start, Laura quotes Dorie Clark, “We are making choices regardless, by dint of how we spend our time. So do you want to make choices consciously or unconsciously?” My answer? Preferably consciously. And while reading each section, I noticed that certain strategies struck me more than others. Perhaps because some of them encompassed pain points for me. The following were the most memorable.
Make Life Memorable
“We say that we want more time. What we really want is more memories.”
– Lila Davachi, 2016 TEDWomen Talk
I put this concept into practice while on a recent vacay to Miami. The Hubby and I focused on doing things that were quite out of the norm for us, particularly eating at local spots and not chain establishments. I tend to like to eat at chains because of the usual consistency and quality of the food – I know what I am getting. Locally, is another story. And while we had a couple of great experiences (you have got to try The Daily Creative Food Co. if you are ever in the area) we also had a few duds. I will always remember the vegan lentil burger at that vegan place. It was a very memorable dud.
Let It Go
That irritating Disney song was right. I have a very difficult time letting things go. And Laura drives right into the heart of what we need to let go of: Expectations. “Feeling like we have all the time in the world is really about managing expectations.”
Expectations have slayed me (and not in a good way) over and over and over again. I expect to be a great wife. I expect to be a better writer. I even expect to be a better pet owner and blamed myself when the family dog ran away from where he was being kept while we were on that vacay in Miami. I beat myself up. Why didn’t I take him to the place he is accustomed to even though it was not financially possible? Maybe, if I had not been distracted when we left, he wouldn’t have run away. The expectations and their corresponding associate, guilt, wreak havoc on my psyche.
And let’s not even get started on parenting expectations. But, per Laura, “Parenting in particular is on long lesson in letting go of expectations.” And boy, am I learning how. Ask me how the potty-training is going.
Don’t Fill Time
“If you don’t believe an obligation is worth an hour of the time you have left on the planet… then maybe you should cancel the obligation” [emphasis added]. Wow! If this doesn’t radicalize yours and my decision-making process about how we spend my time, then nothing else will.