Productivity Book Notes

Turning Pro

Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

RATING: 10/10…READ: June 8, 2012

The Follow up to the War of Art. Turning Pro rips into your soul and forces you to confront all the bullshit excuses inside of you for not practicing your full potential–whether it be your career, love, being a mother, &c. “The amateur fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to who he really is and what he is truly capable of.” A quick and powerful read.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

RATING: 10/10…READ: October 30, 2013

Unconventional strategies from the creator of Dilbert for success in life from career, relationships, diet, fitness, and more. The big idea, ditch goals, embrace systems.

Personal MBA

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

RATING: 9/10…READ: January 28, 2015

One of the best books on time-management / clarifying life choices. Essentialism keeps illustrating the value of focus and cutting out all distractions.

Principles of Jacot

A Compendious Exposition of the Principles and Practice of Professor Jacotot by Joseph Payne

RATING: 8/10…READ: March 4, 2010

A small handbook of Universal Education Teacher Joseph Jacotot’s teachings. This book breaks down his principles and explains the exact methods used by him. The book’s hard to read small text size makes it the only drawback. A great book not only for insight into Jacotot’s teachings, but methods for improving self-education as well.


Play by Stuart Brown

RATING: 8/10…READ: November 16, 2013

A book that helped me realize life is not all about productivity and how starved for play I really was. This book helped me refocus my priorities to doing things because I genuinely enjoy them versus doing something for some monumental impact, productivity, or status seeking.

Education of the Will

Education of The Will by Jules Payot

RATING: 8/10…READ: September 24, 2012

Educationalist Jules Payot distills in this book how to form a hardy mind–a mind devote of laziness. Again and again Payot emphasizes continual work, continually testing our will which will bring us the life we desire. From avoiding trivial matters and lazy friends, not scattering our attention, and persistence, this book cuts through the bullshit and stands out far above the productivity blogs of today.

Will Power and Work

Will Power and Work by Jules Payot

RATING: 8/10…READ: September 30, 2012

Jules Payot’s follow up to the Education of the Will. Will Power and Work lays out more precise strategies for developing will power and productivity techniques. From Time Management to What to Read and How to Study, it is a productivity book from a much deeper angle.

The Shallows

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

RATING: 8/10…READ: December 20, 2013

The shallows examines are relationship to online reading and distraction. I know internet reading leaves me distracted and thought I would get bored with this book after a chapter, but Carr’s book kept me turning the page learning about our relationship with the printed word and examining how our mind is changing as a result of constant ADD.

The Dip

The Dip by Seth Godin

RATING: 8/10…READ: May 10, 2010

A book about quitting the wrong stuff and sticking with the right stuff. It’s a book about intense focus on mastery. A short pleasurable read; a book I pick up every so often for a kick in the ass.

Highschool Superstar

How to be a Highschool Superstar by Cal Newport

RATING: 8/10…READ: March 14, 2011

A fantastic read that goes way beyond high school. Cal Newport dissects “relaxed superstars” as he puts it, who live under scheduled high school lives and get into top tier universities without feeling stressed out. A great look into cultivating “interestingess,” dispelling the passion myth, and leading a life of one focused pursuit in which rewards compound upon each other.

Time Investment

The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

RATING: 5/10…READ: January 20, 2013

The first half of this book tackles a lot of useful invisible scripts we have running our lives when it comes to how we spend our time. This was very useful. The three secrets are action, realistic expectations, and creating routines to stick to your plan. This half of the book was a grab bag of ideas and scenarios. I did not need 256 pages of time management.

Full Engagement

The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

RATING: 5/10…READ: October 13, 2011

A book on how to manage your energy, not time. Focus on short term sprints followed by time of recovery; not marathons. Features many case studies that seemed dull and repetitive after a while. It’s a quick read, but I felt the book could have been drastically reduced further.

The Front Nine

The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want by Mike Vardy

RATING: 1/10…READ: January 14, 2013

A time management book that stretches the metaphor of golfing throughout that wears thin after about 5 pages. While I believe books on time management should be short, the content in this book feels more rah rah more than anything else.