Reading List

Last updated: January 20, 2009

If you would like a list of basic organizing books — how to manage your time, paper and projects — one good one is available at the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers website. This is the book list used by those who earn the CPO(r) designation (which I hold).

Here I’d like to share a few books that I hope will expand the readers’ horizons and encourage thinking of life’s possibilities in a larger way, providing the real infrastructure that allows us to go after our goals, barreling through barriers. This list changes from time to time as I read new books, and more good ones are written every year. I invite you to comment on the books on this list, and mention your own favorites, too.

The Foundation – make your life and your work rich and expansive

The Good Life, by Peter J. Gomes. Gomes, minister in The Memorial Church at Harvard University, addresses the history of thinking on the things that matter. You will find here the things that matter to you. A very good place to start.

Time – your can’t earn more, you can only use it better.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen. This book appears on virtually every list of time management books. There’s a reason why.

The Power of Full Engagement: managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance and personal renewal, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. While I think the argument about what we’re managing is a quibble (time? energy?), the prescription offered is high-octane.

The Now Habit, by Neil Fiore. If procrastination is your problem, this book offers good medicine.

Paper Management

Taming the Paper Tiger, by Barbara Hemphill. Because paper isn’t going away.

Reading and Writing

Clean, Well-lighted Sentences: a guide to avoiding the most common errors in grammar and punctuation, by Janis Bell. At about four-pages per day, digesting this little handbook will take less than six work weeks and save tons of editing time.

10 Days to Faster Reading, by The Princeton Language Institute and Abby Marks Beale. Cut your reading time in half in 10 days. What will you do with all that time you’ve saved?

Creative thinking

the Creative Habit: learn it and use it for life, by Twyla Tharp. Before you can think out of the box, writes this much-honored choreographer, you must have a box. She describes how being orderly in her habits allows her to be wild and creative in her art.

Mindmapping, by Joyce Wycoff. I have used mindmapping techniques with clients to help bring creativity and order to everything from project plans to task lists to speaking introductions.

Thinkertoys, by Michael Michalko. This handbook of creative-thinking techniques helps harness your imagination.

Brain Science

Brain Rules, 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school, by John Medina. Highly readable and entertaining, this book provides a distillation of the most up-to-date brain research and what it means for productivity.

A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. These three authors explain, among other things, why change is so hard, and why it’s possible. The book is readable, but more, it’s delightful.

The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. If our brains adapt, and it appears that they do, then there is always hope for positive change.

What You Can Change…and What Your Can’t, the complete guide to successful self-improvement, by Martin Seligman. The author, a past president of the American Psychological Association and founder/father of the practice of Positive Psychology, reviews the latest research to separate the snake oil from the real remedies.

Managing Technology

Will someone please write a really good book on this subject?

Chronic Disorganization

Conquering Chronic Disorganization, by Judith Kohlberg. Kohlberg was one of the pioneers in organizing for the chronically disorganized. Many of the techniques she so charmingly describes in this highly readable book work well for those with garden-variety organizing challenges.

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