Book: Off the Clock

In my current round of “argh what has this pandemic done to my life” I have been thinking a lot about time. Feeling too scheduled – at work, and outside of work needing to schedule every little thing (ok, mainly the gym) was really getting to me. I came across another book from Laura Vanderkam – whose 168 Hours I read ages ago and loved, and it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. The book is Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy Whilst Getting More Done (Amazon).

It’s a book about feeling like you have more time, and outlines 7 strategies to help.

1. Tend your garden. Think critically about how you spend your time and iterate on it. There are some helpful prompts for this, which I’ve started doing and appreciating.

2. Make life memorable. Mix things up and do something different.

3. Don’t fill time. Get rid of things that don’t add value, think about how to streamline things you do frequently.

4. Linger. Savor the moment and enjoy it.

5. Invest in your Happiness. Think about how to spend more time doing things you enjoy. Give yourself more treats.

6. Let it go. Where can you lower your standards? Make something easier to make it a more tractable habit to build (e.g. exercise, writing).

7. People are a good use of time. Investing in relationships and supporting activities.

This list was revelatory to me in terms of how I’m struggling with time now in a way that I didn’t before the pandemic – and it goes way beyond feeling over scheduled. The monotony of life (even as I’ve been working to break things up lately and introduce novelty), the social isolation, the time constraints that kill lingering whether it’s in the hot tub after a nice swim or over brunch.

But perhaps more than anything the lack of reflection on how I spend my time, that used to happen as part of every WTHIC. Each time I left – which was frequently – I would think about how I had spent my time and write something about it.

Some changes I’ve made as a result:

  • Weekly plan under the categories of: career, relationships, self.
  • Daily reflection on how I’ve spend my time.
  • Prioritizing the “non standard” thing each day (last week: swimming, floatation, movie night, physio, massage, haircut, new brunch place).
  • Color coding my work calendar and putting a “DNS” block over lunchtime in a different color.
  • Seeking out opportunities to “linger” instead of rush.

I really loved this book and thoroughly recommend it. I think almost anyone would get something out of reading it, but if, like me, you feel like the last 18 months has blurred into a series of endless zoom meetings… try it. It might give you a whole other perspective.