enactd writes "I feel life is a constant juggle, for every task in hand you have another to react to or let drop. The Age of Speed helps you chart your tasks to keep the important goals in sight while recognizing and reacting to distractions. Being a geek on the cutting edge of technology gets one acquainted with speed quickly, but being able to handle it is another matter and streamlining is an ongoing effort. The goal of the book is to help you decide what is important in your life and extract as much pleasure from those things while minimizing the time spent on the mundane." Keep reading for the rest of Chris's review.The beginning of the book deals with shedding the guilt most people associate with getting things done quickly. We are lead to believe at an early age that shortcuts diminish the reward or the experience of a task. While there are some tasks where this holds true, overall it is a common myth one needs to overcome in the age of speed.
My favorite anecdote was a fresh look at the Tortoise and the Hare. The common moral one associates with this fable is "Slow and steady wins the race." But the story isn't a condemnation on speed, rather against stupidity. The Hare lost simply because he was dumb enough to take a nap in the middle of the race, in no way did his speed work against him.
One of the major sections of the book splits personalities up into four categories, Zeppelins, Balloons, Bottle Rockets and Jets. The tech world mostly consists of Bottle Rockets and Jets, as long as you don't include managers. The Jets run smoothly and routinely hit their targets while the Bottle Rockets follow pets.com off the cliff.
Whenever I'm behind the wheel and someone asks if I know where I'm going I reply, "Nope, but I'm going to get there quickly." While I'm usually joking, it perfectly sums up the attitude of a Bottle Rocket. While a Jet has a single target and maintains focus until it's task is complete, a Bottle Rocket constantly changes it's target and never seems to be able to hit it before being distracted by a new goal, leaving a wake of unfinished debris. Obviously one should strive to be a Jet.
I finished this book two weeks ago. I started writing the review immediately after finishing the book, but I wanted to see how applying the principles helped me out. My favorite section was titled Aerodynamics and led to an immediate change in how I approach working.
Sometimes I find myself falling into a black hole of needless distractions, constantly switching between email, Twitter, Slashdot and any other diversion I reward myself with throughout the day. If I have too many distractions in a short amount of time I'll fall into a pseudo trance of cycling through them endlessly. Afterward I'm at square one with getting back on task. Directly after reading the chapter An Exercise in Consciousness I turned off my email auto checker. This simple change transformed my work environment from an interruptive process to one I'm in control of. By removing the interruption I don't have the temptation to succumb to distractions and I've felt much more productive.
The only time the author had me rolling my eyes was the shameless self promotion of referencing the Age of Speed throughout the book. If I were reviewing this book for a more general audience I would have rated it a point higher, but people in the technology sector don't have the same speed hang ups as most people, negating some of the insights of the book. However, there are plenty of pointers for even the most hardcore tech geek. Surviving in an always on World is easy, the key is learning how to prosper.
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