Book review: Manage Your Day-to-Day (99U Book Series)

manage_3I am a huge fan of Behance and 99U, online resources for creative professionals, and so I was excited to read “Manage Your Day-to-Day” a collection of short essays by thought leaders on ways to further enhance productivity and creativity. The book focuses on three basic areas: building a daily routine, finding focus amidst distractions, and enhancing your ability to think creatively, consistently. Contributors include: Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project), Seth Godin, Tony Schwartz (author of Be Excellent and Anything), Dan Ariely (Duke Professor and author of Predictably Irrational), Tiffany Schlain (filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards), and others.

One of the key differentiators between this book and the many others that try to guide us through the rocky terrain on tech-life-work management is the way in which the book is organized. When Jocelyn K. Giel, editor-in-chief and director of 99U, created this book she was keenly aware of her audience’s habits – limited time to read, desire for nuggets of inspiration, and an affinity for action item lists. This said, the book is divided into three sections, each including quotes from recognizable figures, short essays by prominent thinkers, and a summary so no matter your (in)ability to commit to another piece of reading, Manage Your Day-to-Day is digestible.

The usefulness of this book is not in any one essay, however. In fact, many of the essays reminded me of best practices that I already thought of or tried to implement in the past. Where the strength of this book lies is that its structure and length are such that you can quickly look back to it. It is easy to pick it up and find something that resonates with you.

Look at it like this, I am feeling overwhelmed at the office and must – have – a – coffee break and catch my breath. I can easily grab my kindle and read that Christian Jarrett (a contributing psychologist and author) tells me that “there is no such thing as multitasking only task switching” and that “it can feel as though we’re super efficiently doing two or more things at once. [but]. in fact, we’re just doing one thing, then another, then back again, with significantly less skill and accuracy than if we had simply focused on one job at a time.”

In summary, Joy – you are doing too many things at once. Slow down. Prioritize. And so by the time I have finished the 7 page kindle chapter, I have talked myself off the ledge, gotten a nice hot tea (instead of coffee), and am ready to hit the rest of the stack of stuff on my desk.

This is the beauty of the book.

Jeanette Joy Harris is an artist and writer who lives in Houston, Texas. She has had solo and collaborative photography, installation, and video works shown in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, and San Francisco. She has published work with TribTalk, Glasstire, and Illusion. With a background in philosophy and politics, Joy has also presented academic work on the concepts of public space and action, particularly in the work of Hannah Arendt and Diane Arbus.

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