An exhilarating but highly structured approach to the creative use of time.



In this guide, a product designer and author shares principles of “mind management.”

Writing his debut book, Design for Hackers (2011), made Kadavy realize he needed to practice mind management instead of time management. In his latest work, the author both recounts his writing journey and offers a novel system for being creatively productive. “Too many of us live by the to-do list,” notes Kadavy, as he urges readers to rethink the concept of time management. To support his argument, he points to a Harvard study indicating “the busier knowledge workers were, the less creative they were.” Instead of readers being victimized by time, he describes first how to recognize and incorporate “divergent” and “convergent” thinking into creative work and then how to embrace the “Four Stages of Creativity”—Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. To illustrate these stages at work, Kadavy uses the contemporary example of how Paul McCartney crafted the celebrated Beatles song “Yesterday,” referencing a similar process employed by other renowned creatives as well. Next, the author explores what he defines as the “Seven Mental States of Creative Work”—Prioritize, Explore, Research, Generate, Polish, Administrate, and Recharge. This discussion is especially illuminating; it suggests a distinct relationship between one’s mental state and creative productivity, which Kadavy explains in lucid detail. The author helpfully shares some of the techniques and tools he uses to encourage the desired mental state. A subsequent description of “Creative Cycles” and “Creative Systems” may cause concern among some individuals that the creative process is being too tightly controlled. But Kadavy assures readers that while “the creative process is characterized by unpredictability,” it is possible to “predict how you’ll arrive at the final solution.” The author diligently demonstrates how his self-discoveries apply to his own creative processes, particularly writing and podcasting. Some of his nomenclature—for example, “Minimum Creative Dose,” “Sloppy Operating Procedure,” and “Creative Cascade”—may be a bit too slick for some readers’ tastes, but these labels aptly describe elements of an original way of doing things. If nothing else, Kadavy’s approach is likely to spark a new evaluation of conventional time management.

An exhilarating but highly structured approach to the creative use of time.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-30175-4

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 22

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?