By Erica Coghill
Join author Laura Vanderkam 6 to 8 p.m. March 12 at The Olmsted
for Norton Healthcare’s upcoming Go Confidently speaker event.
Have you ever uttered the words,
“If only I had more time?” Of course,
we all have.
No matter your lifestyle, family
unit, professional or personal
demands, you’ve no doubt been
overwhelmed by feeling like there
aren’t enough hours in the day.
We caught up with time
management expert and bestselling
author Laura Vanderkam for some
quick tips on how to make the most
of the time we have. She’ll be dishing
out a lot more during the March 12
installment of Norton Healthcare’s
free Go Confidently speaker series.
Mastering the Balancing Act
Time management is something
most of us have struggled with.
Even Vanderkam is no stranger
to the struggle. About 10 years ago,
the then-new-mom was faced with
an uncharted challenge: How do I
master the balancing act of parent
“I knew I wanted to do both
things,” Vanderkam said. “I was
drawn to people who were doing
both — succeeding personally and
She set out on a mission to slow
the proverbial flying of time, or at
least better manipulate it. What she
found is that people who seem to
have it all don’t have more time than
the rest of us — they’re just using it
in ways that are helping them build
the lives they want.
“There’s no perfect hack to free
up all kinds of time in your life; no
special trick with email or special
thing around the house to make
chores magically take less time,”
No one particular thing will change
your life completely, but Vanderkam
suggests a number of strategies you
can implement to make the most of
Identify What’s Important to You
“What will change your life is
deciding, ‘Even though the house
is messy, I want to read this book,’ ”
Many people wait until everything
else is taken care of before doing
the things they want to do. Ringing
phones and overflowing inboxes are
just a couple things that demand our
“If you spend all of your time on
those things, the day can get away
from you – the week, month, year –
and then you never spend time on
the things that are important but not
necessarily clamoring for attention,”
Think about what you want to
spend more time doing – and do it.
“That unread email will still
be there, but you will have made
progress on the thing that is important
to you,” Vanderkam said.
Journal Your Time
Vanderkam says one of the best
ways to get a sense of where your
time is going is to write it down in a
journal. People generally think they
have a good idea of where their time
is going, but until they journal it, they
don’t have a realistic sense of how
it’s being used.
Once she started tracking her time,
she learned that even though she
works from home, she was spending
a lot more time on the road than she
“I realized I was spending about
an hour a day in the car for various
things that weren’t a daily commute,
and I wasn’t doing anything with that
time that was meaningful to me,”
She decided to make better use
of her time in the car by listening
to audiobooks and podcasts while
behind the wheel.
Build Space in Your Schedule
Saying that you don’t have enough
time is an excuse. If something is a
priority, you will make time for it. If
it’s not a priority, Vanderkam reminds
us that it is OK to say no. You are in
control of your time.
“Time is a choice,” she said.
“Of course, there will be terrible
consequences if you don’t make
certain choices, but in the long run
it is a choice.”
Many success f u l people
Vanderkam has studied have a
surprising amount of open space in
“Being busy is not a badge of
honor,” she said.
Open space invites opportunity in
a way that a cluttered calendar just
can’t do. It’s about realizing that we
don’t have to do everything.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Planning is key. It’s something
Vanderkam didn’t do earlier in her life.
“I realized that people who were
having fun weekends, as opposed to
weekends that were all chores, were
thinking ahead to make sure they
had time for things that were fun
and rejuvenating,” she said.
Thinking through her weekends
ahead of time is a strategy Vanderkam
adopted when she became a mother.
Scheduling activities in advance helps
ensure everyone’s needs are met and
the things that are important to us
Planning doesn’t mean you have
to relinquish spontaneity in your life.
“You just need to get the structure
in place and then you can be
spontaneous within it,” Vanderkam
For example, if you and your
partner have a babysitter for the
night, you can create spontaneity
within that planned evening away
from the kids. Maybe you choose to
walk or drive around a neighborhood
and spontaneously select a spot to
dine for the evening.
Think in Terms of 168 Hours
You may feel like there aren’t
enough hours in the day, but there
are plenty of hours in the week – 168
to be exact. Vanderkam challenges
people to stop pressuring ourselves to
accomplish it all within 24 hours and
start thinking in terms of 168 hours.
“Many people find this to be a
complete breakthrough in terms of
no longer feeling like they are failing
at everything,” she said. “Just because
something didn’t happen today, we
don’t have to say it is not a priority in
our life or it is not important to us.”
One example of how this can yield
positive results is with exercise. If you
didn’t exercise today, you’re not a
failure. Just make sure you find time
for it within the 168 hours. Maybe
you choose to exercise four times
per week — you’ve got a full seven
days to make that goal happen. There
won’t be a perfect time every single
day for exercise. You have to make it
happen when you can.
Vanderkam will discuss these
ideas, among others, at Norton
Healthcare’s Go Confidently speaker
event March 12. The talk will be from
6 to 8 p.m. at The Olmsted, 3701
Frankfort Ave., in Louisville.
Go Confidently is a free public
event. Register by calling 502.629.1234
or go to NortonHealthcare.com/
Learn mor e about t ime
management in Vanderkam’s books,
“168 Hours: You Have More Time
Than You Think” and “I Know How
She Does It: How Successful Women
Make the Most of Their Time.”