Time Mastery On My Mind

(sorry this review is a little late!)

Do you often feel rushed, stressed by deadlines, always wishing you had more time? The 9 Secrets of Time Mastery: How to Save At Least 1 Hour Every Day promises to, well, save you an hour a day! By following certain key principles, it suggests, you can cut out time-wasters and get more done.

Who Is This?

Dr. Larry Iverson is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and business coach. He’s also the director for the “Institute for Advanced Development” (though interestingly, the URL for that organization is just Iverson’s name, following the growing trend I’ve noticed of self-help organizations simply having the same name as their founder). Iverson seems to run a bunch of related self-help websites like “SuccessStrategiesMasterMind.com” and “ChangeNegativeThoughts.com”.

What’s the Big Idea?

I’m not going to waste my time trying to summarize the tips provided in this book into a coherent set of through-lines. The title pretty much says it all: save time by mastering it. I really just want to get into my take; I have Opinions.

My Take

Usually I stay away from puns. But sometimes I can’t resist. This book is a complete waste of time.

Even if the contents of the book were great (and they are not), the writing would have left me cold. It’s bland and colorless. It reads like notes for a speech – for example, the author has a habit of adding emphasis by repeating the relevant phrases verbatim – but even as a speech it would be lackluster. Without the intonations and flair that a good speaker can give, the book is actively boring to read.

(Also, a nitpick, but the paragraph breaks often make no sense.)

I am unreasonably annoyed by the ‘nine secrets’ part of the title. The book never actually gives a  list of nine elements and it’s not divided into logical groupings of strategies, which is part of what makes it dull to read. In fact, early in the book Iverson refers to the “dozens of strategies” and “30-plus” strategies. Why call it “9 Secrets’, then? Why not simply “The Secrets of Time Mastery”?

And speaking of those so-called secrets…At certain points, the author’s advice has a bizarre specificity that verges on being nonsensical. For example, most time-management and organization books recommend making yourself a schedule or a list of priorities, but I’ve never before seen a recommendation to schedule yourself down to 5 minute increments. Maybe that kind of micromanagement is necessary for political figures or high-profile CEOs (although at that point I’d imagine you have a personal assistant who does the scheduling). For most people, though, I can’t help but think that trying to determine the exact time chunks needed for each task and writing out a schedule that includes multiple five- or ten-minute sections would waste more time than it would save.

The author also puts a great deal of emphasis on the need to prioritize your to-do list strictly by importance. His advice, which he obtained from a successful CEO, is to ask “if I went on vacation for a month, what is the most important thing for me to finish before I leave? The second most important? etc.” Again, this may be valuable for extremely high powered people, but many of us have quite a few things to do that are of roughly equal importance. The author’s system makes no allowance for prioritizing tasks by due date, whether you have the information needed to get started, etc.

At one point he declares that proactive people “keep their own counsel. They are mentally strong.” I…what? I suppose it’s possible, but there’s nothing intrinsic about being proactive (meaning taking forward-thinking steps rather than simply reacting to events after they have happened) that would make a person ‘keep their own counsel’.

But truly, the bottom line is that there is absolutely nothing new here. Be neat and organized! Touch things only once! Be proactive! Do a little bit at a time! I’m not actually going to give you any clear advice on how to implement this advice (except his bizarrely detailed setting-a-priority-list story), but these are good things to do! Gee, thanks, Mr. Iverson. I’m definitely glad I paid $4.99 for this stale advice.

 Meant For

My first, cynical thought was “this book is meant for people who have literally never read anything else about productivity or time management”. But on reflection, I wouldn’t even recommend this book in those circumstances, since there are better options for introducing time management principles. Truly, the audience of this book seems to be People Who Don’t Know Better And Are Swayed By Marketing Promises.

Bottom Line

Skip it. There are so many better-written, better-thought-out books that will give you more helpful suggestions and a deeper understanding of how to become more productive.

The 9 Secrets of Time Mastery: How to Save At Least 1 Hour Every Day by Larry Iverson – 49 pages – Published 2011 by Made for Success


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