Last week, I (Rachel – VPI’s Director of Content Development) had the chance to sit down with author Laura Vanderkam of 168 Hours fame (you can read Jose’s previous interview with her here). She recently released What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
You can read part one here.
Advice for Parents
Rachel: A lot of entrepreneurs are raising families. Can you speak a bit to people with small children? I have small children who like to get up at the crack of dawn, so I’ve found that to get the most of my mornings, I have to wake up by 4:30 — and I’m pretty sure there are a host of Millennials in the same boat. I’m not sure this is sustainable for me. Do you have any advice?
Laura: I mean, there’s a couple things you can do. One is that you can accept that until they’re slightly older, that’s just life. You can try to alter their schedules slightly. You can also trade off with your spouse or partner — each person gets two mornings during the week so they aren’t doing that first shift — that works for people. Now if you’re parenting on your own, there’s a whole different set of difficulty there. You know, there are lots of people in this world too — so maybe you have family or friends that you can also lean on a little bit in those circumstances.
And you know, you may have to shift when your me-time happens for a little while. But if you can even have two mornings a week, that’s pretty good.
Advice for CEOs
R: Our readers are very busy. If there was one place that they need to focus on — one suggestion you’d give to CEOs and business owners from your book — what would that be?
L: Using your mornings well is key to everything else because it’s what sets the tone for the rest of the day. What you choose to tackle first really determines what gets done, and if you’re willing to take that time when you’re best able to focus — when you have the most willpower and put it against problems that are the most important to you, then you really will make progress, and hopefully the rest of the pieces will fall into place around that.
Advice for After Work
R: Was there anything else in this book that you wish you could’ve put in but you didn’t have the space to?
L: People joke about I’ve tackled most parts of the week [except] weekday evenings — I haven’t discussed what the most successful people do after work — and I think that that’s a time that can be used intentionally and I’ve certainly struggled with knowing how to use that time well. It’s hard — you finish your work day, then you’re plunged directly into the kid madness — – and I mean you have a tendency to fall into this pattern of “getting through the evening,” “getting through bath and bed,” and then you’re done. But there are ways of doing things — ways of opening that time up — where you can have little adventures, you can go play on the playground, we can do projects, read books together, you can [take your] kids out to eat sometimes — it’s madness, it’s complete and total madness but it’s fun. Get outside the house, bust the routine a little bit.
What’s Next for Laura
R: What’s next for you? Are you working on a new book now?
L: I am – I’m working on a book that’s probably going to be called Mosaic — about how women with big careers and kids spend their time. I am looking at exactly the strategies people employ.
R: I like the title.
L: Well, you look at these time logs and it really is like a mosaic — all these little pieces and it’s how these people fit the pieces around [that] makes it fascinating — and when you fit the pieces right, you can fit quite a bit — more than people realize.
R: I can’t wait to read it.
L: Well, good — I can’t wait to write it.
Thanks to Laura for a fantastic interview! We really appreciated her time and openness.
What would you ask Laura if you were sitting down with her for an interview?
What do you do before breakfast?
- Any other time management tricks your employ?