The Art of Slow Writing

the-art-of-slow-writing-bookThe Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity thoughtfully combines relevant information on life management with inspiration for creative callings.

This is not a how-to book in the sense of structuring plots and assigning writing exercises, but it is a call to work slowly, meditatively, and deeply to create work of lasting value and higher impact.  It is also not a time management book in the vein of establishing schedules in 15 minute increments and checking things off of a to do list, but it is a reminder of how to shape your life to make space for your priorities, especially if one of your priorities is in a creative field that can’t easily fit into established patterns of productivity.

I found this book encouraging on many levels, both as someone who enjoys writing books and someone who reads a lot in the productivity genre.  DeSalvo’s applications of one to the other were helpful and inspiring, clearly the result of careful thought not just recycling the same old ideas.  If you like either genre, but especially if you like both, I’d recommend you read The Art of Slow Writing for insight and inspiration.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Overwhelmed

overwhelmedI hadn’t planned on reading Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time because I felt like I didn’t need an excuse to dwell on the aspects of my life that feel fragmented and times when I feel overwhelmed.  However, I’m glad that I did finally read it because the overall tone was not “golly, we are all screwed” but rather the encouragement that I’m not alone or uniquely unable to get my life together, and the inspiration of plenty of ideas for changing my perspective and reducing the feeling of frenzy.

What was most helpful for me was how the book challenged my usual narrative about the causes for what the author calls “time confetti.”  I have four kids, I homeschool, I am self-employed, and I am pregnant.  I avoid listing everything I have going on because that in itself is overwhelming.  Sometimes I think if I had a regular job, or if my kids were in a traditional school, or if we lived in a walkable city rather than a suburb I would be less overwhelmed.  This book helped me to see that overwhelm is a cultural condition shared by working moms, stay-at-home moms, homeschool moms who don’t work, and women without kids.  Men can be overwhelmed too, but in our culture we have a set of assumptions that does overwhelm women more than men.

I also realized that actually, given my circumstances, I am not as overwhelmed as I could be.  We have made a lot of deliberate choices that minimize stress and avoid being too busy, and I tweak my life a lot to experiment with ways to make time for what is truly meaningful.  So at times my life feels crazy and often my leisure time comes in very short snippets, but overall I think I’m on a good track.  That said, I did get some great ideas for further reducing stress and overwhelm that I plan to try out, especially as I’m looking for even more ways to streamline with a new baby on the way.

Aside from personal take-aways, I loved how Overwhelmed contained a lot of research and data to spur thought on our culture and challenge our mindsets.  So many deeply entrenched roles and ideas are tied up in what makes us overwhelmed, and it helps just to expose our biases.  Schulte looks at the Western idea of the “Ideal Worker” and how many people believe in it like a religion, in spite of vast amounts of data that show how dumb it is in practice.  She also examines the roots of the “Distant Provider Father” and “Self-Sacrificing Mother” roles, and looks at alternatives and ways people are trying to be more involved dads, moms who put their families first but don’t burn out, etc.  Along the way the reader is challenged to think about his or her individual priorities, what he or she really values in life, and how to actually implement those in a daily routine.  Schulte points out that choosing not to live an overwhelmed life is a deliberate and often counter-cultural act, and yet encourages readers to take workable steps toward a different perspective.

As the subtitle suggests, Overwhelmed is loosely organized into how to combat fragmented, frenzied lifestyles in our families, our work, and our leisure.  The writing is excellent and highly readable, thought-provoking and insightful.  I think students of society and culture, men and women who are interested in navigating a meaningful life, and people interested in how policies impact the lives of real people would find this book fascinating and useful.

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?  

 

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Make It Happen

make it happenMake it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.  I read a lot in this genre, but I really, really tracked with Casey’s way of looking at the world and her intense, direct style.  Although my life experiences haven’t tracked exactly with hers, I found myself nodding and saying “Yes!  That!” throughout.  I marked almost every page with sticky tabs–often more than one per page–and am still slowly working through my notes, writing responses and digging into the material.  This is an exceptional book.

It’s not so much that the material itself is new–you can read about living on purpose and overcoming fears that hold you back and setting goals all over the place–rather it’s the delivery in Make it Happen that really resonated with me.  Sometimes books in this genre seem too much of one thing or another to me, but I really connected with this one because, like me, Casey is driven, yet cares deeply about family relationships; she’s a person of real faith, yet still grapples with big questions and is still learning.  For that reason, as I read I either found myself agreeing vigorously or hearing big points I really needed to think through.  This isn’t a “light a scented candle and make a batch of cookies” sort of approach.  It’s more of a call to really dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to the root of your problems and fears and reluctance to live your best life.  It’s also not a name-it-and-claim-it book, but rather a call to pray deeply–surrendering your biases and boxes and preconceived notions–that God would show you what the “it” is that you’re supposed to make happen and how to go about doing that.

As I’ve been writing my responses to the book (there are lots of sections where readers are invited to think through something and write answers) I’ve been interested to see how often I’m coming up with stuff I didn’t even know was “stuff” for me.  Something about the way Casey writes invites deeper reflection and different angles for considering familiar topics.  This isn’t a Biblestudy, but it is a very biblical approach, and Casey’s examples draw from her faith experience.  Make it Happen isn’t something you can read and set aside in one sitting (although I had a hard time putting it down), but a book that almost demands that you wrestle with yourself.  Since my goal is to be changed by what I read I appreciate books that invite that sort of interaction.

I’m not sure what my ultimate conclusions will be after I finish going through my notes, but everyone will get something different out of the book.  No matter where you are in life, Make it Happen is such a great book that I think you couldn’t fail to get something from it, and I highly recommend it.

 

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4 Books, 3 Observations, 2 Asides and a Bagel in a Pear Tree

It’s Friday, so how about a round-up?  We’ll start with books because we always start with books around here!

Four Books

throneI’ve written extensively before about Bernard Cornwell’s fabulous Saxon saga (Reader’s Digest version: funny, awesome battle scenes, great historical detail) and all that applies to his latest installment, The Empty Throne.  Does Cornwell have a formula?  Yes.  But is it a great formula?  It is.  If you like British history in general or non-romancey historical fiction in particular, you’ll like Cornwell’s offerings.  I wouldn’t say this book moved the ball very far down the series field, but it was worth it nonetheless.

fairestIf you’ve read Meyer’s other books (Cinder, Cress, Scarlet) you’re going to read Fairest no matter what I say, so I won’t bother to dissuade you.  But it’s a disappointment.  We already knew Levana was the evil stepmother character, but I was hoping this prequel would give me some reason to like her.  Nope, she’s just evil.  I guess that’s part of the fairytale trope, but since we also don’t learn anything new about the overall storyline from this book, it seemed like a waste.  I also didn’t think that the Snow White frame came through very strongly, and the story was darker and less like something I’d let a kid read.  Fortunately it’s short and you can tear through it quickly.

Good-Cheap-EatsGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for 0 or Less is a solid cookbook from Jessica Fisher, combining fresh, real food ingredients with tips for saving money on your grocery budget.  If you’ve done any delving into those topics not much of this will be new (although I did get some good tips!) but the recipes are good for getting ideas and branching out, which I needed.  I did find that I had to double most of them to fit my family, and since we tend to be a protein + vegetables family rather than a carbohydrates + meat-as-condiment family not all of the ideas were a good fit.  But I tried several things and got great results every time, so I’d recommend this cookbook as a versatile and helpful resource.

tiredI wanted to look into adrenal fatigue after reading about it on Crystal’s blog, so I picked up Tired of Being Tired since the library had it.  I have some of the symptoms listed, and felt like lots of the advice was good (cut sugar, reduce caffeine, sleep more, don’t over-exercise) but some of it was flat out weird.  When the rationale for using some sort of magnet therapy is that Cleopatra wore a magnet on her forehead to reduce signs of aging, you’ve lost me.  I mean, even if Cleopatra did wear a magnet on her head, I think the asp got her before we could really draw anti-aging conclusions, right?  If you can take the good and leave the weird, this book might be a good choice.  Otherwise, go forth and do the good you know you ought to do anyway.

Three Observations

1) It’s always good to have a book on your phone.  I got stuck in Costco waiting for a pizza for 35 minutes (payback for trying to save time making dinner, I guess) and scrambled until finally found a library download about Queen Victoria.  I wish I had had something preloaded!

2) Jelly beans aren’t breakfast.  I try to get breakfast together in time to send my husband out the door with something to eat.  The other day my Biblestudy/exercise/shower routine got delayed and he had to leave hungry.  “It turned out ok, though,” he reported.  “Someone brought in jelly beans.”  #notbreakfast #nicetry

3) Small tweaks matter.  We dropped cello lessons and now all three kids take piano, back-to-back lessons, all at one time and in one location.  You wouldn’t think this would make a huge difference in my life but it has.  Driving to one less thing and having an entire hour to read a book while the kids are having lessons feels amazing.  Don’t underestimate the power of a small change.

Two Asides

1) Manners matter.  I’m not talking about which fork to use when, but basic courtesy like speaking politely, not making comments about someone’s personal appearance, and responding to communication in a timely manner.  Is it the internet that’s squashing basic courtesy?  Because it feels like unkindness and disrespect when you’re on the receiving end of bad manners, as I have been several times this week.

2) Jillian still works.  I went back to the 30 Day Shred and Level 3 still brings it.  I can barely walk up the stairs.  But in a good way.

A Bagel in a Pear Tree

The weather turned nicer here, so we’ve been out taking walks.  One of our neighbors hung a bagel in the pear tree in their front yard.  We assume it’s to attract birds, but so far it just looks odd and kind of soggy.  The kids wanted to know if we could hang assorted food items in our trees, but I said no.  Probably a missed educational moment of some sort, but oh well.

How was your week?

 

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Two Ideas and the Books That Sort of Followed Them

I recently read two books with killer premises.  One: you can cut 10 hours off of your workweek.  The second: how to think Christianly about productivity.  Neither book turned out to deliver exactly what I expected.

shave-10-hours-ebook-3d-isFirst, Michael Hyatt’s (currently free when you sign up for his newsletter) e-book Shave 10 Hours Off Your Workweek.  As someone who homeschools, works, and runs a household, the idea of freeing up ten (!!) hours a week appeals to me.  Hyatt identifies this as a margin issue, and exhorts readers to consider if they really want to be remembered as “constantly tired, sick, and emotionally spent.”  No.

Interestingly, the most guidance I noted in the book was about getting more sleep.  The book has some good ideas about this.

I did find the book helpful, and think it’s worth the cost of giving up your email address.  I like Hyatt’s style, although lots of times I feel like I’m not his target audience.  I am a flex worker, but I’m in a creative field that is very client-driven.  Hyatt’s advice is very much geared toward internet entrepreneurs who are investing in building platforms for whatever reason.  I’m not really in that mode.  However, some of the advice is universally applicable, so again, the book is worth the price and time.  You may find more take-aways if you haven’t read as heavily in the time and life management genre as I have.

nextI was really excited to read What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done.  The premise–that thinking Christianly impacts productivity–deeply appeals to me.

Sadly, the author got pretty bogged down along the way and the parts where his idea came through clearly were few and far between.  Overall, this reads like a book report.  Most of the ideas come from other writers in the productivity or faith fields.  If I had read the book prior to publication, I would have said, “OK, clearly you know a lot about productivity, and clearly you’re passionate about your faith and how being a Christian informs all of life.  Now tell us YOUR unique perspective, give us YOUR point based on all the stuff you know.”  Instead, there were just lots and lots of references to books I have already read and ideas I have already heard.

There were some good points in the book.  I liked Perman’s point that when we see our mission as glorifying God and being just, merciful, and humble (Micah 6:8), we can consider our life a success even if we don’t achieve our goals.  I’ve personally circled back to Micah 6:8 a lot this year as I have been praying for God to clarify my vision for life, so it was neat to see Perman’s perspective on that verse as a mission statement.

I just wish more of the book had been like that, and less of a litany from other writers.  Maybe in future books Perman will focus his thoughts on productivity into that framework in a more direct fashion.

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

The Fringe Hours

fringeJessica N. Turner makes a valuable contribution to the do-it-all/balance/super mom cultural debate with her insightful and helpful book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You.  Drawing on surveys of women in a wide variety of stages, circumstances, and walks of life, Turner notes that the key to making headway on your goals and taking time to be filled rather than running on empty means making good use of the fringe hours of your life–those tiny increments of time between the pressing demands of your job, family, community, and everything else you do.

If you have ever tracked your time (168 Hours is a great resource for that) you probably know this to be true.  While women today don’t often have huge unclaimed chunks of leisure time, the structure of modern life means that we do have spare minutes here and there, and with some deliberate choices we can create more pockets of time.  When we are deliberate with our fringe hours, making choices to do fill that time with things that are restorative and life-giving, it makes us better and more effective in all of our other roles.

I found the whole book helpful, inspiring, and encouraging.  A couple of the points I thought were particularly strong include:

  • Balance doesn’t mean being everything to everyone, pleasing everyone, or setting a lot of unrealistic expectations on yourself to be a super woman.
  • Your schedule is your own.  Don’t do things just because you feel guilty not doing them, don’t feel like your calendar has to look like anyone else’s, and don’t justify busyness as something valuable.  It’s not about doing ALL the things, but about doing the things that matter most to you and your calling.
  • It’s ok to ask for help. Turner does a great job of identifying areas where getting help might make your life less frantic, and her suggestions are broad enough to apply to women in a wide range of situations. Sometimes you just need to look at things from a different angle to have a breakthrough.

Overall, the book is not about maximizing your every second or reaching some externally-imposed idea of success.  Rather, it’s a call to live more deliberately, and to realize that running yourself ragged isn’t the life God has called you to live.  Whether you’re single or married, have children at home or not, work outside the home or from home or are a homemaker or retired, I think any woman would find The Fringe Hours a worthwhile read.

How do you spend your fringe hours?  It will come as no surprise that I spend most of mine reading.  🙂

 

Disclosure: The publisher sent me a free advance reader copy of The Fringe Hours, but the opinions in this post are my own.  Links in the post are affiliate links – when you click through to Amazon from this blog and make a purchase, A Spirited Mind gets a small commission.  Thank you for your support!

The ONE Thing

one thingThe week between Christmas and the New Year is when I buckle down to review the ending year and set goals for the new one.  People differ on their approach to resolutions (or not), goal setting (or not) and continual improvement (or not).  But since all three are things I enjoy and do anyway, I tend to like books about those topics, especially at this time of year.

Having read a veritable plethora of books about habits, goals, productivity, business, planning, management, work/life balance, and the like, I have to admit that I did not find anything really ground-breaking in The One Thing.  However, the book was well written and had a good spin on familiar topics, such that I came away from reading the book feeling inspired to plan well for 2015.

The book suggests that to really excel in any area of your life, you can’t fragment your focus and just churn around doing stuff–you need to narrow your focus to the one thing that will really make a difference and move the ball down the field.  The book had great advice for identifying what your one thing is in any given category, then how to refine your goals to get there.  The section on taking big future dreams/goals and breaking them down into manageable pieces was particularly strong.

I did find some of the advice to be contradictory.  For example, the authors advocate blocking out four hours a day to work on your One Thing, but then in another part of the book they acknowledge that you’ll have a One Thing for different areas of life.  I suppose everyone has to identify which of the One Things is the really, really One Thing.  Or something.

That said, I think the general principle is a good one, and since The One Thing is interesting and fast-paced, with helpful insights well suited for New Year’s planning, I would recommend it.

Are you reading any good books on goal setting or habits to start off the New Year?

 

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Guide to Savoring Slow

SavoringSlowCover-187x300The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow is an encouraging book about being intentional, slowing down, and making time for the things that are most important to you and to your family.  If you’re feeling harried, overwhelmed, or like you want to cut things back but don’t know how, this book would probably be helpful for you.

The theme is increasingly common–our world is fast-paced, our lives are busy, we are inundated with information all the time, and it’s easy to lose your focus and direction.  In this book, Shawn Fink describes some tactics for getting back on track.  The information is not all that different from things I’ve read in other books, but I appreciated the reminders to take control of worries, keep track of whether we really need or want to do everything we feel obligated to do, and do the important things first.

Fink gets the descriptions of overwhelm and stress right, and while some of her prescriptions were not really my speed, sometimes I find that reading an apt description of a problem reminds me that it is indeed a problem, and I can apply solutions that work for me instead of things that don’t (I’m not much for the whole empty-your-mind-lie-in-the-grass thing).

I made two notes for my work space (I keep a rotating set of little notes of things to think about around my desk) from this book: “Busy is not the story I want to tell people.” and “There is no rush.”  I made a lot of other notes as I read, but those two quotes are the ones I decided I needed to see more often.

I got The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow when it was free for Kindle.  The price today is listed at $9.99.  I’m not sure I’d recommend it at that price–there are so many books out there on how to slow down, savor life, make time for first things first, and so on.  But if you have Kindle Unlimited, find another sale, or grabbed this one while it was free, I’d say it’s worth your time.

When people ask me “How’s life?” my first impulse is to say “Busy!” because it is.  But I’m trying to be better about telling a different story.  What do you say instead of “busy?”

 

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2014’s Third Quarter in Books

This quarter I had an uptick in work, which resulted in a downtick in reading, to my chagrin.  However, I did still read 27 books in July, August, and September, and also read 20 long/chapter books (of around 100 pages or more, not picture books) aloud to or with the kids.  I broke the titles down into categories of Fiction, Life Management/Creative Work, Communication/Relationships, Parenting/Education, History, Memoir, and Faith.  The links below are to my longer reviews, starred titles were my absolute favorites.

Fiction

  • The Night Circus – An incredible fairy tale set in a Victorian circus that begs to be read on a rainy day, The Night Circus was excellent in audiobook version, and I might skim the print version too.
  • Speaking From Among the Bones – A Flavia DeLuce mystery.  Enough said.
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches – Another Flavia DeLuce mystery. Really, if you haven’t read these, do.  Impeccable plotting, fantastic characterization, funny and smart writing…the entire series is excellent.
  • Children of the Jacaranda Tree – The author used a dissonant writing and narrative style to convey the dissonance of Iranian post-Revolution culture, but those aspects of the book wound up detracting from the story significantly.  Mostly I felt the book suffered from lack of setting and descriptive voice.  Read A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea instead.

Life Management/Creative Work

  • What Should I Do With My Life? People who are perpetual reinventers and tryers-of-new-things will like this book.  People who never ask themselves the title’s question should skip it.
  • Manage Your Day to Day – If you’re a creative and/or flex-worker you should read this book.  I’ve especially benefitted from the advice on how to be the boss of your technology (sorry Facebook, it had to end sometime).
  • *Essentialism* – This exceptional book is not about maximizing your life in 15 minute increments, but more about how to untangle confusion, busy-ness, and triviality to get at what’s most important to you, and then how to protect your time and focus so you can really give your best efforts to those priorities.  The book is excellent and I highly recommend it.
  • The Accidental Creative – Normal time management advice doesn’t always work for creative workers.  This book explains why and gives tips for how to work around that.  I felt affirmed in that I already do many of these things, but also got some new tips.
  • Die Empty – By the same author as The Accidental Creative, this book covers how to be more focused and gives some really helpful advice on curating your information flow.  Curating is a modern requirement I find very interesting, and this book helped me realize that I do have a choice about it.
Communication/Relationships
  • The Art of Small Talk – A light but helpful book about small talk and how to use it, I found this one particularly helpful for business contexts and have been using tips about meetings all summer.
  • Difficult Conversations – This very helpful book not only walks you through how to handle difficult conversations on big and important topics, but also helps you to reframe hard topics for yourself, even if you never have the touchy discussion with someone else.
  • *Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work* – If you’re engaged or a newlywed, put this book back for a couple of years.  If you’ve been married for 5 years or more, read it.  The book is written by a researcher who studies marriages and relationships, and so the findings are based on real data, profoundly interesting, and very hopeful.  I have given this book a lot of thought after reading it, and highly recommend it.  (Note: it’s a secular book, not at all from a Christian perspective, and yet you’ll find that the conclusions are very much in line with Biblical direction on relationships and relating to other people. Fascinating.)

Parenting/Education

  • The Artful Parent – A helpful book that expands the definition of the artsy parent so you can feel better about not being someone who allows glitter in your environment, and which also contains interesting art projects to try and advice on good materials.
  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – This amazingly helpful primer on drawing will change how you look at things, even if you don’t take the time to try the exercises.  It also seems that the book would be profoundly helpful in teaching children to draw.
  • Real Learning – Without a doubt this book is the most helpful resource on artist study and composer study I’ve read so far.  If you’re a Charlotte Mason fan or homeschooler, this book will be helpful for you.

History

  • Fever – Although it’s a historical novel, this book illuminates an interesting historical figure and period of change in medical history.
  • The Great Influenza – Although it’s too long, this history of the flu of 1918 is fascinating really illuminated my understanding of geopolitical events surrounding World War I.
  • The Professor and the Madman – An oddly compelling history of the Oxford English Dictionary, with wild stories and the sort of excellent vocabulary asides you’d expect in a book about the OED.
  • Tallgrass – Another historical fiction book that wound up in the history section rather than fiction, Tallgrass have me unique insight into the Japanese interment camp facet of World War II, plus showed me how the experiences of the Dust Bowl and World War I, which I’ve also read about this year, influences people’s perceptions of the home front in World War II.  Not notable fiction, but notable history.
  • The Long Shadow – This wide-ranging book covers the lead up to World War I, an analysis of popular views on the war itself, and then a discussion of the lingering impact World War I had on political, cultural, and social developments up to the present.  Really fascinating and illuminating.
  • The Big Fat Surprise – Fat is not the enemy.  If you really need to be convinced that fat is not bad for you, especially if you need very detailed discussion about just about every study and research project related to nutritional topics, this book may be for you.  It’s interesting as a history of nutritional science (and I use that phrase optimistically).  Otherwise, read Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat instead.
  • Eiffel’s Tower – This interesting history of the making of the Eiffel Tower, the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, and the fascinating historical figures who converged there is well worth a read.
Memoir
  • Stitches – I don’t usually like graphic novels, but this one was very thought-provoking and the format fit the subject matter quite well.
  • *How the Heather Looks* – Probably my most favorite book of the year so far, this is a travel memoir of a young family who toured England looking for the sites in all of their favorite books.  I adore that concept and just loved the descriptions and the author’s evident love for literature.  An utter delight for this Anglophile and bibliophile!

Faith

  • His Word in my Heart – If you need some inspiration for memorizing longer passages of Scripture, or even entire books of the Bible, this book is for you.  I got a lot out of this short book, although ultimately I realized that my memorizing style is different than the author’s (don’t feel tied to the index card thing).
  • The Family Worship Book – Although I got some helpful ideas from this book, A Neglected Grace is a far, far better resource both in terms of casing a vision for family worship and in providing practical helps.
  • Sabbath as Resistance – Not a complete reference on Sabbath-keeping, but written around a helpful and thoughtful exposition of the Israelites in Egypt, this book has made me mindful of ways that I keep the Sabbath in outward form, but am inwardly still “making bricks” on Sunday.  I wouldn’t say this is the only book you need to read on the topic, but it is a good one.

Long/Chapter Books Read Aloud to the Children (or read to discuss with the children)

What were your favorite books this quarter?

Some books on creative work

The Accidental Creative is geared primarily to “creative workers”–that is, people who are paid not just to perform tasks for a certain number of hours, but who are paid by the value of what they create.  This perfectly describes my work, so I appreciated that the book spoke to particular issues of scheduling, managing energy, focus, and keeping creativity sharp when you’re working in a creative field.

In some sense, the book helped me by reinforcing some of the work habits I already have, and I wouldn’t say any one piece was really revolutionary or totally new to me.  However, the real value of the book, for me anyway, was in its suggestions for how to maximize creativity by tweaking normal time management advice to apply more specifically to creatives.  For example, normally time management advice assumes that to a certain extent all of your waking hours are on the table.  But with creative work, you have to factor in the fact that not every 15 minute increment is the same, and know yourself well enough to understand when you are doing your best work.  Another example is in stewarding your energy–you might be doing stuff for 15 hours a day, but you probably aren’t churning out top-notch creative work for each of those hours.  The author had good ideas for how to make sure that your best work actually happens.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day is another book by the same author, this one purporting to have wider applicability beyond creative fields.  I guess that’s true, although I’d argue that both books would have useful tidbits for just about anyone.

This one includes a lot of the same concepts as the previous volume, including advice on how to curate the flow of media you’re subjected to, ideas for how to have weekly and quarterly self-assessments of all of your work and life activities, and how to maximize your focus.  It does contain a bit more information about goal setting and how to leverage your focus, time, and energy to be sure you’re really being effective in the roles you identify as your priorities.

I found both of these books useful because I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient and effective in my work and more focused on my priorities rather than being fragmented.  The books are general enough to be broadly applicable, but if you don’t really do anything in a creative/idea-generating field you might not get as much out of them (but still would probably like the focus and prioritizing parts).

 

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