I Know How She Does It | Laura Vanderkam

Summary of: I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time
By: Laura Vanderkam


Are working mothers burdened with an impossible work/life balance? ‘I Know How She Does It’ by Laura Vanderkam presents a fresh perspective on time management and work/life balance, challenging the notion of workaholic mothers. The book demonstrates how a week’s 168 hours, when managed effectively, can accommodate work, family, self-care, and leisure. This summary will provide insights into time management techniques and strategies to maintain a harmonious balance between professional and personal life, making the most out of each day, week, and year.

Demystifying the Work-Life Balance of Working Mothers

A common perception is that the work/life balance is skewed towards work, especially for working mothers. However, the 2013 American Time Use Survey reveals that the average mother with a full-time job works 35 hours per week, with those earning over $100,000 USD working up to 44 hours. Despite this, we still perceive ourselves as workaholics. The reason for this perception stems from constant interruptions, such as snow days and family events, that break up the workday, making it feel longer. These disruptions cause us to feel constantly behind schedule, needing to catch up on work. The author highlights how arranging our lives to get the most out of our days, weeks, and years can help working mothers find the balance they need.

Finding Flexibility: A Working Mother’s Guide

As a working mother, balancing career responsibilities and family duties can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of guilt and pressure. However, finding flexibility in your job can help. With 97% of full-time employees having some flexibility, it’s important to take advantage of it. Working mothers can start by working split shifts where they work early in the morning before the kids wake up and then work from home after quality time with their family. Or they can work remotely from home one or two days a week. Studies show that those who work from home could work up to 57 hours per week before experiencing work-life conflicts. By utilizing flexibility, working mothers can commit to work and enjoy free time without the guilt.

Maximizing Your Free Time

To make the most of your free time, start your day with the most challenging tasks. Manage your meetings by attending only those that matter and shortening those that you must attend. Lastly, plan activities to do in your free time, like taking guitar lessons, to boost your motivation at work.

Making the most of one’s free time can be challenging, especially when there are tasks that need to be completed. Preventing yourself from working too much is the first step in enjoying free time. However, limiting your overtime hours might make you feel less efficient if you stop working before completing certain tasks.

Maximizing your free time involves starting your day with the most challenging tasks. A study by Johnson & Johnson has shown that a person’s energy level peaks at 8:00 a.m. Therefore, it’s best to spend the morning working on the most difficult item on your agenda – the one that is most urgent and requires the most effort.

Meetings could also take up a lot of time that could be used productively. To manage time, choose not to attend the meetings that do not require your presence. Shorten the meetings that you must attend, as this will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Lastly, planning something to do in your free time will motivate you to leave the office on time. For instance, signing up for guitar lessons, scheduling a tennis match, or meeting a friend for dinner, will all provide a sense of balance, boost your motivation at work, and ensure that you have enough time for yourself.

Better Time Management and Productivity

Learn how you can streamline your workweek by planning ahead and finding enjoyment in what you do to increase productivity and reduce stress.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your time management and reduce stress at work, try planning your week ahead of time. Studies show that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week, while Monday falls behind due to meetings and sorting through tasks from the previous week. By making a plan on Friday afternoon for the week ahead, you can alleviate some of the pressure on Monday.

Another way to boost productivity is to find enjoyment in your work. One scientist noticed her motivation was waning due to administrative tasks taking up too much of her time, so she consciously planned her weeks to allow for more time in the lab. By prioritizing the work she loved, she regained her drive and was more productive.

The tips in this book so far have shown how to improve your career while still finding balance and time for yourself. Stay tuned for more strategies to bring new energy to family life.

Quality Family Time

Spending time with family is important, but it requires planning. To truly connect with your loved ones, you need to be intentional about how you spend your time together. This means planning activities beyond the usual TV-watching and shared meals. Take advantage of sunny days and visit a playground or go for a bike ride. Try sharing breakfast instead of dinner or take your kids to work with you. By making time to be active and engage in new experiences, you can strengthen your relationships and create lasting memories.

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