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Book Review: Effective time management in easy steps

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23rd Nov 2012
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The author’s credentials for sharing his insights into effective time management are good.

John Carroll was a project management consultant who looked after initiatives for a wide range of clients in sectors ranging from government, finance and manufacturing to pharmaceutical, software development and the emergency services. He also has experience of training other project managers in the art. His work, which is written in plain, easy-to-follow English, is broken down into simple steps from the very first page. The author’s intention is for it to be used as a working tool to help you find smarter ways of managing your time. To help, little captions are included as hot tips, as reminders of what not to forget and what to beware of and to help reiterate important points. Worksheets can also be downloaded to accompany the book to assist you in making the most of the exercises. At one point, you are required to list your personal objectives, which means that the book could also provide useful alongside a personal development plan. But the secret to effective time management, Carroll posits, is identifying your real priorities and doing the right things at the right time. And given the current double dip recession, which has led to an on-going focus on cost-cutting and effective time management, the work would appear to be a timely one. But Carroll also points out that achieving balance is key. So he is not against ever doing overtime or staying at work late – the idea is just not to make it the norm. Two sections that not usually included in this context are ‘stress’ and ‘home-working’. The home working chapter, for instance, picks up on things that are not always considered, for example, talking to neighbours to clarify your situation, request quiet times and the like. Reviewer’s rating On first impressions, this work looks cheap, gimmicky and very much like yet another book in the ‘Dummies Series’. But don’t judge a book by its cover - it does contain a lot of useful advice and I would purchase it simply for its easy-to-follow pointers. At times, the book is repetitive, however. For example, at the start there is a list of contents to present the book’s structure, followed by a page to tell you how it is organised. Various points are constantly reiterated within chapters, while each one ends with a summary that again recaps these major points. But such an approach is reminiscent of mind-mapping and is intended to help you memorise the key messages. Moreover, if you want to go over a particular point again, it is very easy to find the information that you want as the contents are very well mapped out. All in all, I think that this book helps you to move from being a procrastinator to become a more effective planner and organiser, enabling you to better understand how you use your time in order to stop wasting it so much. But its presentation doesn’t do it any favours and I am not sure that I would buy it off the shelf on looks alone, which is a shame because everyone could gain something from it. While it is about a third of the price of a “Dummies” work, which means that it is great value in content terms, the book itself is very flimsy and easy to rip or damage. The colours are also a little too bright and I had to take breaks when reading it as it literally gave me a headache. It was also priced in US dollars, which was a huge downside for me as I think that when books are sold in the UK, they should be priced in sterling - especially as it originated from here. So in summary, the work was cheap and easy to use, but you got what you paid for in presentation terms. 

  • This book was reviewed for us by Bianca Sheppard, administration manager at mobile workforce management software provider, Momote.
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