Saturday, July 7, 2007

Breathing Space

Book Cover: Breathing Space

I've quoted from Jeff Davidson's Breathing Space a few times (here and here); now that I've finished the book, I wanted to write a bit more.

The subtitle of this book is Living & Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society. Jeff writes first about the sped-up society side of things.

- World population is increasing, and the places we live are becoming more crowded - so if we drive cars, we spend more time in traffic jams.

- We are in an "over-information era" - while I've seen statistics about that before, I was still amazed to read that the "Harvard Library subscribes to more than 160,000 journals."

- There is an ever-increasing number of choices in the the TV and movie realm, too. (One bit of advice he gives here: "Unless it directly affects you or your community, give up offering any attention whatsoever to new coverage of spectacular crashes and train wrecks, etc.")

- And them there's the paper that comes at us. As Jeff writes, "Imagine staring out the window from the fifth floor of a building and seeing a stack of reports from the ground up to your eye level. This fifty-five-foot high stack would weigh 700 pounds. Pulp & Paper reports that that's the height and weight of paper that Americans annually consume per person."

- Finally, there's the over-abundance of choices - a topic covered very well in the book The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz.

After this, Jeff devotes the remaining two-thirds of the book to solutions to the issues he has described. Some of it is familiar stuff, for those who read books about time management: for example, define your goals and make choices that align with those goals. (See Alan Lakein for more on this.) But there were enough new ideas (and new takes on older ideas) to make this a worthwhile read - and Jeff is an engaging writer.

One concept he stresses is the importance of continually achieving completions - which can be anything from taking out the garbage to keeping your work space clear to tying up all the loose ends on a project that is ending. And at the end of the day, acknowledge to yourself all you've completed rather than focusing on what didn't get done.

One gripe I have with this book is that there are no sources for most of the statistics he provides - and only one reference (that I recall) to other works at all. (That reference was to The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz, which he calls a ground-breaking work that champions completions.) But this book is certainly one that will stay on my bookshelf, rather than getting sold at the used bookstore.

Thanks to Mike on the DIT (Do It Tomorrow) Yahoo! group for pointing me to this book.


Janine Adams said...

Jeri, thanks for mentioning the Do It Tomorrow yahoogroup. I hadn't known of its existence. I'm a PO and fan of the book, and have just applied to join the yahoogroup, thanks to you.

Jeri Dansky said...

Janine, I'm glad to have provided the pointer; I'm quite fond of DIT, too. And thanks for stopping by here; wow, you've had an interesting life.

From another Virgo, a firm believer in good-enough organizing, and someone who now covets a Kitty Pi bed,

Matthew Cornell said...

Thanks for the review - sounds like a good book. I'm with you: If I can't find sources of statistics, I'm disappointed.

Question: A while back someone mentioned an evolutionary biologist who believes one of the causes of depression/anxiety today is the fact that we have so many more decisions to make than our brains are capable of making. An example was given of 1-2 generations before and the limited number of choices then as compared to now. Do you have the reference to the study or scientist? I'd love to have it for my presentations!

Jeri Dansky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeri Dansky said...

Hi Matt,

I've looked around, but can't find the study or scientist you are referring to. If I ever do find it, I'll be sure to let you know.