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Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  2,987 ratings  ·  419 reviews
"I well recall a conversation with an executive I hoped to interview about her astonishing productivity. I began our call with an assurance that I would not take much of her time. She laughed. 'Oh, I have all the time in the world,' she said."

Most of us feel constantly behind, unsure how to escape feeling oppressed by busyness. Laura Vanderkam, unlike other time-management
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Portfolio
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Beth Bender
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This isn't a bad book by any means and I basically agree with what Vanderkam is trying to say with this and her other books.


The main fault with this book, her writing in general, and most books about time management that are based on what "successful" people do with their time is that the assumption of privilege. They assume a basic level of control over one's work schedule and a level of economic affluence that affords significant amounts of paid childcare and household help. Many worki
L.A. Starks
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book--especially for anyone who read the novel "I Don't Know How She Does It" hoping for an answer: Vanderkam, with a career and four kids under the age of ten, provides more answers in this sequel to her first book, "I Know How She Does It." Readers who are 24/7 parents of young children or who have other family responsibilities at that level of full-time intensity will especially welcome these helpful, reassuring sets of suggestions about saving time and improving its qual ...more
Katherine Lewis
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
It's no exaggeration to say that Laura Vanderkam's writing has changed my life. Her earlier books forced me to confront my own part in procrastination, avoiding hard tasks and making excuses like "I don't have the time." This book - Off the Clock - crystalizes all her earlier writing into an easy-to-follow (though sometimes counterintuitive) set of principles for making the most of your time. The author is a busy journalist, speaker, wife and mother of four, so I suppose it makes sense that she' ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-help
I never would have thought to pick this book up, had I not heard it recommended by The Modern Mrs. Darcy-- and in that recommendation, she mentioned that this is not so much as a time-management/ business building book as it is a self-help/ memoir of sorts. At any rate, I thought it sounded interesting and checked it out from the library.

The book is exactly what is says-- ways to feel less busy while getting more done. The author has done extensive research on time management and how people spe
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
I didn't feel like this was as readable as some of her books, but I LOVED it. So thoughtful and I was talking and thinking about it non-stop.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An insightful and relateable take on how to make time management more manageable so you have more time for things/people you love and less time to complain about how "busy" or time-consumed you are.
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I chose Laura Vanderkam's Off the Clock when I was working and the world had not been "shut down" by COVID-19; however, much of what she says I do agree with and practice as much as I can when I am working. I do wonder though about people who have less control over their work schedules and don't work 8-5 Monday through Friday.
I found myself jotting down phrases and comments that I agreed with or want to remember so I will include those here as they may lead to someone else picking up this quick
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I constantly feel extremely busy even though I have relatively a lot of free time, so I was really interested in this book. As I was reading it, it felt like another self-help book full of meaningless filler, but in retrospect, it actually had some useful ideas.

Here's what I learned:
- If you really want to get something done, do it first thing in the morning. This is obviously hard advice to follow, because who wants to get up early, but it was a good reminder.
- Let go of unrealistic expectation
Emily Polson
I guess I am a person who reads self-help books now?? And finds them genuinely helpful?? Anyway, my main takeaways from this one were:

-When we say we wish we had more time, often what we mean is we wish we had more memories
-We have three selves: anticipating, experiencing, and remembering; the division of labor feels unfair between the three, which tempts us to be lazy, but if we don't plan for experiences, we will have nothing to anticipate and nothing to remember.
-"Plan it in, do it anyway"--
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book gave me so much to think & talk about, and I even went back and re-listened to the chapter on relationships after I was done. Her stuff about the Anticipating/experiencing/memory self (and not letting the lazy or stressed “experiencing self” overrule the other two) especially hit home for me. ...more
Karen Chung
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A good time management book that I got through fairly quickly, mostly with text-to-speech. I think some of the things she says have already made a difference in my life, e.g. choosing to do memorable things to "stretch out" the passing of time, tracking time, and just deciding to leave earlier and never be late again - which I'd recently been working on anyway. I also like her podcast, "Before Breakfast", which is what motivated me to try one of her books. I recommend both the book and the podca ...more
While Vanderkam's discussions center around time and time management, the biggest takeaways in this book aren't about time management: they're about effective energy management. As someone who chooses energy management over time management -- this works for me.

We all have more time than we think, and being "busy" isn't a sign of importance. It's not an award to indicate a level of powerful work. If we looked at our days in thirty minute time chunks, we'd see the holes where "busy" doesn't exist,
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots of good tips on how to make time more plentiful. To be honest, I mostly like how the book goes along with my own philosophy of living life people-first to make the most out of life, so I’m a bit biased. My only complaint would be that a lot of the advice sounds like it’s preaching to upper middle class, making some concepts feel a little out of reach, even though anyone could customize within their own financial means.
Sally Ewan
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I tried to read her book about 168 hours in a week, but got frustrated with the time tracking thing. (I'm already obsessive enough without filling in a grid of everything I do.)

But this book had some nice points to ponder, and so I will do that as I go about my life. Thinking about the people in my life and how to reach out to them....not in a networking kind of way, but in a caring way. I'm not looking to achieve success through relationships, but within them. I want to encourage others because
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I was in line to get this book from the library for pretty much forever - and when it finally came through I was excited to check it out. That being said - I think this is going to be my last book of hers I read. It's not that it is bad - it just didn't provide anything new that I hadn't heard from her past books and the more I become involved in other issues in the world -I just find myself reading her stuff thinking "oh this incredible white privileged life" - I fully admit I very much have a ...more
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although the approach was much different, this book has much in common with The ONE Thing. Keller’s book explained the idea behind the ONE Thing and detailed how it might be implemented. Off the Clock used stories, examples, and research data to make suggestions about how and what to prioritize. Together, the books have provided a lot to think about and, hopefully, act upon.
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.0 Stars
There were some good nuggets in this little book, but it felt too unstructured and oversimplified to offer meaningful time management strategies that I can utilize. I personally recommend the author's first book, 168 Hours, which I felt provided more practical advice for work life balance.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Mostly a rehash of ideas she's written about previously, but not as interesting. Lots of content based on a not particularly well explained study with no analysis of uncertainties or whether the results she discussed were significant.
David Pulliam
Just read the work book at the end or read some of her blog posts. There is a lot of filler with stories and platitudes about time management. Big takeaways:
1. Track all your time
2. So memorable things
3. Prioritize people
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't have any expectations going into this book (as I'd kind of decided to read it on the spur of the moment), but it ended up being an extremely useful book for me at this time in my life. Not only did it get me to start tracking all my time (for the first time ever), it also gave several do-able, concrete strategies that I can put into place RIGHT NOW to make it seem like I have more time for the things I really want to be doing. I ended up writing down a whole bunch of questions and quote ...more
Shaina Robbins
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Self help usually disappoints me (and yet I keep reading it ...), but I quite liked this one. Great tips, relevant anecdotes, and enough science to feel like she's not just making stuff up. I loved that her focus was on making life meaningful, not just on being successful.

Key takeaways: People are never a waste of time, invest in your happiness (work on things you're passionate about first thing in the morning), focus on making memories, give yourself credit for what you're getting done, and tra
Based on surveys and interviews, Vanderkam's main point is that those who perceive that they have more time, are essentially living better lives - filled with connection and productivity than those who feel extremely busy and feel like they don't have time to do the things they really want to do. This short, little book is an easy-going, inspirational, and heartwarming (at least to me) read. I am inspired to track my time for a couple of weeks and analyze it to make sure I am contributing well p ...more
Rachel Brown
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved Off the Clock, and I’ve been telling everyone about it in hopes that they’ll snag a copy to read, too. This book is about so much more than feeling less busy while getting more done—it’s about cultivating a richer life by being aware of how you spend your time, creating opportunities that leave lasting memories, and knowing when to say yes and when to rest, amongst other thoughtful, practical advice. Not only is the subject matter excellent and compelling but the prose is fant ...more
Hope Helms
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books-read
A different take on productivity: changing our perception of time.

Time can seem like a black hole when we are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. Where did that day go?One key to changing that perception is to make memories. Putting the effort and rhythm into life to savor it.

Changing our perception of time can give us a sense of being “off the clock” which makes even a very busy life seem manageable and enjoyable with time to do the things that matter to us most.
Maggie Ginsberg
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
While nothing groundbreaking here, I need regular reminders and came away with a healthy list. There’s also a handy workbook at the end for easy reference later. I actually love tracking pretty much everything, so my favorite takeaway is feeling like my methodical scheduling is really a good thing, and actually allows for more freedom and leisure time. SEE, DEAR HUSBAND, I’M NOT OVER THE TOP. Heh.
Lisa Montanaro
Great read covering our relationship with time. I really enjoyed how she included some case studies so that it was a lot more personal than just a how-to manual. She has a very conversational style to her writing, and I like how the book is organized. As a time management expert, I’m always fascinated by this subject and I was not disappointed with her approach to it.
Shyames || Prosciutto through life
Not bad, actually very nice for a time spend on commuting to work, etc.
I'll probably try some of the suggestions, especially after I found the small "workbook" at the end. Definitely too much time spend on social media for me, I know that even without the spreadsheet. :D
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable as an audiobook. The book was filled with practical tips and philosophical musing on how to stretch time during the sweet moments and to endure time that seems weighed down with lead bolts. As someone who loves to remincse and anticipate, I loved her comments on how the remembering self and anticipatory add to the momentum and enjoyment of the experiencing self.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-stars
The best time management book I've ever read, because it focuses not just on productivity but on taking control of your life and changing the way you think about time.
Krittika D'Silva
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Was expecting this to be fluffy and repetitive, but it was instead one of the best "self-help" book I've read. So well written and researched.
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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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