A manual advocates an array of unconventional approaches to achieving productivity.
This new book from Gilkey (The Small Business Life Cycle, 2014), founder of Productive Flourishing, delivers an assortment of thoughts and strategies for isolating doable projects and ushering them across the finish line. The author asserts that projects allowing people to do their best work are “bridges to a better world.” Gilkey opens his overview with a stern look at other productivity and personal development guides, many of which intentionally or unintentionally make people feel faulty. He stresses instead the plasticity of potential: “We’re more than the thoughts we have and actions we take and we can adopt new thoughts and take new actions that lead us to be the best versions of ourselves.” On the journey to accomplishing these projects and realizing those amazing versions, one of the main obstacles the author identifies is “thrashing.” This is the kind of “emotional flailing and metawork” people do while resisting the commitment to complete a task, the stirring of “head trash”–like fears and insecurities. Paradoxically, it’s when faced with attacking the projects that personally mean the most that many people experience “creative constipation,” an “inner toxicity” that can lead them to lash out at others and themselves. In order to relieve this stress and move things in the right direction, Gilkey proposes many tactics, including such concepts as “chunking” (breaking projects into more easily handled segments), “linking” (connecting some “chunks” with others), and “sequencing” (lining up “chunks” to fall in a smoother order). And, human nature being what it is, there are also tips on how to combat the thoughtless or obstructive actions of others.
In expanding on all of this, the author’s tone is infectiously upbeat and exceptionally forgiving. The “grind hard, grind harder, eventually die” attitude on prominent display in so many productivity books is entirely absent in these pages. Gilkey’s advice includes such simple practical items as assessing your work environment (a change may unblock some key piece of congestion) and handling email more efficiently (“processing” it only when you have email-related work to do rather than “checking” it far too often for no constructive purpose). He also recommends reshaping the habits and routines that can remove “scores of daily microdecisions” but can also clog up productivity if they’re not policed and periodically reexamined. In brightly well-designed and inviting chapters, Gilkey warns his readers to beware of projects that seem easier because they involve less “thrashing”: “Thrashing is…not a sign that you can’t finish the project or that you’re doing the wrong project. It’s a sign that…you’ll need to show up powerfully to get it done.” In one crystal-clear insight after another, the author provides readers with an enormous trove of strategies designed to help them succeed, whether their key projects are business-related, creative, or personal. He gives intuitively catchy names to the mental snarls that readers experience when working alone or in groups. The author cautions readers that it’s seductively easy to spend an entire life “in the meantime,” never hunkering down to create their masterpieces. His comprehensive book is a formidable corrective to that inertia.
A powerful and optimistic guide to clearing out the clutter and finishing your best work.