The Mistake You're Making If You Think You're Too Busy

June 17th 2016

Tricia Tongco

How are you? If you're like most Americans, your answer is likely, "I'm busy."

But your sense of how busy you are is likely far from the truth, according to a recent New York Times opinion essay, "The Busy Person's Lies."

The reality is that professionals overestimate how much they work, remembering their busiest weeks as typical, wrote Laura Vanderkam, author of "I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time." She cited several studies to back that up.

One study from the June 2011 Monthly Labor Review found that people who said they worked 75-plus hours a week overestimated that amount by about 25 hours.

Vaderkam also tracked her own work time on a daily basis, taking about three minutes a day to note how she occupied her hours. She discovered that she overestimated how much she worked each week by five to 10 hours.

That added up. "Time tracking has led to a sense of abundance" for her and many other women who often are targets of "the pernicious narrative that professional success requires harsh sacrifices at home," she writes in her essay.

If you're feeling too busy to make time for things outside of work, you're not alone:

A December Gallup poll found that 61 percent of working Americans said they did not have enough time to do the things they wanted to do.

Even if you don't have children, Vaderkam's essay has a message for all you busy people: You actually have more time in your day than you think for pursuits outside of work, whether it's spending time with your family, writing a YA novel, or learning Spanish.

Whatever you're interested in, you probably have more time to do it than you think.

Read the rest of Vaderkam's fascinating essay here.