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Episode #18 | Laura Vanderkam: Time Abundance – Mental Mindshifts to Enrich Your Life

“Possibilities are infinite. Time is not. You are always choosing. Choose wisely.”

– Laura Vanderkam


“There are not enough hours in the day!” Sound familiar? Internationally-acclaimed time and productivity expert Laura Vanderkam has come to the rescue. Laura explains how to identify where you are leaking time on items that are not a priority—or which you don’t even want to do at all—and how to flip that on its head. She describes a simple, powerful daily life hack that can dramatically increase your joy. You’ll also learn how to identify areas where you are resistant to change and how to pivot.

About Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam true WELLth Podcast

International best-selling author Laura Vanderkam helps people spend more time on what matters, and less on what doesn’t. Laura’s TED Talk, “How to gain control of your free time,” has been viewed more than 8 million times. She hosts the top-ranked morning productivity podcast “Before Breakfast” and co-hosts the “Best of Both Worlds” career and parenting podcast with Sarah Hart-Unger. Laura’s work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, City Journal, Fortune, and Fast Company. She also has appeared on numerous television programs, including “The Today Show” and “CBS This Morning,” hundreds of radio segments, and has spoken about time and productivity to audiences of all sizes. Laura lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children.

Show Notes

I met Laura more than a decade ago when she was pregnant with her first child and about to publish her first book. As I have watched her incredible career blossom over the years, I have often stopped to wonder how she does it. It can easily feel like Laura is a new kind of female superhero who the rest of us couldn’t possibly attempt to emulate.

What I love about diving into Laura’s work is her penchant for delivering exceptionally actionable time/life hacks in a straight-forward manner. All too often purveyors of advice dispense it with a bit of a “view from the mountain” approach. There is a sense of being spoken down to—literally and figuratively. Alternatively, there is the “guru” whose words are so wrapped in fluff that you leave floating on a cloud and then wonder why you fall flat when trying to implement their recommendations. It’s very different with Laura. She presents her research and insights in a no-nonsense manner, letting the facts—not her tone—inspire you to take action.

I still struggle mightily with time-management. But thanks to Laura’s work, I own it entirely. And each time I screw up on the time front, I go back to one of Laura’s core tenants and try and identify why that unproductive habit is serving me and what proactive approach I can put in its place. That, in turn, makes me feel that I’m in control, and there is hope that one day my innate mindset will be one of time abundance.

Manisha’s Top Takeaways

  1. If you find that you don’t have time for something, it’s not a priority.
    I realized that each time I used the phrase “I don’t have time,” I was referring to something that was low priority or that I simply didn’t want to do. That’s why I love Laura’s suggestion that if something is not enjoyable for you to do, you owe it to yourself to find a way to change it. What struck me was her point that “change it” doesn’t always mean you don’t do it; perhaps it means you do it right now so you never have to do it again! [12:09]
  2. “Must be nice” is a common indication from people of resistance to changing their behavior.
    On the surface, those three words can easily seem like a throwaway sarcastic comment. For ages, I was one of those people who would roll my eyes at someone who said they had plenty of time. What I learned from this interview with Laura is the power of learning from, rather than being envious of, those who have structured their lives to experience things that you may not. [9:30]
  3. The power of little adventures every day
    Laura’s found that the people who have the most abundant views of time are the ones who habitually incorporate little adventures into their daily lives. As Laura put it, “When we do cool stuff, we remember it. When we remember it, we create memories. When we have more memories, life feels more rich and full.” When you remember adventures and experiences on a regular basis, you end up feeling, as a general state of mind, as if you have more time. [15:00]

Other Major Topics

  • The genre of book that doesn’t have a lot of women-focused plot lines [5:00]
  • What is wrong with a lot of non-fiction books these days [08:00]
  • The small change that transformed the way Laura spends one joy-filled hour each day [16:45]

Resources Cited in the Episode

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