This is the perfect book for me to read right now. I think essentially, the author really gets the magical power of working with material surroundingsThis is the perfect book for me to read right now. I think essentially, the author really gets the magical power of working with material surroundings, not just in the result but also in the process. If you are interested in this subject and haven't already read it, you may also enjoy "Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui"... which doesn't really use traditional Feng Shui, it is focused on the basic nature of the energetic influence of material surroundings.
Kondo has a fascinating perspective, because she has a powerful affinity for physical objects that in a way is very Japanese, and yet is taken to an idiosyncratic degree... that is very animistic and almost seems like a platonic version of 'object sexuality.' However unlike some people who are simply kooky and that is the end of it, she has taken this quirk far enough that it gives her a wonderfully insightful, perceptive way of relating to material things and also talking to other people about them, drawing out and emphasizing a perception that we probably all have to some degree. Sometimes I relate, sometimes I am impressed, and sometimes it seems weird but it makes the book more fun to read.
You have to take everything with a grain of salt and re-think some things.
For instance, she says "Don't buy organizing supplies." More accurately, don't depend on organizing supplies. Of course there are occasions now and then where organizing supplies are necessary, such as containers for the kitchen and bathroom, or to gather cleaning supplies.
She says, "Only keep things that spark joy." This is a great general rule, but exceptions have to go both ways. For instance when it comes to my clothes, my fancy clothes spark more joy than my most utilitarian clothes. But I have to have different standards for each, otherwise I have too much to choose from for the occasional events, and not enough (or anything!) to wear for housecleaning, gardening, and so on. Or conversely, let's say you have a passion--and this results in a passion for related material objects like books or unusual fabrics. But if you have too much of these good things, they begin to weigh you down--your collection as a whole no longer sparks joy. Yet whenever you take out an individual one, chances are it may still spark joy in you. So you have to have some concept of what size collection you want to aim for, and then raise your standard for the joy-sparking as necessary to get to that point.
One thing that is an excellent point, though, is the need to do this work all in one go. Although it can sound like she means just in one day, and in fact she says that she works with her clients for up to six months... This is something I've perceived too, but never really thought about. I've occasionally tried to put "declutter for 15 minutes" in a plan, but who can get enthusiasm up for that? although of course it is useful for piles of things "in transition" where their transition needs to be finished. Meanwhile, a serious bout of decluttering is very satisfying and even exciting, certainly clarifying and energizing....more
This is an excellent book. It's out of print, but it's worth buying a used copy. I read "Wishcraft" years ago, but really without a group it's not verThis is an excellent book. It's out of print, but it's worth buying a used copy. I read "Wishcraft" years ago, but really without a group it's not very useful, no matter how inspiring and smart it is when you first read it. "Teamworks" is about forming those groups, and it's very detailed. Personally I think it should be included with "Wishcraft" as a (long!) appendix.
There is a sad postscript, however. In "Teamworks" Barbara Sher declares that she's not interested in franchising, and exuberantly shares all kinds of information, not just for starting Success Teams but even for offering potentially paid seminars to get the teams started out. That was in the '80s. Well, if you check her website, you will find that this is no longer the case--now, at least in some form, she does engage in franchising, and the extremely (overly?) substantial package for leading seminars costs around $600. In some areas where a seminar leader is already located, they will not sell you the package. What I find really sad is that presumably people are still able to start their own free success teams, but this seems not to be encouraged, and starters are apparently obligated to state that they aren't licensed by Barbara Sher--but this isn't even clearly stated or encouraged. When you're in the middle of thinking of reaching out to strangers to work on a goal you're very stuck on and very vulnerable about, it's not great to read something so discouraging about actually doing what the author was convincing you to do... all because of money and liability.
If you're like me and whatever you read affects your moods more than it should, read the disappointing stuff on her website first, and then read the exciting and encouraging book-not the other way around!...more
A good book to check out, even for those who (probably) don't have ADD. Even if not everything is useful, there will likely be a few useful ideas. DonA good book to check out, even for those who (probably) don't have ADD. Even if not everything is useful, there will likely be a few useful ideas. Don't plan to buy, but may get from library again now and then....more
Significant grammar mistakes every two sentences or so. Clearly this writer is not entirely comfortable with English, and had no editor. More fool meSignificant grammar mistakes every two sentences or so. Clearly this writer is not entirely comfortable with English, and had no editor. More fool me for buying it. I didn't read much as a result, but was not impressed by explanations based on gambling (which didn't make much sense) and hitting on women (had stopped paying attention at this point)....more
This book needed a better editor, or perhaps even a ghostwriter. Like many self help books, it contains a lot of "case studies." Normally I dislike thThis book needed a better editor, or perhaps even a ghostwriter. Like many self help books, it contains a lot of "case studies." Normally I dislike these, but in this book I preferred them to the rest of the text because it was the only place where the authors were succinct, to the point, and better organized in their writing. For people who aren't as comfortable with (corporate oriented) self help, skimming, and skipping as I am, it becomes a real impediment to getting through to the substantial parts of the book.
How does the book rate on substance? Well, it isn't as clear and informative as "The Power of Habit" or the two top books on willpower, despite dealing with similar subjects. But it does bring something relatively unique to the table... addressing the need for rituals (habit routines) of rest and recovery, as well as rituals for increased engagement, and applying these ideas to several spheres of life--mental, spiritual, physical, etc. There's more to it than I am summarizing here, and there's also more to it than "energy is more important than time." I disagree with other reviewers saying that this book could have been 3 pages long... it ought to have been shorter, yes, but there are still enough ideas in here to make up an actual book. Likewise, people who only caught "eat right, exercise, sleep" missed the nuanced points about how to apply these lifestyle changes, as we all know it's trickier than it sounds. Not the best book out there, but once you've read those you should read this one too. Unfortunately the authors, with their poor writing, force you to do the editing for them in your own head (so to speak) if you want to really understand what they're saying. But there's a decent amount of real content, slightly but still meaningfully different than what is common in other books. And now I'm being redundant, too!...more
If depression affects your productivity, then I recommend the section in this book on "do-nothingism". This isn't only for the issue of literally doinIf depression affects your productivity, then I recommend the section in this book on "do-nothingism". This isn't only for the issue of literally doing nothing... even low grade depression seems to put a dent in our motivation, and that can gradually turn into a vicious cycle, where we end up wasting larger proportions of our time, and feeling worse because of it. The book covers reasons that lead to this state of affairs, and then outlines a bunch of techniques that can help one get out of it.
So for instance with the technique I'm using, the prospective/retrospective schedule, I first write basically a loose to do list/schedule for the day. Then as my day passes I write the retrospective schedule, that covers what I did that day, and I assign numbers to its "mastery" and "pleasure" values in separate columns. This has made me a lot more aware of which activities make me feel good and which make me feel bad, and this allows me to be more able to keep up a better frame of mind throughout the day through the activities I choose.
The rest of the book I don't find very valuable, but someone else might. I am not a great fan of CBT, especially because it often takes condescending forms. (This is partially offset because the author writes with a sense of humor and familiarity.) For an overall approach to depression, I prefer "The Mindful Way through Depression." But where productivity is concerned, I think it's worth buying the book for this section--especially as a kindle ebook, since the price is pretty low....more
I adore this book. Straightforward, fairly to the point, all those terms you've already encountered yet may not have seen put together with their inteI adore this book. Straightforward, fairly to the point, all those terms you've already encountered yet may not have seen put together with their interrelationships so clearly and simply explained. Above all it's dynamic... dynamically about dynamic writing. You can tell that the author is passionate about teaching and helping.
My only complaint--it's okay for rereading, but just okay. And rereading is necessary while writing, I find. There's some filler that is useful when you're reading for the first time, but tiresome when you're not. I wish there was an appendix that consisted of exactly the same book, but with absolutely all the extra stuff stripped away. ...more
Again, not one of the best books ever, but decent insights. Ordinary, but still very much worth revisiting. I'd like to read this and wish it was avaiAgain, not one of the best books ever, but decent insights. Ordinary, but still very much worth revisiting. I'd like to read this and wish it was available on the kindle....more
This book might be of value to a 16 year old, say. Someone who could benefit by reviewing the most absolutely basic principles of good communication.This book might be of value to a 16 year old, say. Someone who could benefit by reviewing the most absolutely basic principles of good communication. "Care about the person you are communicating with." "Speak so that you can be understood."
There are far more insightful books out there....more
Before re-reading "Bird by Bird," I'd just read "Immediate Fiction." In one of the later chapters, he mentions how introspective novels like Catcher iBefore re-reading "Bird by Bird," I'd just read "Immediate Fiction." In one of the later chapters, he mentions how introspective novels like Catcher in the Rye are the hardest books for the beginner to write, and -also- the hardest books to sell. And yet everything AL says is about how to write an introspective novel. No wonder she always describes her writing students as looking completely depressed, and why she describes writing as being an experience of such intense anguish.
To be honest, you probably already know a lot of touchy-feely stuff about writing--you probably know it instinctively. For the most part, that's what you'll find here. And you can pick up plot structure, for those who like such things, here and there. I recommend "Immediate Fiction" much more highly. It's about the ultra basics--dramatic conflict, that type of thing. It's amazingly repetitive, which in other books is a flaw, but in this book is a good thing. You need more than what's there to write, but the other stuff is easier to pick up on your own. Even if you're already perfectly familiar with all that babble about "want, obstacle, action" it doesn't hurt to subject yourself to further exhortations to constantly turn the dial up, push your character, and succinct details on how to do it.
As I said, "Immediate Fiction" doesn't provide all you need, even though I think it provides what is needed most (often). But "Bird by Bird" doesn't provide the rest of what you need. So why read it? AL is so damn funny, she is such a great essayist. Most of the time you won't be learning anything, but you'll enjoy reading the book anyway. So all the better when you do come across the occasional useful gem.
But writing a novel the way she suggests is like dropping yourself deep into the jungle, with absolutely no knowledge of where you are or what your surroundings will be, and then bushwhacking your way through it--when you don't even know what your destination is. It doesn't have to be that hard! It's still hard, I'm sure--but not that hard. ...more
To be honest, most of this book is written in Successful Blog Style. What is Successful Blog Style, you ask? Well, it's a style of writing that mainlyTo be honest, most of this book is written in Successful Blog Style. What is Successful Blog Style, you ask? Well, it's a style of writing that mainly says bland, incomplete, obvious things that you already know, but presented stylishly, charmingly, disarmingly and warmly. The premise is usually something you find deeply fascinating, that fills your mind with a sense of interest, curiosity, and promise. Ultimately the Successful Blogger sells (via advertising) this back to you. You often learn very little, because the Successful Blogger has learned to save time by presenting less substantial content after a great header, yet it reinforces your sense of style, current or desired, often cultivating a weird new spin on the Keeping Up With The Jonses dynamic.
And yet this is not a blog. It's an instructional book (or is instructional not the right term?). And there definitely is substance in here, especially when it comes to the really obscure aspects of selling your handmade goods, like taxes. For other subjects, while there's an overall fluffy filler style, there's a steady smattering of real content as well, useful information and thought provoking tidbits. The information may not be as clear and substantial as it could *possibly* be, but it is definitely current for contemporary selling methods--an important point in a rapidly changing area. It may not be all that it can be, but it's a good resource nonetheless....more
The writing style is in the manner of an overhyped bestseller, but if you can get past that it doesn't detract from the value of its contents. It addrThe writing style is in the manner of an overhyped bestseller, but if you can get past that it doesn't detract from the value of its contents. It addresses four biochemicals that are of particular importance to the brain, and to our mental, emotional, and energetic states: dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin. In short, and from what I understood, dopamine provides motivation, wanting, determination, and caffeine-like energy; acetylcholine provides memory, clarity of thought, inspiration, perception and an orientation towards that which is big-picture, artistic, and mystical; GABA harmonizes the brain rhythm and provides calmness, ease, and an orientation towards organization and support; serotonin provides a loving, fun-loving, personable quality, and renews the brain during sleep.
One detail that is fascinating to me is that these align perfectly with the four humors of traditional Western medicine; dopamine is choleric, acetylcholine is melancholic (see the etymological connection as well?), GABA is phlegmatic, and serotonin is sanguine.
The book is not arranged in a way that makes perfect sense. Once you get into the chapters for the specific biochemicals, taking dopamine as an example, they start with "the dopamine dominant personality" then they address "dopamine deficiency" but with a focus on the dopamine dominant person being dopamine deficient... then they address lifestyle approaches for the dopamine dominant person to moderate the possible overinfluence of dopamine. Most readers will probably find that they are deficient in a chemical other than their dominant one, so it doesn't make sense to emphasize deficiencies in the dominant chemical, although one can still use the information provided. Also there's nothing, as far as I can tell, on lifestyle changes to boost given biochemicals rather than to moderate them. What it comes down to is that the author will tell you which medications are compatible with that particular deficiency... and will provide a short list of protein-rich foods which the body will transform into the given biochemical. (Cottage cheese is apparently a miracle food. Yum.) He also provides a list of supplements that can aid in the boosting of the deficient biochemical, but this list is ridiculously long and he doesn't prioritize them at all; this is probably because he makes money selling supplements that are composed of these different materials, and it's in his interest not to make it *too* easy to go without buying his products.
I don't have enough scientific knowledge to really evaluate the accuracy of all this information. It basically makes sense to me, but he's addressing only a very small part of the body's symphony of nutrition and interactions. I've also had a hard time finding other sources for this subject on the web to provide context and second opinions. From what I have read, it seems that these biochemicals are influenced by a number of factors beyond one's diet, and I'd like to understand that more fully. "The Mood Cure" is on a similar subject, so I'll read that as well and see if it will fill in any of the gaps.
With all its faults, this book is definitely worth reading if you have any mental, emotional, and/or energetic issues that have defied other forms of treatment....more
This book is a classic in its genre. It is potentially of great value to anyone. The ideas in here, the system that Sher offers, are just that good. IThis book is a classic in its genre. It is potentially of great value to anyone. The ideas in here, the system that Sher offers, are just that good. If there's something in life that you want and it's not quite working out, or you aren't even sure what you want but you know you haven't got it, this book offers you process by which, step by step, you clarify the situation and progress more easily to your goal.
However, it is written in a self-helpy style. There are different self-helpy styles; Sher is gregarious, a bit over the top, sympathetic. She often mentions the workshops on "wishcraft" that she gave before writing the book, and talks about some of the attendees and what they did. More to the point, each chapter is about a specific step in the process. Some will be more relevant to any given reader than others....more