Cover of book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

by: Laura Vanderkam

Check out the book on Amazon | your public library.
62 Highlights | 6 Notes
  • That sense of time freedom is magical.
    Note: Phrase “time freedom”
  • I think that has been the aspect of having kids that is the hardest — being constantly accountable for my time.
  • So we come to some paradoxes. Being off the clock implies time freedom, yet time freedom stems from time discipline.
  • Honoring time requires embracing certain truths: that time is precious and time is plentiful. Time is finite, so we must make smart choices about it. But time is also abundant: there is enough for anything that truly matters.
  • First, people who feel like they have enough time are exceedingly mindful of their time. They know where the time goes. They accept ownership of their lives and think through their days and weeks ahead of time. They also reflect on their lives, figuring out what worked and what didn't.
  • They scrub their lives of anything that does not belong there. This includes self-imposed time burdens, such as constant connectivity, that clog time for no reason. Indeed, one of the most striking findings of my survey was the gap in estimated phone checks per hour between pepole who felt relaxed about time and those who felt anxious.
  • They let go of their expectations of perfection and big results in the short run. Instead, they decide that good enough is good enough, knowing that steady progress over the long run is unstoppable.
  • There is freedom from things we don't want to do, but there is also freedom to do the things we want to do, and figuring out the right balance requires understanding when commitments are burdens and when they are benefits
  • The secrets of pepole with all the time in the world

    1. Tend your garden.
    2. Make life memorable
    3. Don't fill your time.
    4. Linger
    5. Invest in your happiness
    6. Let it go
    7. People are good use of time.
  • … he aimed to build in thirty minutes a day for personal matters, such as making doctor appointments or calling contractors to get bids on home projects. Without dedicated time, these activities could bleed into the rest of the day and derail other goals. Or else they might not happen, creating work/life stress.
  • None of this is easy; constantly minding time is more challenging that letting it slip unnoticed into the past.
  • The gardener just has to accept that gardening is not a set-it-and-forget-it activity. You assess, you tweak. You learn that even the hardiest plants have vulnerabilities.
  • Each Monday morning, I'd fill in the conclusion of Sunday, and archive the week's log. Then I'd open a new sheet. I'd fill in my log every few hours. That was easy enough on workdays when I was at my computer. On weekends, the need to record my hours drove more traffic into my home and office than I felt was ideal. So I learned how to remember what I was doing. I'd jot down notes on paper if necessary, and soon I was able to reconstruct twenty-four hours with reasonable accuracy. I was OK with broad categories 'Work' occupying a half hour might mean various projects, but generalizing meant time tracking took only three minutes or so daily.
    Note: how to time-track
  • Event if you don't think about every minute, pondering the big things you'd like to see happen in the forthcoming week is smart.
  • I find the best time to do this weekly planning session is on Friday afternoons. … It's hard to start anything new as you slide toward the weekend, but you can think about what your future self should be doing …
  • … make myself a three-category priority list:
    • Career
    • Relationships
    • Self
  • At night, take a few moments to write a daily reflection in a journal. Answer a few questions:
    • What did I most like about today>
    • What would I like to have spent more time doing?
    • Whad would I like to have spent less time doing?
    • How can I make that happen?
  • One might inquire this of any 24 hours. Why is today different from all other days? Why should my brain bother holding on to the existence of this day as it curates the museum of my memories?
  • The answer is that the 'self' is really multiple selves:
    • The anticipating self is wondering about, planning, and worrying about the future.
    • The experiencing self is in the here and now.
    • The remembering self thinks back to the past.
  • Then I repeat a two-part mantra:
    • Plan it in.
    • Do it anyway.
    Note: on how to keep the experiencing self's tyrannies in check.
  • Conscious fun takes effort. This seeming paradox - Why should fun be work? stops us on our tracks.
  • Modern sorts need no encouragement to take photos. What we do need encouragement for is their active curation: choosing the best to make photo books that we will pause from our days to ponder rather than just have a big file on the iphone that will be lost when the iphone gets forgotten on the bus. There are many reasons to keep a journal; nudging the day's events into active memory is one. My time logs document in detail how I spent past days. Scrapbooks elevate the fine art of memory keeping.
  • If the bias is that you are supposed to look busy because a crowded schedule is evidence to the world of your importance, then there's always the tempation to fill time.
  • What would it be like to have nothing on your schedule that did not 'spark joy'?
  • Going for a thirty-minute walk at lunch, for instance, will clear your head and enable focus for the rest of the afternoon.
  • … few things are meant to continue in perpetuity. Yet we think more about starting projects than figuring out how they will end. The result is that much stacks up. Even if individual commitments seem wise on their own, the mass of them derails larger goals.
  • At the start of the year, or some other auspicious date, declare independence from everything beyong life maintenance for you and any family members or pets who physically depend on you. As it takes a while to extract yourself from some obligations, you can also declare a future amnesty. Everything winds down by some date three to six months from now. At that point, you can evaluate all claims on your time with a bias toward deciding what to keep rather than what to get rid of.
  • With every activity ask this question: What is my purpose here?
  • There need not be profound purpose. We plant tulip bulbs in October because we enjoy the flowers in April. That is a good reason. In many cases, so is I have always done this.
  • A better question when asked to take on something in the future: Would I do this tomorrow?
  • Change your story
    As you declare schedule independence, question everything. People tell themselves many stories about what is required in life.

    Many of these stories fall apart under cross examination.
  • He wrote his non-baby related goals for any given day on one side of an index card. The goals that didn't fit onto the card weren't going to happen, he needed to revise the list until it included only the most important things.
    Note: About Damon Brown. try this. goals are process oriented?
  • When you do an activity, ask yourself two questions:
    • Will I ever do this again?
    • If so, is there some system I could develop or something I could do now that would make future instances faster or easier?
  • Consciously choosing not to fill time with such boredom busters requires discipline, but it is probably the best thing you can do to feel like you have all the time in the world.
  • The truth is that I was bored. I didn't have the discipline to let myself move through boredom to the thoughts and reflections that arise when given fallow space. I had time, and I chose to fill it with the equivaent of gunk on the gears
  • But we can teach ourselves. Try it sometime. Baby steps are fine at first:
    • Put your phone in airplane mode while you're with a friend.
    • Leave it at home if you run to the corner store for something.
    • Put down this book and just breathe and look at something beautiful.
  • Doing something is not always better than doing nothing. There is no point in deleting those emails. Don't fill up time. Open it up — and though we may all die at last anyway, at least the time we have before then will feel as plentiful as summer light.
  • “Lingering is the opposite of rushing”, she [Dell' Antonia] says. It feels more grown-up and luxurious than dawdling and dilly dallying. It doesn't imply that you have nothing to do or that you are avoiding the important stuff. It implies that you have important things to do and you are giving them the time they deserve.
  • If she's enjoying an article, she'll read all the way to the end rather than thinking, Hey, this is long. Shouldn't I be doing something else?
  • Instead of trying to fit other things into the day, she thinks, Let's just have this be the one thing we're doing and spend as much time as it takes.
  • … they find ways to savor the space of time where they currently are, even if the present does flee, gone in the moment of becoming.
  • It is about actively savoring the present, and thus stretching your experience of time.
    To savor is to feel pleasure, and also to appreciate that you are feeling pleasure. It takes normal gratification and adds a second layer to it, acknowledgement.
  • One of the most potent ways people keep themselves from lingering and savoring? Thinking about other places they should be or other things they should be doing. As Bryant said when I interviewed him in 2017, “Generally our minds are elsewhere.”
  • Dell'Antonia began pointing out to herself that “there is nothing wrong.” When I have moments like on the plane, I pause and note that “I am not unhappy now.” The negative framing in both our mantras is key. If a negative state is assumed in life, then you have to call attention to its absence. “Bad stuff will kick your door in and force you to deal with it,” says Bryant.
  • I love to create completely open days when all I do is wirte. There is no watching the clock to make sure I don't miss a phone call. I will reconstruct my day at the end for my time log (well, probably in the middle when my body forces me to take breaks), but in the meantime, I'm off the clcok and savoring a project I'm really getting into.
  • … you can still try what Bryant and Veroff named “Daily Vacation Exercise” to practice lingering in pleasurable experiences. Each day, for one week, plan to do something you find enjoyable for 10 to 20 minutes. A few possibilites are:
    • watching the sunset
    • sitting outside at a cafe with a good cup of coffee.
    • visiting a book store on your lunch break, or
    • going for a walk in the nearby park
  • Choose a time when you can minimize distractions. You've put the phone in airplane mode or holstered it in its charger. During your daily vacation, per Bryant and Veroff, “try to notice and explicitly acknowledge to yourself each stimulus or sensation that you find pleasurable. Identify your positive feelings and explicitly label them in your mind, Actively build a memory of the feeling around in your mind, and outwardly express the positive feeling in some way.” Then plan tomorrow's daily vacation. At the end of the week, recall all seven vacations.
  • Moving slowly also allows you to pay attention to more things. “Slowind down is a conscious effort, so you're controlling the experience, and you're becoming more aware of what's going on,” says Bryant.
  • When people say they want more time, they also mean that they want more time spent doing things they are happy about.
  • … the goal of moving more moments into the 'enjoyable' category. Often, this involves investing resources — money, for sure, but time is also a resource, and so is the mental energy required to develop a new worldview — in achieving happiness.
  • If you decide to track your time after reading Chapter 1, look at your log in this light. Ask yourself a few question:
    • When was I happy?
    • When was I not happy?
    • Could money change any of this?
    • If so, how much would be required?
  • Pay yourself first.
    So that's money. But investing in happiness isn't just about cash. Time is also a resource. It too can be invested in ways that bring happiness and a sense of time freedom.
  • Doing what matters first opens up time.
    That's the beauty of mornings. Anytime someone has grand ambitions but a lot on their plate, I suggest looking at morning hours for opportunities.
  • If something important has to happen, it has to happen first. This some philosophy can be applied to the week as well.
  • She will sing the same song to herself over and over again. You sing it enough, and the time will pass, just as if you count to twenty often enough on a wretcedly turbulent flight, on in the middle of a contraction, or while pounding out a sprint on a treadmill, eventually you will get through.
  • She could commit to paying herself first, but she could also repeat the mantra:“ Make art when you can. Relax when you can't.”
  • … That was “because I wasn't trying to squeeze out art time when there was none to squeeze.”
    Note: #eq, about Lauren Marchand
  • When I tell myself OK, you only hate this time, just do what you can do, I serprise myself.
  • … paradoxically, low expectations in the short run, if met consistently, are what lead to great things in the long run.
  • Better to focus on process goals, which are habits by a different name.
    Note: is this true?
  • Indeed, if you rise up through the ranks, all those in-the-happ chaps and lunches and happy hours that seem like they're not real work can become a critical part of your job.
  • Observing good conversationalists, I see that they ask questions that let the other person tell his or her favorite stories. When they ask about someone's weekend, they listen to the answer. They don't try to top the story, and if they redirect things, they're careful to phrase the redirection in a way that makes is clear they understand the other person's priorities.
  • Book References from Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done