Extreme Productivity: Book Review

I have read the book 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris a number of times because it has some good tips in it about being effectively productive. But it is also not a very practical book–for instance, I’m not planning on quitting my job anytime soon to take up Argentinean dance nor do I want to completely outsource my life. I also don’t have the luxury of focusing completely on one to two things at the expense of everything else I have in my life (like my child). I’ve read a number of his other books, I’m still a fan, but I regard him as bit of a flim-flam man or a snake oil salesman. His own attention span is short and his work (and writing) is somewhat sloppy, so I continue to dip into his works looking for little nuggets that help.

I am also not a believer in David Allen’s Getting Things Done. Blech. Any time I’ve tried his system I end up with a todo list that is a mile long and so overwhelming as to not be effective at all.

Over the years I’ve cobbled my own system by setting my goals and priorities ala Covey’s First Things First, and a bit of the Pomodoro method thrown in, with a smaller focused “three things that have to be done today” todo list.

Now comes Robertt C. Pozen’s book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results and Reduce Your Hours. As someone who has read every productivity book out there, this one is a winner. In some ways, Pozen even has some of the same ideas as Ferris…such as excusing yourself from pointless meetings or focusing your talents toward the 20% of Pareto’s law for maximum return. But Pozen isn’t a snake oil salesman–he is someone extremely accomplished–Harvard Business School Professor, Chairman at Fidelity, maker of Public Policy…and author of numerous books. He is very practical and his productivity is so that he can accomplish more and do it effectively. He also doesn’t have you create endless todo lists. I like his focus on figuring out what you do best, do it, and delegating the rest.

I like this book very much–he spends the requisite amount of time on setting goals and priorities, but then the rest of the book has specifics…like how to read faster and how to write more effectively, then there are chapters that have great advice for planning your overall career. I also liked that Pozen addresses the homefront as well as career finding yourself a stay-at-home spouse or a quality support system. And for someone that you might expect to be a bit old-school, I like that Pozen has embraced the flexible workplace.

 

 

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