In My Top 5: Laura Vanderkam

by Lisa Woodruff

Jan 26, 2018 | Episode 213 | 49:52

I’m super excited to introduce Laura Vanderkam to the podcast. I’m a HUGE fan and I’ve wanted to get her on the show since I started out. Laura is the talented author of several time management and productivity books – I’ve read them all! She is here to guide us through life by saying, "Hey! It can be tough, but there’s so many different ways to manage our time and make things easier."

I feel like I already know so much about Laura from her inspirational podcast, "The Best of Both Worlds." I’m always searching for podcasts about successful women and how they do it (aren’t we all?) and this is where I discovered Laura. The podcast is all about loving our families and our jobs as one, a concept that’s often presented as oppositional, but this one aims to prove it doesn’t have to be that way.

Laura and her co-host Sarah Hart-Unger have taught me so much, not only about organizing my life for the better, but also giving me the confidence to speak up and stand my ground on the things that are important to me.

Can You Have It All?

Well, according to Laura – yes, you can. Not only that, she tells you how to hit it out of the park. My personal light bulb moment was coming across, "What Most Successful Women Do Before Breakfast," one of Laura’s books. To me, the content really makes sense. It’s about loving harmonizing your family and career, helping out, being flexible, and organizing your time to allow you to feel fulfilled in every part of your life.

Grab Those Goalposts

Use goals to manage your time. I’m a big believer that you can pretty much do whatever you want if you pick a goal and set steps to make it work. I definitely look at my time differently now thanks to Laura.

Unfortunately, good things don’t just appear like magic. You need to think about how you’re realistically going to get to where you want to be. Set manageable targets within achievable timeframes and the goal setting process will start to flow. The book "I Know How She Does It" is really good for this.

Prioritizing Family Time – Anytime

Talking about looking at time differently, I love the concept of shaking things up. A simple change can affect your life dramatically. For example, if you feel like you’re missing out on quality time with your family, why not try making your meal time together at the beginning of the day. There’s so much pressure for family meals to be in the evening, but this can happen at any other time. How about breakfast?

Breakfast food is fun and often people, especially children, are in a better mood in the morning. So it really can be a great option for busy families to have that time to sit together. Work out what works best for you and your family and shake it up.

Looking At Your Time Differently

Who knew the middle of the week was Thursday evening? I know, right?! This is a game changer. Laura explains that if you start from Monday morning, the midpoint of the week is really Thursday evening, even though it feels like the end of the week.

For Laura, managing time is about balance. What does balance mean to you and how can you achieve it? Don’t be leisurely about your leisure time. It’s not about scheduling things you have to do – it’s about scheduling things you WANT to do! While she doesn’t suggest planning every part of your life, sometimes we do need to schedule our free time. If you want to go for a run, factor in that 20 minutes somewhere.

Laura also says it’s important not to blame anyone else. You are in control. Don’t use the kids as an excuse for not being able to do things. I pick 1-3 things I want to accomplish and look at how that fits in with the family – at least then I’m in the equation. We need to think about ourselves.

The Great Sleep Debate – Are We Getting Enough?

I was inspired by Laura tracking her sleep over a couple of years and had every intention of tracking my sleep for 2 weeks – I ended up doing 2 nights! I’ve always said I need 6/7 hours, but the issue is I love sleeping in on the weekends. The purpose of Laura’s study was to see, in actual numbers, what the life of a professional woman looks like. It turns out, we have a lot more free time than we think. It’s how we use that time that’s key.

Outsource The Things That Actually Take Up Your Time

EP213-InMyTop5- Laura Vanderkam

We need to ask ourselves, where are we actually spending most of our time? It’s likely to be picking up laundry or doing the daily house chores, but we definitely need to look beyond the obvious if we want to save time.

Many of you know that I used to organize people professionally. I’d get constant calls from women asking me why they suddenly felt overwhelmed by the housework, despite work not changing and their kids being older. The reason was mostly because they’d gotten rid of the nanny who had been looking after the kids AND the housework. Often, they’d just need a part-time housekeeper to fill the gap and they’d be back on track. Laura points out that those little jobs we often multitask are actually taking up tons of valuable hours that we could be spending elsewhere. She says to set aside a time and, if it’s not done in that time, it’s probably not that important.

We definitely underestimate the hours it takes to sort the home, but give yourself credit for doing that activity, whether you outsource it or not.

Putting You In Control

If something’s not done, I feel like it’s my problem. I know that I often put that on myself. I’m sure many of you can relate, but Laura says there’s always a choice and I think that is so important to remember. Sometimes you are doing this to yourself and you can take back control.

Balancing family, free time, and chores can be overwhelming. What I LOVE about Laura is that not only does she have great ideas for managing your time effectively, she’s able to make me see that I can’t do it all. I’m WORKING And best of all – that’s ok!

Looking Forward

The next book from Laura is called "Off The Clock" and it comes out on May 29th. It’s a time study about tracking time and how people look at their lives. How do people spend their time differently? Laura found that people who felt like they had a lot of time had done something different or memorable. They felt like they had more time because they were doing something with their time that they actually remembered. The conclusion was that when you do this, your time actually expands. I LOVE it! The date is already on my calendar to get it.

To find out more about Laura Vanderkam, click here.

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