Book review: The Other 8 Hours
Before I started Get Rich Slowly, I was a slacker. I'd get up in the morning and drive to a job I hated where I gave almost no effort. When I came home in the evening, I'd fritter away my time: I watched TV, played Magic: The Gathering, and — most of all — whiled away the hours with World of Warcraft or other computer games.
As I started my financial turnaround, I made a conscious decision to make better use of my time. I slept for about eight hours a day, and I worked for about eight hours a day, but I could use the other eight hours for anything I wanted, including finding ways to get out of debt and build wealth. I believe this decision changed my life.
Obviously, I'm not the first to realize that the smart use of free time can contribute to a better life. Many others have made this discovery, too. And in Robert Pagliarini's recent book The Other 8 Hours, the author lays out a plan to help readers “maximize your free time to create new wealth and purpose”.
Here's how Pagliarini describes his thesis in the book's introduction:
This book is about the 8 hours in the day when you are not working or sleeping. This “free” time is the most valuable resource you have to achieve your ideal life…How you spend the other 8 hours determines where you are in life, your happiness, your weight, your level of debt, the satisfaction you have with your relationships, the car you drive, the languages you speak, your love life, your education, the places you travel, your bank account balance, and just about everything else that is important to you.
The Other 8 Hours is divided into four sections, each of which lays out the author's case that it's what you do in your free time that determines whether you achieve your goals — or simply get by. Let's take a quick look at each part of the book.
Get a Clue
This short section doesn't contain any practical advice. Instead, it's a catalog of modern ills. Americans, says Pagliarini, are working harder for less money than ever before. And they're not happy about it. He lists all of the things that contribute to this problem, but doesn't offer any solutions — yet.
Get More Time
The second section of the book offers ideas for finding more time, and making better use of the time you have. “The goal isn't to cram more into your day,” writes Pagliarini, “it's to get more out of your day. The more of the other 8 hours you have, the more you can focus on those pursuits that make your life more fulfilled.” To that end, he covers six ways to reclaim your free time:
- Take control of your time. Prioritize your activities. If something is important to you — exercise, learning French, writing a book — then do it and let the unimportant stuff wait.
- Learn to say “no”. “Don't be a time slut,” Pagliarini writes. Avoid overcommitment. Unless an offer makes you say “Hell yeah!”, turn it down.
- Get 9 hours out of 8. The book suggests you can get more time to do what you want by outsourcing parts of your life. You can also boost your time and income by taking a second job that lets you multitask.
- Practice limited multitasking. Pagliarini says you can make the most of your time by “chunking” mental and physical tasks together. For example, you might listen to an audiobook while driving to work. Or do brainstorming/planning while exercising every day.
- Tap into the power of positive thinking. The author emphasizes the needs for “sparks” that help trigger the behavior changes you're after. (I'm trying to implement sparks in my own life to improve my fitness, by the way.)
- Use technology to your advantage. Don't use technology for its own sake, but don't be afraid to use a tool if it's going to improve your life and give you more time. (I've recently begun using DropBox, for example, because it reduces the time I spend shuffling files around.)
The Other 8 Hours has an entire chapter on LifeLeeches, those seductive activities that suck all of our time. These include the obvious — blogs, television, videogames — but also some subtle LifeLeeches such as maximizing, gossiping, and disorganization.
Get More Money
The heart of the book (over half its content) describes how you can make the leap from passive consumer to active Cre8tor™. Cre8tor™ is Pagliarini's term for folks who make things, and in this section he urges readers to tap into their entrepreneurial side. He writes:
With very few exceptions, anybody who has attained any level of financial success has created something. It might be a book, a CD, an invention, or a Web site. Look around you. Everything you see was originally just an idea in someone's head…It took vision, determination, and action to turn those ideas into what you see today.
Pagliarini then includes his list of top 10 Cre8tor™ channels, including blogging, inventing, starting a company, freelancing, and turning hobbies into income. For each “channel”, he offers basic guidelines and resources for getting started. As a huge proponent of earning extra income, I liked this section. I wish more people understood how quickly they could improve their cash flow by boosting income.
Get a Life
One of my mantras is that it's more important to be happy than to be rich. The final section of The Other 8 Hours explores this notion in depth. Pagliarini argues that to really live, you have to stop dreaming and start doing. It's not enough to merely want something; you have to take it upon yourself to set goals that are meaningful to your life, and then to work toward achieving them.
A Minor Complaint
The Other 8 Hours is a fine introduction to the concept of reclaiming your free time. There aren't any earth-shattering revelations here, but there are plenty of practical tips for getting more out of life.
My primary complaint with the book is that it sometimes feels “gimmicky”. The Other 8 Hours contains quizzes and flowcharts and buzzwords. Lots of buzzwords: 4 Strikes, Goal Action Plan, LifeLeech, HABU, and, of course, Cre8tor™.
While I agree with Pagliarini's premise — we should ditch life-leeches, free more time to be creative, and do stuff — I loathe the term Cre8tor™ (which I sometimes found myself reading as “crebtor”). I have a strong dislike for any fabricated trademarked representation of common concepts. Why not just say “creator” (or “Creator”)? This may seem like a minor complaint, but the book is packed with uses of Cre8tor™, and every one of them was like nails on a chalkboard to me. It diminishes the impact of Pagliarini's message.
Mostly, though, I like The Other 8 Hours. I agree with Pagliarini's premise, and support his effort to get people to use their time wisely.
All the same, I think it's important to not turn the other 8 hours into just another period of work. Turn off the television? Sure. Disconnect from the internet? You bet. (My technological sabbath last Saturday was awesome!) But don't just pursue more work for work's sake. You run the risk of becoming a workaholic, and there's no more happiness to be found there than in squandering your other 8 hours on World of Warcraft. Instead, use your time for constructive fun, to pursue those activities that bring meaning and passion to your life.