How long will it take?

As I’m writing 168 Hours, I’m getting some fascinating tips. One is to figure out, exactly, how long the things you’d like to include in your life will take. That way, you can schedule in appropriate blocks of time. For instance, say you want to exercise. You decide to take up brisk walking as your activity of choice. How much do you want to walk? Four hours a week in 1-hour chunks would put you far above average in terms of health outcomes. So you look at your calendar and find 4 1-hour chunks where you can write in “walk.” I’m trying to blog more often. I figure this should take me half an hour, three times per week. This is even easier to schedule in.

You can do this with long-term projects, too. One busy attorney I spoke with decided to write a book. Her publisher gave her a 6-9 month time frame, so she aimed for 9 months. She decided this would be a 300 page book. Looking at how fast she researched and wrote her legal briefs, she decided that writing a 300 page book would take (roughly) 900-1000 hours. She calculated that over 9 months (36 or so weeks) this comes out to 25-30 hours per week. So she had to find that time in her schedule (it came out to 4 hours on weeknights and 1.5 days per weekend). Was it grueling? Yes. But knowing that she had carved out a certain amount of time to work on the project vastly increased the chances that it would actually get done.

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