Book Review: Design Your Day

Design Your Day:  Be More Productive, Set Better Goals, And Live Life On Purpose, by Claire Diaz-Ortiz

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishing.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I must admit that there was little in this book that struck me as new, being someone who often reads book relating to managing one’s life or one’s time better [1].  That said, this book did reinforce certain ideas that I mull over and gave me encouragement to test out certain approaches to make my life more efficient and allow me to do more of what I want to do (reading and writing, much like the author) and less of what I have to do but do not really enjoy doing.  Indeed, there is a great deal to be said about the author’s productivity and her concern about the way that the pressures of life often suck productivity out of our lives.  Task switching and its harms to productivity are certainly a problem I have noted in my life although it is not easy to solve them when one is around people who do a lot of interrupting, a problem I am sure that many people face.

The book is a short one that was quick enough for me to read in my lunch break one day at work at a bit more than 100 pages.  The book is divided into two parts, after beginning with the familiar story of the rocks and sand fitting in the jar.  The first part of the book looks at how one decides and intentionally plans on how to live one’s life, setting a word of the year to practice (like rest and renew), setting smart goals and fine-tuning them, and creating strategies to reach those goals and keeping them top in the mind.  The second part of the book focuses on organizing, limiting one’s work to the 20% one does best, editing the time spent on work to make it more efficient, streamlining the work you do by outsourcing that which is less enjoyable or less important to other people, and knowing when and how to stop working.  After the conclusion there are some suggestions for further reading–clearly the author has read a great deal about management–as well as notes and some information about the author, who was an early employee at Twitter and is the author of several books that I have not yet read.

Basically, this work treats its reader like a manager.  The author assumes that the people reading the book are either managers or entrepreneurs who can easily manage their time or are people who take the attitude that they are managers of themselves and will use their time productively in pursuit of what is most important, including the occasional respite in order to renew one’s energy.  I can see this book being popular with some people and not very popular with other people who look at the quantity of time that is spent rather than the quantity of work (and its quality) that are being done.  Likewise, I consider this book possibly an early book that one reads on the subject of planning one’s life, and not necessarily the last book one will read on the subject.  Given the author’s prolific writing and voracious reading, it is unlikely that she would have a problem with the reader using her book as a way of introducing oneself to the larger body of literature concerning time management and workflow management, an approach that may need to be more common for individual contributors as well as managers and entrepreneurs.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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