You have 168 hours this week

Reading is one of my passions. I love reading about personal finance, behavioral economics, psychology and business in general. I literally cannot fall asleep if I don’t read, even if only for 5/10 minutes.

About 2 weeks ago, I had nothing to read and no ideas on what to read next. I found this post from Paula Afford Anything and the 168 hours book she recommended sounded interesting. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to manage a full-time demanding job, a baby, buying property #2, a constant effort/research on how to save more and where to invest. A book on time management was exactly what I needed, in particular one tailored to families and written by a woman.

Laura is amazing (you can listen to her TED talk to understand what the book is about) and her book made me feel I really have more time than what I think I do.

Hours in a week 168
Sleep (8 hours/night) 52
Work (8 hours/weekday) 40
Commute and getting ready for work (1.5 hour/weekday) 7.5
Total time left 68.5

A week has 168 hours. After accounting for sleep, work, commuting and personal hygiene/getting ready to work, I still have 68 hours left to do whatever I want. The key is to use this time on what makes you happy, which for me is my family, exercising and my sidle hustle (my investments, this blog and my passion for personal finance).

Laura made me realise than I actually spend more time with my baby than at work! Even though I only see him 3 hours a day on weekdays, which feels too little, I have the whole weekend to be with him. Plus, I found strategies to maximise the 3 hours I am with him by outsourcing what I don’t prioritise in my life. I realised I was spending too much time going to the supermarket, cooking, some days I would also do some laundry and this was all done, of course, during these 3 hours I was supposed to be with him. Non-sense! I have decided to talk to my cleaning lady and double the time she comes every week. She will, not only clean the house, as she did before, but also cook and take care of our clothes. We have also started shopping online, which saves us at least 1 hour per week. Now, I am fully enjoying these 3 hours stress-free with my baby and it is so much better/easier for everyone.

On the other side, yes, I am spending more money than what I “should” which seems not to be in line with my financial independence goals. I gave a lot of thought to this, since I consider myself frugal, but I think I will try to be more easy going from now on and think about my core competences, where really I want to spend my time on. And, I have to admit, I don’t like home work, I hate cleaning, doing the laundry, I don’t mind cooking but also don’t love it. I do like: spending time with my family and friends, my work, my side hustle, doing exercise, in particular yoga, reading, thinking about where to invest next and how to help people having a healthier relationship with money. This is where I will spend my 68 hours per week that I have left, on the things I love, and not on the things I hate, which I was doing just to save money. Plus, I don’t plan to retire early, my goal is finance independence but not early retirement. I want to create passive income so I can feel free to pursue my passions, try my luck by starting my own company and hopefully make some money while helping others.

What I have changed in my life after reading 168 hours:

  • I now have a cleaning lady 6 hours every week instead of 3
  • I use my lunch hours very effectively, either to take care of something I need, or to go to the gym or to have lunch with friends (I schedule appointments to make sure I have lunch with people I care about and not just because they are my work colleagues)
  • I don’t feel bad about spending money on books, it is an investment towards my financial future and I love reading
  • I am more organised and I plan more, to make sure I am able to do everything I want during the week
  • I am more present, I try not to get distracted and enjoy the moment. If I am working, I try to focus and get things done as quickly as possible. If I am with my family, I don’t even look at my phone.

This book is of course tailored for people living in developed countries and who have their basic needs fully fulfilled. You have time for everything. You just need to define your priorities and organize your week around them. Time is more important than money. Do you agree?

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