Laura Vanderkam is the author of several books on productivity and time management, including Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.
These days most of us have been forced to step away from our normal routines, and that can feel stressful and chaotic at times. But as Laura shares, it is all about our internal dialogue and how we shape the way we handle the current situation. “It can be easy to tell ourselves stories about the chaos and how crazy it is and how you can get nothing done. But once you have a story in your mind, you start looking for evidence to support that. And so if your story is, Everything’s crazy, I can’t get anything done, this is horrible, this is terrible, well certainly you can find a couple of stressful moments in any given day, and then now you’ve got points of evidence supporting your story. But if you start from the story of, Well, this is challenging, but I am a resilient and productive individual, I will get through it, well you can also find evidence of that. You can celebrate little moments like, Wow, I just pitched a huge project over Zoom and it worked, they said yes.That’s wow, great. Or, I managed to have lunch with my family. When does that happen on a weekday? So you can celebrate things like that.”
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In her book, Off the Clock, Laura shares seven strategies we can use to avoid stress and feel better about the hours we have. They are:
Tending your garden–we need to cultivate our time the same way we tend to a garden, and the work is never done
Make life memorable–People feel time is more abundant when they do things out of the ordinary
Don’t fill time–we are very good at filling time, a lot of times with unimportant things, but it is up to us to be mindful and choose what to do with our time
Linger–it is important to slow down and notice things. We need to learn to savor our time
Invest in your happiness–It is important to use our resources to spend more time on things we enjoy vs. things that make us wish time away
Let it go–Unhappiness stems from a mismatch between expectations and reality. If we can’t change reality, we have to learn to change our expectations
People are a good use of time–Interacting with others and spending time with people is never a waste of time
Putting these strategies into practice can help us take charge of our time. The fact is time is going to continue moving on whether we pay attention to it or not. It is so important to be aware of how we use our time because then we can pinpoint areas we need to work on in order to make every second count.
Laura’s advice to leaders of organizations is, “People who feel a sense of autonomy are generally far more happy and more productive. So as much as possible, if you can give people some control over their work, over when they do it, over how they work. I’m a big fan of, now we’re all working remotely, but I’m a big fan of allowing people to do that from time to time, if that would make them feel better about it. Of letting people set their own hours, if that is remotely possible. And even people who do have to be scheduled for shift, maybe there could be a lot of input into when those shifts are, that people can work with each other to come up with shifts that they are all happy with, that it’s not just decreed from above, that it’s things people have a say in. And that can go a long way toward making people feel like they matter.”
What you will learn:
Seven strategies to avoid stress and feel better about the hours we have
Laura’s thoughts on work-life integration and the hustle culture
How to change our view of the challenges we face
How to savor life’s best moments no matter how busy you are
How to make life memorable
How to invest in your happiness
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