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The Organized Life [Part 1]: Reading all the Books You Want to Read with Your Crazy Schedule

In the spirit of transparency, let me first say I have areas of my life that I would never show you. I do not organize people’s lives or homes or workplaces for my living; there are many incredible people (and books) who do that with astounding productivity results (yes, really). This blog series is not about closets or drawers or garages (although I will show you my two types of home medication storage systems in a later post). This series of posts, however, is about the tricks I use to stay on top of my goals and the “little” things that used to drive me crazy that now…well, don’t.

I get asked all the time, “How do you do everything you do?” Well, I have an incredible support system. I’ve also organized several areas of my life. I’ve found systems that work for me, and I use the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People every day. The one I think about the most that I think has helped multiply my efforts in care, work, and life is begin with the end in mind. You can apply it to just about anything to improve the results.

Begin with the end in mind makes you think – really think – about your end results – what you want and how you know you’ll be successful with that one piece. Once you have the ending in mind, you can work backwards to break up the goal into manageable pieces and tasks.

Reading is important to me. And while I’ve been a book lover for a while (more about that in a future post), I have a leader in my life that encourages others often with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones’s quote,

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

 

And, boy, is that true for leaders at all levels. Nurses, I am looking at you, too. The books you read change you. I want to grow each year.

Keep a List

Since we’re responsible for our own personal and professional growth, it is up to us to make it happen, so I keep a running list of books I want to read, and then I either delete them or mark them off my list as I finish them. It sounds easy enough, but I am surprised at how few people actually do this. Ask for recommendations from others and write. them. down.

I previously kept my list electronically – on my phone, but I’ve recently discovered bullet journaling, so I have incorporated pieces of that into my paper calendar. Yes, I am still a paper calendar gal in life (and electronic at work…again, more on that later).

Here’s my 2018 reading list. As I finish a book in this format, I color it in.

 

Yes, it is January 7th, and I’ve already read two books from my list. How?…

Keep A Book Near You

Whether it is hardcopy, electronic, or audio, keep a book near you. It’s amazing how much “down time” you have in your day if you’re mindful of it. Meeting not starting on time? Open your e-book. Commuting to work? Read your hardcopy book on the subway, or listen to your audio book in your car or on the bus. I enjoy running, and I recently learned my audio book app will work simultaneously with my running app! Oh, the joy it brought me to run for 45 minutes while “reading.”

Get a Library Card or Use a Book Subscription Service

Libraries are not antiquated. The possibilities are endless now as most libraries not only have books on-hand but can do interlibrary loans to get books from other libraries. My library also has an e-book and an audio book app. It. Is. Awesome. I don’t have to spend a fortune on books, and I always have reading material on-hand.

There are plenty of book subscription services and apps, as well. Audible, Amazon Kindle Unlimited, and MyBookBox are just a few.

Try Reading Two Books at a Time

If you can keep books straight in your head, have a reading method where you read two books “simultaneously.” Read one as an e-book or audio book in the morning/during the day and another as a hard-copy or e-book in the evenings.

Start as Soon as You Finish 

Because you’ll always have reading content around you, you can pick up a new book as soon as you finish one book. Even if you only read a page or two, go ahead and start the new book.

Don’t Be Afraid to Stop A Book 

Don’t just read to read; read to enjoy and to learn. If a book is not keeping your attention, stop it and start a new book. For those who need a sense of completion, this is easier said than done, so get comfortable with the idea…it’s your reading list, and you can do what you want with it. Don’t waste your time on “bad” books.

 

So, what are you reading that I need to add to my list? (I’m a non-fiction fan.) How do you prioritize reading in your life?

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[Book Review] One in a Billion

OneInABillionOne in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine, authored by Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher, is a true story of a boy with a never-before discovered disease after the finished Human Genome Project, leaving cardiac physiologists an opportunity to map the boy’s genome for sequence errors. In the writing vein of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksit reads more like fiction and will keep your attention through the end.

I devoured this book in about six hours. It is masterfully written, includes brilliant views of science and medicine and patient/family perspectives, displays a prime example of Moore’s Law (of economics and rapidly developing technology), and is thought-provoking regarding ethics surrounding entire genome sequencing. It is enthralling at times like a mystery and heart-tugging to read of a mother’s unwavering love and advocacy of her son with the only recorded instance of the disease. I particularly loved how the mom’s Caring Bridge journal entries were woven throughout the story to give patient/family perspective alongside medical discussions.

With the ever-increasing need for nurses and all healthcare professionals to understand genetics and genomics, this is a lovely educational book that is also easy to pack for a weekend beach vacation. It really is that good!

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[Book Review] It’s My Pleasure

IMG_0906Dee Ann Turner, Chick-Fil-A VP of Corporate Talent, details her organization’s service and wow-culture in It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture. Named for a saying that’s the norm in the food chain that now permeates businesses everywhere, It’s My Pleasure shares lovely stories of the people making Chick-Fil-A a powerhouse business continuing to innovate and wow customers.

Because Chick-Fil-A knows the people doing the work matter, they take great measures to steward their people – hiring the right people and then growing those people into their leaders at every level of the business. It’s refreshing to see often word-only business concepts like “loyalty” in a different way through Turner’s examples of how the company creates raving fans not only in their customer base but within their ranks, as well. And while most of us rarely consider dining in a fast food chain as a great “experience,” Chick-Fil-A works for just that purpose, delivering “second-mile service” rooted in deep faith principles.

Easily read in an afternoon, if you’re curious about culture change and how great organizations practically implement unparalleled service, It’s My Pleasure is the book for you.

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[Book Review] Life to the Max

LifetotheMaxLife to the Max is a digital sampler of several of author Max Lucado’s books. With six chapters from six different books, you’ll get a flavor of Lucado’s inspirational yet challenging writing. From doubt and fear to servanthood and excellence, it’s pretty amazing how much information these six seemingly-small chapters contain.

You can easily finish Life to the Max in under an hour as the select chapters are brief (but powerful), and if you’ve never read Max Lucado, this easy read will likely lead you to just the right starter-book of his, no doubt aligned to a Life to the Max sample chapter.

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[Book Review] Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Few things determine success like emotional intelligence (EQ) – being able to recognize personal emotions as well as the IMG_0897emotions of others and manage those emotions within the environment or to attain the goal-at-hand.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is Travis Bradberry’s and Jean Greaves’s first update in several years to their sentinel book. It’s a compact book with many brief chapters (2-4 pages each) separated into the four EQ skill sections of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The book – when purchased new – includes a link to a free EQ test to assess strengths and opportunities for improvement, which can be especially helpful when reading the various sections.

As a leader I’ve seen great people with strong work skills crumble under the inability to recognize their emotions and get lost within them in critical moments or their inability to manage the emotions of others in tense moments, losing the leadership reigns. I have pointed many people to this book, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t helpful personally. Recognizing and managing emotions in self or others is a key skill any leader should possess, and this book can absolutely assist with that in those struggling as well as those looking for reminders and perhaps new, practical skills to continue in successful work.

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[Book Review] Brilliant Mistakes

Brilliant MistakesBrilliant Mistakes is authored by Paul J.H. Schoemaker and narrated by Dave Courvoisier. With nearly five hours of audio, this book will keep your attention with great stories like finding the Beatles to the development of immunology and discovery of penicillin to Steve Jobs’s happenstance interest in calligraphy that revolutionized computer fonts.

Schoemaker does a lovely job discussing the types of mistakes – tragic, serious, trivial, and brilliant, and there are plenty of quotes that will spur you on when you’ve failed 573,298 times. He purports that companies must speed up deliberate and purposeful mistake-making to accelerate success, and that mistake-making risk must be diversified – just like finances. The more risk averse you are, the more you must diversify and, thus, make more mistakes. It’s counterintuitive because mistakes made together often have a synergistic hedging effect than a single mistake. Organizations that leverage frontline associates to generate and try ideas in work or those with robust R&D departments are the ones that most benefit from this concept as literally hundreds or thousands of ideas spread the risk of “mistakes” across a broad “area.” To be successful in failing frequently, organizations must deliberately hardware mistake-making and learning from them to accelerate the business or mission.

Brilliant Mistakes is chock full of great information. Pick it up or download the audio version for practical ideas and inspiration for “successful failing.”

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[Book Review] Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture

SoupSoup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, by Jon Gordon, is a simple, easy-to-read (or listen to) book. It provides basic organizational culture strategies through the “stirring” story of a young female CEO struggling to revitalize her company only to realize the key ingredients after talking with the Grandma-in-Chief at Grandma’s Soup House, a nearby restaurant always with a bustling crowd.

The foundational leadership concepts are simple enough for novice leaders and powerful, quick reminders for expert leaders. It resounds that the person stirring the soup matters and that relationships (e.g. people) are the root key to everything we do in business and service. While the table of contents is long, each chapter lasts only a few minutes; you can finish the book in about 2.5 hours, and since the chapters are short, it is an easy book to read while commuting.

While it wasn’t a part of my business school curriculum, I am sure it is a part of someone’s, and this would be a great book for any new leader or a new leader development book club. All-in-all, Soup is an imaginative read with practical implications.

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[Book Review] Mistakes I Made at Work

MistakesIMadeAtWork_croppedI’ve done quite a bit of reading over the last few months, so it’s time to catch up with some book review posts! If you’re looking for a “new” book to read (or not), get cozy because there are several reviews heading your way via Nursetopia. So let’s get started!

Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong is edited by Jessica Bacal; I opted for the audiobook version (narrated by Karen Saltus), which I was able to finish over about 2.5 hours while traveling. “Finish” is the correct word because I, unfortunately, have a hard time stopping any book I start; I wish I had the mental fortitude to have stopped this one, though. I kept thinking, “It will get better…one more chapter.” [sigh] It never got better. Each chapter focuses on a different businesswoman and a key mistake she indicates shifted her career in some way. I found the stories of the mistakes to be rather shallow in description at times and a bit choppy to listen to.

I was really looking forward to reading the book as I have an interest in “mistakes” and “failures” that propel entrepreneurs and innovative ideas forward. I was hoping to get encouragement from successful women’s stories of mistakes and missed opportunities, but I was only left hoping for an end to the book. I do believe the book would have been much better if the chapters were actually read by the different women, sharing their stories in their own voices.

From the Amazon reviews of this book, my opinion – to pass on Mistakes I Made at Work – is the minority voice. Still, I think there are several other books about springboard failures that would be much better investments of your time and focus.

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Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade [Book Review]

photo-27I spent the majority of last week at a training about lean tools and concepts. At the beginning of the class, the instructor asked how many people volunteered for the class as opposed to how many were “voluntold” to attend the class. I was definitely a volunteer for the class, seeking it out to learn more about my organization’s use of these lean concepts, and I thoroughly enjoyed the class.

I had an entire class on operational efficiencies in graduate school, but it wasn’t tailored to health care, and there were few examples that I could extrapolate at the time as most of my colleagues were heavily focused on mechanical industries. I have always been drawn to systems and processes, though, and I now see more of that graduate class influenced my current work than I previously realized. After the lean class, I now have very clear examples of lean work in health care, formalized and workable tools, and terms to go along with current work. I nerded out the entire time; it was a blast.

After the course, I borrowed Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in the First Grade, written by Robert O. Martichenko, from the instructing department’s lending library. It caught my eye simply because it looked like an easy and intriguing read. And it definitely is.

Even after 28 hours of lean training, the book delivered easy to understand concepts and examples to further bolster my lean learning. It was fun to see lean principles at work in an elementary school, and I know I will think about many of the examples as I walk through my children’s school in the future. Complete with illustrations, brief paragraphs, and summary sections, the book is an easy two-hour read that will get you thinking about lean principles everywhere in business, no matter the industry.

Two complexly simple themes throughout the book are:

  • Lean is not about tools; lean is about thinking. 
  • ‘Why’ is more important than ‘how.’ 

I am going to keep chewing on these and keep them at the forefront of my mind. Overall, this is a quick and thought-provoking read. You should check it out.

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New Online Oncology Nursing Resource is Anything But ‘Textbook’

inPractice® Oncology Nursing has a brand new textbook resource available to help nurses at the bedside or chairside. Broken into clinically relevant segments and chock full of evidence-based practice guidelines and information, inPractice® Oncology Nursing has chapters upon chapters of education, laid out in bite-sized pieces, which is perfect for just-in-time expert information. The graphic-heavy content has a hint of Pinterest for oncology professionals, making the content easy to grasp and retain. All evidence-based guidelines and reference journal articles are hyperlinked throughout the online text, so nurses can quickly go straight to the evidence as well as national practice-guiding documents across topics. In addition, the content itself is hyperlinked, so nurses can scan from issue to issue if they’d like to learn more about certain topics. With a robust table of content, inPractice® Oncology Nursing is a comprehensive oncology nursing textbook like no other.

I had the privilege to be a part of this ground-breaking oncology nurse textbook development. I love the combination of strong content with aesthetically-pleasing, easy-to-understand graphics that help support the content. I can attest to the strength of the information as all references and guidelines were thoroughly checked and then each chapter was passed through a rigorous peer review process. And since this textbook is online, updates are a breeze. In fact, inPractice® Oncology Nursing has been published since the end of February 2014, and my section (on survivorship) has already had content updates based on new evidence in the field. Now that is timely, accurate, and reliable oncology nursing support.

Check out the new resource, and if you’re attending the 39th Annual Oncology Nursing Congress in Anaheim, May 1 – 4, you can stop by the inPractice® exhibit booth to talk with some of the experts and learn more about the textbook that is helping redefine oncology nursing education.

Disclosure: I served as a section editor and chapter author for inPractice® Oncology Nursing. I was compensated for my involvement to develop the resource. All thoughts here are my own. I did not receive remuneration to share my thoughts.