The Book List: Get it Done! A Round-up of Resources

Last week I posted about some of the books I recommend to clients looking for resources on communication and relationships. This week, I’m providing a few recommendations for books about getting things done, procrastination, motivation, and avoiding burnout.

Time, Productivity, Procrastination, and more

First, a round up of resources I’ve pulled together from productivity books, blogs, and techniques:


Do You Have Time, or Does Time Have You?7 ways to experiment with your experience of time, and 5 book recommendations.

I Can’t Manage Time – inspired by David Allen’s words in Getting Things Doneyou can’t manage time, but you can manage your actions.

The Action Management Swordknowing your purpose can guide your time strategy. With shout-outs to Zen to Done, Getting Things Done, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Purposeful Big Rocksunderstanding how to put the important things first.

Truth in Datagetting curious about how you actually spend your day.

Final Words on Timetips for doing less, getting started, focusing, avoiding distractions, and attending to the big picture.


And now, a few new resources:

The Power of Full Engagement

One of my favourite recommendations this year:

The Power of Full Engagement – Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal

Two things grabbed my attention within the first chapter or so of this book:

1 – The authors point out that high performing athletes spend about 90% of their time preparing and training and resting up for the 10% of time when they perform at peak levels.

So, hey, it’s kind of silly to think that we can perform at peak levels at our jobs for 40-60 hours a week day in and day out, week after week, right?

2 – The idea that many of us think of life as one long marathon, when it can be helpful instead to consider it as a series of sprints. And in between the sprints are opportunities for rest, renewal and recovery.

Throughout the book, the authors explore four areas of energy expenditure and energy renewal: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. They point out that we can strengthen our energy muscles in each of these areas by pushing ourselves just past our comfort zone, and then building in recovery time. And they’re generous with examples, case studies, and exercises to try on your own.

If you’d like to get a glimpse at their methodology, you can answer 20 questions online to complete their “Energy Audit” and see your results. You can find the Energy Audit here.

The Tiny Habits Program

Recently I heard about the Tiny Habits program, a free online program in which you take a week to set up a workable habit. Click here for my experience with the program.

The Now Habit

Awhile back I read The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play. I liked the way the book examined procrastination as a symptom, not just a cause, and the step-by-step guide it provides for building guilt-free play into one’s schedule first. Another part of it that I’ve been loving is the suggestion to take two minutes at the start of any activity to relax, centre myself, consciously let go of the past and the future, drop into the present, and then set an intention for the activity I’m about to begin.


What would you add?

What books — or other resources — have you found most helpful for your learning about communication and relationships? I’d love to hear your replies in the comments.


Stories on the Head-to-Heart Journey: The Big-A Agenda of Realizing Potential

I occasionally share stories to illustrate what a coaching session is like. While these stories are drawn from my experience working with clients, names, details, and identifying information have been altered.

realizing potential, life coach ottawa

Image: Sam Ely and Lynn Harris, Unrealised Potential stamp, 2010

E. said he wanted coaching on procrastination. First, I got curious and asked what procrastination looks like for him. He talked about what he does and doesn’t do when he procrastinates.

I wondered what it would be like for E. if he didn’t procrastinate. He started describing what he would do, and how he would get it done, and how he would meet deadlines.

E. was starting to paint the picture of what he wanted in his life, but I didn’t have a sense yet of what made this important. So I asked, “What’s important to you about this?”

As E. answered, I heard one of those big, lightbulb, heart-stopping phrases come out of his mouth:

“I could actualize my potential.”

Wowzer, I thought! We’re not just talking about getting things done. We’re talking about this beautiful human being’s ability to realize his potential!

I echoed that back to him, telling E. that I was really appreciating the significance of what he was speaking about. I had a sense that he was feeling the significance too, so I checked that out: “How does it feel for you when you start talking about actualizing your potential?”

E. answered that indeed, he was feeling the significance of it. I imagined he could feel it even more, though, and what I wanted for him was to get a taste of what he was describing, the person he would be without procrastination.

I invited him to choose a spot in the room that would represent “the land of realizing potential”. He chose the spot, and then together we moved there. We stood there, sinking into the feeling of “realizing my potential.” When I thought he was really experiencing the vision of it, I asked, “What’s possible here?”

A huge smile broke out on E.’s face as he said, “What’s possible? Well. . . anything! What couldn’t I do from here?”

I could see he was feeling and embodying that sense of possibility, and I wanted him to get even more tangible and specific. “What might you do?” I asked.

E. started naming things he would do in this land of realizing potential. He named the things he would have time to do once he got over his procrastination tendency. He pointed out that he would have more time for his personal projects, the things he really wanted to do.

When I could see his excitement at what he could accomplish, I knew we had tapped into the vision – we had touched on what was really important to him about being able to address his procrastination. So it was time to turn back to where we had started.

From where we were standing, I asked him to look back at the chair he had left. “Over there,” I said, “sits E., a great guy who’s struggling with procrastination. As you stand here, realizing your potential, and look back at E., what’s your advice for him?”

“I guess what he doesn’t get is that just because he doesn’t want to do something doesn’t mean he should put it off, because it’s not just about doing that one thing. . . doing that one thing affects so many other things he’ll be able to do.”

“Almost like he’s not looking at the big picture?” I asked.

“Yeah! E., see the big picture!” E. said.

From there, E. and I started drafting what it would tangibly look like to take a “big picture” approach, and how he could start putting it into place, starting with spending time later that day taking on something he’d been putting off.

P.S. For all you coach geeks out there, some of the coaching skills I was using in this conversation were:

  • Curiosity: Exploring what “procrastination” looked like for E.
  • The Big-A Agenda: The little-a agenda – the topic-of-the-moment, as it were – was procrastination. But procrastination was a piece of something much bigger for E. – his Big-A Agenda was self-realization, or actualizing his potential.
  • Fulfillment coaching: In Fulfillment coaching (one of three coaching principles taught in the Co-Active coaching approach), we spend a majority of the time painting the picture of What-It-Would-Be-Like if the client achieved his/her goal. From this place of fulfillment, identifying, choosing, and committing to an action comes easily.
  • Articulating what’s going on: I took time to articulate to E. that I was appreciating the significance of what he was talking about, and took time to get him to articulate what he was experiencing as he spoke about it too.
  • Geography: I used physical movement to get E. to explore a different “geography”. When he physically stepped into “the land of realizing potential”, he got a visceral sense of what it could be like, and what it was he was aiming for.