You have more time than you think

Word count: About 288 words

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers.

If you have ever complained about not having enough time to write, I urge you to  read the book 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam. Even though it’s far from a perfect book (I find her writing pedestrian and her hectoring objectionable) it carries the weight of a hefty message: We all have more time than we think.

168 hours refers to the amount of time in a week (ie: 7 x 24).  Vanderkam is a contrarian. She argues that we aren’t all too busy working 60-hour weeks and spending unlimited time with our children. Turns out, human beings reflexively over-estimate the time they spend on those tasks. In reality, she guesses, we’re far more likely to be watching too much TV or frittering time away on Facebook and Twitter.

Subtract 7 hours per night for sleep and 10 hours per weekday for working (I’m allowing a generous commute in here) and that still leaves 69 hours per week for doing whatever you like. Subtract two hours per day for meal prep and dishes and you still have 55 hours left. Hours! Can you not fit in 30 minutes for writing?

Vanderkam suggests that readers log their time for a solid week (she even offers charts for doing so) to see where they are losing their time. I haven’t done this yet but I have become more mindful of my evenings. I’m watching less TV, reading a bit more, playing piano with a lighter heart and, overall, feeling more relaxed. Vanderkam was right: I really do have more time than I thought.


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