Thursday, August 31, 2017

📖 My highlights from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism - the disciplined pursuit of less... but better - how to become an essentialist?

I’ve first written about this book over two years ago as I’ve listened to it twice since then and now I’ve read it in a physical form at the beginning of this year just after I’ve interviewed the author for last issue of the Productive! Magazine. I’ve highlighted many parts of the book and decided to write them down and share them with you all. Hope you’ll add your favorite bits and pieces in the comments - and if you haven’t read the book yet, get it from Audible or Amazon or anyplace else. Enjoy my essential highlights:

My highlights from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism - the disciplined pursuit of less... but better - how to become an essentialist?

Essentialism is a pursuit of a life when you’re doing less, but better

The book starts with a great quote on productivity:

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done, it’s about how to get the right things done. It’s about the wisest possible investment of your time.

The author quotes one of the most famous designers ever, Dieter Rams who would always say that with his designs he’s trying to achieve a goal of “Weniger aber besser” - which translated from German exactly means: “less but better”.

Essentialism is a disciplined pursuit because it’s a systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies. The author argues that by investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that mater most.

Essentialism means living by design not by default.

Which basically means that it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with your time on this planet - because as always: “If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will.”

"The idea is to live a life true to yourself not the life others expect from you"

Here’s more:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

📖 The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - (audio) book of the week

As a reader of my blog you might have noticed that I'm a big fan of minimalism, I've been counting clothes for a while and I've been trying to keep my home office as neat and tidy as possible. Yes, I love that stuff. That's why when my wife started raving about this new book by a Japanese author, Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever I was curious on one hand but a little suspicious on the other. I mean, what else there is to know about clutter? Right? Well, it's amazing how I got converted:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: Audible | Amazon

Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever

When I started reading this book, my suspicions got even more serious. The author promises to teach a way to clean your clutter once and for all. That once done, your place will be clutter free forever. I mean, really forever? Who can promise something like that? It's a big promise to give so let's see if she's right:

Friday, March 24, 2017

📖 Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson - (audio) book of the week

One of the key ways we can improve our health and the overall state of our body is by sleeping more and better. Yes, not less. Not depriving ourselves from sleep, but rather by designing our life in such a way that sleep is a strategic part of it. That's why this week I want to recommend a book that made me feel really uneasy and helped me realize why sleeping is so important. This book forced me to change the way I approach sleep. Here's why:

Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: (Amazon|Audible)

Book review: Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson - 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success

(Note: I also discussed this book on the 87th episode of The Podcast with my co-host Radek, if you prefer the audio version with more comments)

Very few times when reading a book, the book would make me feel bad about myself while still encouraging me to keep reading. The last book like this was Essentialism. Now this book about sleeping made me realize I should not approach sleep like a "necessary evil" but as a strategic part of my day. And that there are so many things I need to fix to make sure I get a good night's sleep, here are a few that really stood out:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

📖 Peak by Anders Ericsson - (audio) book of the week

As I rediscovered reading books 7 years ago through audiobooks and dramatically increased the number of books I've been reading these past years, every now and then I stumble upon a book that's worth recommending to others through this blog - and Peak by Anders Ericsson totally changed the way I approach learning now. Here's why:

Peak by Anders Ericsson - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: Audible | Amazon

Book review: Peak by Anders Ericsson - Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

The premise of the book is very simple. Talent is overrated. It hardly exists. You are not born with the skills, you acquire and develop them through practice. And not just any kind of practice - through "deliberate practice" which leverages the adptability of our brain.

This reminds me of the famous scene from the movie "Taken":

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Yes, you acquire skills - and it takes more than a long career to get them - it takes a special kind of practice:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

★ Books I'm excited about: Living Forward, The Coaching Habit, 5 AM Miracle and How To Be Really Productive

Recently a few great books launched by people I truly admire and the best part - I was lucky enough to personally get to know all of them! That's why, if you're in doubt, pick up any of the following books and you'll be inspired to improve your life - I'm in the process of reading all of them and so far I'm hooked. Here goes:

Books I'm recommending

Living Forward by Michael Hyatt

...the proven plan to stop drifting and get the life you want.

Michael is my friend, mentor and role model. Can't recommend his work enough. He knows a thing or two about "big picture thinking" so I'm sure he'll teach us all how to design and execute our lives. The book launched today!

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

...say less, ask more and change the way you lead forever

This Michael (wow, these guys have really great names, right?) taught me a lot about distinguishing between "good work" and "great work". Now he'll help me lead with greatness. This book launched yesterday.

The 5AM Miracle by Jeff Sanders

...dominate your day before breakfast

Jeff is the "morning person" guy. He's a productivity nut like me and I love his passion for making each day "on purpose". This is what he'll teach you in this very practical and actionable book. It was published in December of last year.

How to be REALLY productive by Grace Marshall

... achieving clarity and getting results in a world where work never ends

Grace is an amazing productivity coach and she's got lots of experience getting people organized. And she's just a great person. If your time management skills are a mess, I'd start with her book!

Question: Which books do you recommend?

Sent from my iPhone 6 Plus

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

✔ The Productivity Book, featuring 30 productivity experts including me ;-)

As you know, productivity is both my passion and my mission. I want to spread the word about how efficient time- and task-management and planning make life easier and happier. I love sharing my experiences and tricks with others in order to make sure more and more people know how to get well-organized and less stressed.

productivity book

Productivity virus being spread

I am really happy to see that there is so many more guys like me trying to transmit this "productivity virus" all over the world :-)

One of them is an entrepreneur, the CEO of Doodle - Michael Brecht, who has been working with thousands of productive people around the globe for many years now. He and his team compiled the contents over the years which resulted in publishing "The Productivity Book" a couple of weeks ago.

The book shares the invaluable advice of the 30 productivity experts including Yours truly :-)

From the authors

We spoke with 30 professionals to figure out just how they do it. The result: The Productivity Book! It can’t make more hours in the day. But it will give you a valuable insight into the minds of the productivity and time management experts who have overcome the hurdles we face on a daily basis. So, you can work smarter, and not harder. Filled with useful tips, personal histories and sound advice, this book is a fresh examination of the habits that shape us, and how others have managed to break free of them.

Inside The Productivity Book

The authors of the book asked me several questions to which I replied as in-depth as I could. Here are some of them:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

✔ Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown - (audio) book of the week

There are a lot of books I read, but only some of them I review on this blog and only few of them really are life-changing for me. Just like the original "Getting Things Done" book by David Allen was my initiation to better organization and also sparked a business idea in Nozbe, I think the book "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown will help me take my business and life to a whole new level. Here's why:

Essentialism Audio Book

Get this book on: Audible Amazon

The book focuses on a question:

"What is it, that holds capable and driven people from breaking through to the next level?"

... and quite surprisingly the answer is this:


Greg in his book argues that "success becomes a catalyst for failure". Because when we're successful we inevitably start the "undisciplined pursuit of more", because more opportunities show up, and we take on more things to do, we lose focus... and we start a plateau... and eventually a decline. And unfortunately I can totally resonate with that:

Friday, July 17, 2015

✔ I’m writing my new book “#NoOffice” because work is not a place to go, it’s a thing you do

Two years ago I co-wrote a book #iPadOnly with my friend Augusto Pinaud. Last year, to celebrate my 35th birthday I wrote a book “It’s All About Passion!”… and this year I didn’t write a book… yet. It’s because the book I’m working on right now will be something special. Not only because it’s “three times a charm”. No. It’s bigger than that. I believe this third one will be “the one” message I was born to spread to the world. Here’s why:

No Office Book

The one question I get a lot: Where are you based?

I’m writing these words from my home office. Which is the only office I have. Just like all the other 20+ members of my Nozbe team. We all work from home.

Every time I’m on a conference, or I just talk about what I do with someone, they always ask: “Where are you based?”

And I try to answer that our main corporate address is in Poland, but we have no real office there, and everybody works from home, and we meet every now and then, and some of us live in different countries…

And then they’re like: “OK… I think I get it… Uhm… So where are you based?”

They don’t get it. It’s 2015 and most of the companies and people don’t get it. And it doesn’t have to be this way.

So after a short pause they continue the conversation:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

✔ Anything You Want by Derek Sivers - book of the week

Today I had a pleasure of interviewing Derek Sivers for the upcoming 30th (wow!) issue of the Productive! Magazine so to prepare for this interview I decided to read again his fantastic book: "Anything You Want" which he published a few years back. I totally recommend it:


Get this book on: Audible Amazon

Derek and I share a similar story. Nope, I'm not a musician. No, I didn't sell my business and I don't intend to, but he and I started our businesses because we scratched our own itch. This book is all about what he's learned running his business and I can relate a lot to these stories and there's a wealth of good advice there:

Monday, March 16, 2015

✔ Books - my ultimate list of the (audio)books I've read in the past and I'm reading now

Latest Update: October 20, 2017 As a CEO of an established company Nozbe I need to keep growing as a leader and the best way to do that is to read lots of books. As they say: "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers"! But how to find time for books? Well, back in 2010 I started listening to audiobooks instead of reading physical books and I went from 2 books per year to around 30... and from then on I've been either listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Right now my Audible library is really huge so I created a document with the list of all the books I read in the past. I was losing track. And I only managed to write about some of them on this blog. Long story short, I decided to share my list of books with you - together with links, notes, everything right here... on this page. Here goes:

Books I'm reading

Michael's ultimate list of books:

  1. Books I've read and reviewed on my site
  2. Books I've read - no review yet, only notes
  3. Books I'm reading now
  4. Books in my Audible queue
  5. Books I've read - no review, no notes

Bonus: (and shameless promo) - I wrote three books you might be interested in:

  • (NEW!) No Office Apps - How the Nozbe team uses modern technologies to communicate better and get more done!
  • It's all about Passion! - How 7 types of passion helped me achieve success with my productivity startup
  • #iPadOnly with Augusto Pinaud - The first real post-PC book - How to use only your iPad to work, play and everything in between

Note: Links to books point either to my reviews on this site or directly to Audible/Amazon (with my affiliate code). Links to authors point to my video interviews with them which I did for this blog or for the Productive! Magazine

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

✔ Born To Run by Christopher McDougall - (audio) book of the week

As you've been following my Twitter and Instagram posts recently, you know I just ran my first triathlon and I keep running 2 times per week (~10km in ~50 minutes), riding my new street-bike every week and additionally thanks to changing my eating habits, now, 35 years young, I'm in the best shape of my life. And it all started with the book that I'm going to review today: "Born to Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall:

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: Audible Amazon

Last year I ran a half-marathon and got injured

Before we start with the book, a short back-story. Last year I got tricked by my friend Simon to go on a run with him. I was tricked, because, my longest distance till then was 12km, he wanted to do 15km... and in the end he convinced me to push it a little more... and we did 22km! I felt great and proud... but my left knee was hurting me and after a month of the pain coming and going I decided to see a doctor. He's supposedly the best expert in sport injuries in the city where I reside, he came highly recommended... and after a series of tests he concluded that I needed 20 sessions of rehabilitation... and that I was not supposed to be running anymore. I'm not "born to run". My knee "is not constructed for running". He told me to get a bike instead.

Well, I was totally disillusioned. And then I got the book "Born to run"... and when I started listening to it I felt a deja vu:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

✔ Why We Get Fat? by Gary Taubes - (audio) book of the week

It's been a while since I posted about a book of the week and not because I wasn't reading anything. Far from it. I've been listening to quite a few books lately so I'll try to post more about it and today I want to start with a book that completely changed my life in the last 3 months... and it's about eating, dieting and health... and its contents are contrary to the popular knowledge. The author really explains why we get fat:

Why We Get Fat? by Gary Taubes - audiobook of the week

Get this book on: Audible Amazon

When I summarized 2013 I noticed I wanted to lose weight. About 10 lbs (4-5kg) this year to achieve my "perfect bodyweight". You see, three years ago I got chubby. I gained about 10kg (22lbs) to a really alarming weight of 80kg (176 lbs) which at my height (1.68 cm / 5'4) is starting to look pretty bad. I didn't feel great. So I got to work. Over the last three years I started getting in shape: I'm running regularly now, I do fitness training, I eat healthier... and I started to feel I was in the best shape of my life... but I only managed to go down to 74kg (163lbs) and not much below that. Of course, with fitness training and running my muscles got heavier, but still, I could tell I had still too much fat in my body. Then I read this book "Why We Get Fat?" by Gary Taubes... changed my habits and in 2.5 months of 2014 I managed to achieve my perfect weight of 67kg (147lbs), which is about 13kg (30lbs) less than where I was 3 years ago. And I keep maintaining this weight. Here's why this book changed my eating habits so much:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

✔ Online Business Productivity - book of the week by Timo Kiander

A few months ago Timo Kiander also known as Productive Superdad approached me with an idea of a book - a compilation of interviews with some of productivity experts out there. He did an interview with me and his new book: "Online Business Productivity" is out today. And I'm proud to be a part of it. And I totally recommend this book:

Book by Timo Kiander - Online Business Productivity

In the book you'll find a great introduction by Laura Stack and 19 essays by really a bunch of fantastic people. I had a blast being interviewed by Timo and based on our chat he created a great piece on me with some of the best pieces of advice I ever gave. A few examples:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

✔ Book of the week - Remote by 37signals

There is a new book by 37signals and it's called "Remote". After "Rework" (my review here) I was very excited to be reading this book... especially that my company works remotely. I work from home. Everyone else as well. We actually have no office. Anyway, got the audiobook from Audible:


Get this book on: Audible Amazon

Before I dive into the book, let me just say two things.

  • I finished my university degree in 2003 with a thesis on Virtual Enterprise and Teleworking... so the subject matter is known very well to me. Shortly thereafter I started my company with the goal of working remotely all of the time. This way I could travel, live in different parts of Europe and basically follow my wife's career with my laptop (now the iPad :-)).
  • Second thing, I love the 37signals guys. I got to know them through their second (now closed) service called "Backpack" and inspired by what they did I built Nozbe as a way of making a GTD-compatible Backpack.

So there you have it, I have a long history with both the subject matter and the authors. I actually visited them in Chicago to pay my tribute to them and interviewed Jason Fried for the Productive! Magazine. Now, back to the book:

Friday, June 21, 2013

✔ How I wrote the #iPadOnly book with Augusto Pinaud

I just wrote my first book with my friend, Augusto Pinaud. It's called "#iPadOnly - how to only use your iPad to work, play and do everything in between" and it's going to hit virtual bookshelves in a little over a week. This post is a quick summary of how the book came to be, how we both wrote it (living on different continents) and why we had so much fun in the process. Here we go!

How I wrote the #iPadOnly book with Augusto Pinaud

I wrote a few blog posts on #iPadOnly

It all started when I decided to use my iPad as my main computer last April and blogged about it - I liked the process so much that I started blogging more and over the last year wrote ~20 blog posts on the topic. I thought this topic deserved a book. A first post-PC book that will show everyone that yes, you can use only your iPad to work and yes, after a few annoyances that come with a migration, you'll love it as much as I still do.

However, I knew I wouldn't be able to write the book myself. I have a successful company to run and don't have the time to write books, right? Then I saw the series of blog posts from Augusto on the same #iPadOnly topic. After a little thinking (like, 5 minutes) and a little analysis I realized that:

  • Augusto is a full-time writer (he has more expertise than I do, writing books)
  • He is working on his iPad longer than I am and he's also passionate about the whole iPad-only thing
  • He is also a GTD-guy as I am although he's using OmniFocus instead of Nozbe (well, not anymore he isn't :-)
  • We both speak Spanish and English, so we can communicate in either language (and we did, more on that later....)
  • We "met" several times online and we like each other...
  • With a co-author I might find the time to write this book... I think...

Well, after another 5 minutes I fired up an email his way that went like this:

"Hello Augusto, I'm not sure if you already realize this, but we're writing an #iPadOnly book togheter. What do you think?"

And he said yes. We got together on FaceTime and nailed the details and the rest, as they say, is history. Here's how we wrote this book: