Time Constraints Help with Focus

As per Laura Vanderkam in her book I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, most of us don't work as many hours as we think we do. 

To prepare for her book, Laura gathered time logs from 143 women making over $100K and who had at least one child at home under the age of eighteen. When viewed from the weekly 168-hour perspective instead of the weekly 24-hour perspective, they actually were able to spend enough time sleeping and with family, even when working 50 hours or so. As she points out, it's about making trade-offs: it's okay to work longer one day so that you can leave early to make a child's event the next day.

What I found very interesting was the lawyer who had more time when working full-time than when working part-time. Her firm allowed her to return part-time after having her child since they did not want to lose her. After trying this for a while, she decided to go back full-time and found that not only did the extra income help her family and allow her to afford extra support, but it also focused the time she had with her family. So instead of suffering from doing it all, she actually was in a better position mentally and financially and able to better prioritize the time spent with her family.

You've probably heard or read of the study where kids offered too many ice cream flavors could not pick any. Well, sometimes having too many demands on your time without an externally set structure amounts to the same thing. 

I've found myself in a similar situation and reading this anecdoate confirmed it. Since I don't currently have a full-time job and instead work from home on various side projects, I am finding it harder to find free time. It's as if without the structure of that "day job," all the things I could possibly do and should have the time for expand to fill up all my time. And since there is no set time for anything, I am not forced to prioritize the same way I did when working.

Since awareness is the first step, I'll have to give the situation more thought. One possibility is to set "office hours" for each of my projects. 

Have you had to force constraints on your time when there were none? How did you do so?

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