Pages

Friday, February 13, 2015

In Praise of Productivity (A Book Roundup)


With the new year, my thoughts turned to becoming more productive. I am almost certain this happens to everyone around this time, but the difference was, for me, the thought stuck around past January 1. I've continued to read up on and seek out ways to become more productive, motivated, and effective in the areas of parenting, time management, organization, clutter, writing, exercise, etc. It wasn't that I wasn't doing these things before, I am just trying to do them better. As with all things in life, I turned to books to discover new ways I could do that. Here's a list (with descriptions) of the ones I've read or aim to read very soon:



What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam

Mornings are a madcap time for many of us. We wake up in a haze—often after hitting snooze a few times. Then we rush around to get ready and out the door so we can officially start the day. Before we know it, hours have slipped by without us accomplishing anything beyond downing a cup of coffee, dashing off a few emails, and dishing with our coworkers around the water cooler. By the time the workday wraps up, we’re so exhausted and defeated that any motivation to accomplish something in the evening has vanished.

But according to time management expert Laura Vanderkam, mornings hold the key to taking control of our schedules. If we use them wisely, we can build habits that will allow us to lead happier, more productive lives.

Drawing on real-life anecdotes and scientific research that shows why the early hours of the day are so important, Vanderkam reveals how successful people use mornings to help them accomplish things that are often impossible to take care of later in the day. While many of us are still in bed, these folks are scoring daily victories to improve their health, careers, and personal lives without sacrificing their sanity. For instance, former PepsiCo chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund would rise at 5:00 a.m., run four miles, pray, and eat breakfast with his family before heading to work to run a Fortune 500 company.

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast is a fun, practical guide that will inspire you to rethink your morning routine and jump-start your life before the day has even begun. 


What The Most Successful People Do On The Weekends by Laura Vanderkam

Many of us breathe a grateful TGIF when Friday rolls around, envisioning a weekend full of both productivity and refreshment. Yet too often our precious weekends seem to disappear, eaten up by unproductive work or leisure that fails to energize us. Monday morning comes too fast, finding us still unrested, with too much still undone.

Time management expert Laura Vanderkam, continuing her series on What the Most Successful People Do, shows how we can take control of our weekends to get necessary R&R, while also using our downtime as a springboard to a productive week. 

Drawing on real-life anecdotes and scientific research, Vanderkam explains why doing nothing can be more exhausting than doing something and why happy people make weekend plans in advance. She shares weekend tips gleaned from busy people such as politician and talk show host Mike Huckabee, former CEO Frank Baxter, and TV producer Aliza Rosen. She reveals the kind of weekend activities that make people happiest, explains why it’s important to unplug at least for a little while, and shares the secret of why Sunday night may be the most important part of any weekend.  

What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend is a fun, practical guide that will inspire you to rethink your weekends and start your workweek refreshed, renewed, and on track.  


How She Does It: An Everywoman's Guide to Breaking Old Rules, Getting Creative, and Making Time For Work in Your Actual Everyday Life by Anne Bogel

Today’s working woman looks a lot like you. 

She’s a: 
• stay-at-home mom, working on her passion at naptime 
• a part-time professional sharing childcare with her husband 
• a full-time creative planning a future on her own schedule 

She’s a woman – like you – with the opportunity to find fulfilling and profitable work without the mother guilt of previous generations. The possibilities are endless for today’s woman in this shifting work place – but the roadmap for getting there hasn’t quite been written. 

Until now. 

In How She Does It, author Anne Bogel unpacks these trends in family & work culture, and gets to the core of HOW you can make your work goals fit into your unique family situation. 

Inside, you’ll find the personal success stories of 30 women who found – by playing to their unique strengths– solutions that really work for their families. 

Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

The author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, tackles the critical question: How do we change? 
 
Gretchen Rubin's answer: through habits. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.
 
So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?
 
Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Infused with Rubin’s compelling voice, rigorous research, and easy humor, and packed with vivid stories of lives transformed, Better than Before explains the (sometimes counter-intuitive) core principles of habit formation. 
 
Along the way, Rubin uses herself as guinea pig, tests her theories on family and friends, and answers readers’ most pressing questions—oddly, questions that other writers and researchers tend to ignore: 

• Why do I find it tough to create a habit for something I love to do? 
• Sometimes I can change a habit overnight, and sometimes I can’t change a habit, no matter how hard I try. Why? 
• How quickly can I change a habit? 
• What can I do to make sure I stick to a new habit? 
• How can I help someone else change a habit?  
• Why can I keep habits that benefit others, but can’t make habits that are just for me? 

Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits—even before they’ve finished the book.


Listful Thinking: Using Lists To Be More Productive, Highly Successful, and Less Stressed by Paula  Rizzo

What do Madonna, Martha Stewart, John Lennon, Ellen DeGeneres, Ben Franklin, Ronald Reagan, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Johnny Cash have in common? Each is (or was) a list maker. These successful people, along with CEOs and successful entrepreneurs, all use lists to keep track of their ideas, thoughts, and tasks. Finding enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished and allow for some downtime can be a struggle. It's no wonder so many of us are stressed, overextended, andexhausted. More than half of all American employees feel overwhelmed, according to a study by the nonprofit Family and Work Institute. For the 54 percent of us who feel like we're chasing our own tails, Listful Thinking is here to prove that it doesn't have to be that way. You can still find time to relax, read a good book, and do the things you love. Listful Thinking is the book that will give readers their lives back with indispensible tips on saving time, getting organized, improving productivity, saving money, and reducing stress



Manage Your Day To Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn Glei

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

According to productivity expert Scott Belsky, no one is born with the ability to drive creative projects to completion. Execution is a skill that must be developed by building your organizational habits and harnessing the support of your colleagues.

As the founder and CEO of Behance, a company on a mission to empower and organize the creative world, Belsky has studied the habits of especially productive individuals and teams across industries. Now he has compiled the principles and techniques they share, and presents a systematic approach to creative organization and productivity.

While many of us focus on generating and searching for great ideas, Belsky shows why it's better to develop the capacity to make ideas happen-a capacity that endures over time.


Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”
 
Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his “male configurations”. . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable.”

Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books . . . Karl Marx . . . Woody Allen . . . Agatha Christie . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .

Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to “clear the brain”).

Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.

(I am linking this post to Modern Mrs. Darcy's monthly book roundup.)
Pin It!

1 comment:

Jillian Kay said...

Daily Rituals sounds really good, thanks!