Think of something that you really want to do, but don’t have the time. It could be learning a foreign language, meditating everyday, cooking your own meals rather than getting take outs or maybe joining a gym and getting fit?
If I gave you an hour every day extra, would you then do whatever it is that you currently have no time for, would you allocate that one hour to whatever it is you chose?
My guess is you said yes, when the reality is if you are like most people you probably wouldn’t.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say within a short period of time you’d be complaining “there simply just aren’t enough hours in the day”.
It’s no different than people who think they just need that next pay rise of 20% to ensure everything in their garden will be financially rosy. Indeed it may be for a few weeks or even a few months, but eventually they’ll be looking to the next pay rise that really, really, will make the difference this time.
Change The Way You Think
The only way you can change your financial situation, short of receiving a large windfall, is to change the way you think about money and thus the way you manage it.
If you continue to think as you always have then, it’s doubtful anything will change and your expenditure will creep back up in line with your income and ultimately you’ll be no better off even if you do have a newer car or bigger house.
The same goes for time. The only way you can change your relationship with time is to think differently about it and realize that you have choices.
That is where many productivity and time management books like David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ fall down for lots people, because they focus on the mechanics and actions of productivity which is working at a symptom level rather than getting to the cause.
If you’re a left-brained type that has no problem color coding tickler files into 19 different shades of magenta, arranging your Sharpies in ascending colors of the rainbow and writing a to-do list for preparing an omelette, then that’s a great approach for you.
Ok, ok, so that may be a tad harsh, but the point is a serious one.
Some people only need to be shown the right path to be on before they can take the first step, some people need to understand why that path is the right one for them.
If you are a serial procrastinator I will almost guarantee that ‘Getting Things Done’ didn’t help you overcome that issue. Sure you may have had some initial relief as you set up your work-flow with the best intentions, but it would have seemed like a real struggle and you’d have slipped back into old habits.
Seldom these days does a book on self-development, blow me away. I’m not sure whether that’s a product of reading hundreds of them and little seems new to me any more, or it may just be because I’m a bitter old cynic.
For various reasons, Gretchen Ruben’s ‘The Happiness Project’ and Martha Beck’s ‘Follow Your North Star” have both been recently started with the intention of reviewing here, but then put down before the end because I was either not enjoying them or getting no discernible benefit.
168 Hours, You Have More Time Than You Think
The same cannot be said for Laura Vanderkam’s excellent book ‘168 Hours You Have More Time Than You Think’
I love this book because Vanderkam challenges her readers to think differently about time and not to simply be swept along by the erroneous belief that we all have too much to do in too little time.
As Vanderkam points out, research has proven few of us work anything like as long as we think we do.
If you fully absorb and understand it, that knowledge alone can be a catalyst for change . The sad fact is, if you honestly don’t believe you have enough time you’re unlikely to go looking for it.
Vanderkam goes to great pains to help the reader realize that she almost always has time to do whatever it is she wants to do, if that is, she chooses to do it.
This really hit home for me as I have been complaining lately I’ve not had time to meditate. The truth is I’ve given other things priority because each time I didn’t meditate it was because I chose to do something else instead. It really is that simple.
168 Hours is full of brilliant real life stories of people that on the whole you’ll never have heard of. People that are no different to you and I, other than their ability to get things done.
The reasons why stories like this work so well is that we can relate to them more easily. Telling you Winston Churchill managed to win a war whilst earning a doctorate, running a marathon a day, learning to play guitar and raising 9 children would make for a great story. However, I doubt it would inspire you to action as Churchill is not somebody many people can relate to.
On the other hand, if you’re a single mother holding down two jobs and I tell you about somebody in a similar situation to yourself who is doing remarkable things with her time and living a full and exciting life, that might.
Common wisdom suggests e-mails should be filed and your in-box be empty as much as possible. It seems to be the Holy Grail of productivity and I regularly see people announce triumphantly to Twitter that their in-box is empty.
But seriously, who cares if your in-box is empty?
I know Laura Vanderkam doesn’t, because she has an in-box with over 30,000 emails in it.
That’s right, a productivity expert that doesn’t file her e-mails Heresy! Call the Productivity Police now and let’s string her up now!
When you get past the initial shock (or in my case, raucous laughter) you realize her logic is fundamentally sound. As she points out, her e-mail program has a search facility and she can find e-mails when she needs them in less time than it would take to set up multiple folders.
Now that is what I call thinking differently. That’s what I call thinking outside the (in) box.
168 Hours isn’t just about getting you to think differently because there are the forms and charts you’d expect from something that is predominantly about time management, but because it gets you to think of your choices in a different light I suspect more people are likely to visit her site and download them.
168 Hours is more than a time management book as you may well have gathered, it’s a self development book that just happens to help people with time. The truth is I’m only about two thirds of the way through the book, but already I’ve had more than enough value and I’m pretty sure you will too. The link above is an Amazon affiliate link. If you’d rather not use that, just click here.
Urgent For Whom?
One of my favorite quotes isn’t an uplifting inspirational quote at all. It’s not devastatingly witty or intellectual and it didn’t come from the mouth of Gandhi, Churchill, Twain or Wilde. It doesn’t particularly roll off the tongue and it’s not one I’ve ever seen Tweeted.
When an assistant came running up to John Wayne on the set of one his movies informing him he had an urgent phone call, Wayne is supposed to have responded by saying:
“Urgent for who? Me, or the guy on the other end of the phone?”
Think about that next time your boss, friend or spouse tells you something is urgent.
I said at the end of my last post I was starting a 30 day experiment into gaining more energy. I was going to write a post about it, but after reading 168 Hours I’ve decided that I’d rather just do it and report back with my findings if I think you’ll get something from them.