* I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

I appreciated the funny title of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time. (Have you read I Don’t Know How She Does It? Highly recommended for its chick-lit, unpretentious, and hilarious description of the life of a harried working mother). I did not, however, appreciate its content very much,

The author, a time-managment specialist, collected time logs from “successful” working mothers. Try not to cringe when she explains that the only criteria for success is to make $100,000 per year (but at least she is clear about her methodology), or that most of the diaries were obtained through highly selective method (so much for randomness!)  Her main conclusion from reading the diaries is, wait for it, that women have all the time in the world to be with their children, husbands, and friends, and even to be alone. How? Well, the author has unusual ideas about time management. For instance, she does not count commuting as work time, but as personal time since, clearly, it’s a wonderful moment to listen to an audiobook or whatnot, and in any case we may “cheat” by running an errand on the way back from work. And she feels that reading books in short bursts while cooking food in a microwave is a great way to fit reading into your life. Perhaps her book can be read that way, but certainly not serious books.

She does make good points, in particular that people who claim to work over 60 hours of work per week never do (I used to work with many of them, who constantly boasted of their exhausting schedules, shooting the breeze with colleagues in the kitchen) and that planning is best done on Friday afternoons (I am a fan). Still, the general hectoring tone was a big turn-off to me, along with the author’s habit of citing her own lifestyle as the epitome of success. I see nothing wrong with doing laundry every day or shopping for groceries yourself rather than ordering online, if that’s what you want to do. I don’t see why her way is the only way.

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