Do we really not have time like we think we do? What Laura Vanderkam discovered might surprise us!
As we dream up all the new things we want to do in a brand new year and get ready for our Retro Prayer Life Challenge, which is all about finding time, Laura’s book, 168 Hours, felt like an appropriate reread.
In it, she makes the argument that we have more time than we think. And if we’re intentional, we may be able to do some of those things we say we want to do.
Her research is so compelling. Here are just a few favorite takeaways from the first 30 pages as I reread.
1. “The percentage of adults who vote in presidential elections hasn’t changed drastically over the past 20 years, but the percentage of nonvoters who blamed their failure to get to the polls on their busy schedules nearly tripled between 1980 and 1996.”
This is fascinating!! Maybe we’re not that much busier, it’s just easier to use busyness as our excuse for not doing what’s important to us.
2. “Emptying the dishwasher or paying bills doesn’t take much time, but we feel like we’re always doing these chores. So if someone asks us how much time we spend on such things, we overestimate—by something of the order of 100 percent for both men and women–compared to the actual numbers recorded in time diaries.”
I 100% do this! Washing dishes? “I’ll save it for tomorrow. I don’t have an ENTIRE evening available.” How do we overcome this? I’ll share below!
3. “We don’t think about how we want to spend our time, and so we spend massive amounts of time on things—television, Web surfing, housework, errands—that give a slight amount of pleasure or feeling of accomplishment, but do little for our careers, our families, or our personal lives. … We try to squeeze these high-impact activities around the edges of things that are easy, or that seem inevitable merely because we always do them or because we think others expect us to.”
Do I even need to say more?
4. She talked about a magazine question that people wrote in to answer. What would you do with 15 extra minutes a day? People’s answers ranged from writing, relearning the flute, playing fetch with their dog, or preparing healthy foods. Oh, it’s fun to dream, isn’t it? Fun to assume if we had just a little more time we’d get to do all those things we’re currently missing out on. Vanderkam’s point is essentially that we don’t need an extra 15 minutes. We already have it somewhere in our day. And if we aren’t using those 168 hours well, adding an extra 1.75 hours a week (the equivalent of adding 1%) won’t do what we hope it will.
If you’re nodding along like I was as I read these things, maybe we need a good perspective shift.
Maybe you’ve seen us share about our new challenge, the Retro Prayer Life Challenge and the thought of trading one hour on your phone for an hour of prayer feels impossible, so why even try? I hear ya! Firstly, 60 minutes isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you want to try 30-for-30, or even 10-for-10, we’re cheering you on. But secondly, maybe it’s more possible than you think??
We may just need the perspective shift that Laura has so graciously shared, backed by all kinds of data just in case we’re skeptical.
For a personal perspective shift, it would be worth it to figure out a few things:
- See where your time actually goes.
- Accurately categorize it.
- Empty the slate.
- And fill up your week with those important things God’s laid on your heart to be intentional about.
Laura’s book goes into how to do this if you need help.
The truth is, whatever goals you set for the New Year, you won’t be able to simply cram them into your life. You will need to do something differently.
Grab the book, 168 Hours, track your time for a week or two and see what happens. I tracked my time for a few days last week and it was fascinating to see.
Guys, I took a book to the gym this morning. I was for sure the oddest gal there with my weak arms, my Fitbit that’s about 7 hours off, and book 🤓…and highlighter 🙈 but I knew what was important. Instead of suffering through the lie that I didn’t have time to read today, I found time while perched atop the elliptical and bike. When I left, it felt as if my body and brain got a nice little refreshment. On a regular day, I’d watch the news on the screens in front or wobbly scroll something on my phone. And let’s be honest, we can all agree one thing we don’t have time for is probably more screen time.
If I can be so obvious, I won’t say you have waaaay more time than you think, but I bet there’s a little something extra that we can find as we shift our perspective and track our time.
And truly, the idea isn’t to make us feel like we should be doing more. I hope you feel hope-filled and empowered to live the life God is calling you to as you wrap up this blog post. Not more pressure to cram more in.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “There is always enough time to do the will of God. For that, we can never say, “I don’t have enough time.” When we find ourselves frantic and frustrated, harried and harassed and “hassled,” it is a sign that we are running on our own schedule, not God’s.”
That quote always gives a mix of “Yikes!” and “Thank goodness!”.
“Yikes” for all the time I spend saying I don’t have enough time. And “Thank goodness!” that if I attempt what I think I’m supposed to be doing that’s just not fitting, He’s right there reminding me that His load is light.
And although I won’t pretend to know God’s will specifically for you, I do know it involves time in His presence. And we’re on a mission to help you make that happen!
Sign up for our Retro Prayer Life Challenge today! We’ll officially kick things off next Monday, but you’ll get a prep email beforehand to get all our practical tips to prepare.
And if you’re looking for extra credit, try tracking your time and see what happens! I think it will be so helpful, and the perfect way to prep as we take back our time and attempt to replace 7 hours on our phone a week with 7 hours of prayer! Can you even imagine how sweet that will be?