One of the phrases that has stuck with me over the years is that “A life is lived in hours.” We may have grand ideas of what we want out of life, but whatever we accomplish will be a function of how we spent our hours.
My short ebook, What the Most Successful People Do at Work, which is out today (follow that link for the book page, which has links to major retailers), explores this concept through the lens of the work day. If you work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year, you’ll work 2000 hours in a year. Whatever you hope to accomplish, professionally, will have to result from how you choose to spend that time. You can work more, but the reality is that very few people log more than 60 work hours per week on a regular basis. If people top out at 3000 hours per year, success can’t result from throwing more hours at the problem. There just aren’t that many hours to throw. Astonishing productivity means making the hours you have count more.
Over the next seven weeks we’ll be discussing various ways to do that. Each week I’ll set a challenge based on one of the seven disciplines highlighted in the ebook. I’ll do the challenge myself, and hopefully others will join me too, and check in in the comments section.
I’m quite excited about this particular book. As I was writing it, I thought a lot about what I want out of my career, and how to structure my work days to make that happen. I’m trying to plan my hours more carefully, while at the same time planning in real breaks. I’m thinking about what it means to “pay in” to a career capital account, and what those deposits should look like. I’m consciously thinking of blogging as a chance to practice writing skills.
Whatever line of work you’re in, there are probably ways to do that work more effectively. The pay off of working more effectively is that you can do more with the time you have — ideally creating a life’s work that you’re proud to call yours.
How do you spend your workdays?
Reviews: A few places are starting to review What the Most Successful People Do at Work. Send me a link and I’ll post your review here too.
The Best Chapter gives the book 5 stars, and highlights my discovery that small things equal great power.
Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro, writes that “Like its predecessors, it’s jam-packed with a host of excellent observations drawn from interviews, anecdotes, and personal observations, well worth the two hours (tops) you’ll spend reading it.”
Catherine Gillespie of A Spirited Mind writes that “Vanderkam writes a short but highly useful guide to maximizing your productivity, effectiveness, and happiness with your work. Whether you work full time in an office, have a flexible career, or are a stay-at-home parent, I think you’ll find much more than $2.99 worth of helpful information in the book.”
In other news: Annie Murphy Paul’s blog covers How to unlearn mistaken ideas. People have a tendency to cling to erroneous beliefs even when presented with factual evidence, particularly if we have found those beliefs useful, or if something in our daily lives appears to confirm the beliefs. So how can you address this? It’s a question I’ve struggled with as I attempt to convince people (with evidence from time diary studies!) that we may not be as overworked and sleep deprived as we think. The short answer, Paul writes, is that you have to get people to acknowledge the disconnect. Confronting people with their errors is never fun…but it massively increases comprehension.