168 Hours Book Summary - 168 Hours Book explained in key points
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168 Hours summary

Laura Vanderkam

You Have More Time Than You Think

4.2 (596 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

'168 Hours' by Laura Vanderkam is a time-management book that challenges the belief that we don't have enough time in a week. It offers practical strategies for maximizing our schedules and using time wisely to achieve personal and professional goals.

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    168 Hours
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    Key idea 1 of 8

    You’re not too busy – you’re just not in control of your time.

    Theresa Daytner leads a full life. The mother of six owns Daytner Construction Group – a company with twelve people on the payroll and a seven-figure revenue. But her life is far from all work and no play. Daytner coaches soccer, goes for regular massages, enjoys trail rides, and chills out watching the action-drama TV show 24.

    You’re probably thinking, “Does she ever sleep?” That’s exactly what Barack Obama was wondering when he met her. But Daytner gets a solid seven hours of sleep, every night. Her secret to packing so much into her day isn’t Dr. Who-style time travel. It's a mindset. Daytner takes full ownership of her time, using it only on the things she values: her family, her business, and herself. Instead of thinking, “I’m too busy,” she asks herself, “Is that a priority?” If it isn’t, Daytner simply lets it go. That way, she can focus on what she does well, and on what enriches her life.

    The key message here is: You’re not too busy – you’re just not in control of your time.

    The pressures of modern living make many of us feel time-poor. We’re busier than ever, pulling long hours at work. Our smartphones keep us under constant pressure to be “on.” We hardly ever manage to squeeze in time for our physical and mental health, and we can forget about having a decent conversation with our spouse or kids. By the end of the week, we feel worn out, disconnected, and unfulfilled – with no hope of pursuing anything we’re truly passionate about.

    But research has shown that we’re not as time-poor as we think. A study called the American Time Use Survey found that most Americans get eight hours of sleep each night, and that parents in full-time, paid employment work no more than 43 hours per week. That leaves 69 hours for everything else – ample time for chores, childcare, exercise, and hobbies. Yet somehow, few of us feel time-rich.

    The good news is that you can take control of your time by changing the way you organize your life. But before you do that, you need to understand how you’re actually spending the 168 hours in your week. To find out, create a time log. Draw up grids with seven columns for the days of the week and a cell for each hour of the day. Then, spend two to three weeks writing down how you spend every hour. This will give you an accurate picture of what you’re doing with your time.


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    What is 168 Hours about?

    168 Hours (2010) provides a revolutionary strategy to manage your time. Author Laura Vanderkam has discovered that successful people have a unique mindset, one that helps them fit everything they value into their week. By learning to time-manage like they do, you can free yourself from the daily grind and focus on what really matters. 

    168 Hours Review

    168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam (2010) is a fascinating exploration of the secret to a fulfilling life, debunking the notion that we don't have enough time. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • Inspires with practical strategies to help us make the most of our limited time, allowing us to focus on what truly matters.
    • Uses a mix of scientific research, real-life examples, and personal stories to deliver insightful perspectives on productivity and balance.
    • Keeps readers engaged with its detailed case studies and inspiring anecdotes, ensuring the exploration of time remains captivating and far from tedious.

    Best quote from 168 Hours

    Any work that is not advancing you towards the professional life you want should not count as work. It is wasted time.

    —Laura Vanderkam
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    Who should read 168 Hours?

    • Employees trapped in demanding and unfulfilling jobs
    • Parents who want more quality time with their kids
    • Creatives struggling to pursue their dreams

    About the Author

    Laura Vanderkam is an author and productivity specialist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Fortune. She is a co-host of the podcast Before Breakfast, which features ideas from her other books on time management including What Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Off the Clock, and I Know How She Does It. 

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    168 Hours FAQs 

    What is the main message of 168 Hours?

    Get more done by managing your time effectively.

    How long does it take to read 168 Hours?

    The reading time for 168 Hours varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is 168 Hours a good book? Is it worth reading?

    168 Hours is worth reading as it provides practical strategies for maximizing productivity and achieving work-life balance.

    Who is the author of 168 Hours?

    The author of 168 Hours is Laura Vanderkam.

    What to read after 168 Hours?

    If you're wondering what to read next after 168 Hours, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
    • The Free-Time Formula by Jeff Sanders
    • Less Doing, More Living by Ari Meisel
    • My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander
    • Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • The Now Habit by Neil Fiore
    • How Not to Age by Michael Greger
    • The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch