Book Snapshot: ‘I Know How She Does It’ by Laura Vanderkam

Book Snapshot: 'I Know How She Does It' by Laura Vanderkam | Organisation | The Chronicles of Carly

Book Snapshot: ‘I Know How She Does It’ by Laura Vanderkam

I recently read I Know How She Does It by the inspiring Laura Vanderkam. For those of you that don’t know who Laura Vanderkam is, she is essentially the #GirlBoss of time management - empowering women to kick ass in their career and life by maximising the use of their 168-hour week.

Laura Vanderkam is running a crusade, trying to break the “you can’t have it all” narrative that many career-driven women are constantly told by showing real facts, data and time logs of women who do manage (very successfully) to have it all!

In a snapshot…

Book? I Know How She Does It
Author? Laura Vanderkam
Premise? How successful women make the most of their time
Should I buy or borrow? Borrow.

“Time is elastic. It stretches to accommodate what we need or want to do with it.” – Laura Vanderkam

My general key takeaways from the book

As you can see by the pink Post-It notes poking out of every page in the picture above, there where a couple of key takeaways. I have refined them to the following:

Small and steady wins the race:

“Small wins are sustainable, and sustainable growth over the years is what makes success possible.” – pg. 99

Just because you feel stressed, doesn’t mean you should overlook the wonderful and vice versa:

“Life is stressful and life is wonderful. There is no contradiction here. These facts exist side by side.” – pg. 159. I feel like this quote helped inform some of my recent article about fulfillment (you can read it by clicking here)

Count your blessings and stop sweating the small stuff:

Okay, so this one doesn’t come directly from Laura Vanderkam herself. Laura interviewed Lynda Bascelli, an inspirational human to say the least. Lynda is the medical director at a centre for the homeless. After a long day at a traumatic workplace she comes home to her husband and 3 children. Safe to say, her life is a little more hectic than mine. Lynda has an incredibly humbling view to life and contentment. As she says, “nobody ever died of ‘going-to-school-in-the-same-shirt-as-yesterday disease.”… “If you’ve got food, a bed, and a healthy family, there’s really no reason to make life harder than it needs to be. The laundry can wait,. Contentment shouldn’t.” – pg. 161

Don’t take time off work, ever 😂

According to economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “woman who take three or more years out of the workforce lose 37% of their earn power.” – pg. 179

Full disclosure: this was an US study, but Australia has a similar workforce/culture.
Sorry future kids, you are going straight from the delivery room to the nearest daycare centre because Mama Carly can’t afford to lose 37% of her earning power. At the risk of sounding like a crazy-feminist, this is a whole additional issue that isn’t discussed enough in the world of gender-pay-gap discussions. Add in the Super-disparity argument and you can see why women have their knickers in a knot.

Carving out time for ‘me time’ isn’t impossible, in fact, it is really freaking possible:

“If you had thirty hours to spend on personally pleasurable pursuits, what would you do with this time?” – pg. 240 Guess what? Research shows that high-earning women balancing work life and home life with multiple children did have an excess of THIRTY HOURS of ‘personal pleasure’ time. As someone without children, it amazes me to think how many hours I have up my sleeve that I am simply not taking advantage of…

Time is elastic; you can either work for time or make time work for you:

I love this story and this is actually what made me read the book.“Time is elastic. It stretches to accommodate what we need or want to do with it.” – pg. 240

“A financial planner who came home one night to find her water heater had exploded all over her basement… This woman spent some hours that night dealing with the disaster. The next day, she had to deal with getting plumbers to her house as she worked from home in between their visits. The next day she called in a professional cleaning crew and got them started on this project. All of this was being recorded on her time log and consumed about seven hours of her week.” – pg. 240-241

The moral of the story? “I suspect if I’d asked this busy woman at the start of the week if she could find seven hours to read Mrs. Dalloway or train for a triathlon, she probably would have said what most of us would have said: no. And then yet, when there was something she urgently needed to do, she founded those hours.” – pg. 241

A simple shift in language & mindset can completely change how you approach your life:

“I don’t really have time” really means “it’s not a priority.” – pg. 278

To be honest, I read this book for ‘Work Carly’ without the intention of sharing it with you guys! So here is the final takeaway, one I originally had just for Work Carly but realised that it may be a help to you…

Carving out quiet time at work doesn’t need to feel selfish, especially when you make it fun:

As a suggestion for trying to carve out quiet, uninterrupted time at work Laura suggested the obvious ones like come in earlier, stay back once everyone is gone and work from home or out-of-the-office occasionally. However, the suggestion I LOVED was to “wear a funny hat that colleagues know as your ‘thinking cap’” – it’s a funny, yet memorable reminder that while the hat is on your in your zone. – pg. 114

I hope you enjoyed the snapshot of I Know How She Does It as much as I enjoyed reading this book. If you want me to do a Book Snapshot of a particular book, message me on one of my socials!

As always, thank you so so much for visiting The Chronicles of Carly,
Carly xx

Pssstt…. Want to know more about Laura Vanderkam?
Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, besides I Don’t Know How She Does It she has also authored Off the Clock, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours. Her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Fortune. She is the co-host, with Sarah Hart-Unger, of the podcast Best of Both Worlds. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and four children, and blogs at

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