Season 2 – Episode 03

Making Time to Savor
Life, Family, & Business

with Laura Vanderkam & Tom Hodgkinson

Artwork by Ionut Caras

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We live in a culture of busy, wearing our overwork like a badge of honor. We complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day—and blame our jobs and our kids for the fact that we can’t enjoy life. We even feel guilty when we make time for fun.

Busy is a virtue. Idleness is irresponsible.

But what if we have a greater responsibility to be our best selves for the people around us? Is it true that we don’t have time to pursue activities that bring us joy? Or is that simply the story we’re telling ourselves? What if we could design our days, our families and our businesses for more off-time, delight and openness to surprise?

Today, Jeffrey challenges our culture of busy with Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock and cohost of the Best of Both Worlds podcast, and Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler magazine and author of Business for Bohemians. Tom and Laura discuss the origin of ‘busy’ as a virtue, the idea of working less as ‘irresponsible’ and the tension between our desires to work hard AND enjoy life. Laura shares the results of her time tracking experiment, explaining how adventure stretches time, and Tom describes his Idle Parenting philosophy, discussing the benefits of ignoring your kids once in a while. Listen in for insight around planning for leisure time—even in the midst of raising small children—and learn how to create a business vision that expresses the essence of who you are.

Our Guests

Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including Off the Clock, I Know How She Does It, 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

» Laura Vanderkam

Tom Hodgkinson

Tom Hodgkinson founded the Idler in 1993 and went on to join the Guardian newspaper as a columnist and head of editorial development. He and partner Gavin Pretor-Pinney then set up their a creative consultancy and undertook editorial and advertising projects for Channel 4, Sony Playstation, Paramount Comedy Channel, John Brown Publishing, Mother ad agency and many more.

In 2002 Tom quit the commercial world and retired to a farmhouse on the coast of North Devon to write books. His first book How to be Idle was a global best-seller and was followed by How to be Free, The Idle Parent and Brave Old World.

» The Idler

Key Takeaways

[5:08] Young Laura and Tom at their best

  • Laura creating stories and poems
  • Tom editing magazines, organizing events

[8:37] The origin of ‘busy’ as a virtue

  • 18th century Dr. Johnson lazy but productive
  • Idleness important part of creative process
  • Guilt around pleasure, idleness w/ Reformation

[14:18] The tension between working hard and enjoying life

  • Value to open space for thinking, new ideas
  • Not either/or (ideal to find enjoyable work)
  • Time diaries show much leisure time

[17:39] Laura’s time tracking experiment

  • Leads to savored life, freedom
  • ‘Time starts to feel more full’

[23:21] The idea of working less as being ‘irresponsible’

  • Regrets around not spending time with children
  • More responsible to take care of mental health

[28:29] How adventure stretches time

  • Lunch break to explore city (active downtime)
  • Perception of time shaped by memories

[35:11] Tom’s insight on Idle Parenting

  • Ignoring kids leads to independence, self-sufficiency
  • Helicopter parenting steals freedom from both
  • Value in day of abandoning routines and rhythms

[42:29] Laura’s insight around planning leisure time

  • Parents of small children must arrange open time
  • More mindful of time, intentional

[45:28] Tom’s take on eudaimonia in business

  • Not about money or status but fulfillment
  • Task of life to build work that expresses spirit

[49:56] Laura’s take on trying to do everything

  • Do more of what you’re best at
  • Business grows when NOT trying to do it all alone

[52:43] What Tom is pursuing in the next year

  • Find/retain subscribers, grow team
  • Write book on meditation

[55:28] What Laura is pursuing in the next year

  • Time management novella (March 2019)
  • Shift to writing fiction

Caras Ionut

Caras Ionut was born in Romania in the late 70s and is currently devoted to photography. Ionut loves the things that happen around so he always has a camera to capture moments, and then turn them into dreams and positive images of what he wants. We leave you to judge for yourself and be surprised with this wonderful work.

Are you a Wonder Designer?

We’re inviting you to share with our community of listeners how you are a wonder designer this season.

​​​​​​​It’s easy and takes just 3 minutes of your time:

In 15-30 seconds or less, state your name, where you live, and your url if you wish, and state in 1-3 sentences one way you are a Wonder Designer.
Make it personal and personable. Not a pitch. Not a teaching.

For example, “Hi, Jeffrey and Tracking Wonder. My name is Abigail Madley. I live in Towanka, Washington, and you can find me online at One way I am a wonder designer is by shaping educational experiences for elders that bring them more joy and happiness in assisted living.”
“I am a wonder designer because everyday I am fostering more connection with strangers in the city where I live.”
“I am a wonder designer because I am encouraging more open listening at the startup where I work.”
“One way I am a wonder designer these days is by having my three children sing for their breakfast. It makes a hectic morning pretty funny.”​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Listen back to your submission, and when you are happy with it, click send!

​​​​​​​Your response could end up on the Tracking Wonder Podcast this season.

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Each week brings you in-depth conversations with leaders, stories from change-makers, and provocative ideas from artists and scientists – all designed to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.