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Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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Getting Things Done - The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

One-Sentence Summary: To be efficient, your mind must be crystal clear, like spring water; to get to that point you need to get rid of all the parasitic thoughts that permanently distract you, which you can accomplish by putting  everything that you want to, or must do into an external automated system, thus relieving your brain of the need to think – which it does badly, without directed prioritization and without consciously choosing the right moment.

By David Allen, 272 pages, published en 2001.

Summary and Book Report:

Let’s get right to the point: the GTD method is famous in the United States, it is a best seller and features in numerous web-based resources, whether in the form of articles to help you get things done  or software to go with it (there are over forty currently, for all platforms, and most are free!) I have also translated [into French] different articles on using it on my blog, Habitudes Zen, which allowed me to understand the method before reading the book.

The author, who has been a business management and productivity consultant for 20 years, begins by showing that the working world has evolved and that managers often have to multi-task to get several things done at once, and even if they could dedicate their whole life to it,  no doubt they would not have enough time to do things as well as they would prefer. What’s more, numerous organizations have had their internal boundaries eroded, and their effectiveness rest on endless collaboration and communications using different services – and you can no longer avoid any of the many mail services in use. Executives therefore generally need to multitask more than before. This evolution by organizations must necessarily come with new tools and new work approaches.

Imagine if you could do, if you could choose to focus completely on your tasks, without any interruptions, parasitic thoughts, daydreams and other sources of distraction, while remaining alert and in full possession of your faculties. Sound like a dream? It’s possible. David Allen recommends with his method something that martial arts practitioners call “mind like water,” or athletes call “in the zone”, a state of mind that is free from worry and totally focused on the goal you want to reach. You have no doubt already experienced it at times. Were you able to perform better, feel more satisfied with yourself and your accomplishments in that moment? David Allen recommends a system to make those moments the norm. Let’s see how.

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Lead the Field

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Lead the field - Earl Nightingale

One-Sentence Summary : To succeed in life you can’t just count on luck and circumstances; you must find hidden nuggets inside yourself rather than trapsing around the world in vain looking for them, have goals and desires and define them clearly, have an attitude that sets you up for success and love yourself, use your brain as a resource for reflection every day, understand that our rewards in life always correspond to the services we deliver, learn without ceasing and continue to grow, develop your vocabulary and mastery of language, leave the flock to act on your own, understand your value and the value of several tens of millions of euros, clearly define the amount of money you want to earn, economize or invest and save for your retirement, have a personal library that is rich and relevant, do your best every day and, one by one, accomplish the tasks that will lead you to be successful in your goals, specialize in something; then you will be in the top 5% of humanity who find themselves at the top of the success pyramid — whatever that is.

By Earl Nightingale, 102 pages, published in 2007 (book) and in 1986 (audio cassette)

Summary and Book Report:

I am not going to write a biography – even a short one – for all the authors in my PMBA challenge, but Earl Nightingale seems to be a rather interesting personality, and atypical enough to warrant an exception:

Earl Nightingale is a famous orator in the United States, and an example of what self education can do for someone who starts out with plenty of things going against him. Born in 1921, raised by his mother who was left alone with his two brothers, he grew up in a poor Los Angeles suburb in the middle of the depression. Wishing to understand why some people are poor and miserable and others are not, and not finding anyone in his acquaintance who could answer, he began his quest for answers and knowledge in the local library, which would lead him particularly to a study of philosophy, psychology and the great religions for decades. After the war, during which he survived, with 12 marines, an attack on the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor (1103 dead out of 1511 crew members), he worked in radio and created one of the first audio books, The Strangest Secret, which is a best seller and sold more than a million copies. He went on to found, with Lloyd Conant, the Nightingale-Conant Corporation, the first company to offer audio cassettes about personal development. He died in 1989.

Lead the field is a collection of advice about personal development, originally only offered in audio format. Fortunately, a book offering an exact transcription was recently published, which allowed me to read it and to offer you a review of it today – it is a lot harder for me to understand spoken English than written, and while audio books have undeniable advantages, such as being able to do other things while you read them, and use the time in transit or traveling for self improvement, I much prefer a good book when it comes to soaking up knowledge, reflecting and taking notes. I love to write post-it notes which I stick on the paragraphs that speak to me – difficult to do that with an audio CD.

In this book, which is enthusiastic and brimming with energy, Earl Nightingale insists on the fact that success in life is not due to luck and circumstances, but to principles based on good sense and habits that are easy to acquire on the condition that you practice them every day. I will paint you a panoramic, chapter by chapter:

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Strengths Finder 2.0 : Now, discover your Strengths

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Strenghts Finder 2.0 - Now, discover yours strenghts

 

One Sentence Summary : Our society does not put enough emphasis on our strengths, yet knowing and developing them is extremely important for our success and our happiness; Strengths Finder 2.0 lets you discover precisely what they are and work on them to help you become a better you.

by Tom Rath, 175 pages, published in 2007.

Summary and Book Report :

This book is not like other books. First, you are probably only going to read a little bit of it. Then, because it lets you take a psychology test on line that is going to figure out your five predominant strengths from 34 possible strengths, and give you 10 actions for each of these strengths to allow you to exercise it and develop it to its full potential.

To stand out by polishing yours strenghts  

The author, a Director of the Gallup Poll company, begins by presenting his vision for personal development: for him, it’s better to focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Yet our society in general puts the emphasis on what it takes to overcome our weaknesses, which according to him, is an enormous waste of time and energy.

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10 Days to Faster Reading + Free BONUS speed reading test

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10 days to Faster reading

One Sentence Summary: Reading fast is a professional and personal asset, it is possible to improve your reading speed significantly by using various techniques and methods, like the use of guides (cards, fingers, pens…) or skimming, scanning and skipping … and plenty of others.

by Abby Marks Beale, 200 pages, published in 2001.

Summary and Book Report:

The first book of my personal challenge! It’s the first one on the PMBA list because it will supposedly increase our reading speed significantly. I am already a good reader with an average of 400 words per minute and a retention rate of almost 90%.

The author ranks readers in the following way:

Words per minute Reader Type
100-200 slow reader
200-300 average reader
300-400 good reader
400-500 excellent reader

But do you know your reading speed? I can offer you a way to measure it: click on the "start" button below, and read the rest of this article at your normal reading speed. When you are done, click the "stop" button at the end of the article.

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