The Next Big Thing: Blog Tour

“The Next Big Thing: Blog Tour” has landed here. Thank you Lela Nargi for tagging me. Here are my answers to the NBT’s 10 Questions:

1. What is the title of your book?

The Book of Times: From Seconds to Centuries, A Compendium of Measures

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

My obsession with time! I’ve always been interested in the time it takes to do all sorts of things. But the book morphed from my own obsessions (time spent on work, pet care, laundry, and etc.) to broader themes (art, war, homework, media). The book covers a wide range of timings: from how long it took to create great works of art to the time Americans spend watching TV, shopping and hugging!

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I’d like to say physics (which is how Amazon categorizes it), but it’s more like high-minded trivia.

4. What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in the movie?

Hah! My book is a collection of facts, and has no characters. But… if the book was to be narrated I would like Tommy Lee Jones to do the voice over!

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Book of Times is an endlessly fascinating survey of time. Packed with compelling charts, lists and quizzes, as well as new and intriguing research, the book examines a wide swath of life—love, art, work, education—through the unerring meter of the clock.

6. Who published your book?


7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A long time! The book was a gigantic research project. It took nearly a year to compile all the data and then write it up in a fun, readable format. Then there were many revisions….

8. What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Schott’s Original Miscellany. Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00: More of the Best Times to Buy This, Do That and Go There by Mark Di Vincenzo.

9. Who or what Inspired you to write this book?

The idea came in a flash. The title and concept popped into my head one morning and then I was off and running. But years of reporting on finance and science probably laid the ground work.

10. What else about this book might pique a reader’s interest?

The book is much more than a collection of facts. It puts the era we live in into perspective. From prison sentences to homework hours to work life imbalance — the book looks at how our society uses time to punish, to elevate, and to keep the GDP running.

Thanks for reading my 10 Questions. Now, I’m tagging Sherri Rifkin, who wrote the wonderful beach read, LoveHampton.  People magazine wrote: “Appealing heroine, heartsick and unemployed, rediscovers herself in a Hamptons share house…fun.”

Rifkin is also working on a second novel about the weather!






Too busy to volunteer?

Who isn’t, BUT giving time might make you feel as though you have more time.

A new study found that those who spend time on others feel more flush with time than those who hoard all their hours for themselves. Giving time leads to a feeling of “time affluence.” The authors of the study (Giving Time Gives You Time) explain: “The impact of giving time on feelings of time affluence is driven by a boosted sense of self-efficacy. Giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.”

What do you think?

How many hours do you spend sitting?

The average American spends about 8 hours sitting: working, reading, typing, computing, driving and etc. That’s a lot of time spent on the derriere and it’s not healthy. Even if you exercise everyday, hours of sitting can cut years off your life. A recent article published in BMJ Open reported that sitting for more than 3 hours a day can shave two years off your life. Watching TV for more than 2 hours a day (the typical American watches more than 3), can pare another 1.4 years.

It makes sense. We were not designed to be sedentary. So as you read these sentences, stand up. Next time the phone rings, pace while you talk. Consider a standing desk and arranging walking meetings. You’ll add time to your life and you’ll probably feel a lot peppier too.








Hate Meetings?

I do. (Unless they are promised to be no more than 30 minutes, or delicious snacks will be served.)

So does Dave Barry who wrote, “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’”

If you regularly schedule meetings, consider these efficiency strategies from Get More Done Time Study Consulting. (If you are a schedulee rather than a scheduler, share the Get More Done link with your boss.)

*Write an agenda and distribute it before the get together. The agenda should list the purpose of the meeting and the items to be discussed; the list of items should be specific and focused. Include a hard stop, too. End times can bring a needed sense of urgency to all involved.

*Start meetings on the half hour.  Research indicates that meetings are more likely to start on time when they are scheduled on the half hour, rather than on the hour.

*Schedule meetings in afternoon. Time studies show that meetings are shorter later in the day. As quitting time approaches, business tends to become more efficient.



Why are moms more irritable than dads?

Could be their extra hours of multitasking. A recent study, Revisiting the Gender Gap in Time-Use Patterns, found that  “mothers spend 10 more hours a week multitasking compared to fathers and that these additional hours are mainly related to time spent on housework and childcare.”

As a working mom, I relate. In the early evening I am typically helping with homework, preparing dinner, checking email and playing fetch with our high-maintenance dog.

The study’s authors note that for mothers, “multitasking activities at home and in public are associated with an increase in negative emotions, stress, psychological distress, and work-family conflict. By contrast, fathers’ multitasking at home involves less housework and childcare and is not a negative experience.”

Even though moms and dads are logging the same hours of paid and unpaid work each week, the quality of that time is much different than it used to be. (For more on the break down of work among couples, read Ruth Davis Konigsberg’s excellent story in Time, “Chore Wars.”)






Attention Issues?

Do you ever wonder if you might have ADHD? (I certainly have my moments.) Or do you suspect that someone you know might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? About 5 percent of adults are believed to have this disorder, which is marked by impulsiveness, inattention, and poor self-regulation. Children with the condition tend to be hyperactive, but adults who have it often just seem distracted and disorganized. Only about 10 percent of adults with the disorder have been diagnosed.

If you’re curious about the disorder and how to get diagnosed, read my story Watching for Speed Bumps on the Way to an ADHD Diagnosis, in the New York Times.