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„Time Smart – How To Reclaim Your Life And Live A Happier Life“ by Ashley Whilllans – A Harvard Business Review Press Book Review

HBR Book Review - Time Smart HBR book reviews and summaries – Time Smart

Reclaim your life! Slow down and breathe! There is not enough time in a day! The new HBR book titled “Time Smart” attempts to help us claw back the most precious resource we humans possess. The book takes an interesting approach to managing your time and offers plenty of techniques to do just about that.
Coming from a scientific background, the book opens by paraphrasing what research says again and again: happier people value time above money – and spend it wisely. As an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, Ashley uses her own behavioral research to turn our thinking about time around. “Time Smart” revolves around a very simple premise – we all can treat time as currency and start being more productive and mindful. After all, the book’s subtitle reads: “How To Reclaim Your Time And Live A Happier Life.
Key to her research is acting wisely with our time. Yes, I must admit it myself, it is a very American way of thinking. “The one who dies with the largest wealth wins” used to say one famous American figure. And from the same country came also other he famous “bucket list” (masterfully played by the semi-crazy Jack Nicholson in one of his latest masterpieces). Sounds contradictory, right? And makes you really wonder if it is possible to have both, by creating every day trade-off a between opportunities and the limited number of hours at our disposal.
Ashley Whillans takes a very nice shot at the topic. She combines a wealth of knowledge in time management – after all, plenty of research is available on managing our weekly or daily time. The value-added by “Time Smart” comes also from a very American – more exactly, from the various techniques used within the Harvard Business School to build successful business strategy.
The recipe is quite simple – take plenty of specific and different business (or personal) cases, analyze them in detail and summarize the best working tools. Analysis must be done with the topic’s lenses and final goal – in our case, maximizing the outcomes from spending your daily time.
What about the tools? Here it gets really practical – Ashley Whillans offers at least 5 checklists (on my preliminary count) on how to optimize your time allocation among what adds value and what does not. What I liked was that those checklists were simple and practical – all you need is a piece of paper and a ✏️, then you are set.
Naturally, all these checklists are useful only if they are combined with a clear set of principles. Here “Time Smart” gets again interesting – the author shows clearly how to:

• Cancel time traps, where we all spend time with insufficient benefits;
• Find more time for your objectives and fund it;
• Build intelligent routines;
• Redefine your most critical life decisions and look at them through new lenses;
• Promote a more efficient usage of time within your circle of control in an organisation.

The user cases supporting Ashley Whillans’ better time usage are also often stunning. For example – think about the hours lost through the traffic congestions. The average American lost an average of 97 hours in traffic jams during 2018, adding to a whopping $87 billion. Here regulatory policies from the government can help immensely – see for example the active discouraging of taking you car in the city center enforced in many Germanic countries. By creating parking spaces at the lowest congestion point, which is then comfortably connected via public transportation, governments promote less stressful lives and less pollution. On top of it, these policies save a lot of time – if applied consistently and resources properly.
Thus the case is made and tools are kindly laid down. All you need to do is listen to the real life stories within “Time Smart – How To Reclaim Your Life And Live A Happier Life” and take action in order to improve your life. Ready, steady, go!

Title: Time Smart – How To Reclaim Your Life And Live A Happier Life
Author: Ashley Whillans
Publishing House: Harvard Business Review Press
Categories: time management, personal efficiency, self-development, business
Publishing date: October 6, 2020

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