Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review #13

Book #13 Successful Time Management for Dummies
Disk Zeller

The first thing I noted is that this is the "Portable Edition", whatever that means. Apparently there are more specific information on the full-size version, but as long as this is good, then I don't need the full size version, do I? The good news is, this is good, and I don't need the full size version. The bad news is, there remains some personalizations or customizations necessary. However, the basic ideas listed here are sound and is an excellent place to start.

The first chapter, although extremely brief, does touch all the bases needed to be covered. That's good. Too often, writers would wax poetics on how time management would save the day. I don't like that. Just tell me what I need to know, and we'll go from there!

The second chapter is the obligatory chapter about valuing your time. This is important. Too often, people are too focused on the dollars, but not the hours spent in getting those dollars. This, here, is a form of Return-Of-Investment calculation necessary in order to put a value of your time, and once you have successfully put a value to your time blocks, it's time to prioritize them. That's chapter 3. I really appreciate how this little book is organized! The book mentioned how difficult it is to adhere to the set schedule. The good news is, a little productivity goes a long way.

Let's put it this way. Supposed that you are only productive 20% per day. If you managed to increase productivity only by 10%, then you just increased your productivity by 50%! Of course, you get diminishing returns, but that only happens if you have some kind of schedule to begin with. If you haven't, then a little can go a long way, and this book tells you that. That makes me so happy! Truly, these are the most important points that you can make in teaching time management.

The author stumbles here with Chapter 4: Organizing your workspace. Although he recognized the difficulties of properly managing his workspace, the system that he presents is the old "Process a paper only once", which is the boon of professional organizers anywhere, and the doom of non-professional organizers everywhere. That is, the system is easier to say, that it is to do. There is nothing wrong in trying to achieve the ideal, but this is where personalization can work wonders for you. In my case, not only my work is varied (just look at this blog!), but also some of them requires some sizable materials. In the end, I put the filing cabinet next to boxes of projects, one box per project. It looks ugly, but it works. So, yes, read the chapter and follow it the best you can, but don't be afraid to personalize it to suit you.

Chapter 5 outlines various strategies for organizing your files. Just like Chapter 4, the information presented here is old-school. Well, as old school as new electronic gadgets can be. The importance of backup (safety redundancy) is missing, though. I know for certain that electronics can break, and papers can be eaten by your dog, so back up in as many places as possible. Make sure to restore the backups and check periodically. Also make sure that everything is sync. Personal note: The best device for organization is the old Palm Pilot/Handspring device. I'd be carrying it if I didn't run out of pockets!

Chapter 6 goes back to form, discussing the relevant issues is dealing with obstacles. This treatment is in fine form. It's obvious that the author speaks from experience, instead of rehashing old ideas. I'm happy to see it here.

Chapter 7 is the big deal for me. Procrastination. Over time, I managed to set up what I call "Productive Procrastination". That's not this chapter. This chapter deals with different solutions to get over procrastination. Although I'd probably fail with these methods, these are good methods to try nevertheless. Who knows? You may be better at it that I am. The information here is concise, useful, and comprehensive.

The rest of the book deals with little things that trips you, and little things that helps you. I find that the information presented here is perfect for the size of the book, and will gladly recommend this book to anyone who needs a little help organizing their time.

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