Review: Mindfire by Scott Berkun

If you know me (in person), I've probably emailed you some of Scott Berkun's blog posts. He recently published a collection of "best of" essays in book form, Mindfire, which is an outstanding read. 

In one of my all-time favorite essays, "The Cult of Busy," Berkun calls out the "busy" people. First, there are the people who only "look" like they are busy. In the past, I had a coworker like this. Someone who was so stressed at work and couldn't take on a single extra thing---who couldn't even help a peer out of a jam---yet, she aquired an amazing amount of Farmville garden implements from 9 to 5 every day. 

These "fake busy" folks aside, Berkun makes a rather insightful point about the other "busy" people: the people who are overbooked or who are not using their time wisely.

The phrase “I don’t have time for” should never be said. We all get the same amount of time every day. If you can’t do something, it’s not about the quantity of time. It’s really about how important the task is to you.

How true this is! Yes, you may be too busy to help because this matter doesn't require your attention, or because you can't say "yes" to every party invite (you popular gal, you). But Berkun points out that if you are honest with yourself, you are busy because you are either over-involved, or you are failing at effectively doing whatever it is you do.

I suspect this really means that you are so busy being busy (or pretending to be busy) that you end up being the person who isn't asked for help because you aren't that helpful, who isn't as valuable because you don't share, and who can't see the forest for the trees. So, you miss out on great opportunities and quality working relationships...all because you have a priority problem. An effectiveness issue. You also miss out on free time, because you are busy being busy. You work too much. You become sad. But heck, you can prove you worked a lot of hours! But what is that really worth? 

This essay in particular really got me to think about how I respond to other's people requests for my time, and frankly, how I use my time. Do I prove my worth by hours worked, rather than projects accomplished? Maybe. Do I become a martyr for time? How can I fix myself so that I use my time more wisely? All of this out of one short easy-to-read essay! 

So, this is why you should read the whole book, and the whole essay (lucky for you, it's included in the preview!). Don't take my word for it. ;)