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Laura Vanderkam recommends

Check out these resources on time management, curated by Laura Vanderkam.

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    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

    Stephen Covey
    Simon & Schuster, 25th anniversary edition, 2013

    Nearly three decades after its publication, this classic by the late Stephen Covey remains the standard by which all personal productivity books should be judged. With simple but profound advice to 'begin with the end in mind' and put 'first things first,' Covey teaches readers that efficiency is less important than being effective in all spheres of life.

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    The American Time Use Survey

    Every year, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts a time diary survey looking at how thousands of Americans spend their time. By having people talk through the previous day (as opposed to a 'typical' day), and by including weekends, this study avoids much of the bias inherent in less rigorous studies of how people spend their time. The results are surprising. Americans generally work less, and sleep more, than most people think.

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    Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time

    John P. Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey
    The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008

    Time use researchers Robinson and Godbey looked at historical time diaries and determined that despite the popular image of 'the overworked American,' the average person enjoys more leisure time than in the past. This book offers insights into why people think they work more and have less free time than they actually do and what might be contributing to the sense that time is speeding up.

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    Changing Rhythms of American Family Life

    Suzanne M. Bianchi, John P. Robinson, and Melissa A. Milkie
    Russell Sage Foundation, 2006

    This trio of sociologists analyzed time diaries from parents from the 1960s to the present. The happy news? Even as mothers have poured into the workforce over the past 50 years, they still spend more time with their kids now than in the Ozzie and Harriet era. What declined? Housework, though people still overestimate how much time they spend on these tasks. While this is an academic book, the analysis is fascinating for anyone interested in data on family life.

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    Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

    Sheryl Sandberg
    Knopf, 2013

    In a great antidote to the 'can't have it all' literature out there, Sandberg makes a compelling case for investing in one's career rather than making assumptions that lead to less career satisfaction before children even enter the picture. This approachable book is a good reminder that many women succeed at work and home, and that society as a whole should rethink the narrative that work and family are incompatible.

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    Manage YOUR Time

    Laura Vanderkam

    Track your time! The first step to spending your time better is knowing how you’re spending it now. If you'd like to try tracking your time for a week, you can download a log (30-minute or 15-minute versions) from my website.

    Write down what you're doing, every few hours, in as much detail as you think will be helpful to you. Try to keep going for a week (168 hours) to get the full picture of your life. After you're done, add up the major categories: work, sleep, time with family, housework, TV, exercise, volunteering, commuting or anything else you do. Then ask yourself what you like about your schedule and what you’d like to change. As you think about what you’d like to say in next year’s performance review (for your professional life) or next year’s "family holiday letter" (for your personal life), see how much time is spent on these high priority activities, and how much time is spent on other things.

    Changing a schedule isn't easy, and it's certainly harder for some people than others. But in some cases "I don’t have time" just means "it’s not a priority." Over time, I believe we have the power to fill our lives with the things that deserve to be there.