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

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

Laura Vanderkam. Penguin/Portfolio, $27.95 (292p) ISBN 978-1-59184-732-8

Vanderkam (168 Hours) lays out an in-depth critique of an assumption central to the ongoing “having it all” debate about the work-life balance for women: that there is never enough time, and that conflict and exhaustion are inevitable. Wanting real data on how women spend their days and manage multiple responsibilities, she launched the Mosaic Project, “a time diary study of 1,001 days in the lives of professional women.” Vanderkam had two criteria for subjects: each woman had to earn more than $100,000 per year and have at least one minor child living in her home. Through dozens of stories and excerpts from subjects’ time diaries, she raises some significant challenges to the narrative of overworked, miserable professional women and questions the idea that happiness can be found only in a stress-free life. Vanderkam is upfront about her singular focus on upper-middle-class women, but for that audience, her advice on carefully rethinking how your time is spent and being present for moments in your life is solid, thought-provoking, and substantive. Readers will find it heartening to see the trope of the frenzied, unhappy career woman trying desperately to “have it all” challenged in such detail. (June)