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168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

By Laura Vanderkam

Ever feel like you need more than 24 hours in a day? This book helps the reader see that there’s plenty of time, and argues that it’s easy to find those extra hours if you’ll just think of your life in terms of 168 hours a week, rather than 24 hours a day.

It’s a powerful insight. If you think of a week– 168 hours– it’s easy to see that 40 hours of work and 56 hours of sleep leaves you plenty of times for doing what’s important to you. In face, with those 96 hours spoken for, making time to exercise 30′ a day only gets you to 99.5 hours. The question, then, isn’t how to find enough time for the things you care about, but rather how to keep yourself from frittering time away.

The first section of the book is terrific, and the central insight– plan your weeks, not your days– is nicely fleshed out in that space. I especially enjoyed the stories of people with extraordinary lives filled with professional accomplishment, family connections, and joy.

The rest of the book was re-warmed self help boilerplate and generally unsatisfying. I had the sense that it was there primarily to add enough pages to make a book. There are better resources in the library for learning how to improve your efficiency at work and at home. If I were the publisher, I would have made the book…book length… by making the back 3/4 into a pencil-and-paper workbook to help the reader prioritize, think through places where he or she could get more out of the passing hours, and identify targets for efficiency at home, at work, and at play.

This is a terrific book for readers who are lightly taking stock of their lives, but I would recommend also checking out books along the lines of David Allen’s Getting Things Done or Pam Young+Peggy Jones’ Get Your Act Together, which are better mind candy for those wanting to get more done at work and at home. All three books are available from the Durham County Library.

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