I have had quite a number of jobs in several different fields over the years. That means I’ve participated in a lot of job interviews. At almost every one of them, the hiring person told me the company or department was busy. Very busy. Almost without exception, when I took the job I soon found that was just not true. At least for me. I was soon able to complete all the work I had to do with plenty of time left over. At one job, I surreptitiously wrote most of a romance novel. At another, I wrote a nonfiction book. At a third, I took several online classes.
Now, I am quite organized by nature, but surely I’m not the only one with that quality. I’ve often wondered why most of the women I’ve met claim they don’t have enough time.
Laura Vanderkam’s book I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time gave me some insights. As I suspected, most people overestimate how much time they work by quite a bit.
Vanderkam collected hour-by-hour time logs from women who earned at least $100,000 a year. Presumably, these women had more flexibility in their schedules than women with a more average wage. Each of them had at least one child under 18 living at home; however, their high earnings afforded them more child care options.
The author based her conclusions on logs of one week from 143 women for a total of 1001 days. She calls the results The Mosaic Project. Each hour in a 168 hour week is a tile in that mosaic. What Vanderkam discovered is that the day to day totals don’t matter as much as the weekly totals. These women worked an average of 44 hours a week. Women at lower salaries average 35 hours a week.
That left many remaining hours where the women were able to fit in family time, leisure activities, exercise, and even quite sufficient amounts of sleep.
Vanderkam describes a number of strategies the women used and adds some advice of her own. Some delegation is helpful. Family breakfasts count just as much as family dinners. Planning ahead for contingencies is vital. Too much TV is just a waste. Sometimes good enough is good enough.
That balancing act is not as hard as people say after all.