168 Hours Summary
Why Should You Read This Summary?
Life has become very noisy, and there seems to be something new that we should add to our plan. Some people manage to stay organized, while others fall into the trap of burnout. This book will teach you how to build a clean schedule that can make you happy, more productive, and successful.
Who Should Read This Summary?
● Single moms, working moms, and stay-at-home moms
● Leaders of any organization
About the Author
Laura Vanderkam is an author, speaker, writer, and podcast host. She has written several books about time management and productivity.
Her articles have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and others. Laura’s TED Talk entitled “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time” has reached 8 million views. Despite her busy schedule, she spends quality time with her husband and five children.
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
Are you having too many responsibilities, and do you wish to get back control over your life? Do you feel tired and you need a break? Are your to-do lists full to the point where you can’t breathe? We’ve got you. You may feel that you are busy to the point where you have to make a choice, whether you choose work, family, or personal life. But what if you don’t need to choose? What if you can have the best of both worlds and live a balanced life? You can run a world-class establishment and still enjoy taking a day off to go hiking. Wouldn’t that be amazing? This book will teach the inner workings of time and how you can enjoy a full life while running a business. First, you will be amazed to discover that your understanding of how you’re spending your own time is wrong. You will know the truth about the 168 hours that you have every week.
Once you learn how to be conscious of your own time, this book will guide you toward finding the core competencies that you should be focusing on in your life. After that, you can then move on to the next step, which is finding your dream job. By reading this, you will find that it’s possible to create your job if you don’t find it anywhere. This will make you happier, more productive, and more creative. It will push you towards achieving a breakthrough that may change the world. Your skills may be the ones that the next big product or company needs. All that’s standing in your way is your perception of time and how you should manage it. To take control of your calendar, join us to learn more.
The Myth of the Time Crunch
Do you have something you dream of accomplishing but don’t have the time to do it? Do you have a list of plans that you wish to achieve, but you can’t squeeze into your tight schedule? Well, you are not alone. Everyone believes that they are working more than they should and sleeping less than they wish. They complain about not having enough time for their children and their hobbies. The surprise is that research proves that these are wrong. When some group of people was asked to keep a diary of what they do every day, results showed that everyone was sleeping more than eight hours a night, working less than they thought, and watching more TV.
This indicates that humans are not aware of how they spend their time. This is a problem that needs to be solved by keeping a time log. When you know exactly how you’re spending every minute of your week, you can adjust it to focus on doing the things that you want. While there are people that claim that working and having a family is time-consuming, others have managed to succeed in keeping the balance. For example, Theresa Daytner is a successful woman who still goes on trips with her children, goes hiking, or walks her dog. People who don’t know how much responsibility she has thought that she may be unemployed or retired. They never see her complain or rush to do things because she has full control over her life.
She might be busier than anyone you may know. She has six children, and she is the owner of a construction company that earns seven figures a year. You can imagine how much work raising six kids requires and how much focus is needed in running a business. But still, Theresa has the time to join a book club. So, how does she do it? Not by sleeping less or waking up early, but by being conscious of every minute she spends in her day. She knows what she needs to prioritize to keep a balance between work, her kids, and her personal needs. She utilizes her time not by the hour but by the minute; that’s how important time is for her. For example, she waits for about 10 minutes in the car, reading a story for her child sitting in the backseat.
You can find the right moment to study that book you have always wanted to read for months. You can soak in the tub for as much as you need, and you can enjoy a walk outside if you want. All you have to do is watch how you spend your time, then try to make changes to fit your desires. When you focus on the things that matter the most, you can have the liberty to do whatever you like.
Your Core Competencies
If we try to define life, we find that it’s a collection of duties that we do every day. These tasks can be necessary, such as breathing, or they can be optional, such as a hobby. The chores we choose are our responsibility, and we have to be conscious of how we are spending every minute of our day. Core competencies are assignments that you do better than anyone else. If you find this in your life, you can concentrate on them and not bother about the rest. You can discover your core competencies by doing a simple activity. Write a list of your 1000 goals, then start emphasizing those that don’t take too much time and money. You will notice that there are things you love, and you’re good at, but you don’t enjoy.
For instance, Jackie Camborde had one ambition, and it was to lose weight. After she quit smoking, she started to gain weight, and the issue became out of control. She was getting married, and she wanted to look good wearing her wedding dress. So, she decided to go to the gym. The first check required her to stand on a scale in front of everyone in the fitness class. After the assessment, the instructor said that Jackie has to lose weight first before she can join. This sad experience didn’t make her quit. She went to the gym and did some cardio workouts until she reached the required weight for the gym class.
What kept her going was not only her strong resolve; she also discovered that she enjoys working out and being around people. She loved the atmosphere. She changed her instructor and worked with someone nicer. Soon, she lost forty pounds and got a certification to teach her gym class. As she tried running her class, she noticed that she was good at getting people to work out and because she was overweight, she was more understanding and accepting of the people who were the same size as she used to be. Soon after, she tried dance choreography, and she loved it. She has now found her specialty, and she can move forward to a bigger dream which is opening her gym.
After a few years, she made it come true. It was a small gym, and it offered only one class, but she was doing great at that, and she felt fulfilled. Her background as an overweight helped her know how to deal with people of all sizes, and soon she became famous for her core competencies. She now has her fitness center with six teachers and a DVD that she released under the title “Real World Yoga: Real People With Real Bodies.”You can be like her and get famous for doing what you love. Find what you do best, and the rest will be explained in the next chapters.
The Right Job
Most people spend their life working for companies that they don’t like and doing jobs that they hate. Choosing the right job is as important as choosing your husband or your wife. If you don’t work on what you love, you will come home drained every day. Working in the right job can make you happier, more motivated, and more creative. The right job should give you freedom of choice, challenge you, and provide you with good teamwork and support. You don’t have to let go of your job; try to modify the one you have until you make enough money to start your own. To find the right job, check your list of 1000 dreams. Try to find the tasks that get your attention, challenge you, and make you happy. Then, try to think of ways how you can integrate them into your current job.
Ilan Kroo is a great example of someone who made his dream job a reality. He grew up in the country, and he always dreamed of flying machines as a kid. There was a time when he created a hang glider from bamboo sticks and duct tape. He was so pleased with his creation, that he tried to test it with a group of friends. They ran down the hill and got the satisfaction of getting a few feet off the ground before crashing. He survived the crash, and in high school, he tried to create something else. With the help of his professor, he tried to create an improved model of the wind tunnel. His goal was to understand better how aerodynamics works. He tried to replace the support system for the wind tunnels with magnets. He believed that this would improve the model because magnets don’t interfere with airflow.
This creation landed him a big prize which pushed him to go further. He got a Ph.D. in aeronautics and created many inventions. One of his famous inventions is the SWIFT which is a plane that doesn’t need an engine to fly. It is also known as the foot-launched sailplane. It makes no sound and imitates the flight of birds. Ilan knew since he was a kid what his core competency was. Do you think he would have succeeded if he was working in a field that he wasn’t passionate about? Of course not. From childhood to their teenage and adult years, he kept on practicing and working on his aim to fly. Thus, he succeeded. People say that a long-lasting marriage is hard work. The same is also true in pursuing your passion.
Controlling Your Calendar
Most people are overwhelmed by the responsibilities that they have to do every day in the office. What they don’t realize is that most of these chores are unnecessary. Being busy doesn’t mean that you’re productive. To make the best of your 168 hours each week, you need to get rid of things that don’t add value to your job or your life. They are a waste of time, and you need to replace them with your specialized skill. When you clean your calendar, you can focus on things that, if you work on, can make a huge impact on your life.
Let’s look at John Anner and how he turned his core competency into something that changed the lives of millions of people. John was the founder of The Independent Press Association. After six years, he turned this organization from a small business into a huge firm that was providing services for hundreds of magazines. He then moved to a different organization called East Meets West Foundation based in Vietnam. As a leader, he tried to focus on three core competencies that he believed would benefit the country. These are medical treatment, clean water, and education. John and his team found out that 30 percent of immature babies die right after they’re born in Vietnam.
They introduced baby air machines that could help save the life of premature newborns. After one year of this project, studies showed that the death rate of these infants dropped to 10 percent, which was a miraculous improvement. Some may say that he was lucky, but his success was the result of his unusual method of running his team. When asked about the secret of his success, he replied that the most life-changing principle he applied in his company was to teach his employees how to conduct effective meetings. He noticed that business meetings are usually a waste of time, and he created an agenda that everyone shared.
This objective had clear schedules of short meetings that only the employees who are directly involved should attend. Inviting everyone to the conference is a waste. By optimizing the time of conventions, employees had more time to spend on work than hearing the same presentations over and over again. He knew how to clean his calendar of tasks that were not paying any productive value to his firm. As a result, he and his foundation attained extraordinary success.
Anatomy of a Breakthrough
Now that you have become conscious of how you are spending every minute of your day and you have cleaned your chart, you can focus on doing something that will change the world. Knowing and working on your core competencies is not enough. You need to aim higher. You need to strive for a breakthrough. You can do that by spotting your next big chance, working on getting it right, being open to opportunities, then riding the wave of success. Leah Ingram was a blogger who was working in the niche of weddings, but she hated it. She was so sick of writing about these topics that she promised to put her head through a wall if she wrote another wedding blog.
As a kid, she was raised in a thrifty home. Despite that, in her forties, Leah found herself in a lot of debt. So, she decided to make a low-budget living using her new skill. She was determined to learn everything there is to know and become an expert on the subject, then blog about it. She dedicated five days of the week to her new blog. She didn’t question whether this would work or not, but she followed her instinct and went for it. She wasn’t sure if blogging about this subject matter would pay off, but she believed it was worth it and that one day she could turn it into a book. One day, she met a big agent who promised her that the book would sell. But as the agent tried to look for publishers, everyone told him that this topic was out of the market.
Although her voice wasn’t heard by any of them, she believed in what she was doing. She kept blogging five days a week, and after a year, people started noticing her. The economy went down, and people needed to learn about low-budget living. Journalists researched the topic, and some of them found her blog. They asked for an interview. More opportunities started to come, and more money began to flow in for her. That’s when she felt that this might lead to something big. One of the biggest opportunities she received was being featured on the front page of The Business Week. There she was, standing with her husband, kids, and their dog. The article was titled “The New Age of Thrift.”
The New Home Economics
This chapter concentrates on how people spend their time at home when they are less busy. In the past, women used to focus on dusting, cleaning, and cooking for the family. Nowadays, they prefer to give more importance to spending time with their kids than doing some house chores. To manage your time at home, you need to create rituals for your kids and your spouse. Even if you are too occupied, try to integrate some of the things you dream of fulfilling and do them with your kids.
For example, you want to try baking or painting. You can do that with your toddler or preschooler. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. You already achieved one goal on your list, and you had quality time with your child. Strengthening the relationship between you and your spouse is also important. You can never be productive and motivated to live a full life if you’re fighting with your partner every day. So, you need to set a time for your husband or wife. Plan a date night or a weekend trip if you can afford to pay for a babysitter. If you can’t afford that, wait till your kids are asleep and sit for an hour or two in a romantic setting that you prepare yourself at home. You don’t even need to go out. The porch or the backyard can be turned into a perfect venue for your date.
To explain the new home economics and how they’re different from how they used to be, we will tell you the story of two different women. One of them is from the past, and the other is from the present. Mrs. Thelma Meyer lived in the 1990s, and she was the symbol of the perfect wife. Even with nine children, she somehow managed to keep her house clean, cook and bake for the family. Her responsibilities included doing fifteen baskets of laundry every week, washing piles of dishes every day, wiping the floors, and dusting. Her children started to help around the house when they grew up. But even with their help, there was still too much to do. She had no time for doing something fun. When her kids were taking a nap, you would find her sewing or making bread for the next meal.
In the past, women were always at home taking care of the kids and the house. Nowadays, they work all day and come home with different demands, just because times have changed doesn’t mean that they are any more or less busy. The circumstances are different, but the hours spent on doing tasks are still the same. Maureen Beddis is a modern-day mom. She has one child, and she works as the senior director of Vision Council, a non-profit organization. What made matters worse was that her husband was in the army, so he was unable to help with anything. Somehow, Maureen made it work. She wakes at 5:30 in the morning to jog with her dog; then, her daughter wakes up at around 6:30.
They eat breakfast together and prepare for the day. She drops her kid at school and then goes to work. At five in the afternoon, she picks up her child, they eat dinner, and then go out for a nice walk with the dog. At 7:30 at the night, she puts her kid to bed, cleans what she could around the house for 30 minutes, and then does work-related jobs until 9:30.This method is perfect for a working mum, and she sleeps eight hours a day. Although she’s busy, she manages to make enough time for her kid, for exercise, for cleaning, and of course, for her projects in the non-profit organization.
With the shift in the new home economics, the world has changed. The duty that we do every day has increased, and we don’t seem to have enough time for fun or family. Not everyone has a problem with having a demanding job and a family of one or more children. Some have found a way to make it work. This book is the result of studying how these people accomplish this while others can’t.In this book, you have learned how to keep a time log to be conscious of how you’re spending your time. You also learned that frequently knowing what you’re doing can help you clean your calendar and keep only the things that matter the most for your productivity. In addition, it helps you understand yourself better. You learned how to find your core competencies in life and turn them into great breakthroughs. Track your time, learn your calendar, prioritize the things that matter, and you’ll have a balanced life.