Handling My Time: A review

After searching for something to fill my commute with, I stumbled upon a book called ‘What Successful People Do Before Breakfast’.


I hate self help books.

Any book that tells me how easy it is to get up and go can get up itself and go back on the shelf.

Or, any book that tries to say they once felt like you did, but with these 3 easy steps, you too, can become a millionaire. 

Not to mention they’re usually incredibly condescending or unrealistic.

‘Step One: Think of a multi-million pound idea that nobody has ever thought of before.’
‘Tell yourself you will be happy’
‘Running 10 miles will make you a better parent’ 

You know the books we’re talking about.

Ironically, these are the sort of books that I buy my mum. And we’re all guilty of thinking they’ll help us turn our lives around and inevitably conquer the universe. But the reality is that it sits on the bookcase never opened.

With my disgruntled mindset towards life, it’s probably pretty impressive that I even made it to the end of the book. Let alone learned something from it…

But I did, and I’m still feeling enlightened by the book and its straight out facts that just make things so much easier to think about.

The Author – Laura Vanderkam – has her clients and friends write/block out what the do each day and for how long. She then works with them to see how they can make more time for the things that matter most to them.

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Successful People Seem to Like to Exercise?

I was a little disappointed to find out that eating cereal in bed whilst watching Gossip Girl is not, in fact, what successful people do.

Most of them seem to jog 4-10 miles before everyone else in the house is awake, which – of course – is an absolute nope for me and my already 5:30am commuting morning.

Obviously, the only reason I don’t run is because of the early morning. If I had extra time, I’d be running 10 miles. I’d love to. Every part of my being just lives for jogging…

There’s 168 Hours in a Week. If We Sleep for 56 of Those Hours, There’s Still 112 Hours to Do What We Wanna.

There’s clearly a lot that has to go into those hours – including 40 hours of work (based on 9-5), commuting, eating, chores and all that, but it still feels like a lot of hours, doesn’t it?

If you find that you’re hating on your job, it’s important to find out what would make it better, or find something new so that you’re not using up 40 hours of the week on something that doesn’t make you happy.

If Work is Flexible, Find Your Peak Productivity & Run With It

A lot of companies and contracts essentially let you work as you want, so long as all your hours are completed. Which means if you find yourself most productive in the evening, finish earlier in the afternoon, and get back to work later when you’re feeling ready to handle that huge pile of admin work. Working to your own schedule means you’re less likely to get distracted by others, too.

People are more productive in the morning, which is why it’s important to schedule meetings in the afternoon. Don’t waste your focused time in warm, stuffy rooms recapping everything you spoke about last week.

Relaxation Time Should Be Scheduled / Planned 

As rubbish as this sounds, because ‘seriously woman, why are you trying to control every aspect of my life?!’ , we all are guilty of wasting time thinking of things to do or places to go, rather than doing anything.

Scheduling in a few key things you’re doing at the weekend or on evenings gives you something to look forward to, can improve productivity, and means that there’s less time waiting around for life to happen to you.

There’s Different Kinds of ‘Work’ at Work

I spend most of the day flicking between actual work, and checking emails. We spend so much time fighting for an empty inbox, that less of our actual job gets done per day. Technically it’s work, but it doesn’t help you achieve any real goals.

I check emails on my way to work, and get the easy ones out of the way. And since reading the book, I’ve closed my email tabs while I’m working on something, and just check them periodically so I can focus on what’s actually needs doing.

The book made me want to track my time in the day and what I’m doing with it, too. So I can see what I want to do, and how to make time for it.

I also aim to make a list of 100 goals – big and small – and use each free space to get closer to one of them. Goals could be like getting a tattoo, travelling the world, or visiting the zoo, and things that can be done in the free days or hours I already have.

– The Book Isn’t For Your Average Worker

The book was very corporate/director heavy. The case studies were people at the highest points in their careers, or freelancers which could be a lot more flexible with their time and working hours.

Working 8:30-4:30, and having a 2 hour commute each way doesn’t give me the time to wake up earlier to fit things in before breakfast, and I can’t stay up any later because otherwise I’ll be tired at work.

And even if I did wake up in the mornings even earlier, I wouldn’t be able to do anything noisey whilst everyone else was asleep.

Unlike the most successful people in the world – my ‘me time’ doesn’t consist of exercising. This is extra time in the day that needs to be accounted for. Not all of us are athletes.

So there’s a bit of work to do when converting the points into something for the ordinary worker, but the premise of the book was very interesting.

There were definitely a few cogs in my mind churning away and panicking about how long I look at my phone, emails, and how long it takes me to make plans with my time.

Let me know if you’ve read this book, and what changes you made to your life after.

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