timeIt’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: we are all starved for time. With the rise of two-income families, extreme jobs, and the ability to log on to the world 24/7, life is so frenzied we can barely breathe.

But what if we actually have plenty of time? What if we could sleep eight hours a night, exercise five days a week, and learn how to play the piano without sacrificing work, family time, or any other activity that is important to us? According to Laura Vanderkam, we can. If we re-examine our weekly allotment of 168 hours, we’ll find that, with a little reorganization and prioritizing, we can dedicate more time to the things we want to do without having to make sacrifices.

  1. Watch an hour less of TV. Commit this week to watching only shows you love and absolutely nothing else.
  2. Do one thing at a time. When you try to check email while writing an essay, it can take 15 minutes or more to get back into the swing of things. Multi-tasking eats hours. Focus until you finish and then move on.
  3. Eat sandwiches for dinner. Or leftovers, or a frozen pizza, or eggs, or a quick salad. The point of family dinners is to be together, not channel Julia Child.
  4. Run one less errand. You’ll survive without that extra light bulb for a few more days.
  5. Lower your housekeeping standards. The house will just get dirty again, but you’ll never get that hour back. The laundry can wait another day or two.
  6. Aim for good enough. The vast majority of our work doesn’t have to be done to perfection, it just has to be done.
  7. Give things a home. Time spent hunting for shoes and cell phones isn’t helping anyone.
  8. Realize you look great already. The difference between a 45-minute personal care routine and a 30-minute one is more than an hour per workweek.
  9. If it’s possible, negotiate to work from home one day per week. Ditching the commute (and the suit) easily buys back an hour.
  10. Practice saying “no.” When you don’t volunteer for something, that doesn’t mean that thing isn’t important. Indeed, it could be so important that you know you can’t give it the attention it deserves. Suggest someone who could.

168hoursinyourweek – a spreadsheet to help you plan

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