Laura Vanderkam wrote a self-help book on time management entitled 168 Hours. In a recent BNET article, she reflects on the best time-saving tip she has to share: the freedom to choose how we spend our time.
Vanderkam begins by describing an exercise she conducts with readers during discussions of her book. First, she hands out a spreadsheet with 168 blank cells. The audience is asked to ponder those empty cells which will all be filled, in one week’s time, with choices. She explains that while there may be lots to do, we choose how to spend that time, even if the choices are often made without thought.
While streamlining our activities, working more efficiently and prioritizing tasks is all important in time management, Vanderkam claims that the most freeing tip of them all is that we get to decide how those hours will be spent, enabling us to fill them with things that matter most to us. While that does imply corresponding consequences, it does empower us with agency, enabling us to change the force of time to something that better resembles our greatest desires.
Vanderkam explains, “If minutes are choices, no longer do you fantasize about the wonderful things you’d try if only you could find another 15 minutes in the day… You no longer try to “find” that extra 15 minutes, perhaps by doing your errands in a different order, and squeeze the life you want into that space. Instead, you start by filling your 168 hours with the things that matter to you and those you care about — those high-impact activities that nurture your career, nurture your family, and nurture yourself — and spend as few of your 168 hours as possible on anything else.”
While this will take practice, it is an opportunity to spend your life doing exactly what you’ve always wanted. Maybe now the question is, what, exactly, have you always wanted to do with your time?
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Vanderkam, Laura. “The Biggest Time Saving Tip of All.” 31 May 2011 BNET.com