Book Review: The Accidental Creative How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice

I finished up The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, by Todd Henry, recently. I can’t recommend this book enough. My feeling though, is a book of this type can be seen as great or not depending on where you are with your knowledge of the subject at the moment. This one struck (me) while the iron was hot. I had all of the thoughts and feelings floating around in my head, and the book summed them up and articulated them perfectly. It also gave me some actionable advice.

First, the book was very well written and flowed very nicely. There wasn’t much fluff if any at all. It drove home points very directly. I find books that get right to the point easy to read and easy to absorb. I also respect that he cited other sources.

This is the third book on my scatter brain endeavor. All three books point to the same things you must do to gain focus and concentration (be mindful, deliberate, and have purpose). The Accidental Creative’s premise is that when you gain focus and concentration, creativity will follow.

The Accidental Creative in a nutshell revolves around 5 practices (FRESH).

  • Focus – Define your challenges and pick the most important ones to concentrate on.
  • Relationships – Choose your social circles wisely as they influence creativity.
  • Energy – Plan wisely (whole life plans, periodic check ins)
  • Stimuli – Garbage in, garbage out. So choose intellectually stimulating things to enjoy.
    • Create a study plan. Reading list, etc.
    • Have purposeful experiences (cultural, intellectual, etc).
  • Hours – Carve out specific time for purposeful thinking and creative endeavors.

It is no surprise to me that these same themes are mentioned in not only the last 3 books I’ve read, but also in a lot of other resources I’m reading too. I guess what this did for me is drive home the theory that creativity depends on focus and concentration.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m done with my discovery phase. No more reading books on focus, concentration, memory, creativity. It’s time to put the other 40 books on hold while I put things into action.

From The Accidental Creative, I’m going to:

  1. Create a reading list of classic books. And read them (duh).
  2. Go to museums, art shows, etc. with the family.
  3. Come up with a career skills study plan. Define areas/skills where I need to strengthen.
  4. Capture ideas in a journal.
  5. Define and prioritize challenges (work/company and personal).

I’m getting there!!!

Book Review: Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload

I recently finished up Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload by Lucy Jo Palladino. While it got great reviews on Amazon, I don’t recommend it. I was expecting a lot more detailed and thorough strategies and exercises to combat distraction. I guess every author comes up with some kind of analogy to build a theme around. She categorized strategies as keychains and keys, which at multiple points I found very confusing and distracting.

As with all other advice out there, the premise is to be self-aware and mindful. I don’t mean to belittle that point as it’s essential to change and improve anything (focus, weight loss, attitude, etc).

At some point on this blog, I’m going to put together a nice concise plan and advice to combat distraction. Duh, that’s the point, right?

The long story short of this book is to be mindful of your adrenaline levels. To help, you can try to visualize it on a scale of 1-10. If you are bored (adrenaline level low), and need to take on a boring task, you should look to raise the level (music, power walk, thoughts, etc). If you are too hyped up, you may need to calm down too. The idea is to find the right balance, or “zone”. HOW to get in the zone is completely left out of the book–or at least it completely escaped me. Rather the book gets you to be aware that there is a zone and has you strive to get in the zone.

There were some takeaways though, so it wasn’t a waste of time for me to read:

  • To combat avoidance (procrastination), ask “what am I NOT doing now?” And why…
  • Envision anxiety as a false alarm and ask is it rational.
  • Focus on what you can control.
  • Let goals guide you, not govern you.
  • When you notice you are losing focus, ask why.
  • To combat overload, don’t have FOMA – Fear of Missing Out

I can see why this book may be helpful to some. Like I’m sure with a lot of books, they can be either great or not depending on where you are with your knowledge of the subject at the moment.

Book Review: 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done

I finished up 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman a few weeks ago. I actually listened to it on Audible. I’ll get into it more in another post, but listening to books rather than reading neither saves time or effort.

The book was so so. I guess because it came at a point where I was looking internally to begin with, I didn’t think any of ideas were revolutionary. And like I find with many other similar books, the multi-step (with multiple steps in each step, and steps within those sub steps), it’s not very simple to follow.

The premise is you spend 18 minutes a day making sure you are doing the right things. 5 minutes in the morning to decide what will make the day successful. 1 minute every hour to pause and to access. Then 5 minutes at night to review.

To make a long story short. Be mindful. Are you wasting time? Is what you are doing now (and perhaps later) contributing to your life goals? Do your goals align with your values? And what are your goals? Are the goals meaningful?

There were some valuable takeaways and action items for me specifically that I am going to work on, which are:

  • Pursue my passions.
  • Use spare time to support my passions.
  • Focus on what I want to achieve, believe I can achieve, and enjoy trying to achieve.
  • Be more involved in group activities to build engagement with others.
  • Experience more than mundane day to day.
  • Stop thinking so much and put things into motion.

Most importantly I need to deliberately take myself out of my comfort zone at times and not be afraid to fail. So long as I can learn from mistakes and failures.

Overall the book was ok. There were valuable takeaways. A lot were known to me, but did take the book to jog them back into focus.