Time Management Expert to Offer Tips at Free Event

By Erica Coghill

Laura Vanderkam Photo by Michael Falco

Laura Vanderkam
Photo by Michael Falco

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

and professional?screen-shot-2018-03-07-at-8-35-13-am

“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,”

Vanderkam said.

No one particular thing will change

your life completely, but Vanderkam

suggests a number of strategies you

can implement to make the most of

your time.

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,’ ”

Vanderkam said.

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,”

Vanderkam said.

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,”

Vanderkam said.

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

their schedules.

“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

actually happen.

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


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.”

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