Tuesday, July 6, 2010

168 Hours, people whine more than they think

Yeah, okay, reading this book did put me in a sarcastic mood. I bought it because it looked interesting (and it was). My husband's reading it now. I have to say, though, through the opening chapters I experienced an overwhelming sense of "Duh." Among the revelations were: 1) people don't work anywhere near as long as they claim to; our culture is in love with the idea of being overworked and thus people who complain about long work hours and dilly-dally around the office in long, pointless meetings and inefficient work strategies think there's something noble about this, 2) how people spend their time depends on the choices they make; the claim "I didn't have time" is a myth, what they're really saying is, "It wasn't a priority." I think the author did a fantastic job of making this nice and clear, and I do recommend this book.

I'm curious to talk to my friend with CFS about her impressions of it, if she has time to read an excerpt or two. She and I have chuckled together about how often people look at us with our disorders and say, "I know how you feel." Seriously, if you know how I feel, you need medical help, or you're an idiot (I leave it to you to figure out which.) The whole first part of the book, to me, detailed how people are so in love with the idea that their lives are hard that they'll talk to people like me, at times like when I'm unable to sustain sleep for more than 90 mins in 24 hours, and say, "Oh, yeah, I know how you feel." As if there's something noble and desirable about feeling this way (pure insanity.) For anyone like that (you know who you are) read this book and get a real life!

The rest of the book made me feel wistful. I can and already do employ a lot of the tactics in it, though it opened my mind to some new ones as well, but for me it'll be of limited effect until I can actually schedule sleep like a normal person. The basic premise is, though, put your highest priorities first in any given week, cut out the dead weight from your schedule, and minimize, outsource, or ignore the small stuff that doesn't play to your strengths. One outsource idea I hadn't seriously considered was buying groceries online. It's not really feasible in the small town I come from, but here in London it's very cost effective. It costs less than the public transport to get to and from the grocery store, I can still use coupons, I can shop at 3am if I want, and it's super easy to keep a food budget when I have an instantaneous tally of the value of my shopping basket. I could get used to this :-)

We'll see how long it takes us to earn back the purchase price of the book. Okay, that might take a while, but even still, it's a worthwhile read that'll net most anyone some benefit. Even if, like me, their control of their schedule is tenuous at best.


  1. That does sound interesting - I'll definitely keep an eye out for it. (And we've recently switched to ordering groceries online, and it really has made a difference - it takes SO much less energy to order online than to drive out to the store and wander around the aisles picking everything out.)

  2. Yeah, if I see you in the next little while, you can borrow my copy. Are you going to be in London for any book related stuff? I'll give you a heads up if Trevor's got a trip to Bristol.

  3. Right now I don't know of any London events - I'll hope for that trip to Bristol!

  4. I'm a complete whiner. Every time I want to whine about the amount of sleep I am getting, or my "insomnia" , I read your sleep struggles and tell myself to suck it up. I dream of writing a book called Suck it Up, actually. One of those thing I ponder about when I just don't have time to get to the laundry, or the dishes. What can I say honey, I was just too busy. *wink*

  5. Eh, laundry and dishes are overrated, do go to the doctor if you think you've got real insomnia. No point sucking that up!