Idea: Kadavy's Mind Management, Not Time Management asserts that a culture of "busyness" stymies creative thinking. Drawing on his own experience as a writer who has had to discover his own "Creative Sweet Spot," Kadavy persuasively assails common standards for productivity, instead advocating "a cohesive and flexible system for managing creative energy." He offers clear, practical advice for the creation of unique individual systems, while examining creative cycles, the mental states of creative work, and his own "Four Stages of Creativity." All the while, he packs his chapters with insights from his own life and from the cream of the crop of thinkers on creativity.
Prose: Kadavy's clear, engaging, shapely prose stands as this work’s strongest asset. The author proves adept at fresh coinages and illuminating metaphor. His style is inviting without sacrificing depth or thoroughness. Even the chapters that concern his own work crafting podcasts and newsletters pass breezily, with enough insights and memorable descriptions to discourage skimming. The text contains few typos or ambiguities.
Originality: Kadavy draws deeply from previous books about creativity, and passages about Michelangelo or Paul McCartney are overly familiar. Still, Kadavy never relies on truisms or received wisdom, and he continually contributes new ideas to his subject, such as the distinction between "grippy" and "slippy" tools or his contention that a "Passive Genius" lurks in the subconscious. Also, the author applies all of this thinking about creativity to his own life, ensuring an original perspective.
Character/Execution: Sharply written and dedicated to practical advice, Mind Management, Not Time Management makes a clean, clear case that individuals in creative fields benefit from fresh approaches to productivity.
Blurb: Kadavy's Mind Management, Not Time Management bursts with practical strategies for establishing work habits attuned to the workings of the creative mind, all laid out with clarity and persuasive power.
Date Submitted: December 04, 2020
This is one of those books I will read again and again. And I'm DOING the book, not just reading it. It is not just information, but ways to renovate and restructure how we think about managing our lives to do the creative work better and with much less frustration. As David says, it is about managing our MINDS, not (just) our Time.
As I practice this stuff, I can go back and get more to work on, and I keep making progress. You can read it and check another self improvement or productivity book off your list, but I think there is enough here that a lot of the other stuff out there fits with this and supports it; or, maybe better said, this book gives us a foundation to build on, taking anything and everything we might have already known to the next level, or even the level above that, if we DO what David has given us.
The Four Stages of Creativity: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification.
Just knowing what these are is very helpful for people who create (pretty much all of us), but David helps us see that we can't just call up these on demand; our minds need to be in the right state for them. We can build our lives, or at least our work or creative lives, around respecting these four stages by understanding the Seven Mental States of Creative Work, and matching what stage we want to be in with our mental state, or use our mental state to pursue the appropriate stage.
"Even time management is valuable, up to a point. But mind management picks up where all these methods leave off. Time management optimizes the resource of time. Mind management optimizes the resource of creative energy." This is a promise of the book, and I believe it delivers, if we are willing to DO it.
David Kadavy knows of many of the great books and tools for productivity out there. In fact, he has interviewed some of their creators on his podcast.
I liked this book a lot, not only because he takes things like the wonderful Getting Things Done and Atomic Habits and Deep Work and recent neurobiology to the next level, but he also weaves the wisdom of great creators together with his own hard won lessons on what works and what doesn't.
Jason Fried, Bill Gates, Stephen King, Steve Jobs, George Carlin, Elizabeth Bishop, Alice Walker, Marian Anderson, Maya Angelou, John Konious, Robert Levine, Meridith Monk, Lillian Hellman, Ari Meisel, David Rock, Seth Godin, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and David Allen, to name some of the people who are woven into this in big or little ways, not just as cute quotes on the margins, but as signposts along the way to a life where creativity increases and becomes easier because we learn to structure our lives around the way our mind works, rather than pounding ourselves into arbitrary industrialized notions of productivity and management and wasting a great deal of mental energy on distractions or trying to do something when we are not in the right mental state for it.
The Seven Mental States of Creative Work: Starting with the ideas from Deep Work, but realizing there were different flavors, David has done the experimentation and verification in his own life, confirming what he was finding with other creators and teachers and scientists along the way, and given us the fruit, that we can apply in our own lives, experimenting and tweaking as he encourages us.
Prioritize, Explore, Research, Generate, Polish, Administrate, and Recharge are the Seven Mental States.
They are all necessary, and they are all different. They can be cultivated by environment and rhythms, but for each of us they are not all available all the time. Once we find out what these states are for us, and how they line up with the Four Stages of Creativity, we are well on our way to being both more creative and more at peace with how we are ordering our lives because a lot of the stress has been removed.
A few of the other things David helps us with in this book: Creative Cycles, Creative Systems, our Creative Sweet Spot, nourishing our interior Passive Genius, and other useful tools and paragigms that all work together.
Also, what happens when life throws you for a loop, and then another loop, and then you find out that those two loops were small compared to the next loop life throws you? David's been there, done that. All of the stuff in this book can go with you on that journey if you are willing to learn it and apply it. This is because you have learned to harness the power of your own mind, and work with it as you face whatever life throws at you.
I don't usually write reviews. But I think this is an important book. You may need to do a little (or a lot) of your own thinking and experimenting to get all the benefits this book offers, but the meat (or, insert your favorite plant-based protein) is there, if you are willing to eat it and digest it.