Saturday, January 11, 2020

Approach Time Management in 7 Days, Not Just Monday to Friday

I'm a huge fan of Laura Vanderkam, the time management writer and speaker. She has two podcasts - Before Breakfast and Best of Both Worlds - that I faithfully subscribed and listened to on my commute.

One key takeaway from her book "168 Hours - You Have More Time Than You Think" changed my approach to time management significantly. In this book, she argues you should look at the entire week in totally, not just the weekdays. Here's how this perspective help me solve a time management issue recently.

I have a daily two-hour commute to work. I have a fulfilling job with good company culture, flexible work-from-home policy, smart co-workers, and upward mobility. So I'm not likely changing jobs in the near future. So I spend a lot of time strategising how to maximize my time during commute.

Eventually, I landed on the habit of listening to audiobooks and various news/educational podcasts. Thanks to this habit, I easily logged almost 3 hours' of reading time everyday. In 2019 I finished 52 books. Of course, some of them are actually books I read outside of commute.

The only downside I perceived is I didn't have enough time to reflect and write down my learning from these books. So on the one hand I read a lot, on the other hand I don't feel like I get as much out of them as I should.

Going into 2020, my new goal is to balancing out my input (reading), and output (reflecting on what I learned and writing them down). So I started tracking my time again (another useful tip from Laura). Here's what I found:

When I look my time-log this past week (Monday 1/6/2020 to Friday 1/10/2020), I logged 17 hours of reading/audiobook time! That's average 3.4 hours per day - basically my daily commute. However, the time I spent on writing and reflecting on what I learned? Merely 2 hours.

I have been trying to squeeze some time after dinner to write. But the truth is I am pretty beat when I got home from home so I didn't have the discipline to do it. And this past week wasn't even a busy week at work.

This situation has troubled me for some time until I thought of the 168 hours philosophy from Laura. What about the weekends? Don't I have big chunks of time to write? The answer is absolutely yes. Weekend mornings are the best time to sit down, reflect on what I learned this past week!

Also, the 2 hours I logged during weekdays aren't that bad either. It's a little over 20 minutes a day. If I could keep it up, I could jot down a few quick thoughts during weekdays and write out more organized articles on weekends.

It's amazing how a mindset shifts help put everything in a completely different perspective.

Ta-da problem solved! Well... let me give it a try for a few weeks and report back how it really works.

I would love to hear any suggestions you might have as well!

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