On the Bookshelf: Get It Together

UPDATED: May 13, 2024
PUBLISHED: October 10, 2012
On the Bookshelf: Get It Together

If you ever feel like your life is spinning out of control, the books on the bookshelf this month can help you regain balance. You’ll reap the benefit of time-saving strategies, discover a new perspective on honesty, and learn tips for creating the habits that can help you achieve more in less time.

What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do

Reduce Tasks, Increase Results, and Save 90 Minutes a Day
by Laura Stack
Berrett-Koehler, 2012

What would you do with an extra 90 minutes today? Play with your children? Eat a quiet dinner or take a walk with your spouse? Write three pages of a book? Start a new business? Close one more sale?

Now imagine you had 90 extra minutes every day. That’s the amount of time author and productivity expert Laura Stack says her clients save by applying the time-saving techniques and practical systems she offers in What to Do When There’s Too Much to Do.

Much of Stack’s book is framed by the employee-employer relationship, but that doesn’t negate the value of her message as it pertains to entrepreneurs. In fact, as both the president and CEO of her own company, Stack understands that entrepreneurs have an even greater need to maximize their time. To that end, she outlines the Productivity Workflow Formula for determining what to do and when to do it, and focusing on it and getting it done.

At its core, Stack’s formula is designed to help you get more done while actually doing less. If your goal as an entrepreneur is to work on your business rather than in your business, this is the type of process you should use. It isn’t simply about marking items off your to-do list, but about choosing which items to do, completing them quickly and efficiently, and preventing an overloaded schedule in the first place.

While every step in the process is essential, perhaps Step One, determining what to do, is the most crucial. To improve your productivity starting now, do as Stack recommends and ask yourself for each task: Who is affected by this task, and how? Does it contribute to my immediate objectives? Is it related to my long-term goals? Is it necessary to achieving those goals? Deciding what not to do—and learning to say no to things that don’t help you achieve your long-term goals—is the first step in regaining control of your time.

We’ve all heard about doing more with less; many of us have been living that mantra for the past few years. In contrast to maintaining a hectic, crazy-busy schedule, Stack recommends adopting the mantra, “Reduce, reduce, reduce.” Throughout the book, she offers strategies and suggestions that will empower you to stop trying to do more with less and start doing more of what’s really important.

—Erin K. Casey
Noteworthy Quote:
“Don’t let anyone (even your boss) easily take [your time] away from you by adding items to your task lists without discussion.”

A few things you’ll learn:

To create a “not-to-do” list of time-wasting actions and refer to it frequently

How overloaded schedules and constant stress deplete energy, making time management important to your health

To write down ideas that interrupt workflow and to focus on them later

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

How We Lie to Everyone— Especially Ourselves
by Dan Ariely
HarperCollins, 2012

Humans have a natural proclivity for dishonesty. Research proves it, but as author Dan Ariely writes, “Each of us has a limit to how much we can cheat before it becomes absolutely sinful.” Ariely and teams of social scientists ushered people to that limit time and time again, and found that lots of people cheated just a little bit. This finding left Ariely with even more questions: What enticed them? How widespread is it? Do small infractions matter? Is cheating contagious? In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shares his findings, as well as insights that will help you encourage honesty in your workplace and in your own life.

—Beth Douglass Silcox
Noteworthy Quote:
“Once something or someone irritates us, it becomes easier for us to justify our immoral behavior.”

A couple of things you’ll learn:

That wearing items with counterfeit designer labels correlated with a tendency to cheat on other things, too

Why it’s easier to walk away from the draw of desire before you are close enough to be snagged by it

The Power of Habit

Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg
Random House, 2012

The formation of habits is a precise science. Author Charles Duhigg details this fascinating human ability in The Power of Habit. To dig deeply into the science behind human habits, Duhigg examined numerous academic studies, interviewed scientists and executives, and studied research conducted at corporations. According to Duhigg, science shows the brain function behind healthy and unhealthy habits are the same: The power of habits lies in the fact that they create neurological cravings. Once you understand how habits are formed and apply this understanding to yourself or your organization, you can use the knowledge to improve old habits or form new, useful ones. And that makes The Power of Habit well worth the read.

—Deana Nall

Noteworthy Quote:
“The way we habitually think of our surroundings and ourselves creates the world we live in.”

A couple of things you’ll learn:

Which habits are most powerful

How leaders create habits through accident and design

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