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I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,744 ratings  ·  570 reviews
Everyone has an opinion, anecdote, or horror story about women and work. Now the acclaimed author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast shows how real working women with families are actually making the most of their time.

“Having it all” has become the subject of countless books, articles, debates, and social media commentary, with emotions running high in
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by Portfolio
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Jun 21, 2015 marked it as to-read
Someone should write a "Having It All" book for working people without kids.

Aug 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In reading Vanderkam's I Know How She Does It, I found myself alternately nodding my head and then vigorously shaking it saying, "No, no, no, she's missing the point." There is some interesting info in here, but I felt like this was a somewhat soulless book. For one thing, Vanderkam focused on women who are in white collar jobs making some nice bank (or so it seemed). She also just kept hammering away at the idea that we all DO have spare time to do the things we really want to do...which is tru ...more
For Books' Sake
Jul 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Laura Vanderkam is a journalist, time management expert and author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. I Know How She Does It is her latest piece of productivity porn, a cheeky take on Alison Pearson's 2003 comedy of manners, I Don't Know How She Does It, about the gendered notion of 'having it all.'

I Know How She Does It showcases ‘highly successful’ women’s methods for finding time for their careers, their families and themselves, and explains how their lower flying counter
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
A few pages into this book, I decided I shouldn't read any more of this author's work. Some of her research is interesting, but her idea of success is narrow and boring, and reading this book made me feel like I got cornered by that person at the cocktail party who won't shut up about her stock portfolio and her house in the Hamptons. We don't have much in common and probably shouldn't get together for coffee sometime. ...more
Maya Smart
Sep 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I was reading Laura Vanderkam’s “I Know How She Does It” when news broke of the racist killing of nine churchgoers in South Carolina. At first, it felt meaningless to be mining the book for time-saving strategies and productivity tips as the nation (or some of it anyway) went into mourning. It felt absurd to read a self-help book when I could be toppling confederate monuments or lobbying for gun control.

Yet I kept turning the pages. And I realized that in the face of senseless violence, I was co
I do not fault Vanderkam at ALL for focusing on women with families who make $100,000+ a year. That is a super easy bench-marker socially for "successful" and the ideal "she has it all" woman. So her explaining all of that in chapter one made some of the obvious privilege things in this book work for me.

That said: holy hell, I LOVED this book. Talk about a productivity guide and look at time management that makes perfect sense, especially for someone who works non-traditional hours and who choos
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am a SAHM homeschooling mom of four kids, and therefore far from both the group studied for this book and probably its target audience as well. That said, I enjoyed the many real-life stories from both the women whose logs were analyzed and from the author's own life, and I found many insights that would be valuable to anyone attempting to build and maintain a full life while also raising a family.

Ms. Vanderkam herself is self-employed and has in-home childcare, so I imagine that some readers
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: productivity
I was underwhelmed by this book. While it was fascinating to see how women in high paying jobs juggled their commitments, most of the information wasn't new and most women working with kids will be used to trying to make it work...somehow.

The tone of the book regarding family life and personal growth just seemed a bit soulless. You're getting great family time if you're just managing to sit down to eat with children at the same time, and it's a great thing to be getting up at 5am to cram a card
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked this book, but I didn't love it. I know the author a bit online, we are alumni of the same University, and I really liked her previous book, 168 hours. This one's strengths are similar, but the rest of it is not as compelling.

First, the positives:
1. The idea to think in 168 hours (a week) instead of 24 (a day) is the insight of Vanderkam's that has been the most consistently useful to me. I tend to fare poorly with any kind of program that insists on daily goals: daily word count, dail
Cristine Mermaid
This book is really only going to resonate with a tiny percentage of working moms. I didn't realize when I started reading it that it was geared toward moms who make more than $100,00, have really flexible jobs, work traditional weekday hours, and have a partner who also has a really flexible job. (unicorns?) In this world, people can run personal errands while on the clock, leave the workplace when they are 'done', and arrive to work when it's convenient for them! They don't need a book. I will ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lot of good insights that I found mostly applied to me, as a father who wants to get lots of time with my family as well as have a successful career and enjoy my free time.


1. After sleep and work, we still have 60-70 hours a week for everything else.
2. Worrying about what we're supposed to be doing and how things should be leads to doing work that turns out to be useless when it's immediately canceled out (picking up toys every night, Inbox Zero). Do things that have the best chance
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
I don't know. I have read a couple of books about time management--specifically about working moms and I think this one isn't my favorite. I walked away feeling like the author was saying, "stop whining, work more, and don't feel bad about it." It seemed very heavily skewed toward work with not as much emphasis on the home/family/self care front, which I think is okay because I'm not sure I would consider her a credible source on those topics anyway.

I could write a lot more about this, but I'll
Shantala  (Shanaya Tales)
I have a confession to make. I am slightly obsessed with productivity and time management content. So I am always on the lookout for influencers, blogs and books on these topics. And that's how I came across this author and her books, as she is well known in the genre, and has several books to choose from. Though I picked this one first, because well..title. Totally fell for it.

I Know How She Does It revolves around the study & results of the author's 'Mosaic Project', which is her large-sc
Dec 06, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book made me mad. On the one hand, the author's research on time diaries is interesting, and there are some good data. But the conclusions reached by the author are really annoying. For example, she says something like, if people say they work 60-hour weeks, they don't really -- they aren't counting when they took off for a doctor's appointment or took a lunch break. She factors in vacation time taken, sick time taken, etc., and claims we work less than we think. WTF?! Of course people take ...more
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
I do like Laura Vanderkam but this book took me awhile to push through and some of her suggestions as to how to make the most of your time just don't work for me. Her idea of just letting dishes pile up so that you do them all at once is something I just can't handle - it's not how I work. In response she would say, "let it go" and in response to her I would say, "but I don't like living with ants." Also her suggestion of "if you are going to pay for housekeeping really pay for it" - I am happy ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this audiobook, read by the author. It made me think differently about my time, and how I use it. Lots of great suggestions for restructuring your work day, thinking differently about the time available to you throughout the week, taking advantage of unexpected time, and more. Some of my favorite suggestions were to schedule meetings early in the day so you don't spend your day thinking about and anticipating them, to not start your work day with email and instead give yourself ...more
My aha moment came after reading page 228, "don't set the alarm for 5 am daily. Yes, daily rituals are nice, but they're not the only strategy for building a productive life." She said this in regards to making time to exercise and it made a light bulb go off over my head, as I have been working on my morning routines since I started a new job in May. This book could have have come at a more perfect time for me. I enjoy the various anecdotes mixed with practical advice. I did not spend much time ...more
I am probabably NOT the right demographic for this book. Yes I am a women but I do not make over 100,000/year nor do I have children under the age of 18 as all the women in this book did. However this book was intriguing and interesting to me and I found some of its data I could replicate in my own life which I liked. I really like her 168 hour week stance, instead of 24 hour days or trying to get everything done Monday to Friday she talks about the whole seven days that make up a week and when ...more
Feisty Harriet
The good: I found a couple of helpful or insightful suggestions of ways that I can further streamline my week in order to get more out of the allotted hours in my life.

The "meh": I honestly don't know how or why this is a completely separate book from Vanderkam's "168 Hours" as there are very few new pieces of information. It's just repackaged. The biggest difference is that she used a data set from 143 women who have a) at least one child under the age of 18 and b) make $100,000 dollars or mor
Jun 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
How to make the best use of time is something that fascinates me and eludes me. I hoped to find some helpful advice in this book. Instead, this book only centered around women making at least $100,000 independently (because those are the only hardworking, successful women according to the author...?). The problem is that wealthy women can afford to outsource a lot of their more menial tasks (laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc). Also, the writing style was incredibly dry. I didn't just want a bunch ...more
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
This book disappointed me. The first few chapters depicted how I could have it easier as a working mom if I tried to negotiate flexibility. Um not all moms can do that. I was also put off by her decision to focus only on moms earning at least. $100K annually. Don't all moms deserve to know how they could make their lives easier? Subsequent chapters were technically helpful but not at all related to my life - I do travel but won't be hiring a supplemental nanny any time soon.

This could have been
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
I loved this book - I think it is so applicable to anyone, no matter their life circumstances, to help you think through your priorities, how to streamline your schedule, and how to make room for what matters in life to you (and what you can let go of).
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The actual rating is 3.5.
It’s a good self help book for working moms but not a great one. Most of the book is kind of repeating itself but I think it’s ok to read it once.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a book that has some useful yet common sense principles, but is written through the lens of privilege and disconnectedness. The book is meant for working moms who are sick of hearing “you can’t have it all.” I am not a mother, but I still thought it might be an interesting read because that statement drives me nuts. It starts off with the author discussing berry picking with her family and a sign that says “the berry season is short.” The analogy to life is a good one. I’m a person for ...more
Lady Susan
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
There were some great takeaways from this book. One: look at your time over the span of a week vs a day. I.e.: you may not be able to exercise every morning at 5 am because life happens, but perhaps you can squeeze in a walk one day, or wake up in the morning just a couple of days a week. Also, it can be depressing if you just look at what little you accomplish on any given day, but more encouraging to see what you can do in the span of a week.

I also loved this idea of looking at your life as a
Meg Hew
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book 4.5 stars.

Although I'm not its target audience (moms who work and make lots of $), I still found this book incredibly inspiring. Vanderkam imparts many useful nuggets of information, which I'm already using to make my life more efficient, meaningful and, just, better. I absolutely recommend this book if you're looking to improve your time management, regardless if you have kids or not. I took notes and intend to revisit them. What this book taught me is worth 5 star
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Some of this book is spent laying out strategies women use to piece together work, family, and personal time to create an overall mosaic that is fulfilling and achievable: flexibility in work place and hours, being intentional with time and tasks in work and at home, etc. Those parts read like a Women's Studies course textbook (definitely skimmable), not presenting anything new, but documenting the current landscape (mine included).

For me, the useful parts of this book provided persp
Cassie Robinson
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I thought this book would offer more practical advice than it did. One idea that was useful is to stop looking at your week in 24 hour blocks, because you will always feel like some aspect of your life is being neglected. If you look at the total week instead, you will have a better overall picture of how you're spending your time. Pretty straight forward I guess, which is what these books often are, but they can still be useful.

I Know How She Does It, however, isn't very useful because the tak
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I give this a 3 as I’m not exactly the target audience (working mothers who make $100k+) but as a whole I would rate lower. I admire the data collection put into the research of how “successful” women use their time but the book didn’t dive into any of the reasoning for why we continue to have that “busy” feeling. There were really no practical tips about how to share responsibilities in a household other than to just get over the stigma/guilt of taking time to yourself and lowering expectations ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I like this author's work a lot. This was no exception in the quality of interviews and research. My only real critique is that I feel like it's fairly easy to say "you can do it all, just make it happen" or "there's a way, you just need to get on it." But it's another matter in real life when your family has certain financial opportunities, health concerns, or family challenges. I thought it was a fascinating look at the top tier of successful women, but not super feasible for me as a non-top-t ...more
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Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including:
The New Corner Office
Off the Clock
I Know How She Does It
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
168 Hours

Laura is also the author of a time management fable, Juliet’s School of Possibilities and another novel, The Cortlandt Boys, which is available as an ebook.

Her 2016 TED talk, "How to Gain Contr

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