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There's Never Enough Time

What I’ve learned as a working mother about the limits of time management.
There's Never Enough Time

There’s more than enough time. At least that’s what Laura Vanderkam seemed to discover in her 12-month time-tracking experiment. A full-time working mom of four young children under the age of eight, Vanderkam had every reason to complain of having too little time. But after keeping meticulous record of 8,784 hours, she found “abundance” rather than scarcity.

In her recent New York Times article, Vanderkam explains, "I didn’t discover a way to add an extra hour to every day, but I did learn that the stories I told myself about where my time went weren’t always true. The hour-by-hour rhythm of my life was not quite as hectic as I’d thought.” Vanderkam’s log enabled her to see how she’d spent her discretionary time (“327 hours [of reading]”) and delivered her from delusions of overwork. (She guessed at a 45–50 hour workweek but it neared closer to 40.) Unwittingly, her time log exposed a comfortable lie: There’s not enough time.

Unlike Vanderkam, I have never tracked my time. But I have planned for its meticulous use. I am the mother of five children, who not only insist upon clean clothes and dinner but who are engaged in various extracurricular activities. My husband is a busy executive, so more often than not I run the domestic show alone. Additionally, after more than a decade of caring for my children at home full-time, I have re-entered the work force as a writer and speaker. How do you ...

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