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

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

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



Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Close Quickview