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Book Review: Time Rich by Steve Glaveski

Time Rich Book - Steve Glaveski
I remember listening to a podcast interview with Steve Glaveski where he talked about 'being in flow' and how artists and other creative people struggled with time management because they needed to be in the 'flow state' to do their most creative work.

The 'flow state' is basically being on such a roll with whatever you're doing you don't want to stop just because your diary says you've scheduled something else for the next 30 minutes.

I don't remember too much from the podcast but it really resonated with me so much that I immediately ordered a copy of Steve's second book, Time Rich - Do Your Best Work, Live Your Best Life that he was promoting at the time.

To cut straight to the bottom line, probably one of the most disappointing books I've read in quite a while. Which is not to say the content is bad, it's just the title and blurb information, in my opinion, completely misrepresents what the book is about.

There is a strong suggestion of individual self improvement right from the subtitle "Do Your Best Work, Live Your Best Life" but virtually the entire first half of this 292 page book spends much of its time explaining how organisations routinely waste their employees time with unnecessary meetings, poor decision making, rigid work structures (probably... I don't know, I got so frustrated with how long Steve spends demonstrating how everyone's time is being wasted).

Then, when the book does start getting into the detail of becoming 'time rich' it still focusses on this, mostly, within the context of working within an organisation. This is a book about what you can do to streamline your time and your team's time so they can worker smarter rather than harder.

The concept of 'flow state' is covered in chapters 3 and 4, over about 20 pages, and really just explores what it is and ways to foster it within your own work day. Beyond that there is no big idea about flow and how to really use it to your advantage.

As a creative person, I can tell you, when I'm in flow on a project, everything else gets pushed to the side. Consequently all those things not getting done start to build into an overwhelming to do list. Hence why I thought Steve's book may have some insight on managing 'flow'.

The solutions this book offers on becoming time rich are not revolutionary or new. Automating mundane tasks, delegating better, only having people at meetings who actually need to be there, looking after your health etc. It's all useful information, even for solopreneurs like myself but there's no real focus or system to it.

Steve presents you with a bunch of things to try that you can sort of pick and choose what works for you if you can be bothered, or remember them. There are tasks to complete at the end of each chapter to put the things you've read about into practice, but who ever does those on the first read through?

The book also relies heavily on quotes and research from a whole range of people and organisations to illustrate various points, which is fine but in the later chapters I felt I was just jumping from quote to quote rather than reading original thoughts and ideas from the author.

I think what really killed it for me was the chapter on Productivity tips and tricks (6 pages). It leads with to-do lists, followed by the Pomodoro Technique...

The Pomodoro Technique is the enemy of being in flow. If you're not familiar with it, you set a timer for anywhere between 15-40 minute cycles. At the end of each cycle you take a five minute break. At the end of four cycles you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes, then start the sequence again.

I've tried the Pomodoro technique (there are even free apps devoted to it of which I downloaded one to my phone). Once you're in flow, even 40 minute cycles is too short. As a result you start skipping breaks so you don't break your flow. Once you've skipped several breaks in row, are you even using the Pomodoro technique anymore or are you just working how you always have?

I find the Pomodoro technique to be both distracting and stressful. There's never enough time to get what you're doing done inside a single Pomodoro but you'll still try anyway. I tried the Pomodoro method for several months. It wasn't anymore productive for me.

Anyway, Steve's book. If you're running a small to medium size business, or a team of any kind, there's probably a lot of useful information here for you. If you're a solopreneur, like me, maybe the chapter on automating tasks is going to be the most useful for ways to maximize your time.

If you're looking for a cohesive system to maximise your productivity, to give you more time, this book isn't that. Especially if you're an organisation of one. Maybe that can be the focus of Steve's next book? Developing a productivity system that allows for flow while still getting everything else done too.


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