When you watch a movie, do you just watch for 10 minutes and then stop and carry on the next day or next week? No? Why not? Because that’s no way to watch a film. By the time you return to continue watching, you’ve probably forgotten what happened–and even if you don’t forget, it sure doesn’t make for a pleasant and seamless viewing experience. The whole point of watching a movie is to immerse yourself in the story.
If this is how we watch films, why don’t we read books in the same way?
Today I started reading a book I’ve wanted to read for a very long time: Performance Psychology: A Practitioner’s Guide. I’ve read the first two chapters of Section 1: Introduction: getting ready to perform and Aims, principles and methodologies in talent identification and development.
There are a couple of metrics I use to judge the value of a book.
To what degree does it change the way I think, live or make decisions? (5/5)
How likely am I to immediately buy copies for friends? (5/5)
What is the quality level of the book (author’s credibility, quality of writing, reliability of research and information)? (5/5)
Based on those questions, I have scored this book with marks out of 5 and taken an average as the final score of its value. (i.e. 15/3 = 5)
For Make Time, I value it as a 5/5 book.
If you have goals but never have the time to accomplish them, Make Time might be able to help. This is Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky’s—two former Google employees who now dub themselves the Time Dorks—attempt to help you “make time” for what matters most to you.
The methodology is simple. In their own words:
1. The Highlight hypothesis If you set a single intention at the start of each day, we predict you’ll be more satisfied, joyful and effective.
2. The Laser hypothesis If you create barriers around the Busy Bandwagon and the Infinity Pools, we predict you’ll focus your attention like a laser beam.
3. The Energise hypothesis If you live a little more like a prehistoric human, we predict you’ll enhance your mental and physical energy.
The book is organised around these three hypotheses with “tactics” on how to achieve the “Laser” and Energise” principles taking up the bulk of the pages. A lot of the tactics are short and similar to things you have probably read or heard in other places. One of the tactics I have adopted is #24: Ignore the news. The argument being that is probably better and much more informative to ignore breaking news (typically broadcast / internet news) and instead consume the news on your own terms e.g. via a subscription such as the Economist, at a time that most suits you. It is these kind of pithy strategies that make up the bulk of the book.
It’s a good read, one that will inspire you to be more protective of your time and intentional about prioritising the things that matter most to you.
The most useful takeaway however, is this: if you set one Highlight per day (one that is connected to a meaningful priority for you) and schedule some time on your calendar to execute it, whatever happens in that day, no matter where meetings, busyness, or other people’s priorities take you, you can lie down at the end of the day satisfied in the knowledge that at least you completed or made progress on a project or task that is meaningful and important to you.
Some books are made to be chugged, others sipped. Reading well is about knowing which books—or which parts of a book—should be chugged versus sipped.
I recently finish a book about achieving success before it’s too late—it was a good book full of inspiration and tactics. Now I’m reading another good book about vocation. The former was chugged, the later is being sipped.
My goal is obviously to read 25 pages a day but there’s no point in speeding your way through 25 pages if you’re not learning anything along the way. For me the purpose of reading isn’t just so I can say I have read—but rather to learn and to become. And in order to do that, sometimes, when I book calls for it, you have to slow down and read at a level that allows you to absorb every bit of insight the author is giving you and allow yourself the time to develop your own thinking on the subject as you read. Otherwise you might as well be reading drivel and not paying any attention.
There are a couple of metrics I use to judge the value of a book.
To what degree does it change the way I think or live? (5/5)
How likely am I to gift it to friends? (5/5)
Is it approachable? (5/5)
Based on those questions I have scored this book with marks out of 5 and taken an average as the final score of its value.
For Why We Sleep, I value it as a 5/5 book.
My Thoughts on the Book
Before reading this book I knew sleep was important but I couldn’t really tell you why. After reading this book, I feel like I can — or I at least have a place where I can direct you to to find some of those reasons for yourself.
This book has helped to shift the way I prioritise my days and nights. Sleep has become a key priority on my agenda. I am actively taking steps to improve my own sleep and to practice better sleep hygiene over the long term in order to reap the benefits of this incredible activity. Some of those steps are drastic, such as avoiding alcohol (because of its effects on learning) and avoiding melatonin suppressing short-wave light after sunset; or minor, like ensuring I’m keeping a consistent sleep and wake schedule each day — even on weekends.
One of the important things I got from this book is that sleep is not an inactive process through which we simply pass away a third of our lives. Although I may be unconscious whilst it’s going on, there is a lot of work being done by my brain and body to repair the “breakdown / damage” done by being awake. But it’s not all about repair, it’s also about optimisation.
What stuck with me was the relationship between sleep and learning. Quality sleep has an enhancing effect on learning whereas deficient sleep has a reductive effect.
Matthew Walker tells of a pianist who, after struggling for a long time to nail a tricky part in a piano piece he was practising, went to sleep and then after waking found that he could just play the part he was initially struggling with. Our brain goes to work solving all kinds of problems when we are asleep. The things we learn are solidified and hardcoded into memory when we are asleep. Sleep benefits us in myriad ways and we rob and only do ourselves harm when we allow so little time for it.
How much sleep do you need? It varies, but as a rule of thumb you should give yourself a 7-9 hour sleep opportunity each night.
There were some parts of the book that were more interesting to me than others, and naturally I read those more carefully than the rest. But I don’t feel there was any filler material. The 340 pages were entirely worth the read even though some parts may be of more interest than others. Based on that, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Gives a broad and general overview of personal finance topics aimed at millennials. She doesn’t go into much depth on any of the topics. Rather she treats them with a broad brush — a sort of whistle stop tour covering housing, debt, savings, investments, pensions, tax, bills and insurance, car payments, mobile phone contracts etc — everything that requires money. Some thoughts are also shared on money and relationships and ethical finance.
Why read or not read it
Read it if you want a general overview of money topics and some suggested best practices particularly targeted at millennials with a moderate income. Most of this information you can find by scouring the internet — but the book compiles it conveniently.
There are a lot of practical lessons offered but if you have a tiny amount of financial savvy, you have probably come across this before and won’t find great benefit in the book – although it might serve as a useful reminder in some areas.
Will I return to it?
Yes, perhaps at some point as a starting point to further investigation into a particular aspect of money but on the whole there is nothing revelatory in here.