One. That’s all you need.

One more hour magically crammed into your day and you’d be set: no more moving today’s tasks over to stress you out tomorrow – and if there was an extra hour wedged into tomorrow, great, that’d help, too. You don’t want much, just one lousy hour. But as you’ll ask yourself after reading “Time Smart” by Ashley Whillans, will it make you happy?

Here’s the spoiler: no, it probably won’t. So how do you claw back your time and still make money? The initial secret, says Whillins, is to remember that while there’s always a way to gain profit, time eventually runs out.

In a study made some years ago, about 70% of Americans said they “never” had enough time in a day. Truth is, they had just as much time as you have now, which is the same as your ancestors had: 24 hours. Today, much of that is snatched up inside six “Time Traps,” says Whillans: technology, a focus on money, an undervalue of time, workaholism, an aversion to being idle and a human quirk in planning.

These things can be overcome, first by knowing your own time-money mindset and where you lie on a spectrum. Next, document what you do with your time; you may be surprised to see that you have more free time than you think, and you can recapture some of it, rework it and jettison most of what doesn’t make you happy. On that note, do the math: it may be more profitable, monetarily and personally, to pay someone to do the chores you hate.

Lastly, make these habits lifelong by asking yourself daily why you’re doing them. Schedule a quick playtime if you know a stressor is imminent. Then take these new practices to your co-workers or employees: studies show that time-affluent workers are better to themselves, each other and the world at large.

As time management books go – and there are a lot of them – “Time Smart” is pretty good: in easy-to-understand, linear, sense-making points, author Whillans lays a path toward taking back time, while still making money.

While most people are roughly medial in time-money preferences, Whillans doesn’t ignore you for your industriousness or your slacking. For the former, she admits that her methods may be hard, but she offers help through tiny, cumulative movements that will seize every minute’s worth of fun, and by advocating a goof-off schedule to get you started. More playful readers are nudged into the same, but in a way that doesn’t minimize the requirement for work. Whillens also offers a method of translating happiness into a language of money; as well as worksheets you can modify; and bullet points, if you’re rushed.

Is it a coincidence that this book is so skinny? Maybe; maybe not, but even that helps readers on their journey to attain this new lifestyle: there’s not much to read, but a lot to learn, and if you need a time-management book this new year, “Time Smart” is the one.

2020. Harvard Business Review Press, $28/$36.99. Canada. 208 pages

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