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Time Management for Marketers … With Laura Vanderkam

I attended the Art of Leadership for Women conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre in June. It was a real treat to gather with so many other women professionals (and a few men!) to see what the slate of speakers would say about leadership.

The headliner was Arianna Huffington, who was great. She spoke for about 30 minutes without any notes and wasn’t afraid to voice a few strong opinions. She was also very funny and willing to poke fun at herself and others.

The speaker that really stuck with me, however, was Laura Vanderkam. Vanderkam writes mostly on the topics of time management and productivity. She has authored several books, including I Know How She Does It.

Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

I was very taken with two specific time management strategies that Vanderkam discussed in her talk:

  1. Working split shifts
  2. Shifting your base time unit from 24 hours to 168 hours.

1. Working Split Shifts

In her studies, Vanderkam found that many women professionals don’t work a standard nine-to-five workday (surprise!).

Most work longer hours. But they don’t work those hours straight through. Instead, many will work a “split shift” at least once per week.

Vanderkam explains:

“Rather than work these hours straight through, a woman might leave work at a reasonable hour during the week. The exact hour varies; it could be 4:30 or it could be 6:30. The point is that it’s early enough to give you the evening for family or personal pursuits. Then, at least one weeknight per week, you go back to work after the kids go to bed… some work happens during the day, and some at night, too.” (p. 59)

Similarly, women also work split shifts by working in the early morning hours before the kids are up.

This is a strategy I’ve employed regularly since I first launched my freelance writing business eight years ago, but I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms before. Listening to Vanderkam describe this strategy helped legitimize it for me.

It’s definitely a useful way for busy business owners and marketers to do what they need to do during the week, while still making time for family or other responsibilities.

2. Shifting Your Base Time Unit

Vanderkam refers to this strategy as “thinking 168 hours, not 24.”

Essentially, she means that when we schedule our time, we should shift our focus from a single day (i.e. 24 hours) to an entire week (i.e. 168 hours). This shift in focus relieves the pressure of having to squeeze all of our priorities into every single day.

She writes:

“When it comes to time, we often think that “balance” requires fitting all of our priorities into twenty-four hours. In particular, we want to fit those priorities into each of the twenty-four hours that constitute Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We act like these are the only four days that count.” (p. 72)

She encourages us to avoid the “24-hour trap” and take the whole week into account when assessing our time. As she notes, any given 24 hours may not be balanced. But the 168-hour week can be.

So if you have to work a bit late on Tuesday to give yourself time to get to the gym on Wednesday, then that’s okay.

Or if you end up working part of Sunday in order to get to your child’s school event on Friday, well then that’s okay too.

It’s not about striking the right balance every single day. It’s about striking the right balance over the course of each week.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I hope you find these two time management tips as helpful as I have.

And if you haven’t read Laura Vanderkam’s book, I highly recommend it!

Posted: September 25, 2018 in: Copperplate News

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