Book Review - Manage Your Day-to-Day


 I’m excited to add a new dimension to the weekly Life Design Center vlog…book reviews.  I’m sensing a need and I hope this will serve as a useful response.  We are faced with an ever-increasing amount of information but the amount of time and energy we have available is decreasing. I hope my bi-weekly book reviews will help tip the equation a bit more in your favor. 

With each review, I’ll try to highlight the key arguments of the book and also describe the areas of Life Design where I think the book is most applicable.  In the video portion of a book review, I’ll probably spend the time reflecting on specific applications in my life or the life of other Life Designers.

Y’all ready for this?  Let’s get on with the first review…


Title:  Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (99U)

Length:  250 Pages, but feels much shorter.

Life Design Applications:  Personal Growth, Time Management, Productivity, Creativity


Recommendation:  Recommended with Caveats...


Three Sentence Summary:  To succeed in these hectic, distracting times there are four skillsets you must master: (1) Building a rock-solid daily routine, (2) taming your tools and technology (3) finding focus, (4) sharpening your creative mind. The book consists of short articles by thought leaders across a range of fields, including such names as:  Seth Godin, Tony Schwartz, Linda Stone, and Steven Pressfield.  Our routines, or lack thereof, are what determine our effectiveness in the world and our ability to make ideas happen.  

Who This Book is For:  Anyone interested in generating lots of ideas for simple ways to improve productivity and creativity.  Anyone who needs a kick in the butt with their Life Design practices.  If you are super-busy and suffering from a lack of attention span, the short articles may work well for you. If your goal is to get a general sense of where you might want to start focusing your Life Design efforts, you might find some inspiration within these pages.  If you are a highly-motivated, self-disciplined individual who only needs a trigger to get yourself in motion, this book is chock-full of triggers.


Who This Book is Not For:  If you are looking for a deeper exploration of any one topic, this book will leave you wanting more.  The quick-hit articles provide only a surface-level inquiry and leave the rest up to you.  If you prefer the consistent theme and narrative that comes from a single-author, this book may feel overwhelming or annoyingly unfocused.  If you are the type of person who needs a lot of guidance and support for making your Life Design changes, this book will leave your head spinning. 


What I Liked Most and Least:  In an age when I think too many writers feel the need to drone on simply to fill pages, the short articles really worked for me.  I could sit down and knock out a 3-4 page article and never worry about losing my place.  If you don’t like any one of the articles, don’t worry, there will be another right behind it.  I often found the perspectives insightful and thought provoking.  I found myself highly motivated to make small adjustments to my habits and behaviors.  This book gave me a lot of ideas for areas to explore deeper with my Life Design writings, for sure.  

Of course, the short structure limits the depth and impact.  It also feels a bit chaotic if you are reading the whole thing straight through.  Imagine sitting down for coffee with a friend who has 3-dozen ideas about how you can improve your life and they are intent on running you through all of them.  The ideas quickly blur together and I think many people will be left wandering around in circles trying to figure out ways to apply these valuable ideas to their lives.  


Some Highlights:

  • Routine is about consistency and persistence.  Don’t wait for inspiration, create a framework for it.  This is consistent with fundamental principle of Life Design, which is to be intentional about the elements you include or exclude from your life.  Creating the environment and creating patterns can be a really powerful way to make things happen.  Making small changes through sustained effort is more effective that big moves done in fits and spurts.  
  • Do your creative work first, reactive work after.  When do you check your first email?  Most of us do it as soon as we sit down at our desk, if not before.  I’m trying really hard to avoid doing that until I’ve done my creative writing for the day.  Once I start in with the emails, it never ends and I’ll never get to the hard work because I’ll be too tired or frustrated.  Might as well get the hard stuff done right off the bat!
  • Block out times of solitude. This includes being able to sit without touching your device.  MICRO PRACTICE…When your dinner partner gets up to use the restroom, fight the urge to pull our your phone and check your emails or social media.  Just sit there and observe and enjoy the people around you. 
  • Multi-tasking is a myth.  This should not be confused with structuring your day to alternate between mindful and mindless tasks.  
  • Notice the ways in which you are tempted into the “right now” thinking.  
  • Set boundaries with how you use your social media and technology.  Ask questions like…Is this absolutely necessary to share?  Can I share later and live now?  What am I afraid that I’m missing?  
  • Unnecessary Creation.  There is value in doing things that nobody is paying you to do or that you are not required to do.  You will develop new skills and make tangential connections that you would otherwise not.  You will strengthen your intuition muscle.  
  • The Perils of Perfectionism.  When we are compelled by a desire for perfection, we are less likely to take risks and learn new things.  We are less likely to solicit feedback and input from potentially valuable sources.  


My Biggest Learning or Takeaway

I spend a lot of my time reading things in this particular space.  I’m not sure that anything in this book struck me as completely novel or incredibly insightful.  At the same time, I highlighted a LOT of sentences in this book.  It was chock full of little nuggets of wisdom that, although not completely new to me, were worded in a way that I had never seen.  I wrote down at least a dozen small practices that I would like to incorporate into my Life Design.  These are not necessarily new “Projects”, but enhancements to the projects that I’m already working on in my own life.  I think this is a great book for jumpstarting or rejuvenating a stalled Life Design.

If you have suggestions for future book reviews, please let me know!  You can email [email protected] with the subject line...Book Review


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