168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think [Book Review]

“There are 168 hours in a week. This is your guide to getting the most out of them.” by Laura Vanderkam

Book Cover: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

My overall thoughts about the book:

I enjoyed the main approach of the book, which is to be aware of how we spend our 168 hours and identify how we can make better use of the time available for all of us. So far so good, but I found that the author addresses only a handful of life styles, specially couples with kids.

I didn’t agree with all the suggestions she gave. There was too much “delegating” to paid services tips and I am more into searching for a frugal or simple lifestyle. As far as I know hiring household services is usually more expensive than doing them ourselves, but the author affirms that this model could work for some people (if they have the money to afford it, of course).

I think it’s hard to try carve out more time out of our days if we don’t reduce the excess activities and stuff we accumulate over time. And I don’t remember the author addressing this side of the coin.

The Pros:

The main messages of the book that stuck in my brain and that I somewhat agree with were:

  1. Cut down TV time. And then cut some more. TV is not so relaxing as we might think.
  2. Block out time to exercise. Then fine more exercise more.
  3. Make a list of tasks you can do in 30 minutes. And another for 10 minutes. Remember these little things that can be done between tasks or while waiting something. For example: read a book in a waiting line, or do some push-ups or stay in plank position while you wait for the microwave. Reading while waiting or in public transport is totally okay, I do this all the time with my Kindle. Doing push-ups while the microwave: not so much because there are usually other things to take care of in the kitchen, in my case. But I think it’s doable.
  4. Identify our core competencies: that is a good exercise because we often forget our main goals amidst the various activities and responsibilities we are involved. When we know what are our core competencies we can plan out more time to develop these areas.

The Cons:

The following tips didn’t really resonate with my personal style:

  1. Carve out chunks of time during our work day to do the things we say we don’t have enough time to do. That’s the kind of tip that won’t work for everyone because not all of us have a flexible schedule or a work environment that encourages “off duty” activities or arriving a bit late.
  2. Hire services: Get someone else to do the things you don’t enjoy by delegating or hiring someone else: laundry, cooking, scheduling appointments. I don’t agree with this one because I truly prefer to live an independent life, and if I can’t find time or satisfaction from taking care of my stuff, I should consider minimizing.
  3. The writing style. I thought the chapters were too long and there were too many anecdotes about other peoples lives filled with excessive and unnecessary details to prove a point. Those parts really put me off the book and made me speed read them. I think the text lacked a bit of objectivity, since it’s about productivity and carving out precious time.

So, the book has a couple of good ideas and tips but the overall experience of reading it wasn’t fulfilling and I was a bit disappointed in the end. Maybe it was not directed at my simpler lifestyle. Sometimes doing less is the best option.

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.