I recently finished Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours and here are some thoughts. I’ve long thought that we have more time in our lives than we truly acknowledge. We spend time on Facebook, cleaning the house, driving in the car and thousands of other things each day, week, and month. Vanderkam’s chief proposition in this book is that we should recognize that those hours are limited – 168 hours in a week – and try to fill them with the things we really want.
The 168 hours is the number of hours in a week but she chooses to use it because it’s been her experience that planning how we fill our time on a weekly basis is the easiest way to go about it so that we are doing things we want. Beginning with the 168 total hours and subtracting 45 for work and 55 for sleep you have about 68 hours left in the week for whatever you want to do. The number struck me when I saw it because that seems like a lot of time that’s left over after working full-time and getting almost eight hours of sleep each night.
Once you begin with those 68 hours you can start to fill them much easier. Finding time to exercise, write or read a book, or attend a church service all easily fit into that number only if you make the conscious decision to make them fit. A lot of our time – and as a stay at home parent I see this everyday – is wasted away on little things. Five minutes of Facebook or washing the dishes.
But don’t the dishes need washed? Yes they do but do they need washed instead of playing with our kids? Maybe. I’ll admit that when “Daddy needs to wash the dishes.” is said at our house it’s code for “Daddy needs a two-minute break from the kids.” but maybe that’s because the time with the kids is too unstructured. What about grocery shopping or watching television? One immediate take away I’ve had – and I’ll be offering thoughts on this book a few more times – is that I really don’t enjoy going to the grocery store with our kids. I’m not sure if it’s them misbehaving or my expectation but I always leave feeling frazzled. What I’m going to do then, is schedule more staples shipped from Amazon.com’s Grocery section and not go to the store with them. I can spend an hour after they go to bed there or go early before they wake up. I can stop on the way home from work or while they are at school. Those are all better choices of what to do with my time because neither them or I want to be there.
I’ll be following up with more posts from 168 Hours, now that writing has been scheduled into my 168.