All of us have the same 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. But why do some of us feel overwhelmed and overburdened, while others feel focused and relaxed? What’s an empowering, realistic way for recovering perfectionists to approach time management?

In this edition of our ongoing You Need to Read Video Series, I address these questions and more with writer, author, and speaker Laura Vanderkam.

Laura is the author of several time management and productivity books, including I Know How She Does It (one lucky commenter will win a copy!), What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours.

Her work has appeared in publications including Fast Company, Fortune, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children, and blogs at

Time Management Laura Vanderkam

Press play to watch the interview, or watch The Truth about Time Management on Youtube.

In our interview, Laura and I cover …

  • The false stories we have about time management
  • Why tracking your time is such a powerful practice
  • Why we chronically underestimate leisure time and overestimate work time
  • The unconscious choices that scuttle our downtime
  • The case for putting a little effort into planning your weekends
  • How to question the “too busy” story
  • Why being less busy actually takes more discipline
  • Practical habit changes that allow you to feel more in control of your day

Laura Vanderkam Video Interview Time Management

Quotable Quotes from Laura’s Interview on Time Management

“Time tracking is like keeping a food journal if you’re trying to lose weight … you’re not going to change the right things unless you know for sure [what you’re currently doing].”

“A lot of people say silly things like, ‘I have no time for exercise.’ You could exercise two and a half hours per week and be meeting the guidelines … 40 hours for work, 56 for sleep, 72 for other things, I think it’s possible to find two and a half in there somewhere. You may not want to, but that’s a different matter.”

“A lot of the “me time” we have is very unconscious, so we do things that are easy, like surfing the web, spending time on social media, TV watching. And those are fine in their places, but when people think about what they want to be doing with their time and take agency, they start rediscovering some other leisure time activities that might be a lot more fun.”

More Quotable Quotes from Laura Vanderkam on Time Management

“Anyone can pack a schedule. I think it takes some real discipline and a sense of one’s value to say, ‘No, my time is valuable to me, and I am going to spend it on the highest-value activities that I have determined are important for me and the people I care about.’”

“Sometimes nothing is better than something. You don’t have to fill every minute.”

“We’re ultimately pretty lazy, so if you want to do something, make it easy, and if you don’t want to do something, make it hard.”

“When we know where the time goes, then we do take more ownership of it … and we can celebrate the things that are working and change the things that aren’t.”

Book Giveaway!

I Know How She Does It Laura VanderkamWin a free copy of Laura’s latest book, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time.

Here’s how to enter:

Step 1: Subscribe to the email list. If you’re already subscribed, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Leave a comment on this post. Social media shares are always appreciated, but not required.

I’ll select a winner randomly on Friday, July 14th at noon Central Time. Good luck to all!

Update: the giveaway is now closed; congratulations to Clarissa on her free copy!

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