Updated on 06.06.10

Review: The Other 8 Hours

Trent Hamm

Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance or other book of interest.

8 hoursA while back, I reviewed Robert Pagliarini’s The Six-Day Financial Makeover and concluded that there was some very good advice buried inside a lot of marketing gloss. The core of that advice was strong enough that I kept an eye out for future books by Mr. Pagliarini, and now The Other 8 Hours has come down the pike.

This time around, Pags has written an interesting personal productivity book that doesn’t focus on workplace productivity. Instead, it focuses on your free time. How can you channel the time each day when you’re not working and sleeping to create new wealth and purpose in life (ideally with some leisure time, too, so you don’t go insane)?

I’ll be honest, though: the idea really strikes a chord with me. After all, I launched The Simple Dollar and grew it for two years in my spare time. Does Pagliarini lay out a good game plan for that kind of application of one’s spare time? Let’s dig in.

1 | Life Begins at 5:00 PM
For most of us, the time outside of work is the important part of our life. It’s where we spend time with our families and loved ones and engage in activities that are enjoyable to us. We work so that we can enjoy these moments. Pagliarini’s central argument is that if you seek out enjoyable and personally fulfilling activities that also have a second benefit – building skills, producing income, building connections – then your other eight hours can go to productive use as well.

2 | The Living Dead and the Dead Broke
Why do this? What’s the motivation for seeking out a better way to spend our “other eight hours”? Frankly, people are working more, experiencing more stress, and have more financial problems than ever before. Adding personal growth to one’s spare time goes a long way towards solving all of those problems while still being quite fun.

3 | Getting the Other 8
The first (and biggest) problem is that many people feel that they barely have eight minutes to themselves in a given day, let alone eight hours. “How are you supposed to find the time to do anything like launch something like The Simple Dollar?” one reader once asked me.

The key is prioritizing. In order to have free time, you have to prioritize what you spend your time on and just chuck some of the lower priority stuff. You simply can’t fit it all in. And, yes, the things you do in your spare time do have different priorities. Some of them do need to remain in place while others can easily be chucked. This chapter walks through some basic time management tactics that mostly revolve around figuring out what fits and what doesn’t.

4 | Lifeleeches
From there, Pagliarini moves on to things that commonly “suck time” for people – television is an obvious one, but so are news, the internet, perfectionism, gossip, video games – even answering the phone. The more of these distractions you can eliminate from your life (or at least successfully cage into a limited time and space), the better off you are.

5 | Shift from Consumer to Cre8tor
“Cre8tor” is Pagliarini’s term for people who devote their extra “8” hours – or at least some of that time – to creating things of value for others as opposed to just consuming. Even more challenging, you almost always win if you give it away. The Simple Dollar has 81,000 subscribers who get the content by email or RSS every day and just shy of a million visitors to the website each month. I got those by giving away almost everything I create.

6 | The Big List of FAQs
Obviously, ideas like this one almost always bring about lots of questions, so this chapter serves as a big FAQ (frequently asked questions) document. What do you do if you’re not creative, for example? Pagliarini’s solution is simple: partner with someone who is creative and put what skills you have to bear. So, for example, if you’ve got skills at marketing something someone else has created and you have a friend who makes stunningly good furniture in his woodshop, team up together so you can both make some cash.

7 | The Cre8tor Rules
Here, Pagliarini lays out several rules for being a “creator” (or “cre8tor”) in your spare time. Keep your day job. Focus on minimizing your effort to maximize results. Limit your risk. Take lots of swings – in other words, try lots of different things to see what works. Put effort into marketing what you create, simply so others are at least aware of it. Always have a plan for making money in the long run, even if you give things away for free.

8 | The Top 10 Cre8tor Channels
These are ten short “startup kits” for ten different types of businesses: blogging, invesnting, writing, starting a company, reselling things, taking advantage of fads, working for stock, freelancing, pure career advancement, or turning hobbies into income. Most of the things a person can invest their found free time into falls into one of these ten categories, but the specifics vary widely from person to person.

9 | Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve
Every day you sit idly by with an idea in the back of your head is a day you’ll regret later on. I’m thirty one and there are already big things that I passed on that I regret. I had a great opportunity to get some of my fiction published in 2003 and I missed the boat on it, mostly because of my own fears. That’s perhaps my greatest regret, but there are many others that litter the path to my life today. In fact, I’m only where I’m AT today because I kept chasing those side opportunities and, after a lot of failures, one of them worked (you’re reading it).

10 | Find Your Pulse
So, what makes you tick? What makes you jump out of bed in the morning and tackle things? If you can find what makes you passionate, then you’ve found a source of energy that you can channel into making your “other eight” more exciting and profitable. In short, it can be your engine for creating things, creating value, and putting money in your pocket. There are a lot of suggestions and ideas here for seeking out what you’re passionate about.

Is The Other 8 Hours Worth Reading?
The Other 8 Hours combines a lot of different elements into one package, drawing from career development, lifestyle design, and even a bit of time management. If you’re finding yourself struggling in your current career and can’t help but wonder what else there is out there, The Other 8 Hours is a great read.

I’d also say The Other 8 Hours is a much better read than Pagliarini’s first book, The Six-Day Financial Makeover, because he cut out the marketing-speak and actually focused on real topics, which is where his strengths lie.

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  1. Bonnie says:

    I like the ideas but am wondering about the other eight hours part. Over 24 hours: 7.5 hours of sleep, typically, 2.5 hours getting ready for the day and driving back and forth to work (metro area with no useful bus routes and worthless light rail system), 9 hours at work (1 hr lunch with no choice to shorten it at this time). Then at least 1.5 hours cooking dinner and helping with clean up, and usually 1 hour on stuff that’s got to be done to keep the house functioning (and everybody helps, too). That only leaves 2.5 hours in a day. Is time for sleep highly overrated? I am curious about whether or not I am missing something here!

  2. I have been looking for a good book to read and I think that i will pick this one up

  3. This is one of my favorite books!

    “Because a broke mentality is a slave mentality.”

  4. triLcat says:

    he *does* forget about the fact that some people have children they want to spend time with in those other 8 hours…

  5. Alex Tagus says:

    Very interesting and profound article. I can’t imagine myself earning big bucks after I’m done with my day job. In fact I’m so curious and gives me the drive to read the book..


    Alex Tagus

  6. Daniel says:

    What resonates with me from this book–and from your writeup–is the idea of cutting back on your passive consumption of packaged media in order to free up time to creat your OWN media.

    It’s just such a more productive way to spend your personal time, and it adds so much more value to the world. Seriously, does the world really need another couch potato who’s conversant with everything that’s goes on with “Dancing With the Stars”? No, the world needs more websites like yours, Trent.

    Casual Kitchen

  7. Dave C. says:

    I think the biggest life leech in many people’s lives is their commute which I think Trent mentioned in a previous post. If you have an hour commute each way than you only have an “other 6 hours”. I really function on 9 hours of sleep which makes it the “other 5 hours”.

  8. AndreaS says:

    triLcat, you are right that those other 8 hours obviously need to include time spent with children and other people who will be significant in the future years– after all, significant people are THE point. However you can use some of that quality time with kids doing activities that help you save money and/or build skills. For example, kids can help in the garden, help with cooking, and help Daddy build something. One time my kids had a grand time helping me with exterior painting. I put them in old T-shirts and handed them a brush— then later cleaned up their dribbles and missed spots.
    In the early building years of my marriage, my available time got stripped down to essentials, mainly family and business, as I was trying to start an at-home business. However my business effort was generally incompatible with raising little kids, so I shifted over to finding ways to save money. Sometimes I found myself, say, doing a complex job mending some article of clothing, knowing that the actual savings was small as opposed to buying another at a yard sale. But I decided it was worth doing this activity because it contributed to me learning a skill that would help me save in the future. If I was reading or watching television, I made sure that this activity was educational, such as watching how-to shows. I also specifically chose some hobbies that I knew would help build professional skills for the time when professional work would again be practical.
    In another post, I waxed long about how we have been renovating a house for our married daughter. The house was a disaster fixer-upper. The sellers, a young couple with a school-age child, told us they were selling in part because they lacked the skills, tools, money and time to make the place nice. But they had been there five years and also had cable TV. The wife was a stay-at-home mom. The time and money it took to bring the house up to a nice condition will cost about the same time and money as watching cable TV for five years. The renovation has taken us a lot of time, but less than $2,000 in materials (about $1 per day if spread out over five years). I’ve done a significant percentage of the physical labor and I am 30 years older than she is. Much of my time was spent just cleaning the property of trash, which took no skill or money whatsoever– and the neighbors are have thanked us. The sellers, by the way, have traded down. They gave up a solid house on six acres in a good location for a new double-wide on a little plot of land in a poor location. But before long, they will trash that new home too.
    Another point is that whatever activities you do with your children, or do when your children are playing in the background, are experiences also being absorbed by your children, and later put into practice by them when they get older. As I write, our other daughter is on her way back to college where she is spending her summer (has an on-campus job there). She must provide her own food. We were just chatting about how she has taught herself how to bake bread in her dorm toaster oven.
    The author of this book cited the Internet as a potential time waster. It depends in how you use it. There are endless youtube videos of silly nonsense, as well as videos on how to tape drywall. We’ve also been using craigslist to track down free/cheap building materials and household items for our married daughter. This weekend we got a clean mint-condition free toilet that would have cost about $150 new.
    If your attitude is “I’ve worked hard at my job, I deserve this new video game and deserve to spend a few hours playing with it,” what have you gained, and what have your kids learned? If instead you take your kids to yard sales and spend the same money on a useful tool, your net worth incrementally improves. If you multiply this same choice of productivity over play a thousand times over a decade or two, you will be light years ahead of peers who instead use their small amounts of available free time and money on pure leisure.
    Thanks Trent, this was an important post.

  9. Rose DeShaw says:

    Every time you say you have regrets (and its mostly regarding your writing), I sigh. You, the most organized of individuals keep missing the time waster that regrets are. You haven’t been a published writer all that long. Looking back over some 40 years of being regularly published, I know for certain that writing comes out when it SHOULD come. Like fruit ripening, there is a timeline for your stuff. Sure, maybe it would’ve been nice to be published a few years sooner. But that would’ve precluded so much else, including The Simple Dollar.
    In the Christmas Story in Luke there’s a phrase, ‘In the fullness of time.’ In other words, when everything was ready. Were YOU even ready to become a full-time, well-known writer back then? Robert Frost’s poem about the two roads weighs in here, heavily.
    The WHEN makes all the difference. First you get your personal structure set up and then it becomes clearer what you need to write, what you’ve been given to write, what you’re GOOD at writing, (and this knowledge doesn’t come WHAM0! and hit you between the eyes).
    Every year brings you closer to the writer you were meant to be. Laying the foundation does take time but a writer who publishes before he’s ready has more regrets than one who missed opportunity here and there.
    Finally, the path of the writer is simply strewn with ‘missed opportunities.’ You can’t cover all the bases, be published in ALL the magazines, anthologies. Trent, you simply can’t see writing as a competition, a scramble up the ladder and have any peace of mind. There’s lots of jokes about the cuthroat nature of poets these days. No writer wants to be part of that. All the prizes and the sore losers. When you win, you want your friends to be glad for you, not merely jealous.
    You discover only gradually what writing really is and that only after having written steadily for years. You obviously have things to say, far beyond The Simple Dollar. These are yours, given to you, worth saying the best you know how. Whether or not notice will be taken or prizes awarded, they are what your life is about. And your words wing their way out into the world and have a life, often quite independent of what you expect.
    In the meantime you write on, having freed yourself both from the frenzy of competition AND above all from the regrets that will muscle their way into your writer’s mind and hobble you, unless you are strict with yourself and turn them away. You talk about what you can afford. One thing you’ll never be able to afford is useless regret. Thank heavens.

  10. vkp says:

    Trent, you didn’t write this book, so I’m not taking a shot at you, but I REALLY have a hard time with the idea that there are 8 hours left in my day. Perhaps I’m putting my focus in the wrong place, but I’m offended that there is supposed to be this neat equation: 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, 8 hours free/wasted time. Not realistic at all.

    I shower and put on make-up every day, which requires about 45 minutes. I spend 15 minutes making and eating breakfast. Packing my and my husband’s lunches takes about 20 minutes. I work on a salary, so we are required to stay in each day for a “working lunch”. I arrive at work at 8am and have to work until 5pm (that’s 9 hours with lunch). Luckily, I only have a five minute commute, but let’s say for argument’s sake that I commute 20 minutes each way, every day. I’ve already wracked up 11 hours of things I need to do each day (I mean, I’m not going to skip my daily shower to be more cre8tive) and I still have to make and eat dinner with my family. Since I don’t have children at this point, I don’t have to tend to homework, spend quality time, read with my children, etc. but for many people there are those things. Or taking care of elderly parents. Or walking the dog. Or helping out at a charity or church. Or being intimate with one’s husband/wife. All those things deplete my 8 hours to Cre8te something. That’s ridiculous.

    So, I get it. He’s saying that in the “8” hours that are left (which look scarily like 4 hours to me, not 8) we should choose our activities wisely. But the hard part to get past is the idea that there’s this magic 8 hours I’m wasting every day. (oh, and just think of what I’m wasting on the weekends when I’m doing laundry! gasp!)

    I think I’m going to write a book called “The other 2.5 hours after you’ve wrangled the kids to bed, folded all the laundry, and the dishes are done, by which time you’re so exhausted you just want chocolate”. That would be a best seller.

  11. Todd says:

    I like the basic ideas in this book, but one of the biggest problems with achieving balance in our lives is that many jobs require much more than 8 hours a day. This book presents a great premise for those who work 8-5, but I know too many people who honestly only have about an hour each day to themselves before collapsing into bed and starting all over again the next day.

    As a society, we need a renewed push like the one in the early 20th century to make a 40-hour work week standard. Too many jobs require people to sacrifice family and personal time–and we all suffer for it in lots of ways.

  12. Susan says:

    There are some good points, and there are definitely lots of good money-saving activities you can do with your kids (sewing and veggie gardens are two great ones) BUT…I have to wonder how much of his own “life-support” this guy does.
    Who cooks/cleans house/does his laundry after his 9-5 job? Helps with homework? Watches the kids? Puts them to bed? Where does this guy find the time to wash/sort/fold laundry, cook dinner, help Tammy with her lines for the school play and pack lunches while working a second job?
    Two well-organized parents doing tag-team can manage to do something (I am a big fan of sewing during family TV time and going to bed early in order to get my best work/working out done before anyone else is awake).

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