Summer Read: What I Learned Taking the 168 Hour Challenge

How many times have you said to yourself that there aren’t enough hours to…(fill in the blank)? As our days become filled with more obligations from our jobs and our families, we tend to be hard pressed for the most valuable thing we possess…time. Sure we have time, but not to pursue our passions and the things we feel like will make us better people.

Take me for example, it took me a whole year to read, “I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time,” by Laura Vanderkam. It’s not that it’s a bad read, quite the opposite. I just didn’t feel like I had the time to read it. I’m glad I did though because I figured out I have a few hours in the week that I can focus on my personal goals (my blog and working out), if I’m really committed to the idea of getting more done in the week.

So here’s how it works, the challenge encourages you to take a “time audit” to see where you’re currently spending your time (down to the half-hour). Once you figure out where you spend and/or waste most of your time, you can redirect it to more productive and satisfying pursuits. Vanderkam even offers some tips in her book on how to be more productive. She suggests adjusting work schedules and even suggests replacing that hour of TV watching with spending an hour pursing a hobby.

Here’s what I learned from taking the 168 hours challenge:

Work, Work, and Work Some More!

I work a lot. My day job takes up 40 hours a week and then I spend the rest of the time on my various pursuits (most notably this blog). I was actually surprised by how much I do work because before I had my son, it wasn’t a huge issue. I could do it all in my sleep. Now that I have a little boy to chase after, it feels like I’m juggling a million different things while standing on a banana peel. My mantra has always been to work smarter, not harder.

One way I figured I could do that is by scheduling time to do the time consuming tasks like responding to emails and returning phone calls. I would typically respond to emails as I receive them and also take phone calls all throughout my day. By scheduling an hour in the morning and in the evening for these two activities, I can get a lot more done at work by not letting myself become distracted by an email that seems simple but can take an hour or more to resolve.

I Waste a Lot of Time on TV

It doesn’t feel like I get a lot of time to watch TV. I only get to watch TV when my son is taking a nap or after I’ve put him to bed for the night. Then I get to watch my favorite shows like Game of Thrones or American Gothic. While that’s fun and all, that hour or two each night amounts to twelve hours a week and could have been spent hitting the gym and blogging. What I found out is that going to the gym at 9 at night feels so WRONG. But one thing this book has taught me is that you have to commit to it once you find the time, so I’m going to give it a try.

I Spend Zero Hours on Myself!!

Notwithstanding that little bit of time I waste on watching TV…I literally do nothing for myself. I can’t remember the last time I waxed my eyebrows or got a pedicure. I barely brush my hair and lotion in the morning! Part of the problem is that I feel guilty “wasting” time doing those things when I could be hanging out with my son or cleaning the house.

I vow to make more time for myself because if I look good, I feel good!

If you’re interested in taking the 168 week challenge, click here and it will share all the details so you can start enjoying the time you do have! Good luck.

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