1. The Author's Backstory.
I first came in contact with Thomas Frank as I was looking up productivity videos on Youtube.
Watching his videos on productivity, I thought they were well choreographed, informative, and to the point. I then stuck around as a consumer of his content and eventually bought his book.
This quote summarizes him pretty well:
"Thomas Frank is a student success author, YouTuber, and speaker who has been helping college students achieve their goals since 2010. He is the founder of college info geek, a blog, YouTube channel, and podcast that reaches over 600,000 students each month and has been featured on US News, FOX Business, the Willis report, business insider, and more."
Thomas Frank graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems from Iowa State University.
During the summer months of his Freshman year, he wrote an article on Productivity to apply for a position at a popular college productivity blog; when he was politely rejected for the position, he decided to create his own website to house his article, and that was the beginning to his now 7-Figure company/website College Info Geek.
Thomas Frank currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with his fiancée.
2. Why did the author write the book?
The author wrote this book to help students become more efficient with their studies.
One of his goals is to publish a traditional book on productivity, so the publication of this book could be a stepping stone towards accomplishing that goal(page 94).
3. What is the Author's Thesis?
To help students earn better grades while studying less.
4. What is the Author's Purpose?
The author's purpose is to share ten suggestions to help individuals be more productive in school and life.
5. What were two arguments the Author used to defend his thesis?
The argument from step 4, 'Plan like a General,' stood out to me in many ways, probably because Planning and staying organized are areas in my life that I am constantly trying to improve.
Thomas shared many valuable concepts in this section that I believe will make you a better student and more productive overall.
In this chapter, he shared eight different tips to become a better planner and executer. I want to focus on the three points that stood out most.
I am also actively trying to implement them in my workflow. The three points include:
1. Planning mode vs. Robot mode
3. Knowing your correct time estimate for completing a task
Even though Planning mode and Timeboxing were different points in the chapter, I think they work hand in hand.
Timeboxing is one of the best ways to limit our options moving forward, but planning is useless without actually working the plans, and so this is why Robot mode is such a critical follow-up.
In Robot mode, we should be like a machine in getting tasks done because machines don't get lazy or distracted; they work until the task is complete.
The third point I wanted to discuss is our ability to make correct time estimates for specific tasks.
He talks about The Planning Fallacy and how Optimistic Bias causes us to make shorter time predictions than what it would actually take.
The phrase he used to describe this was 'Know Thy Fudge Ratio,' and this phrase was also the section's name. He described the workaround for this problem in great detail.
The solution that he proposed was:
Step 1 Record your best time estimate to complete a task
Step 2 Record the time that it took for you to complete the task
Step 3 Plug both numbers in the formula below
Actual Time Taken/ Estimated time = Fudge Ratio
Now moving forward, all you would need to do to get the correct time estimate for the task would be to multiply your Fudge Ratio by your best time estimate.
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Step 7 was based solely on ways to defeat procrastination. In my opinion, it was the best chapter. The content resonated with me and made me want to do better.
He shared that when we don't want to do something, we often say to ourselves, 'I don't feel like it,' but saying this does nothing to limit our options moving forward.
So he shared that instead of saying 'I don't feel like it,' say instead, 'I don't feel like it, but I am going to do it anyway.'
By making this shift in our self-talk, we open the door to improving the habit of starting tasks even when we are not motivated.
He also shared that we need to expose ourselves to uncomfortable situations and push ourselves through them; as we do this, we increase our capacity to do hard things. Thus, whenever a difficult problem arises in the future, there will be less resistance in getting started.
"The true key to success in college is putting in the consistent, daily effort. Your workload is almost always large, and the best way to stay on top of it, keep your stress levels low and, and maximize your learning potential is to make sure you are putting in the effort every single day."
The above quote is my favorite from the book because it is that simple: work every day, and things will get done.
Getting things done will increase your competency, thus increasing your intrinsic motivation to keep going and work harder.
But it all starts with chipping away at it every day.
6. What was the Author's Conclusion?
Step 10 was all about conquering Group Projects, not quite the conclusion you might be expecting.
After Step 10 had a short section titled 'Fin: Where to go from here,' which essentially talked about applying the concepts in the book that have resonated with you.
He shared that we will accomplish our goals by forming a plan to focus on one or two suggestions.
Overall, there wasn't much else at the end of the book that could classify as a summary or conclusion.
7. What is my Conclusion about the Book?
I believe the book's strength was that the arguments were clear and easy to understand.
Thomas Frank, in many cases, spoke from research and his experiences on the topic.
A weakness, I believe, was a lack of detailed case studies of how to apply the various study strategies.
There also was no summary at the end of each chapter or the end of the book.
For those who like to quickly skim through a book by reading each chapter's first and last paragraphs, this book would not yield much insight with this method.
The intended audience is for anyone currently in school or planning to attend in the future. The contents were mainly geared toward college or university students.
Many chapters, such as Step 7 Defeat Procrastination, or even Chapter 6 Fight Entropy and Stay Organized, can be relevant to anyone who wants to be more productive. Thus, Non-College or University students could also benefit from this book.
His writing style was simple and easy to follow; he had many valuable tips on being a better student and being productive overall.
So overall, I would say it was pretty effective.
The overall readability was good. I found each step to be relevant in becoming a better student.
The contents were presented in a much simpler fashion than similar books in the field and his arguments were short and to the point. Depending on the reader this could be a weakness or a strength.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT TO GET OUT OF THIS BOOK?
You should expect a wide array of productivity, and technology hacks with apps and other software to be more productive. He gave many illustrations of how he currently boosts his productivity with these tools.
I would give this book a rating of 3.9/5.