What is 168 Hours?

Each week you have 168 hours to use. This blog covers my ramblings on how to use them as effectively as possible.

It's not about stuffing as much as you can into the 168 hours. It's about ensuring that you use the 168 hours as best you can to ensure you get to where you want to go in as relaxed a state as possible.

Book Review

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that there hasn’t been an update on the blog for a while. Whilst there is a temptation to say “I’ve been too busy” or “I haven’t had the time” – these are the standard excuses for when there is more to do than time to do it in.

However, it was part of a plan. I’ve made the blog lower priority for a while whilst my focus and attention has been elsewhere. Now those other projects are coming to a close, I have been able to increase the time that I spend on social media and blogging.

One priority that rarely gets knocked off the list is “Reading”. I love to read and my reading list is a mixture of fiction and “sharpen the saw” books. (Speaking of “Sharpening the Saw” – the 7th Habit of highly effective people – I note the sad passing away of Steven Covey recently. I had the pleasure of seeing him talk a couple of times and his work has been an inspiration to a generation. Thanks Steven. )

Amongst the books I have been reading are a several regarding personal effectiveness, and a coupple  have the 168 hours concept as the centre of their theme. The first is Laura Vanderkaum’s “168 Hours: You have more time than you think”. Laura looks at the challenge of only getting 168 hours to work with from a Work, Home and Personal perspective and illustrates her findings and ideas with some interesting case studies. Well worth the time and money!

The other book is Kevin Hogan’s “The 168 Hour Week : Living Life Your Way 24-7” This book provides some insight into human behaviour patterns and the difficulty of change. There is also a very useable step-by-step approach to implementing the system at the end section of the book. Again, a very good addition to the self development shelf.

I’ve often thought of writing my own “168” book, but much of what I had planned to cover are in these two books. The only downside – for me – is that they are American, as many self-development books are – in origin. To restore the balance a little is Michael Heppell’s “How to save an hour every day”. Heppell is a northern lad and I really like his tone of voice throughout his books – they resonant far more with me being a British myself.

Some of these books I have downloaded to my Kindle (Sadly, none of Heppell’s books are available on the Kindle). The Kindle is a great addition to helping folks improve their personal effectiveness. Small, light and pretty durable, the Kindle allows you to carry 100’s of books with you and to use those “waiting times” (at the train station, outside the next meeting, etc) to get a few more pages read of your current book.

A book that has had a large impact on my life is Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. It came out around the time I was setting up my first company (1990) and my mind was open to change and development. The text resonated with me and I emerged myself into the habits and philosophy. I am convinced that putting the principles of the book into building that company was a key factor in its success – in our first year of trading the turnover was close to a million pounds. Not bad for a start-up during a recession. Over the years, I have given copies of the book away to friends hoping that they would get as much out of the book as I did.

One of the seven habits is “Put First Things First” and it focuses on personal effectiveness. A key concept in the book is that being effective is not about cramming as much as you can into the 168 hours you have each week. Doing lots of “stuff” has no meaning – unless you know why you are doing “stuff ” and where you are going.

The compass is used as a symbol of “where are we going”. It covers the outcome of understanding our beliefs and values. Of knowing whats important and – as important – why things are important. The compass is our direction in life and points the way.

The clock is of course the symbol for time, the 168 hours in a week that we have to get where we are going. It reminds us that the clock is continually ticking and against our objectives, vision and destination.

Managing the balance between the compass and the clock is the key to personal effectiveness.

Time Management (how I hate that term) is meaningless without the compass. Without the compass there is no understanding of priorities. Of breaking down the urgent from the important. People who tend to think they are poor at Time Management tend not to have their own compass working very well. Or their compass (priorites) have been imposed or given to them by someone else.

Likewise the compass is meaningless without the clock. We may amble towards our vision. We may take a few detours. We may even get distracted along the way – unless we know how much time is needed to be allocated to the journey. People without a compass can be very good at getting stuff done. They can be very efficient. But without a compass you can never be effective.

So, there it is. A key part to personal effectivenss is understanding the balance between the compass and the clock. In future blogs I will go into this in more detail but thought a simple overview might be a good place to start.