Laura Vanderkam has made it her life’s work to study the schedules of the most powerfully productive people across numerous industries. Her new book, out in June, is I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, a data-driven examination of how big-time career women balance work with family and self.
“I learn new things every time I study people’s schedules,” Vanderkam says. “One woman in my study had a very tight morning schedule. Every day she played with her kids for 10 minutes before they needed to load the car at precisely 7:10 a.m. It would have been so easy to lose that time to checking email or dashing around the house. Instead she chose to use it mindfully, with a bit of levity, rather than stress. This wisdom in how people become stewards of their hours always amazes me.”
Among the other sneaky strategies Vanderkam uncovers is to lean on the school lunch program rather than packing a PB&J every morning, outsource errands with glee, make yourself “strategically seen” at networking events when you don’t have time to stay long, negotiate duty-sharing with hubby or other family members, and—speaking of hubby—get comfortable with creative times and places for intimacy.
“Much of the literature out there on women, work and life was awfully pessimistic,” Vanderkam says. “Not everyone is torn or maxed out. Life is stressful and life is wonderful. There is no contradiction here.”
This article appears in the July 2015 issue of SUCCESS magazine.