Initally I was going to give this book a mediocre review. The computer hardware analogies annoyed the crap out me, and (I will just straight up admit this) I didn’t appreciate being lectured on how my mind works. Maybe everyone else’s, but Andy was talking to me personally, and that bothered me a great deal.
It turns out that I was wrong. This book is actually amazing. It is interesting on so many levels. First of all, I thought that I would hate it. This is interesting, given that I ended up loving it.
Andy Hunt uses a lot of computer hardware analogies, and I hated these (I still do). “Debug your mind”…yikes. Much of the language in the book, I really don’t like very much. Even the subtitle, “Refactor your wetware” seems tacky (and slightly grosses me out).
So why do I still love the book and give it a 5/5 review without hesitation?
It inspired me to change the way I work, and I can feel the improvement immediately. Lots of details in the book are quite unimportant to me - it is the big things that matter.
Being able to focus on one thing at a time.
Being conscious about when and how to take notes.
Some of the points in the book are repeated so many times. Over and over and over again are we told to “consider the context”. This is pretty annoying, but is it necessary? I feel that maybe it is. Of course I’ll never know if I had remembered after just a single mention, but I suspect that Andy Hunt knows exactly which points to keep hammering on and which to mention in passing.
Many of the concepts in the book are very simple, and I feel like a bit of an idiot for not having realized all this on my own. It seems really obvous now. Also, much of this I knew already but had neglected to act upon.
For example: If I am in the middle of a challenging programing task and I receive an email, what should I do? Should I stop working and immediately read the email? Of course not. We all know that it is a bad idea, and that getting back into the programming mindset takes time.
Nevertheless, this is what I have been doing, for whatever reason. And the book has given me the push I needed to break the habit, for whatever reason.
Also, at some point in my life I had decided that note taking was not for me. I felt like I didn’t need them. Much easier to just remember stuff and act on it quickly. And actually I’ve been getting by just fine without using notes.
But boy, have I been missing out. I now realize that I’m just really bad at note taking, so I’ve never understood the value of taking notes. Very simple problem with a very simple solution: Practice. I now take lots of notes (that’s the easy part) and practice organizing them.
What this book has taught me is that learning to take good notes can dramatically increase my ability to organize my life and my work. And at the same time it allows me to focus on one thing at a time without fearing that I’ll drop the other balls - it’s all stored securely in my notes.
Again, this seems trivial to me now. But it’s not always easy to identify your own bad habits.
I think most people would benefit from reading this book. Highly recommended.