Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (Brian Tracy)

With a title like Eat that Frog, how could I not crack open the pages of this book to see what in the world the author was actually talking about? I’ve been on a time management kick lately. I suppose it has much to do with the fact that it has been a constant topic of discussion with students this semester. I’m not a master of the discipline either, but since I was offering advice to others, I decided it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to get some other ideas.

Tracy’s thoughts can be summed up fairly easily into a couple of statements. Plan and prioritize your day before getting things started. Do the task you are dreading the most at the beginning of the day. (That’s what “Eat that frog” actually means.) Realize that 80% of your activity should be spent on the 3 or 4 tasks that only you can do that bring success to your company. Delegate and let unnecessary tasks go the way of the dodo.

Eat that Frog is clearly written from a business perspective. While some of its premises seem out-dated (especially the advice to refrain from using any type of electronic device during a meeting), the ideas are manageable to implement and seem like good advice. Personally, I really like the simplicity of Tracy’s planning process. List everything that needs to be done tomorrow and categorize into what A) must be done, B) would be nice to do, C) eventually needs to be done, D) can be delegated, and E) should be eliminated. Begin working in category A with the most important and then proceed down the list. No file folders to sort. No grouping according to location. Just put your head down and get the work done.

Tracy’s premise does seem problematic in the world of academia. How do you manage getting things done when you are constantly interrupted by classes, office hours, and meetings? I like the ideas, but I don’t know that they will actually hold up in reality for the majority of the workforce — including those outside of the academic realm.

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#30: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Carol Dweck)

2017 ended with lots of illness for me, so I’m just getting around to writing my thoughts about the last book I read of the year. Fear not! I am slowly returning to a regular reading routine and will update you on my progress to reaching 2018’s goal of completing 32 books before the end of the year.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a book that I recommend to all teachers, coaches, business leaders, and parents. Honestly, I think anyone who approaches Dweck’s book with an open mind will find themselves on its pages and see how a shift of personal mindset can potentially transform their life. I am certain that I will return to this work on a regular basis as I work with young adults and developing musicians.

The basic premise is rather simple. All of us choose one of two mindsets in every area of our life every day. We either buy into the fixed mindset — that tells us our abilities and intelligence are at their maximum level, unable to be changed — or we hold a growth mindset — that says that failures and mistakes are opportunities for improvement and learning. Sounds simple, huh? At its core, it really is just that simple. However, when we begin to examine how our mindset can be shaped by our environment and our perception of what is expected of us — as well as words spoken to us by parents, teachers, coaches, and employers — we realize that changing our mindset can be an enormous battle of the mind that has enormous implications.

When things didn’t go quite as planned — a test score is lower than you hoped, a friend misunderstood your words, or a performance was less than stellar — how do you respond? Was the outcome inevitable? Do things just happen sometimes? Do you buy into the mantra that “I gave it my best, so no one can ask for more”? These are the responses of the fixed mindset. A more-productive response found in the growth mindset would ask what lessons can be learned from these failures. What adjustments need to be made to my test preparation? Was a text the best method of communicating in this situation or would face-to-face conversation have reduced the possibility of a misunderstanding? Was my poor performance due to anxiety? How can I improve future performances? 

After reading Mindset by Carol Dweck, one question is at the forefront of my mind. Why is this work not being used as a required textbook in freshman experience courses in colleges and universities around the country? If our students can learn the power of recognizing the fixed mindset and how to adjust their thoughts to a growth mindset, their potential for success will increase exponentially!

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#4: Getting Things Done (David Allen)

 I am horribly unorganized! My desk is a mess and I never feel as though I am accomplishing everything I need to get done.  Recently, I read a friend’s blog post referring to the GTD method and, after asking him to clarify, decided to read the book for myself.  Honestly, I didn’t expect to find much that I hadn’t been exposed to before.

Quite simply, Allen’s method essentially is a combination of various lists and a thorough filing system.  At first I was very skeptical of the practicality of using seperate lists for everything — especially since I am away from my homebase much of the time.  Now that I have decided to give the method a try, I am finding it very refreshing to pull out my action list when I’m sitting at the computer and another when making phone calls.  I think that my productivity will greatly increase if I follow through with the method; that’s been the case this week, anyway.

The filing system is an alphabetical arrangement of everything.  No color coding or sub-files within a larger context here.  Rather than separating personal from business, everything co-exists in a single system.  I’m just getting started with my personal filing, so we’ll have to see how this actually goes.

Lists are not always date specific.  Rather, they represent the “next action” that needs to be taken for each project currently on your plate. The lists are reviewed weekly and adjusted and amended as needed at that point.

All in all, I think most people can take something away from reading “Getting Things Done.”  Written primarily from a business perspective, it is not leisure reading.  Whether or not you decide to implement Allen’s method (or even if you don’t think you need to improve in your personal organization), the book is insightful and full of useful information and ideas for improving your productivity.

4 out of 5 stars!

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