Reviewed – The Pomodoro Technique: A 10 Step Action Plan for Increasing Your Productivity

I’ve known about the Pomodoro Technique for a few years. (If you’re not familiar with it, you can click here for more information. It’s a way to focus your mind so that you spend 25 minutes working on a task, followed by a 5-minute break. After the fourth work/break cycle, you take a 30-minute break.) Despite rave reviews from colleagues, I’ve been reluctant to try the Pomodoro technique because I felt it was too rigid.

With the holidays approaching and my motivation to work declining, I decided to try the Pomodoro technique. I was astounded at how well it works. Not only was I getting my work done more quickly, I was also a whole lot less tired. Forcing myself to take a five minute break surprisingly rejuvenating and a chance to drink some water or do some quick stretching. It also found that working in “poms” gave my day more structure, as I limited my coffee and snack breaks to the formal break times.

The Pomodoro Technique: A 10 Step Action Plan for Increasing Your Productivity describes how to use the Pomodoro technique, including ways to adapt it to your work style and what to do during breaks. Like me, the author is a writer who works from home, so I found his suggestions especially applicable. This is a great introduction to the Pomodoro technique, as well as other time management techniques and software that may help in your Pomodoro journey.

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Reviewed – Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sanberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and the mother of two young children. When she graduated from Harvard Business School, the vast majority of business executives were male. When she wrote this book in 2012, most executives were still men — despite more than half of business school grads being women. This book invites women to “lean in” to their careers instead of standing back. The book is her advice to women and also the advice she wished she’d received.

Lean In is very pro-choice. Ms. Sandberg envisions an equal world where men can stay home with their children and women can run companies. What she doesn’t want to see is women declining advancement opportunities because they plan to have children in the future.

As someone who opted out of the workforce to raise my children, I found the book extremely thought-provoking. I would highly recommend this book to professional women – especially in their 20’s and 30’s – who are looking for solid advice about how to advance their career and enjoy motherhood.

 

What is the best advice you’ve received?

Illustration background of graduation caps floating down out of sky with text graduation at the bottom with reflectionsI spent the last week in Canada visiting my parents. On the way home, I visited my son in upstate New York. He was speaking at his university’s commencement ceremony. Since he doesn’t graduate until May, I was probably the only person in the auditorium who didn’t know any of the graduates.

As one would expect, there was an alumni speaker who shared some of the lessons he’d learned during the four decades since his graduation. His advice was to embrace opportunities and be open to the possibilities of the future. He made this point by describing the varied career paths of his five college housemates, all of whom are now executives or business owners. “Embrace opportunity” is really great advice – and I hope that the graduates apply it to their lives.

Today, write about the best (or worst) advice that you received.

Reviewed: Uncomplicate Business by Howard Farran

When I purchased this book, it was because I liked the premise of making business less complicated. On this level, author Howard Farran certainly delivered. The book is written in a very friendly tone and describes what he’s learned in managing time, money and people. The book is filled with personal examples, including how he’s applied managing time, money and people in building his dental practice. I particular enjoyed the narratives from his staff members about how these principles were applied in their jobs.

Howard Farran is clearly someone who is willing to learn from best practices and apply them to his business. One of my favorite sub-chapters was about respecting your client’s time by using the eight principles of waiting (developed by Harvard Business school professor David Maister). These principles include “anxiety makes waits seem longer” and “unexplained waits are longer than explained waits.” Since I’ve spent way to much of my life in medical waiting rooms, it was interesting how Farran is cognizant of this waiting process and actively moves patients to a place where their wait time seems shorter.

The author owns a dental practice in a suburb in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ. It so happens that this suburb (Ahwatukee) is the area where my family resided for 15 years. Although he was not my dentist, knowing that he was a neighbor made the book even more interesting. Uncomplicate Business is clearly written and would be very inspiring to anyone who wanted to get back to the basics of their business.