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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Crazy Busy by Edward M. Hallowell


I finished this book in October 2023. I recommend this book 3/10.


Why you should read this book:

If you feel like you are totally overwhelmed with business and are unsure why you feel that way. The book highlights that the Busyness of the modern world (the book was written before social media) makes people act like they have ADD.


Get your copy here.


🚀 The book in three sentences

  1. The world is getting busier. No app or technology will help our lizard's brains handle this.

  2. You need to set guard rails around your availability.

  3. I will try to slow down and be a time protector of my own availability.


🎨 Impressions

  • I would have recommended this book much higher in 2005, but not all books stand the test of time.


📝 My notes and thoughts

  • P17. The wise will be humble enough to listen to others, creative enough to devise new solutions to our new problems, and bold enough in the face of uncertainty to give them a try.

  • P33. Even what everyone agrees is good for you can seem to contradict itself. For example, how do you both get enough sleep and make every minute count? Or how do you follow your bliss but be practical in preparing for the world that lies ahead? And how do you floss regularly, eat eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day, drink lots of water, exercise at least thirty minutes at least three times a week, attend religious services regularly, belong to groups that matter to you, and attend their meetings, keep up with your friends, not neglect your outside interests, work your job, raise your kids, do the laundry, pay taxes, have sex at least once a week, deal with the pressure of relentless uncertainty, and change the oil in your car every three thousand miles without possessing the powers of a miracle maker? No one knows. From corporate strategies to child-rearing theories to personal health to money management to career expectations, uncertainty rules.

  • P40. Schedule lovemaking.

  • P42. As one person said to me, getting organized has become the modern form of dieting: Everyone wants to do it, few do it successfully, and even those who do, do it successfully usually revert to their former state.

  • P44. Make priorities, like:

    • Family dinner

    • Lunch with friends

    • Time for book club

    • Date nights and getaway weekends.

  • P52. Find rhythm or flow, like a golfer or musician when working. Standard Operation Procedures can help with this.

  • P55. Remember that when things change, new opportunities appear. Also, it is perfectly fine to decide not to be part of social platforms.

  • P70. Creating a positive emotional environment. Finding your rhythm. These are the keys. It also helps if you like to play.

  • P104. When people get stressed, they resemble the same behaviors as people with ADD.

  • P107. I once interviewed a professional juggler. He told me the greatest number of balls he could juggle was six. The greatest anyone had ever juggled, as far as he knew, was eleven. And the most objects of any kind—rings, because they take up the least space when thrown vertically into the air—was thirteen. I asked him if he was working to get to seven balls. He told me he was not because in order to get to seven, he would have to give up several hours a day for at least six months, and he didn't have the spare time to do that. "I'm very good," he told me. "I put on a great show with six. No one has ever come up to me and told me they wish I had done seven. I can work many variations with six and make people's jaw drop. Six is enough. I don't need any more." It reminded me of the limit I learned while tending the grill.

  • P108. Think about how you can stretch how you do things today. Could you get by with only replying to emails every other day?

  • P139. I take the liberty here to modify the Serenity Prayer according to my purpose in this book:

    • God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The insight to prioritize wisely what I want to change; The patience to resist trying to control everything I could, had I the energy and time; The courage and skill to change the things I have chosen to change; And the wisdom to know the difference among all these.

  • P162. You must choose. You must prioritize. In order both to do well and to be happy, you must say, "No, thank you," to many people and activities. Cultivate your lilies and get rid of your leeches. Give yourself permission to get rid of what hinders you, whether they're projects, people, or ideas. Yes, an idea can become a leech.

  • P171. Eliminate toxic worry.

    • Step 1: talk to someone. Never worry alone.

    • Step 2: get the facts. Toxic worry usually derives from a lack of information or wrong information.

    • Step 3: make a plan. Even if your plan doesn't work, you will feel more in control. You can always revise the plan.

  • P201. "Everyone is so busy," he said, using a word that made me smile, "that they're not looking past the next meeting or the next deadline. Shortsighted is an understatement. They're frantic, defensive, leaving the best of their minds at home. People do not think their bosses want them to think, so they don't. They're too busy to anyway. And the bosses don't think, either, because they're just trying to make the next set of numbers. We are on a collision course with disaster if we don't get smart and use the deeper parts of our minds. Right now, everybody is running around just reacting to the last bit of news. Warren Buffett and Edward Lampert, what makes them special," Howard said, "is just how focused they are, how deep they are into their own mentation. They consciously avoid distractions and overstimulation. Buffet sits alone at his desk without a computer. Lampert takes days out of his office just to think."

  • P203. We don't plausibly blather here. We ask our people to get off their computer screens and spend more time thinking. Thinking doesn't mean staring at the wall, hoping that something hits you. It means analyzing the five reasons you have for advocating a certain position, then analyzing the lingering doubts you have, then looking for opposing views."

  • P205. Not being a business guy in my daily life, I asked Howard to describe what he meant by "big-picture questions." "Questions like these," he replied. 'How dominant can Google become, and why?' Or, 'What would be the ripple effect if there were a meaningful decline in home prices?" Or, 'What would happen if all of a sudden construction began on ten new nuclear power plants?' Or, 'What will happen if a whole generation can't write with their own hands?'" He went on.

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