I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most of Their Time

Monday, January 13, 2020

I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most of Their Time
Laura Vanderkam, 2015

Premise: Insights into how real women in high-profile, high-powered jobs balance their lives.

I took a long break in the middle of reading this book. A two-month-long break, in fact, that covered multiple illnesses and holidays. I had gone so long that I almost didn't go back to it. I had forgotten what I was reading, and I thought I had gotten what I was going to get out of the book - a way of charting time to think about it more clearly.

But I decided to jump back in and give it another chance, and I ended up devouring the rest in two days.

So, yeah, I'm glad I went back to it.

This book (and, apparently, much of this author's work) strikes an interesting and inspirational balance. Yes, it's about time management. But it's not about how to multitask more efficiently or get up earlier - although those topics are touched on. It's about recognizing that your time is yours, and you probably have the time to build a great life.

The book is based on 1,001 days' worth of time logs completed by working mothers earning over six figures. The logs provide the data foundation, and interviews provide the nuanced pictures. The women in this book are busy, but when they actually wrote down what they did every day for a week, many realized that they were making time for family and for themselves, more than they realized.

The author calls the logs the Mosaic Project to illustrate the principle that your time is made up of all these different pieces, work and family and personal time, client meetings and sleepovers and lazy weekend breakfasts. How you assemble them creates each day or week or year. A lot of the book is about busting open myths and assumptions about how busy/tired/etc. people are. These assumptions become self-fulfilling when we buy into them too far.

On a personal note, I paid particular attention to a short section about being aware of patterns when kids are very small that can cause parents to set habits around leisure and housework such that they don't recognize opportunities to adjust as the kids grow.

The message of the book is that you have the time, even if it doesn't look like what you expect, or it's not in the perfect shape you want. I found the stories full of encouragement to use the time you have - not by applying organizational gimmicks, but by realistically keeping an eye on your priorities.

The book says that sure, you physically can't be a superstar at a high-profile job AND a full-time parent AND a world-class romantic partner AND maintain a spotless home AND have time for yourself. But would you really want to try? Because if "all" is defined as a happy, loving family, satisfying and remunerative work, and time for personal growth? You can have it all. The stories in this book are living proof.

I really liked it, and I'll definitely bookmark this author for the next time I need some encouragement.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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