Category Archives: Book review/summary

The How of Happiness – Book Review/Summary

how of happiness
3 factors.jpg

Best quotes

“People who regularly practice appreciation or gratitude—who, for example, “count their blessings” once a week over the course of one to twelve consecutive weeks or pen appreciation letters to people who’ve been kind and meaningful—become reliably happier and healthier, and remain happier for as long as six months after the experiment is over.”

“Forgiving people are less likely to be hateful, depressed, hostile, anxious, angry, and neurotic.”

“It may be obvious that to achieve anything substantial in life—learn a profession, master a sport, raise a child—a good deal of effort is required.”

A more descriptive title for the book

30 ways to make yourself happier and with the scientific proof that these activities will make you happier for the long term


Happiness guides suffers from the same problem that meditation guides do: namely that most of them go out of their way to be as un-scientific as possible. Preaching all sorts of totally absurd ideas without providing any real proof of any of these things, all the while claiming them to be scientific anyway.

This book does not suffer from this problem.

I lost count of the number of scientific studies the author describes here. It’s a breath of fresh air when most happiness books are only good as toilet paper.

The author, Sonja Lyubomirsky, is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California and has actually conducted her own studies on methods to improve people’s happiness and has studied the other evidence in existence for other methods to improve people’s happiness too. Here’s a taste of some of the stuff that’s in this book:

“An impressive study of physical activity was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999. The researchers recruited men and women fifty years old and over, all of them suffering from clinical depression, and divided them randomly into three groups. The first group was assigned to four months of aerobic exercise, the second group to four months of anti-depressant medication (Zoloft), and the third group to both. The assigned exercise involved three supervised forty-five-minute sessions per week of cycling or jogging at moderate to high intensity. Remarkably, by the end of the four-month intervention period, all three groups had experienced their depressions lift and reported fewer dysfunctional attitudes and increased happiness and self-esteem. Aerobic exercise was just as effective at treating depression as was Zoloft, or as a combination of exercise and Zoloft. Yet exercise is a lot less expensive, usually with no side effects apart from soreness. Perhaps even more remarkably, six months later, participants who had “remitted” (recovered) from their depressions were less likely to relapse if they had been in the exercise group (six months ago!) than if they had been in the medication group”

The book is a series of different exercises you can apply to make your life happier, which have been implemented for other people and measurably improved their happiness for the long term.

How it helped me

Happiness is a slippery thing, but this book has made it profoundly less slippery and I feel I have a firmer grasp on it now.

Things like the importance of variety to ensure that you don’t just get used to certain activities was huge for me. Previously I used to do gratitude journalling every day, but as she points out, it’s too much, you just get used to it, you adapt to it, and it loses it’s impact on you, and she was totally right. So now I do my gratitude journalling once every three days and I actually really enjoy it now. As well as writing appreciation letters to friends a couple times a month which is very satisfying.

The book points out that about 50% of our happiness is determined by our genetics, 10% from our circumstances (because we just get used to them) and 40% from our own voluntary control. This was useful to help me consider just how much I have to work with.

I was motivated to exercise, and as a result of reading this I started training Muay Thai Kick-Boxing, which I’ve been loving.

In order to “Cultivate Optimism” I did Jordan Peterson’s Future Authoring Program and set my long term goals. And one of the immediate benefits of that has been completely rethinking the way I spend my leisure time, which I previous completely wasted.

I implemented the writing exercises for the “Dealing with Trauma” chapter which has helped my rethink previous bad experiences I’d had, with an ex-girlfriend and a previous job, for example, which was fantastic.

And I started actively trying to be more cheerful when I talk to strangers, which gives me a little boost each time I do it.

There’s still a lot left to implement in the book, but so far so good. This is the most useful book on happiness I’ve ever read.


The book is kind of like a choose your own adventure story, where it has 12 different types of happiness exercises, with a few different versions of each (roughly 30 different activities in total). The author tells you to choose the activities to implement, one at a time, based on your personality, so as to ensure you ACTUALLY implement them.

Each exercise includes the scientific proof to support the claim that the exercise improves your happiness and usually includes some interesting anecdote as an example of someone who implemented it.

I highly recommend you read this book.

Links to learn more

Books that changed my life: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”  ― Stephen R. Covey
“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” ― Stephen R. Covey


The book is about changing your behaviour to become more effective in you dealings in business as well as life. If excellence is a habit, you’ll want to practice it. That’s the crux of the book.

Stephen Covey did a review of the success literature of the past two hundred years and found a distinct difference in the types of literature put out after the 1920’s which he thought was less useful and more “quick-fix” bullshit. This book was his attempt to get back on track and take all the best, most timeless and universal advice on real solutions and put it in one book.

It has sold more than 15 million copies in 38 languages worldwide. So yeah, it was a pretty big deal and still is now.

How it helped me

I read this in university and got obsessed with it pushing the books into the hands of my friends and raving about it.

I was failing a maths unit and noticed that it was because of some ineffective habits I had allowed to persist, like chronic complaining as opposed to being proactive in discovering and solving problems. I wasn’t really consciously priotising my activities and I had little notion of what I wanted to do with my life either. I was on course for a lot of failure, basically.

The book took ages to fully implement, as it’s a whopper, but I think I now practice most of these habits even today, which is a fucking incredible achievement for any self-help book several years later and not something I can say for many other books.

I’m now proactive as fuck, I do absolutely begin with the end in mind by considering first how any project, business or otherwise, fits in with my chief desired goal, with my morning routine and classification of Most Important Tasks I do put first things first, I became a much better listener by first seeking to understand and I sharpen the shit out of my saw.

The goal-setting exercise in habit 2 where he gets you to consider what you’d want to say at your own funeral… And what sort of life you’d want to be able to say you’d lived… Was one of the first actually useful goal-setting exercises I’d encountered.

I didn’t apply all the habits the precise way he teaches, but I was able to easily apply the general ideas. Which is fucking awesome.

The book got my life way more organised and introduced me to this different form of self-help literature that was actually effective.


Habit 1: Be Proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

(I’ve listed some awesome summaries of the content at the bottom you can quickly link to)

Where in your journey this fits

‌The book is kind of a business-success book… But not really. I’d say it would make you more effective at really any personal project, and so as such it would be a useful one to read if you’re having difficulty achieving some of your goals and projects and would like to be more organised.

If you keep reading shitty self-help books that really excite you for a month but never deliver lasting impact, do yourself a favour and at least skim read the book or read the summaries to familiarise yourself with what an actually useful self-help book is like.

The book does give you a great exercise on how to choose your goals and increase your sense of direction in life, so perhaps focus in on chapter two if that’s something that you have a pressing desire for.

I’d recommend that you check out the links for further reading at the bottom of this post and then if the content is relevant to you right now, get the book and skip or skim the less relevant chapters to you, focusing on the exercises and revisiting it regularly.

Style of the book

Most other self-improvement books just amp you up and make you feel good about yourself… Whilst being totally fucking impractical. This is not one of those books.

The book certainly doesn’t provide quick-fixes, to implement all of the habits it will take a lot of time and dedication. It’s well worth it of course, but it would be foolish to expect overnight miracles to occur. Many other personal development books would probably be able to make a book out of literally just one of his chapters and just keep giving alternative examples and descriptions to build up the page count. This book is meaty and the ideas are excellent.

The examples he uses to explore each habits are typically to do with family or business.

Criticism of the book

It really shouldn’t be a criticism that something important will take time to implement, should just be a given, but yeah, that. All of these different habits took me a long time to implement and I had to do them one at a time to really focus on them properly.

Some also complained that, like most personal-development books, and particular to those that are a bit more “business-y” it can get boring and repetitive at times.

Some also complained that the advice given isn’t stuff that would make you say “Holy Fuck batman, I’ve never even heard of that concept before!” The “secret” keys to success are usually bullshit, the ones that have been known about for hundreds of years and have endured are often far more reliable. And whilst some of these ideas aren’t new to you, unless you’re actively applying them to your life, this book will help encourage and educate you on how to apply them.

Key chapters

Chapter one was a fucking revelation to me.

Similar texts

The stuff which Leo writes about at Zen Habits is often quite similar to this… Because Leo copies the content and admits it.

Because the book was so incredibly popular, you may have read other books which sound similar since they copied his, but none come to mind.

Links to learn more

Six minute animated video that summarises the content of the book quite well:

Summary of each habit by the author’s own website:

Comprehensive summary from quickmba:

Books that changed my life: “The Way of Men” by Jack Donovan

The Way of Men is a challenging, straight-forward and intriguing book. It seeks to answer the questions of what the nature of masculinity is, how masculinity is affected by our society and how one can become more masculine.

Masculinity is Amoral

Jack says masculinity as being about what makes a man good at being a man, rather than what makes a man a good man, thus masculinity has nothing to do with morality. Darth Vadar was still masculine despite his immoral nature. It’s like asking what makes a man good at playing baseball vs asking what makes a baseball player a good role-model, they’re important questions, but they’re separate questions, they’re two different conversations. Often when you read about masculinity, you’re actually reading about morality, so this distinction really helps declutter the conversation.

Masculinity aids survival

What makes a man good at being a man, at it’s most primary, primal level, is what makes a man useful in a survival situation, as until security can be maintained, all other functions of a man will likely get him killed. Poets and authors and musicians will die without security, so security is the first order of business. Also, men have evolved to live in solely survival situations in hunter-gatherer tribes, so what made a man good at being a man, until the relatively “recent” change from our hunter-gatherer origins, was always about assisting survival in a very dangerous world. And masculinity is what distinguishes a man from a women, which is about survival, rather than replication.

Masculine traits

Specifically, what makes a man good at being a man and hence the traits of a masculine man and an alpha male are:

– Strength, both literally and figuratively, the ability to exert one’s will upon another (Power)

– Courage, the willingness to exercise power when doing so could lead to harm (Risk-tolerant)

– Mastery, the capacity to build power through learning skills and tech that would make you more powerful

– Honour, your concern for your reputation amongst your gang and others (Perception-conscious)

A masculine man is willing and able to have, build and use power to further the interests of himself and his gang.

What is the way of men?

The same way that men behave in survival situations: gang-life. (think, the Walking Dead or the Expendables or the Godfather)

Masculine gang traits

What are the important characteristics of a gang?

– Geographical Proximity

– Group-identity (what makes “us”, “us”)

– Fraternity (like a sense of fraternity between the members)

– No women (because when they are around, men act differently)

– Trust (which can be developed through bonding activities, presumably manly activities)

How do you become more masculine?

– Increase testosterone (diet, exercise, supplements and other methods, natural or otherwise)

– Form a gang with masculine men (you need not shoot up the block or anything though)

– Do manly things (drink cosmopolitans and bitch about celebrities perhaps?)

– Increase physical strength

– Increase power-base

– Master survival skills

– Increase risk-tolerance

If you’re interested in masculinity and/or want to become more sexually attractive as a man (by being more masculine) I’d recommend giving the book a read, it’s thoroughly lacking in bullshit, which seems a rare delight in the genre of masculinity.

Books that changed my life: “a guide to the good life: the ancient art of stoic joy” by William B Irvine

“A Guide to the Good Life” was to me exactly that, the philosophy which some of the most practical men in the history of the world followed to live the good life. It introduces the notion of a philosophy of life (which is really just a guide to living) and the particular strategies which the many extremely clever people employed in the Stoic answer to the question “How can one best live?”.

The book is largely free of all the bullshit you see in other happiness-related books and is completely drenched in really logical ideas. I enjoyed reading this a lot. The big take away was the importance of a “guide to living” which everyone has their own version of, it’s just not necessarily written down or… particularly effective (i.e: if I become famous my life will suddenly be amazing therefore i should subconsciously pursue fame). And the book inspired me to really think about what my actual approach to life and it’s various areas are and critique and improve upon it.

Things this book helped me understand:

– What a philosophy of life is.

– Why should everyone have a philosophy of life.
– What you should focus on in life to reduce frustration.

– – How you should think about goals.

– – The concept of a locus of control.

– What techniques you can use to make yourself happier.

– – How and when to use negative visualisation to make yourself more grateful.

– What techniques you can use to manage your anger, or react to an insult or respond to grief.

– How to prepare for adversity.

– Why dreams of fame and fortune are a folly.

Where in your journey this book fits:
Before you go off trying to make your life better by achieving this specific goal or that, it’s perhaps best to take a moment to consider what your overall strategy for living is in the first place. Is the way you’re subconsciously living going to lead to a better life for you? It’s in this book that you take that moment to stop and reflect on the big picture of your life. After you consider and critique and create your own guide to living, then go off and achieve those specifics.

The style of the book: The author doesn’t shove the virtue of Stoicism down your throat, it’s more of a gentle encouragement. The book is also fairly practical in that it provides specifics and realistic actions you can take to practice stoic principles and stuff.Similar books to read: Meditations – Marcus Aurelius (Thoughts of the revered Roman Emperor)
Letters from a stoic – Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Another famour Stoic)

Links to buy from:

So if this book is in fitting with your current journey and if the things it helped me realise are useful to you too, I would recommend at least downloading the sample.

Books that changed my life: “Happiness: the science behind your smile” by Daniel Nettle


“Natural selection doesn’t give a fig for our happiness. It just wants us alive and making babies, miserably if need be.” – Randolph Nesse


“Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile” really helped me get a far more solid grasp on just what the fuck happiness is and how one goes about getting this often very fuzzy topic. The author lays out the scientific findings regarding the topic in simple terms. What’s this? A happiness book free of the wishy-washy bullshit? You’ve got to be kidding me! I kid you not, this is that book.

How this book helped me:

First up, it answered my question as to just what the fuck we’re talking about when we say happiness. Spoiler alert: it’s usually not about actual happiness but a bunch of related topics which they call happiness because it sells better.

Then it cleared up my many misconceptions regarding happiness that would have had me pursuing it in the wrong places for god knows how long (buying positional or adaptable goods, getting rich as shit when you’re already financially okay…) including why there’s a difference between what we think will make us happy and what actually does.

It also helped me identify the obtainable ingredients for a happy life (autonomy, hobbies, strong social circle, good health, gratitude, high extroversion, low introversion, a high and complex self-image, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, quality of environment…)

At the end of reading this book I seriously re-evaluated my life’s goals and changed them according to my new understanding. Had I not found this book my life probably would have gone in a totally different and utterly shitty direction because my goals were based on misconceptions.

Where in your journey this book fits:

Like reading a book on the art of war before attempting to wage one, this is the book to read before attempting your pursuit of happiness, because your natural inclinations will betray you, basically. Happiness is great because even if you haven’t figured out the chief goal of your life, happiness is something which is nice to have regardless. After you equip yourself with a good understanding of what happiness is, isn’t and what will and won’t get you more of it, then go out and achieve your happiness-related goals from a much cleverer vantage point with a much more reliable compass.

The style of the book:

Despite the scientific nature of this book, it’s easy enough to read for simple folks. It’s also quite short at 200 pages. It can be amusing during brief times, but it basically doesn’t waste time getting down to it. There are more entertaining books on happiness out there, but I doubt they’d be more useful than this.

Similar books to read:

Nothing I’ve read comes close. All other happiness books I’ve checked out are jam-packed with impractical, vague, irrelevant bullshit that eventually admits to not actually being about happiness at all.

Links to buy from:


Book review for “The 4-hour work week” by Tim Ferris, a book that changed my life.


  • Being busy is a form of laziness–lazy thinking and indiscriminate action
  • Relative income is more important than absolute income. Absolute income is measured using one holy and inalterable variable: the raw and almighty dollar. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year and is thus twice as rich as John Doe, who makes $50,000 per year.Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time, usually hours. The whole “per year” concept is arbitrary and makes it easy to trick yourself. Let’s look at the real trade. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year, $2,000 for each of 50 weeks per year, and works 80 hours per week. Jane Doe thus makes $25 per hour. John Doe makes $50,000 per year, $1,000 for each of 50 weeks per year, but works 10 hours per week and hence makes $100 per hour. In relative income, John is four times richer. Of course, relative income has to add up to the minimum amount necessary to actualize your goals…”


The book is basically about employing clever, unconventional thinking to improve your productivity and improve your career goals to have a much better life. It challenges you to dream bigger and think better, to eliminate clutter, automate where possible and liberate yourself from the 9-5. It shows you how to travel the world in comfort without spending a lot of money as well as many other tips to get the most out of life. It talks about parkinson’s law, the 80/20 rule, virtual assistants, interrupting interruptions, Return-On-Effort, Relative income, Geographical arbitrage, passive-income business creation and more.

How this book helped me:

After slamming face first into a wall of evidence telling me shit I could no longer ignore, that millions of dollars won’t, don’t and can’t buy you a satisfying life, I was scrambling to figure out just what the fuck I would do with my career to pursue my new objectives for it. They’d gone from maximising income pretty much at any means necessary to maximising autonomy and time for hobbies and a valuable social network and things. Objectives which were not spoken of in the dozens of money-advice texts I’d read with such relish thus rendering me basically shit out of luck.

Then I came across the four hour work week, and the path to my new career objectives looked far more clear.

The book got me to challenge the goals I had for the life I could live, which I’d subconsciously downgraded to something fairly mediocre and

opened my eyes to what was possible

. It got me to stop consuming useless information and focus on what was important, when it was important. It got me to re-evaluate this very stupid notion of

9am to 5pm

being the ideal working hours for every office job ever and opened my eyes to the alternatives. Through re-evaluating my understanding of productivity and through following the productivity tips like using parkinson’s law, the 80/20 rule, interrupting interruption and so on

I found myself confused as to what the fuck to do at work after completing my normal day’s workload in like two or three hours.

I’ve now got plans to travel more extensively using the amazing and original tips he’s advised to make travel much cheaper and better. I’ve also been making progress in obtaining more autonomy in my career and a ball has been set in motion which will significantly change my life.

Thank fuck I found this book

is all I can really say, it delivered a well-needed kick in the head.

Where in your journey this book fits:

At the start of your career goals, after finding out your chief goal and seeing how your career and wealth fit into that this book can help you to achieve those career goals through some clever tactics to implement.

The style of the book:

A bit all over the place, pretentious at times, not detailed enough for the entrepreneurship he advocates but just spot on with the ideas it introduces, sort of what you’d expect from such a lateral thinker. The reviews I’ve read of people dissing the book seem to be more about the reviewer’s lack of imagination and unwillingness to admit their own flawed career strategy than anything else, they also seem to just not like the author himself, which doesn’t make the ideas any less practical fortunately.

Where you can learn more about it:

Book review for “MINIMALISM: LIVE A MEANINGFUL LIFE” – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Best quotes

“Happiness, as far as we are concerned, is achieved internally through living a meaningful life, a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which we can grow as individuals and contribute to other people in meaningful ways. These are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff.”

“We want you to enjoy your life, and living a healthy lifestyle gives you the optimum conditions to do so.”

“take an honest look at your current relationships. Do they make you happy? Do they satisfy you? Are they supportive? Do they help you grow? Do they contribute to your life in positive, meaningful ways?”


An autobiographical account of two guys which follows their six figure salary, workaholic, miserable lives to an eventual crossroads. They decided to follow the road less traveled to find meaning in life beyond the tireless pursuit of wealth, possessions, and approval.

The book tells you how and why to declutter and refocus your life and how and why to improve your health, improve your relationships, grow as a person, contribute to the world and find and engage in your passion. All in order to live what they define as a meaningful life that will make you much happier.

It’s a great introduction to minimalism but it’s not a how-to guide for simplifying your wardrobe or anything like micro-level like that, this is more about the bigger picture.

How it helped me

After reading this book I re-evaluated a lot of areas in my life, which I always love when a book has me doing this.

One of these areas was health, where I rethought how much alcohol I should actually be consuming, which may have been a contributing factor to my eventual decline from a “lets-just-get-shitfaced-every-weekend” policy to drinking in moderation. It also had me reconsidering the notion of exercise. No you DON’T have to be a spartan fucking warrior to be healthy, it isn’t a binary scale that goes straight from land whale to olympic athlete, there is an in-between. Which sounds really dumb to write, but it was a breakthrough for me. The book also introduced me to the concept of a paleo diet, which I approximately follow today.

For relationships, considering the value each relationships brings in, and the category a relationship fits in… filled me with unease… because it made me realise that a lot of my relationships basically sucked. And since then, seeking out better relationships has been a goal of mine. It also led me to eventually ditch probably the biggest wanker I ever had the misfortune to call a friend, which was huge. Afterwards i could only wonder what took me so damn long. I also began thinking about my friends in terms of those that were anchors holding me back, and those that acted like helium, lifting me up and helping me towards my goals. That a friend should be someone that supports you and encourages you, rather than someone you simply knew for a long time, had never really occurred to me before.

The book also led me to really think about what were the “anchors” that were preventing me from achieving my goals. Who are what is holding me back and what can I do to stop this. I ended up identifying and eliminating a lot of my anchors.

Although the book isn’t really about the nitty-gritty of decluttering the stuff in your life, it did encourage me to make more use of this tool of minimalism, which a journey I’m still on. Decluttering my crap was hugely satisfying and it was one of those experiences where afterwards I wondered how I ever lived like I did beforehand.

Content of book

The book covers their journey and the pitfalls many might fall into by living life the “normal” way

– Health: Diet, Exercise and Rest

– Relationships: Categories of relationships (Periphery, Secondary, Primary), toxicity/value of relationships

– Growth: general, “don’t stagnate” advice

– Contribution: How/why to gain the satisfaction of helping a cause

– Passion: How and why to identify it and pursue it

– Identity: How do you define yourself? Because if it’s solely your career, and your career comes into turmoil, your self-esteem is in choppy water. So it recommends you have a more complex identity, sure you could be a lawyer or whatever, but you’re also a friend, cricketer, mentor, gamer, avid stamp collector and so on. So it’s like diversifying your identity to make your self-esteem less volatile.

Where in your journey this fits

The ideas from the book are not all that different from those in “Happiness: the Science Behind your Smile”, presumably because the authors have read about the science of happiness. This book could serve as a more persuasive and practical manual for implementing some of the scientifically approved methods for making your life happier, to be read after understanding the science of happiness but before getting into the world of minimalism and before getting into health, relationships, growth, contribution and passion goal implementation.

Style of the book:

It’s fairly short and fairly interesting, with an intelligent structure to it and pretty persuasive arguments in it. They don’t delve far into the science behind their ideas, but they probably don’t need to.

Criticism of the book:

The goal of book is to empower you to live what they define as a “meaningful” life, so it’s technically off-point if this isn’t your specific goal. The book leaves out money and other areas, so I guess it mightn’t be as holistic as some might desire.

Most of the other criticism I’ve read about for the book is just readers who are apparently too stupid to read a blurb and take offence to the notion that the book isn’t about the nitty gritty of minimalism.

Key chapters

“Chapter 1: How we got here” details their journey, and acts as a cautionary tale if your life is on the same path as their’s

“Chapter 3: Relationships”

Links to learn more

(Their website and blog):

(Their description of minimalism):

(TED talk they gave):

(Another interesting minimalist who has an amazingly appealing lifestyle):

(Another minimalist who clears up misconceptions):

(Audiobook from

(Audiobook from iTunes):

(Paperback and Kindle from Amazon):

(Paperback and Nook from Barnes and Noble):


Book review for “Getting things done” (GTD) by David Allen

Best quotes

“Don’t just do something. Stand there.” – Rochelle Myer

“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.” – Jean de la Bruysre

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” – Aristotle

Let your advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill


How do you keep track of and make progress on all of your responsibilities and commitments without getting seriously stressed out? Getting Things Done (GTD) is a complete system of work habits that will allow you to capture, organize, and track everything that’s on your mind, resulting in a clear, calm view of the next actions needed to keep your projects moving. This allows one to focus attention on taking action on tasks, instead of on recalling them. As far as getting more organised go, GTD is the shit.

How it helped me

I absorbed and applied this book at a strange time in my life. I had just graduated university but didn’t quite want to face the reality of finding a job. I somehow convinced myself that first what I needed to do was learn how to organise myself, which was really just an excuse to procrastinate. So I spend a shitload of time procrastinating away from finding a job by learning this workflow method… and it may have been the most productive procrastination I ever did. At the end of reading it, through pure luck I managed to get a job through a friend who called me out of the blue, and through my stupid procrastination I came to the job with these excellent organisational skills.

I started capturing all my thoughts and ideas on paper, getting them out of what was a seriously cluttered mind and what now is relatively clear. Then I started organising my commitments into projects, which I then made plans to complete and create next actions to fulfill. I created the someday/maybe list for that huge list of things that kept lingering in the back of my mind of stuff I should do. And now I process my in-baskets, next actions, and current projects and waiting on list literally every single morning. On days where I don’t do these GTD habits, the day is pretty much guaranteed to be stressful as I don’t feel that I know what’s going on.

The consequence of applying these ideas was that I’m now an extremely organised individual. I don’t miss deadlines, I don’t turn up to places late, I don’t forget things and I don’t often get stressed out. And honestly, I fail to comprehend how shit my life would be without this book. The capture journal alone has probably done more to preserve my sanity that any single other thing I’ve ever done. I have an active method of actually achieving my goals, which I do each and every month and will continue to do until I die.


Goals – What are your’s? What do you want said about you at your eulogy? How can you break your lifetime goals down into shorter sub-goals to achieve? How can you then break down those sub-goals into projects for you to either perform now or someday/maybe in the future?

Collecting – Ever get a nagging thought in your head that just keeps coming up again and again and again? Probably not all that helpful to your mental calm. Let’s get rid of that permanently through a system to capture those thoughts.

Processing – Teaches you what to do once you’ve captured all the shit you could be doing, be it the papers on your desk, the emails in your inbox or the thoughts you’ve written down. Is it actionable or something to refer back to?

Organising – If it’s actionable but requires a multi-step process, how can you better organise that “project” which you’ll create a note for and can remember and refer back to?

Reviewing – How are you going with your goal progress? Are there any leaks in your GTD system? Any lingering next actions to re-evaluate? How can you improve.

Where in your journey this fits

Where does this fit? Well, I honestly can’t imagine achieving any goals at all without going batshit fucking insane if you don’t do GTD, unless your goal is to go batshit fucking insane. So it HAS to be somewhere in your journey. Perhaps after you’ve figured out your goals but certainly when your day-to-day life is getting out of control to the extent where it’s impossible to think strategically or plan anything. I envy you if you’re yet to read this book, your life is about to seriously become better in a very exciting way.

Criticism of the book

Takes a while to properly setup and totally internalise. Hella worth it, but won’t happen immediately. Recommend that you just focus on one habit at a time, perhaps starting with the workspace or the capturing or the someday/maybes or the next actioning.

Similar texts

(Like a cut-down version of GTD)

Links to learn more

(links to buy books)

(Links to an FAQ from Zen Habits):

(Beginner’s guide to GTD from Zen Habits):

(Why GTD helps you achieve your goals):

Book review of “Influence: the psychology of persuasion” by Robert Cialdini

Best quotes

“Although there are thousands of different tactics that compliance practitioners employ to produce yes, the majority fall within six basic categories. Each of these categories is governed by a fundamental psychological principle that directs human behavior and, in so doing, gives the tactics their power.”

“Just as the “cheep-cheep” sound of turkey chicks triggered an automatic mothering response from maternal turkeys—even when it emanated from a stuffed polecat—so, too, did the word “because” trigger an automatic compliance response from Langer’s subjects, even when they were given no subsequent reason to comply. Click, whirr!”


Ever wondered why people aren’t convinced by your logic? This will explain why and how people actually do get convinced.

This is the million-seller persuasion classic, first published in 1984 that is probably more widely referenced than any other book in the field.

“Influence” explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these findings to others and your own life.

How it helped me

As a very logical person, I was always mystified as to exactly how the fuck people get tricked into doing all manner of dumb shit. I was also mystified as to how people I was trying to persuade didn’t seem to give a fig for the logic I presented. They didn’t debate the logic was correct, they just didn’t seem to give a flying fuck, and as such, I sucked at persuasion, which as someone moving into the field of marketing, is not something you especially want to suck at.

This book set me straight on how and why people are influenced and in reading through the examples I began to exercise a great many of these techniques in my own life. Now whenever I go to sell my boss on a certain approach to take, or whenever I go to a client who has an interest in something we can offer, or even in my personal relationships, I often apply one or more of the principles in this book. Before I’d just give the most logical reasoning I could, now I back it with stuff that actually works.

I look back on the way I was, at how laughably ineffective I was in my dealings and just cringe. This book was extremely helpful for me.


Cialdini is a weird one, he sort of went “undercover” in the persuasion industry to see how it all works, and he uses this experience to provide examples for the principles which have been scientifically researched and verified. He also deconstructs the principles into multiple parts to help us understand them.

The main principles explored are:

– reciprocation

– consistency

– social proof

– liking

– authority

– scarcity

He’ll tell you what they are, why they work, their different components and lots of examples of them in action.

Where in your journey this fits

So if you still don’t know what you’re doing with your life, this ain’t going to help you, but if you have figured out your chief goal in life and come up with a plan for it and if you’re having trouble winning people to your way of thinking, either in personal or business relationships, now is a pretty good time to read this book. There are far more specific books on persuasion which you can read, like “How to win friends and influence people”, but I suggest you read “Influence” or perhaps watch “Straight Line Persuasion” first as they provide good overviews.

Style of the book

The book takes this stance that using these often very sneaky persuasion techniques is morally wrong, and the only reason to read this book is to defend yourself against these devious persuaders. I think this is bullshit, and that what Jordan Belfort says is much more useful, that persuasion is like fire, the way it’s used can be good or bad, but it in itself is just a tool and is totally neutral, but the impact is just a little bit of moral mothering here and there.

Outside of this, the rest of the book tells you the science behind the persuasion in a simple way with lots of interesting anecdotes. It’s not quite a how-to manual for persuasion, but it’s close, as by the end you’ll be figuring out yourself how to apply the principles. A lot of books aren’t scientific enough and other books are so scientific that to read them without crying blood is difficult, this book strikes the balance deftly.

Criticism of the book

That it’s not a how-to book i guess would be my only criticism, although it’s obviously not intended to be I might have liked him to just ditch the stupid pretense that we’re reading this to defend against salespeople and instead provide specific exercises in how we can apply these principles, since they are such excellent principles.

Key chapters

The opening chapter about how it all works and is great to open your mind for how persuasion works.

The chapter on social proof is excellent and is very obviously applicable across different aspects of your life.

Similar texts

Straight-line Persuasion by Jordan Belfort, the real wolf of wall street. (very expensive video course on persuasion which is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It basically teaches the “liking” principle in great depth by teaching you how to charm people.

The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. The best structure for a how-to book I’ve ever seen, this book will ask you many very important questions and is very practical.

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. Teaches a method through which to educate people on the value of a certain course of action in a way that will have them on board

Links to learn more