I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time
by Laura Vanderkam
I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for helpful time management tips. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam delivers. Vanderkam takes the unique approach of reviewing actual data — time logs from the women in her Mosaic Project. Each woman recorded how she spent her time 24 hours a day for one week. Her participants each “have it all”, something she defines as earning over $100k per year and having at least one child under the age of 18 years old.
Don’t worry! You do not have to fit this definition to find the book helpful, and relationship status is not part of her definition of “having it all”. Yes, Vanderkam includes a few examples of women who have incredibly helpful husbands (and some of them have nannies, too), but many of them don’t. And real life examples like needing to work and having a sick child at the same time are universal parental experiences regardless of important tools like having a supportive partner, paid leave time, or the ability to work from home.
The math itself is empowering. As Vanderkam points out,
“There are 168 hours in a week. If you work 50, and sleep 8 per night (56 hours per week in total), that leaves 62 hours for other things. If you work 60 hours and sleep 8 hours per night, that leaves 52 hours for other things.” (Introduction)
Yes, the other things may include activities like eating lunch while checking your work email, doing laundry, or waiting in line at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for that sick child after getting up in the middle of the night with her, but there are still other things, too. Things like having a meal (not necessarily dinner!) with family members, exercise, and hobbies.
I tried the time log for a week, and I was surprised at how grateful and empowered it helped me to feel. I was also shocked at how much time I spent driving my daughters around (although some of our best conversations happen in the car which balanced this out). That week I also spent time visiting with friends and family (while social distancing), reading, and practicing yoga.
Vanderkam encourages her readers to recognize that they have leisure time and to take charge of this and enjoy it.
“Think through your leisure time. People are generally good about setting work goals, but we’re not as good about personal ones. In five minutes, you could decide that next week
you’ll make dinner plans with friends, watch a favorite movie with your family, and make your famous apple pie over the weekend.” (Chapter 9)
Regardless of the obligations you have in your own 168 hours each week, I recommend taking the time to read I Know How She Does It. It will help you to create a beautiful mosaic of your own.
Rating 5 stars out of 5
I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time Copyright 2015, 2017 by Laura Vanderkam
Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.