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26 Time Management Hacks

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Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work [Hardcover]

Mason Currey (Editor)

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Release date: April 23, 2013

Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”

Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, whether by waking early or staying up late; whether by self-medicating with doughnuts or bathing, drinking vast quantities of coffee, or taking long daily walks. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing up in the kitchen, the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his “male configurations”. . . Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day . . . Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep through woods, gardens, and enchanted palaces where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable.”

Here are: Anthony Trollope, who demanded of himself that each morning he write three thousand words (250 words every fifteen minutes for three hours) before going off to his job at the postal service, which he kept for thirty-three years during the writing of more than two dozen books . . . Karl Marx . . . Woody Allen . . . Agatha Christie . . . George Balanchine, who did most of his work while ironing . . . Leo Tolstoy . . . Charles Dickens . . . Pablo Picasso . . . George Gershwin, who, said his brother Ira, worked for twelve hours a day from late morning to midnight, composing at the piano in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers . . .

Here also are the daily rituals of Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, John Updike, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Anne Rice, and Igor Stravinsky (he was never able to compose unless he was sure no one could hear him and, when blocked, stood on his head to “clear the brain”).

Brilliantly compiled and edited, and filled with detail and anecdote, Daily Rituals is irresistible, addictive, magically inspiring.

How to Live Like an Artist, by Author Mason Currey

How to Live Like an Artist, by Author Mason Currey

By Mason Currey on April 11, 2013

You’d do well to find a supportive spouse. While there are people who had day jobs—Anthony Trollope worked at the post office for 35 years—most were either independently wealthy or had a spouse (a wife, usually) who took care of day-to-day operations so they could go about writing or painting or composing. Sigmund Freud’s wife even put toothpaste on his toothbrush.

You do have to carve out a few hours a day to work. Most artists don’t work long hours, often just three or four a day, but they work every day. They have routines. Frank Lloyd Wright designed his buildings around 4 a.m. Ernest Hemingway stopped when he felt he could go on. He believed in leaving something in the tank, so to speak, that makes you want to pick up the next day where you left off.

You don’t have to cultivate an eccentric habit, but if you have one, you’re in good company. Friedrich Schiller kept rotting apples in his workroom. He said he needed their decaying smell to feel the urge to write, whatever that’s about.

Not many drink while they work, but a lot seem to pull off an amphetamine habit. W.H. Auden took Benzedrine every morning like a multivitamin. Jean-Paul Sartre used Corydrane, fashionable among Parisian intellectuals at the time. He’d take 20 a day, chewing them like candy. It made him really, really productive. It’s tempting to look into that.

• Currey is author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. As told to Claire Suddath

How to Follow Your Instincts, by Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet

How to Follow Your Instincts, by Net-A-Porter’s Natalie Massenet

By Natalie Massenet on April 11, 2013

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Before I launched Net-A-Porter I came up with a number of different ideas that business associates deemed ridiculous, and I ignored my instinct and lost opportunities. When it came to starting Net-A-Porter, I found strength in being a loner, initially, and then even more strength in finding and hiring people who shared my vision. At the beginning it’s better to have fewer people who are on your side than many people who want to change what you feel is right.

In our early days, instinct was everything. Slowly experience took over, and I’ve had to work hard to ensure that I value experience but allow it to coexist with gut reaction. My instinct has told me to hire people I trust—those who have strong belief in their own convictions and the experience to back it up, but not necessarily the relevant résumé. Sometimes I make mistakes, and with hindsight I can say those decisions were made when I didn’t listen to the voice inside. The priority is creating time for silence so we can process ideas, react instinctively to them, give them strong business foundations, and ensure they are in line with the idea that launched us in the first place.

• Massenet is the founder and executive chairman of the Net-A-Porter Group.

How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator, by former governor of New Mexico and US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardso

How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator [Hardcover]

Bill Richardson (Author), Kevin Bleyer (Author)

Release date: October 15, 2013

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Former governor of New Mexico and US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson has engaged in high-stakes, face-to-face negotiations with Castro, Saddam, the Taliban, North Korea leaders, Slobodan Milosevic, and many other of the world’s “crazy people”—and done it so well he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Now he tells these stories—from Washington, DC to the Middle East to Pyongyang—in all their intense and sometimes absurd glory.

Readers also get a fine lesson in the art of negotiation: How to prepare, how to size up your opponent, understanding the nature of power in a standoff, how to give up only what is necessary while getting what you want, and many other strategies Richardson has mastered through at-the-table experience.

Richardson’s co-writer, Kevin Bleyer, is an Emmy Award-winning writer on The Daily Show, so this book will be as entertaining as it is revelatory. It’s part memoir, part instructional guide, part humor book, and the perfect read for anyone who wants to understand how the world really works.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

BILL RICHARDSON is a two-term governor of New Mexico, former US ambassador to the UN, and former secretary of the Department of Energy. He spent 15 years in Congress and has successfully won the release of hostages, American servicemen, and prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, and Sudan.

KEVIN BLEYER is an Emmy Award-winning writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and author of Me The People: One Man’s Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America.

How to Get People to Listen, by Newark Mayor Cory Booker; “Statistics tell, and stories sell.” The real communicators are the ones who can motivate people to act—and ultimately to lead themselves.

How to Get People to Listen, by Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Cory Booker on April 11, 2013

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My mom told me very early in life, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.” What she meant was you’ve really got to embody what you’re trying to communicate. Ultimately, that’s more important than mere words. You also have to have passion and belief. My dad worked for IBM (IBM). He said, “Look, I can’t sell products I don’t believe in. People will see right through me. But if I’m passionate and have a deep conviction about what I’m doing, I’m the greatest salesman there is.” I’ve found it to be the same way for me.

If that doesn’t work, sometimes you have to do things that push people out of their comfort zone. I’ll ask for a handheld microphone because I don’t want to be behind that podium. Sometimes I’ll jump off the stage and walk in the audience. I’ll start with a joke and get people laughing, or I’ll tell a story. Again, I go back to my father. He used to say, “Statistics tell, and stories sell.”

When I was a Newark councilperson in my late 20s and felt impotent because I couldn’t get anything done, I had to use my creativity to get people’s attention. I engaged in a hunger strike at a housing project to get people to listen. I moved into a mobile home and parked it on the worst drug corner to get people to pay attention and address the issue. My goal is to motivate people to act.

In the end, it’s not about you; it’s not about getting people to listen to you. That’s just an ego indulgence. As a society, we’ve gotten into this state of what I call sedentary agitation—we’re often upset about what’s going on but not getting up and taking action. The real communicators are the ones who can motivate people to act—and ultimately to lead themselves.

• Booker is mayor of Newark, N.J. As told to Devin Leonard

How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave, by Google’s Christopher Coleman

How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave, by Google’s Christopher Coleman

By Christopher Coleman on April 11, 2013

The No. 1 thing is to listen to what employees need. We found that they need a lot of diversity. There are so many ways to work—as a team, solo—and so many kinds of workers, from introverts to extroverts and so on. We create many different places so people can be as productive as possible—from formal and informal conference rooms to open spaces to stretching and yoga areas and gyms. One trick is to design spaces with a diversity of scale, light, and mood. It’s really hard to do, and it looks like we’re just making up these crazy spaces, but it’s very scientific. We have information from Googlers on what works and what doesn’t, we do post-occupancy surveys, we ask questions, and we listen very closely. When we design a space, we usually offer a few solutions people can react to. We go back to the drawing board, go down to two or three options, and pick one. Next we define aspects like mood, lighting, and furniture. Then we build it, and people are happy—hopefully.

With all this input, they’re basically designing their own space. One of the earlier amenities we provided were micro-kitchens. It was an amazing, vibrant place where people connected before they started their workday. Now we have micro-kitchens that are libraries, micro-kitchens that are game rooms. Also, health is very important. A few years ago we introduced sit-stand desks, and they’re used extensively now. It changes the worker’s environment all through the day and gives them flexibility to work how they want to work.

We look at every single detail through the Living Lab, which is a space where the Real Estate and Workplace Services team can experiment with innovative ideas for the office. We’re trying out three ventilation systems, six lighting systems, and furniture from 10 manufacturers. In the end, though, we’re actually very frugal in our approach to design. It’s more about creating character than money spent.

• Coleman is global design director at Google (GOOG). As told to Venessa Wong

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