Tag Archives: Laura Vanderkam

Synopsis on How Successful Women Manage Time

On Friday, I present a synopsis of Laura Vanderkam‘s best seller, “I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time” (Portfolio, 2015). The book is based upon time diaries of 1001 days, divided into 1/2-hour chunks, from 150 women who make at least $100,000 a year with at least one child under 18 who lives at home,

To register for the synopsis at the Park City Club on March 4 at 7:30 a.m., simply click here.


Five Marks of a Great Interviewer

There’s a scene in the movie Life or Something Like It where Lanie Kerrigan (Angelina Jolie) ignores what is “expected,” and chooses her own questions to ask the legendary TV personality Deborah Connors (Stockard Channing).  It, of course, made for a great interview.

{from the script:
Producer:  You’ll find your list of questions in here.
Lanie:  Oh, I have my own questions.
Producer:  Uh, Deborah Connors doesn’t answer any questions she doesn’t already know.}

Bob Morris

I thought of this as I read, quite thoroughly, Bob Morris’ interview with Laura Vanderkam, author of the book 168 Hours, on our blog.  (Read it here).  Bob won’t like it that I praise him so visibly, but for those who like to read interviews, let me state the obvious:  he is a master at the art of conducting an interview.  What does he do?

First, he actually has studied his interview subject – thoroughly. He has read their books, and paid careful attention to their backgrounds.  This greatly informs his choice of questions.  If you read many of his interviews, you will see that he does not use “boilerplate” questions.

Second, he crafts questions from the content of the books of the interview subjects. Because he has actually read their material, he knows what they said, and he asks them to summarize key concepts, and then to elaborate on their insights.

Third, he interviews “from overflow.” There is no predicting what other authors, poets, or other sources will be used to frame a question.  And every such “unexpected” question fits the interview perfectly.  For example, in his interview with Ms. Vanderkam, he quotes from English poet William Ernest Henley, and other authors/people that Ms. Vanderkam profiles or quotes in her own work.

Fourth, he puts each interview subject into a larger context. He realizes that no author, no book, stands alone, and he draws from his wide-ranging knowledge in every interview.  By the way, I don’t know the exact count, but Bob has posted dozens of interviews with authors on our blog, and many more are on the way.

Fifth, he starts by choosing interview subjects that he respects. It is clear, in all of his interviews, that he respects the authors and their work.  I happen to know this about him – he loves to learn, and he respects authors who write books that are worth our time.  This respect comes through in his interviews.

In all of these, there is one very obvious, yet critical factor – he prepares for each interview, one interview at a time.

We are fortunate to have these interviews on our blog.  Authors are finding his interviews valuable to them, and many of them link to these interviews on their own web sites.  And, most of all, reading his interviews adds greatly to our own never-ending pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

So, thanks Bob.

The Jury Is In – We Are, Nearly All, World-Class Time Wasters!

I don’t manage my time well enough.  Do you?

The answer, almost certainly, is “no.” Not many of us do. Spock did – and, I suspect David Allen does. And Peyton Manning. But most of us are mere mortals, and we are: off focused, easily distracted, lazy, following the wrong priorities, following no priorities… We are, to put it simply, world-class time wasting human beings. That’s why the time management section has so many best sellers. It’s kind of like the “diet” section. The reason there are so many best-sellers is that there are so many of us who have so little control. (By the way, as close as I can tell, there is only one way to lose weight – take in fewer calories than you burn – over the long haul! And that is really, really, really hard).

Bob Morris has already reviewed the newest book in the field, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. (Read his review here).

This morning, Slate.com has a terrific article about this book/this problem: A Time-Management Book Changed My Life! (Again.) — A review of Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by KJ Dell’Antonia. But it’s not a “review.” It’s a confessional – for all of us. It is filled with honest, revealing paragraphs. Like these:

Did I, with Vanderkam’s help, come up with a radical new way of thinking about time?
Not even close. What’s remarkable about my experience with 168 Hours isn’t that I gained an extra two hours—it’s that I gained them by following essentially the same advice I could have found in any of the other dozen books in my stack. Every one starts with measurement: The 25 Best Time-Management Tools and Techniques demands that you “Find Out What Time Means to You!” by tracking what you’re doing every five minutes for a week. Sarah Susanka gently encourages seekers of The Not-So-Big Life to “understand our relationship with time” through the use of a multipage time-usage questionnaire. The advice that follows, too, is the same: Eliminate the waste and cease the frittering. “Get rid of non-core-competency work,” says Vanderkam; “Prioritize the important over the urgent,” Time Management for Creative People tells me. Make a list of the things you should do, and the things you have to do, James T. McCay told the Greatest Generation in The Management of Time, published 50 years ago. Now take the list of things you “should do” and throw it away.

Time management is like an American form of Buddhism: a complete and graceful ability to do everything you want to do in precisely the time you’ve been given is our nirvana. Seekers (like me) are happy to read and apply the same advice again and again, because a systematic approach makes that feeling of having as much time as you need seem within reach. “Numbers,” said Gary Wolf, writing about the urge to track our lives for the New York Times Magazine, “make problems less resonant emotionally but more tractable intellectually.” And that’s the sucker punch of the time-management approach: It turns the question of “not having enough time” into a math problem, and allows the real issue to slip under the radar.

And the article ends with this:

The call of 168 Hours is the call of the brief spiritual check-in. “Are we putting enough of ourselves into the stuff that’s most important?” is a question everybody asks once in a while. Some people ask it in church, some in post-yoga Savasana. Millions of Type-A Americans, list-makers and time-trackers all, cloak it in the guise of making the most of our time. But the real issue is the same for everybody: We’re here, and then we’re not. Whatever comes in between those clauses takes more than a little time to figure out.

I have taught time management. I have read so many books. The article lists all of these: 25 Best Time Management Tools and Techniques; The Not-So-Big-Life; Addicted to Stress; Getting Things Done; Never Be Late Again; Managing Life With Kids; The Four-Hour Workweek; Time Management for the Creative Person – and left off the classic How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein.

I have tried the ideas, implemented the steps – and I still have not come close to mastering this challenge.

If you manage your time really well, you don’t need this book.  And I envy you.  If you don’t manage your time well, this book is probably a great new book to read.

But actually doing it – well, good luck!

The time management problem – for must of us, it is the ultimate knowing-doing gap.