Managing Our Time Like We Manage Money

Strange how some books don't speak to you until you re-read it.  This book "168 Hours - You Have More Time Than You Think" is just what I need to get my act together right now at this stage of my life.

As a mom, wife, family CFO, small-time freelance writer, aspiring yoga teacher, I often struggle to find the right balance on how to utilize my 24 hours a day. (Yes, I took the plunge and was officially certified as a yoga teacher in February this year!)

These days, besides watching the stock market a lot more closely (for obvious reasons!), I have also been feeling the urge to grow my writing business and teach more yoga lessons.   I love these three aspects of my life a lot and know I couldn't live without them.  But I only have so many hours to devote, and each does require a certain amount of discipline to delve deep into the craft.  So, very often, I do one a lot more, at the expense of the other or worse, procrastinate and ignore the important stuff.  Finally, I find myself feeling guilty.  I always gave the excuse that there was so much housework to do, so many errands to run, since I am also the chief Maid in the house.

Author Laura Vanderkam had it figured out by asking readers to think of our disposable hours not as daily chunks of 24 hours but more as weekly portions of 168 hours.  It's a very simple but powerful concept.  After all, our Mondays should be very different from our Saturdays and for that matter, Fridays too!  So, why are we so bogged down to looking at our tasks on a day-to-day basis. Also, she forces one to take a close look at what truly makes us feel alive and make sure that we devote a specified number of hours on those areas on a weekly basis.  Certainly, cleaning house everyday does not fall into that category for me.  

I know this book works for me because even before I have finished half of it, I have started to carry out some of the tasks she asked us to do. I have started a time log (in half hour chunks) noting down what I do.   It seems so much like me noting down my daily expenses when I first started on my path to attain financial freedom. Just that this time, it's the limited resource of "time" that I am very careful about.

That very act alone had me subconsciously working my way into serious work.  Because I know I can only do X solid hours on these three areas of my life "personal finances", "writing" and "yoga" weekly, I became extremely wary of distractions like checking FB, Whatsapp etc, which by-the-way do not count as work although many of us are guilty of doing it during "work time".   And productivity has really improved!  Things that I thought I would take at least 2 days took less than that.  I also didn't "plan ahead" as much as I used to, believing that the internal system would weigh the important versus the not-so-important tasks.

So in the few days I started tracking, I have researched on a few stocks identified using pre-defined parameters, decided on the pricing I want to buy them at, and plan to further  our "cash ammunition" to buy at new lows.  For  "yoga", I began to go to other yoga classes with a view to see how I could incorporate each teacher's good points into my own lessons.  I also started marketing my yoga lessons on online media, something which I have been putting off for a long time.  Lastly, for writing, I have begun to be a lot more productive putting words to work. Well -  this post is one of them!

Just like when I first started tracking our expenses, I had to tally the time spent under various categories,  including self-care, household, family, plus of course my three main projects.  It was again an eye-opener.  I didn't realise how much time I was spending on household chores.  Vacuuming alone took one hour and putting together a simple meal ate up 1.5 hours!

Ever since I started tracking, I became a lot less frazzled when the house is a tad messier than normal.  In the past, I used to get carried away with cleaning small areas of the house and lost track of time.  Now, I have decided to just chunk it on a particular afternoon!  I also got my two boys to help out more - delegation or outsourcing at work!

Her chapter on "Don't Do Your Own Laundry" speaks to me loud and clear.  She debunked the widely-held belief that "cooking, scrubbing, vacuuming, lunch packing, and laundry" are mandatory tasks under the "caring for the family" core parental competency.  Instead, she insisted, time spent conversing, doing things with the family should be where we need to spend more of our time on! I didn't think of it this way before.  I often felt guilty not being the "good mom" who keeps the house spick and span.  Now, I realize, I was often naggy to my family whenever housework was involved, clean forgetting keeping house was really for my family in the first place!

Small things add up. And I hope the changes I make today will really add joy and fulfillment to my many future 168 hours!

P.S. If anyone needs to or is thinking of hiring a writer/editor/proofreading or yoga teacher, I'm more than happy to discuss with you!  (Following author's advice to "step outside one's comfort zone" when networking or marketing one's services!)


  1. Hi YP,

    I personally believe that it is important to know why we do what we do.

    For us, we do our own house chores, instead of hiring a helper, because we believe that our children need us doing it and this will slowly get them involved in it too.

    So its a joy when they also pick up a small mop and mimic us. :)

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    3. Hello thanks for dropping by! Precisely, doing own chores trains the kids to do themselves. Really important life skills. I still have this cute picture of my kids cleaning their room when they were toddlers! Novelty then. They have now graduated to mopping the floor, cleaning the fans, ironing uniforms, washing dishes and doing laundry. Even though they are kinda proud to be able to do them, frankly they would probably rather do something else with so many distractions nowadays ;) that's why they are household "chores" haha.

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    1. My sincere apologies! I accidentally deleted your comment. And it was such a beautifully written one too! Really appreciate your kind words. I have to be more careful with the comments page from now on.


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