New year, new books to read, new things to learn

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions (only to break them all when February comes around) but I do intend to start the year as I mean to carry on. I’ve picked up some new books from Wordery online and Stanfords in Bristol. Here’s what I’ll be reading over the next few months.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

This book is all about improving productivity. It explains how the mind is best at creating ideas not storing information, that being appropriately engaged with the task at hand helps productivity, and the importance of creating a space to focus by removing distractions. The book explains systems you can put in place to enable this to happen, leading to improved management of workloads and improved productivity. I listened to parts of the audiobook last year and was impressed enough to purchase the book. This animation sums it up well in a snappy 7 minutes.

Mindfulness – Be Mindful. Live in the Moment

I borrowed this from the library and read it last summer while I was on breaks between shifts at festivals. Unlike some mindfulness and other self help books that can be somewhat cultish, this book is refreshingly succinct and practical, easy to dip in and out of, very straightforward to read and digest. Mindfulness is all about fully experiencing what’s happening now, being calm and collected in the moment, leading to positive wellbeing and increased self awareness. When you’re busy with so many things this approach really does help to make life much more enjoyable.

Agile Foundations – Principles, Practices and Frameworks

Back in autumn last year I returned temporarily to IT project work at the civil service to keep me busy before festival season starts again. I spent some time researching different project management methodologies and qualifications that would benefit not only my IT contract work but also the sustainability and event management projects I work on. Traditional waterfall approaches (such as PRINCE2), while I appreciate their benefits, do not suit the way I prefer work or the style of projects I am involved with. Through my research I came across Agile, a relatively new kid on the block that has been around since the early 2000’s with roots going back to the 1980’s. Different to more traditional and often too rigid methodologies, Agile seems much more dynamic. Reading this book seems like a good step to take before I look into a more formal approach to project management learning later in the year.

I also picked up a couple more books on a whim when I happened to be passing by Stanfords and saw they had a sale on. The Decision Book contains lots of decision making models and problem solving tools. Winning Arguments a somewhat humorous take on techniques of persuasion, a skill which is incredible useful during times of change.

That should keep me going for a few months. I am looking forward to spending less time staring at a glowing screen and more time with my nose in a good book, learning new skills and putting them into practice.