Sunday, April 6, 2014

This Book Changed My Life

I love books about self improvement. Reading books about how to become a more exemplary person is an enjoyable leisure time activity for me.

Some of the books are pretty good. I savor them while I'm reading them. I always love the real life examples of other people being successful with this or that lifestyle change. Even when the book is mostly bad, I get at least one nugget of extremely useful information. That's worth the price of admission.

Then there are the books that transcend all of that. One of them is 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. This title will sound familiar to people I know. That's because I proselytize about it.

If you feel like there are things you want to do but never have the time, then this is the book for you. If you've read books about time management and haven't liked them, then this is the book for you. This one is different.

I read this book a couple of years ago. I became interested while on the treadmill. I was not on the proverbial treadmill. I was on an actual treadmill, working out and listening to a podcast interview with the author. I became intrigued and signed the book out of the library. Then I loved it so much that I downloaded it to my iPad. I refer to it often.

Since reading the book and implementing many good ideas from it, I've been able to find time for a lot of things. Of course, I have always made time for things I have to do. Now I'm better at managing time for those things. The big difference is having time for all the things I want to do.

I found more time to be a supportive and guiding parent to two teenagers. I've made the time for shared activities with my family that we all enjoy. I've matched two children with NYC public high schools that support their gifts, areas of challenge and interests. I've made more time to be an effective and empathic case manager for my son with mild special needs.

We have an acceptably clean apartment. No one is in want of clean clothes to wear. At the same time, no one is cleaning or washing clothes in an obsessive way. Meals are served at predictable intervals and given a thumbs up almost all of the time, with some planning and minimal, enjoyable effort.

I carve out the discipline to exercise for 30 minutes six times a week. I've organized myself to have between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. I could get a lot more accomplished if I didn't have to sleep so much.  I've accepted that without a good chunk of shut-eye I will get close to nothing done and become extremely annoying to myself and others.

There are pockets of time I've used to re-discover my love of photography. I'm currently working on twenty separate series of photographs. I've recently started a blog and am keeping my commitment to posting twice a week. I'm having the time of my life with these creative endeavors.

I volunteer for my children's schools, but have implemented a special rule. The volunteer tasks must have a beginning, middle and end measurable in hours or days, not months or years. That means PTA Secretary is out, bake sale is in.

I am currently working on an apartment renovation. I am thinking about two areas I'd like to expand into, which are semi-regular childless outings with Jeremy. I have phrased it this way because I hate the term Date Night. After the apartment renovation, I'm going to cultivate my entrepreneurial side.

At one point I noticed that Jeremy has a passion for and knowledge of music that is completely unique. He was blogging but not regularly. I was able to help him free up time to attend concerts, write about music and cultivate relationships with musicians he admires. He's using his time to become a singular voice in the music industry. And he's also having a really good time.

I'll also mention that this major undertaking is in addition to the full time job he holds as executive director of an organization called Hope & Heroes. They raise money to support the pediatric oncology unit of Columbia University Medical Center.

Creating time where there was previously none has made me more careful with it. It's easier to say no to things I don't want to do. It's easier to say no to things I'd like to do if I didn't want to do something else more.

Bragging is not my motivation here.  I wanted you to know that when I title a blog post This Book Changed my Life I'm not fooling around.

Once I started thinking differently about time, that cognition had implications for other areas of life, like finances. I'm exploring this now. I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. Wow, what a great story! I recently read 168 Hours, too, and am working on implementing some of its advice. I didn't find it quite as earth-shattering as you did, but your review/update has inspired me to make sure I really follow through with all those good ideas now that I've read the book.

    Good for you!! Thanks for sharing your success!


    Book By Book

    Book by Book is now on Facebook!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Sue!