I’ve got the hang of keeping my daily to-do list actionable, but I’m struggling to include some of my large and vague goals. How would I go about creating actionable items for a to-do list from a list of non-concrete goals, like ideas or self-improvement concepts?
Ready to Act
You’re definitely on the right track with creating actionable to-dos, but one thing that’s important to keep in mind is the fact that goals and to-dos are two different things. In order for them to work together, you have to break goals down into smaller chunks. That might seem difficult for non-concrete ideas, but making those ideas concrete is the first step.
Focus Your Goals into Concrete Terms
Just like you want to focus your to-dos into actionable items, you should do the same for your goals. Otherwise, you just have a vague idea of what you want and that’s not helpful. For example, a couple of the more common goals people have, “be happy,” or “have more money,” mean nothing on their own. You need to turn these into concrete goals and ask yourself what “being happy” means, or “how much money do I need?” Your answer should be clear, concrete, and achievable.
We’ve talked about breaking them into a hierarchy before that might be helpful in making those goals concrete. If that doesn’t fit your bill, you can also use mind maps , and get started by writing everything out on paper .
Focus Your Ambitions with the Lifehacker Hierarchy of Goals
Setting goals is easy, but prioritizing them is hard. Humans suck at properly weighing what we need
As we’ve pointed out before vagueness in itself isn’t bad and it’s handy to keep yourself from quitting, but you still want to figure out what terms and goals really mean to you in order to get somewhere with them. Once you do you can start thinking of milestones that will help you break goals down even further. Photo by Paul Wilkinson .
How Embracing Vagueness Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
We live in a world or precision where data-generating technology is available for practically…
Develop Three Month, Six Month, or Yearly Milestones
Before you can start turning your goals into actionable to-dos you might need to break them down into smaller milestones. This is helpful for any goal, but it’s especially needed when your goals are vague and hard to quantify. The S.M.A.R.T. system works great for this. Take a look at your big goal, find where you can insert milestones throughout the year, and then you can create actionable to-do list items.
Achieve Goals Using the S.M.A.R.T. Method
Having goals is one thing; achieving them is quite another. Productivity weblog Dumb Little Man…
For instance, let’s look at “happiness” again. You should have defined what that really means to you in the above section, but let’s say you define happiness by being well traveled. Long-term goals might include traveling to new countries or visiting more of your own. However, a six month milestone might be something like, “visit the national parks in my own state,” and a three month goal might be as simple as “visit ten new neighborhoods in my own city.” Once you have these plans it’s easier to create daily or weekly to-do list items.
We’ve talked about doing this with Google Calendar before, and it’s still the simplest way to get your milestones in order. Any calendar app will do the trick, and once you have your milestones marked you can start thinking of to-do items. Photo by Brook .
Category: Workplace Safety
Creating – and maintaining – a safe work environment should be a high priority for organizations. Indeed, under Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) law, employers have a responsibility to create and maintain a safe workplace – and comply with OSHA regulations. But putting up a few safety posters and running safety training sessions once a year is not enough.
Organizations need to actively foster and promote a strong culture of safety, year round, so that safety becomes a part of the enterprise’s DNA. This means not only making safety one of the organization’s main values, it means taking concrete steps to make sure employees have a safe work environment and are constantly striving to improve safety in the workplace. In order to improve safety culture in an organization there must be an ongoing commitment to communication. One popular method of promoting safety awareness is through workplace digital signage, which harnesses visual communication to promote messages.
Following are six ways to ensure a safe workplace and promote a strong safety culture.
Eliminate potential hazards.
Keep the workplace free from recognized physical and chemical hazards and make sure it is in compliance with OSHA standards, rules, and regulations. Use your digital signage systems to remind employees about proper body mechanics, forklift safety, safe backing, what PPE is necessary, and ways they can avoid slips, trips, and falls. Encourage workers to identify and report potential problems and safety violations and take immediate steps to have those issues resolved.
Make sure all workers are properly trained.
The organization must provide all workers with safety training using language they can understand. This training should be given to all new workers, with refresher courses offered to (or required) for existing workers or when workers change jobs (within the company). Use your electronic message boards to reinforce safety training, serving it up in bite-sized messages.
Ensure workers have the proper equipment.
Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment. Workplace digital signage is an effective tool for reinforcing injury prevention. Raise awareness around proper handling of hazardous materials, lock-out tag-out and machine guarding.
Provide visual safety aids and messages.
Use color codes, posters, labels and/or signs to warn employees of potential hazards. Additionally, place OSHA posters in all work and recreational areas – and use digital signage to broadcast important safety information, updates, and messages. For example, employers can display their safety recordables using automated counters. This visual aide displays real time data and reminds employees to stay safe.
Digital signage can be incredibly helpful in emergency situations as, unlike static posters, you can use it to instantly warn or notify workers of a situation in areas where mobile phones and computers aren’t allowed. You can also use digital signage to post daily or weekly workplace “Safety Tips”, recognize employees who have demonstrated outstanding safety awareness, and keep employees up to date on new rules and regulations.
Create a safety committee – and hold monthly safety meetings.
Establish a workplace health and safety committee made up of workers from different departments, from senior management to shop-floor-based employees. The committee should meet at least once a month and keep employees and senior management informed about safety topics, inspections, injury and illness statistics, and other safety-related issues. Use your digital signage systems to share key safety updates to the entire workforce.
Similarly, hold departmental or company-wide safety meetings once a month or quarterly to solicit employee feedback. Getting regular feedback from employees is helpful because it opens managers’ eyes to potential hazards that may have gone unnoticed, lets managers know how employees are doing/feeling, and makes employees feel valued, which improves mental health and productivity.
Make safety fun.
While safety is no game, one way to help incorporate safety into company culture is to make learning about safety fun. Use your workplace digital signage to create safety-themed trivia, quizzes, and videos of safety dos and don’ts. Friendly competition including prizes, and chances for company-wide recognition are great motivators. By adding a little fun, there’s a higher chance that employees will stay engaged, retain the information and therefore help prevent accidents.
On a daily basis, we face problems and situations that should be evaluated and solved, and we are challenged to understand different perspectives to think about these situations. Most of us are building our cognitive thinking based on previous similar situations or experiences. However, this may not guarantee a better solution for a problem, as our decision may be affected by emotions, non-prioritized facts, or other external influences that reflect on the final decision. Therefore, critical thinking tends to build a rational, open-mined process that depends on information and empirical evidence.
The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as an “intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” The process tends to help us judge and evaluate situations based on understanding the related data, analyze it, build a clear understanding of the problem, choose the proper solution, and take actions based on the established solution.
The critical thinking process prevents our minds from jumping directly to conclusions. Instead, it guides the mind through logical steps that tend to widen the range of perspectives, accept findings, put aside personal biases, and consider reasonable possibilities. This can be achieved through six steps: knowledge, comprehension, application, analyze, synthesis, and take action. Below is a brief description of each step and how to implement them.
Step 1: Knowledge
For every problem, clear vision puts us on the right path to solve it. This step identifies the argument or the problem that needs to be solved. Questions should be asked to acquire a deep understanding about the problem. In some cases, there is no actual problem, thus no need to move forward with other steps in the critical thinking model. The questions in this stage should be open-ended to allow the chance to discuss and explore main reasons. At this stage, two main questions need to be addressed: What is the problem? And why do we need to solve it?
Step 2: Comprehension
Once the problem is identified, the next step is to understand the situation and the facts aligned with it. The data is collected about the problem using any of the research methods that can be adopted depending on the problem, the type of the data available, and the deadline required to solve it.
Step 3: Application
This step continues the previous one to complete the understanding of different facts and resources required to solve the problem by building a linkage between the information and resources. Mind maps can be used to analyze the situation, build a relation between it and the core problem, and determine the best way to move forward.
Step 4: Analyze
Once the information is collected and linkages are built between it the main problems, the situation is analyzed in order to identify the situation, the strong points, the weak points, and the challenges faced while solving the problem. The priorities are set for the main causes and determine how they can be addressed in the solution. One of the commonly used tools that can be deployed to analyze the problem and the circumstances around it is the cause effect diagram, which divides the problem from its causes and aims to identify the different causes and categorize them based on their type and impact on the problem.
Step 5: Synthesis
In this stage, once the problem is fully analyzed and all the related information is considered, a decision should be formed about how to solve the problem and the initial routes to follow to take this decision into action. If there are number of solutions, they should be evaluated and prioritized in order to find the most advantageous solution. One of the tools that contribute choosing the problem solution is the SWOT analysis that tends to identify the solution’s strength, weakness, opportunity, and threats.
Step 6: Take Action
The final step is to build an evaluation about the problem that can be put into action. The result of critical thinking should be transferred into action steps. If the decision involves a specific project or team, a plan of action could be implemented to ensure that the solution is adopted and executed as planned.
The critical thinking method can be adopted to replace emotions and perusal biases when trying to think about a situation or a problem. The time for adopting critical thinking varies based on the problem; it may take few minutes to number of days. The advantage of deploying critical thinking is that it contributes to widening our perspectives about situations and broadening our thinking possibilities. However, these steps should be translated into a plan of action that ensures that the decided resolution is well achieved and integrated between all the involved bodies.
Health and Well-being
You’ve heard that meditation and mindfulness can benefit your health and wellbeing, so you’ve decided to give it a try. But you’re not sure where to begin … how do you “quiet the mind?”
The key to learning how to meditate and developing a successful meditation practice is finding the right fit for you. There are so many different types of meditation to choose from – guided, unguided, insight (Vipassana), focused attention, loving kindess (metta), and more. In order to figure out what form of meditation works best for you, try a few different types and note which feels the most comfortable and doable. As a quick introduction to meditation, you can follow these six simple steps to begin one type of meditation technique called mantra meditation.
Our 21 Day Meditation Experience program, Renew Yourself: Mind, Body & Spirit with Deepak Chopra and international music icon, J Balvin is taking place now through August 30. Listen for free!
You can also download our app onto your phone and meditate from anywhere.
Mantra Meditation Technique
1. Choose your mantra.
A mantra is a word or phrase that you silently repeat to yourself during meditation. The purpose of the mantra is to give you something to put your attention on other than your thoughts. You may use any phrase you like. Some people like to use words like “Peace” or “Love”. You may wish to use the So Hum mantra, a commonly used Sanskrit mantra, which translates to “I am.” I like using the So Hum mantra because it is not in my native English language and does not trigger associative thoughts.
2. Find a comfortable place to sit.
It’s best to find a quiet location where you won’t be disturbed. There is no need to sit cross-legged on the floor unless that is comfortable for you. You can sit on a chair or sofa or on the floor with your back against a wall. You may support yourself with cushions, pillows, or blankets. The goal is to sit as upright as possible while still remaining comfortable. We all have different anatomies and you want your meditation experience to be enjoyable, so make your comfort a priority. Lying on your back is usually not recommended because most people fall asleep in this position, but you can try it if sitting is uncomfortable for you. Meditation can be practiced anywhere, as long as you’re comfortable.
3. Gently close your eyes and begin by taking some deep breaths.
Try taking a few cleansing breaths by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth. After a few cleansing breaths, continue breathing at a normal relaxed pace through your nose with your lips gently closed.
4. Begin repeating your mantra silently to yourself without moving your tongue or lips.
The repetition of your mantra is soft, gentle, and relaxed. There is no need to force it. The mantra does not need to correlate with the breath, though some people prefer to do so. For example, if using So Hum as your mantra, you could silently repeat So on your inhalation and Hum on your exhalation. As your meditation continues, allow the breath to fall away into its own rhythm. The repetition of your mantra should be almost effortless. Sometimes it is helpful to imagine that rather than repeating the mantra to yourself, you are actually listening to it being whispered in your ear.
5. Do not try and stop your thoughts or empty your mind.
As you continue with this meditative process, you will inevitably find that you drift away from the mantra. It is human nature and normal for the mind to wander. Do not try and stop your thoughts or “empty your mind.” Whenever you become aware that your attention has drifted away from your mantra to thoughts or any other distractions while meditating, simply return to silently repeating the mantra.
6. Stop repeating the mantra.
After approximately 20 to 30 minutes, you may stop repeating your mantra and continue sitting with your eyes closed. Be sure to spend a few minutes relaxing with your eyes closed before resuming activity. You may use a timer with a very gentle, low-volume sound. Many people use their cell phones as meditation timers. You can download a meditation timer app on your smart phone or choose a soothing sound on your phone’s built-in timer. Be sure to turn the volume down very low as you don’t want to be startled out of your meditation.
If you find that 20 to 30 minutes is too long for you, start with whatever amount of time you can, and slowly build your way to 20 to 30 minutes. Even a few minutes of daily meditation is beneficial.
The benefits of meditation are greatest when practiced daily. Ideally, meditation can be done first thing in the morning upon rising and then again at the end of the day, preferably prior to dinner. I like to start my day feeling centered and balanced after my morning meditation. And I often think of my evening meditation as a “release valve,” allowing any stress or tension from my day to simply drift away.
Annabel is the founder of Get In the Hot Spot, a blog that helps women in aged 40+ be more adventurous and feel fabulous. Read full profile
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Are you keen to reinvent yourself this year? Or at least use the new year as a long overdue excuse to get rid of bad habits or pick up new ones?
Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel as if we have to turn over a new leaf. The time when we misguidedly imagine that the arrival of a new year will magically provide the catalyst, motivation and persistence we need to reinvent ourselves.
Traditionally, New Year’s Day is styled as the ideal time to kick start a new phase in your life and the time when you must make your all important new year’s resolution. Unfortunately, the beginning of the year is also one of the worst times to make a major change in your habits because it’s often a relatively stressful time, right in the middle of the party and vacation season.
Don’t set yourself up for failure this year by vowing to make huge changes that will be hard to keep. Instead follow these seven steps for successfully making a new year’s resolution you can stick to for good.
1. Just Pick One Thing
If you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with.
Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of the year and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it.
Don’t pick a New Year’s resolution that’s bound to fail either, like running a marathon if you’re 40lbs overweight and get out of breath walking upstairs. If that’s the case resolve to walk every day. When you’ve got that habit down pat you can graduate to running in short bursts, constant running by March or April and a marathon at the end of the year. What’s the one habit you most want to change?
2. Plan Ahead
To ensure success you need to research the change you’re making and plan ahead so you have the resources available when you need them. Here are a few things you should do to prepare and get all the systems in place ready to make your change.
Read up on it – Go to the library and get books on the subject. Whether it’s quitting smoking, taking up running or yoga or becoming vegan there are books to help you prepare for it. Or use the Internet. If you do enough research you should even be looking forward to making the change.
Plan for success – Get everything ready so things will run smoothly. If you’re taking up running make sure you have the trainers, clothes, hat, glasses, ipod loaded with energetic sounds at the ready. Then there can be no excuses.
3. Anticipate Problems
There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably crop up.
4. Pick a Start Date
You don’t have to make these changes on New Year’s Day. That’s the conventional wisdom, but if you truly want to make changes then pick a day when you know you’ll be well-rested, enthusiastic and surrounded by positive people. I’ll be waiting until my kids go back to school in February.
Sometimes picking a date doesn’t work. It’s better to wait until your whole mind and body are fully ready to take on the challenge. You’ll know when it is when the time comes.
5. Go for It
On the big day go for it 100%. Make a commitment and write it down on a card. You just need one short phrase you can carry in your wallet. Or keep it in your car, by your bed and on your bathroom mirror too for an extra dose of positive reinforcement.
Your commitment card will say something like:
- I enjoy a clean, smoke-free life.
- I stay calm and in control even under times of stress.
- I’m committed to learning how to run my own business.
- I meditate daily.
6. Accept Failure
If you do fail and sneak a cigarette, miss a walk or shout at the kids one morning don’t hate yourself for it. Make a note of the triggers that caused this set back and vow to learn a lesson from them.
If you know that alcohol makes you crave cigarettes and oversleep the next day cut back on it. If you know the morning rush before school makes you shout then get up earlier or prepare things the night before to make it easier on you.
Perseverance is the key to success. Try again, keep trying and you will succeed.
7. Plan Rewards
Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days. After that you can probably reward yourself once a week with a magazine, a long-distance call to a supportive friend, a siesta, a trip to the movies or whatever makes you tick.
Later you can change the rewards to monthly and then at the end of the year you can pick an anniversary reward. Something that you’ll look forward to. You deserve it and you’ll have earned it.
Whatever your plans and goals are for this year, I’d do wish you luck with them but remember, it’s your life and you make your own luck.
Decide what you want to do this year, plan how to get it and go for it. I’ll definitely be cheering you on.
Are you planning to make a New Year’s resolution? What is it and is it something you’ve tried to do before or something new? Why not pick one from this list: 50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them
In their book Write Your Business Plan, the staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. offer an in-depth understanding of what’s essential to any business plan, what’s appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, guest contributor Kaye Vivian, an expert in writing business plans, offers advice on how you can improve your business plan content and presentation.
When it comes to content, these 10 tips will help:
1. Know your competition. Be prepared to name them and tell what makes you different from (and better than) each of them. But do not disparage your competition.
2. Know your audience. You’ll probably want several versions of your business plan—one for bankers or venture capitalists, one for individual investors, one for companies that may want to do a joint venture with you rather than fund you, etc.
3. Have proof to back up every claim you make. If you expect to be the leader in your field in six months, you have to say why you think so. If you say your product will take the market by storm, you have to support this statement with facts. If you say your management team is fully qualified to make the business a success, be sure staff resumes demonstrate the experience needed.
4. Be conservative in all financial estimates and projections. If you feel certain you’ll capture 50 percent of the market in the first year, you can say why you think so and hint at what those numbers may be. But make your financial projections more conservative—for example, a 10 percent market share is much more credible.
5. Be realistic with time and resources available. If you’re working with a big company now, you may think things will happen faster than they will once you have to buy the supplies, write the checks and answer the phones yourself. Being overly optimistic with time and resources is a common error entrepreneurs make. Being realistic is important because it lends credibility to your presentation. Always assume things will take 15 percent longer than you anticipated. Therefore, 20 weeks is now 23 weeks.
6. Be logical. Think like a banker, and write what they would want to see.
7. Have a strong management team. Make sure it has good credentials and expertise. Your team members don’t have to have worked in the field, but you do need to draw parallels between what they’ve done and the skills needed to make your venture succeed. Don’t have all the skills you need? Consider adding an advisory board of people skilled in your field, and include their resumes.
8. Document why your idea will work. Have others done something similar that was successful? Have you made a prototype? Include all the variables that can have an impact on the result or outcome of your idea. Show why some of the variables don’t apply to your situation or explain how you intend to overcome them or make them better.
9. Describe your facilities and location for performing the work. If you’ll need to expand, discuss when, where and why.
10. Discuss payout options for the investors. Some investors want a hands-on role; some want to put associates on your board of directors; some don’t want to be involved in day-to-day activities. All investors want to know when they can get their money back and at what rate of return. Most want out within three to five years. Provide a brief description of options for investors, or at least mention that you’re ready to discuss options with any serious prospect.
And here’s what not to include in your business plan:
1. Form over substance. If it looks good but doesn’t have a solid basis in fact and research, you might as well save your energy.
2. Empty claims. If you make a statement without supporting it, you may as well leave it out. You need to follow-up what you say in the next sentence with a statistic, fact or even a quote from a knowledgeable source that supports the claim.
3. Rumors about the competition. If you know for sure a competitor is going out of business, you can allude to it, but avoid listing its weaknesses or hearsay. Stick to facts.
4. Superlatives and strong adjectives. Words like “major,” “incredible,” “amazing,” “outstanding,” “unbelievable,” “terrific,” “great,” “most,” “best” and “fabulous” don’t have a place in a business plan. Avoid “unique” unless you can demonstrate with facts that the product or service is truly one of a kind. (Hint: Chances are, it isn’t.)
5. Long documents. If readers want more, they’ll ask.
6. Overestimating on your financial projections. Sure you want to look good, but resist optimism here. Use half of what you think is reasonable. It’s better to underestimate than set expectations that aren’t fulfilled.
7. Overly optimistic time frames. Ask around or do research on the Internet. If it takes most companies six to 12 months to get up and running, that’s what it’ll take yours. If you think it’ll take three months to develop your prototype, double it. You’ll face delays you don’t know about yet—ones you can’t control. Remember to be conservative in your time predictions.
8. Gimmicks. Serious investors want facts, not gimmicks. They may eat the chocolate rose that accompanies the business plan for your new florist shop, but it won’t make them any more interested in investing in the venture.
9. Amateurish financial projections. Spend some money and get an accountant to do these for you. They’ll help you think through the financial side of your venture, plus put the numbers into a standard business format that a businessperson expects.
This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Elevator Pitches, a new book containing insights from both sides of the board room to help you craft the perfect pitch. Buy it online from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
Do you want to feel like you got a ton of stuff done at the end of the day?
Do you want to make steady progress toward your life goals?
Of course you do!
The key to achieving this is to work off a daily to-do list and to make sure the tasks you put on your list are tasty tasks.
A tasty task is a task that is so well written that you almost can’t resist doing it.
One key feature of any tasty task is that the task will take you no longer than 1 hour to complete! And if you struggle with procrastination and/or staying focused for long periods of time, your maximum task length should be smaller still — closer to 30min.
This sounds easy enough in theory. But many people struggle with creating small tasks.
If you have a huge task on your to-do list right now and are wondering how to make tiny bite-sized tasks out of it, this guide is for you!
How to break large projects into small tasks
A step by step guide
Each of the following steps will help you break your large task into smaller pieces, each being a nice action step you can act on right away when you see it on your to-do list.
1) Define: project or task?
First, let’s think about if our “task” is really a project. It’s wise to make a clear distinction between tasks and projects.
A task is something you can do more or less in one sitting. If something takes you several months/weeks, multiple days or even the better part of a day it is best to think of your “task” as a project.
You might associate the word project with something from the corporate world or school. But almost anything we want to do and achieve can be thought of as a project. And it is actually a really good idea to turn most goals into projects!
So, is your task really a project? If so, continue to step 2.
If your task is not a project, but rather just a really long task, then skip ahead to step 3.
2) Break a large project into milestones
If your giant task turned out to be a project, let’s check if your project is so large that it should be broken down further into individual milestones.
Here are two general rules to follow when it comes to milestones:
- If a project spans multiple months of work, create monthly milestones.
- If a project spans multiple weeks of work, create weekly milestones.
There are different ways to break a project into milestones and the best way depends on the nature of the project. But it is always important to clearly define what reaching a milestone entails.
Here are a few ways a large project can be broken down into smaller subprojects (aka milestones):
- different phases (e.g. when creating something: planning, producing, testing/refining)
- different categories (e.g. when planning a party: entertainment, food, invites)
- different parts (e.g. when cleaning your house: living room, bathroom, bedroom)
At this step you don’t have to think about all the tasks inside the project yet. You are just trying to break the project down into smaller chunks which will make it easier to think of all the action steps involved.
If you can’t think of a logical way to break down your project into milestones, just go to step 3 and start listing out all the action steps/tasks. Afterward you can divide them evenly into milestones and call them “Project Part I”, “Project Part II”, etc.
3) List out the steps
Take your large task or project and envision the individual steps you will do to finish the project. Write each one down.
Don’t worry too much yet if the steps are too long or short. Just write every step down in a brainstorm kind of way.
If you are struggling with thinking of concrete action steps, it could be a sign that you are not familiar enough with the type of project or task and need more info.
In that case, just think of the steps you need to take in order to gain more clarity. Write them down as tasks:
Figure out who can help me plan project X
Contact Person Y to ask how to do project X
Whether you’re a student, a novice blogger, or just someone looking to become a more active user of Goodreads, writing a book review is an important skill to have! Here are six steps for how to write a book review for school and beyond.
1. Begin with a brief summary of the book
This is probably the best way to introduce any review because it gives context. But make sure to not go into too much detail. Keep it short and sweet since an official summary can be found through a quick google search!
2. Pick out the most important aspects of the book
I usually break this down with character, world-building, themes, and plot. But this might vary between books, genres, and your tastes!
Dedicate a paragraph to each of these important aspects, discussing how well the author dealt with it, along with what you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy.
3. Include brief quotes as examples
Including quotes is always a great idea, because it gives examples for everything that you’re saying! If your review talks about a character being particularly witty, a witty line from the character lets your readers see exactly what kind of witty character you’re dealing with here.
But be careful: lengthy quotes can take up big chunks of space and overpower your review. Short quotes will usually get your points across while letting your work shine through.
4. Write a conclusion that summarises everything
Like your introduction, keep your conclusion short and sweet! It should bring up the main points of your review, along with your overall opinion of the book.
5. Find similar books
A great way to wrap up a review is to find similar books to the one you’re reviewing. So you can say, “if you were a fan of X book, I think you’ll definitely like this one!”
You can also be more specific, looking at the exact things that might make two books similar. So you can suggest something like…“if you liked that the main character in X book was a kick-ass superhero, then you’ll love the main character of this book!”
6. Give it a star rating
A star rating is obviously encouraged in a lot of review sites, but they’re not necessary! If you do want to give a star rating, you can go the conventional “out of five/ten” route. You could also try something slightly less conventional, and break down your star-rating into different categories for character/plot/world-building, etc.
Now go forth and review! And share any tips you have for how to write a book review in the comments.
The key to getting on top of your work is getting on top of your to do list
We’ve all fallen into the trap of trying to do too much at once – a bad habit we like to call “multitasking.”
We sit at our desks with the intention of getting on with an important project but decide to fire off a quick email before getting started. Next thing we know, we’ve spent thirty minutes going back and forth with the recipient, replied to a couple of WhatsApp’s, ordered something off eBay and are nowhere nearer to starting the task we’d originally intended to work on.
Thanks to open plan offices, 4G phones and super-fast WIFI, we’re more accessible than ever, meaning distractions are easy to come by and difficult to get rid of. There’s also the issue of managers actually valuing their colleagues’ apparent ability to multitask and there’s an expectation in the workplace that we should be able to manage more than one thing at once.
If you’re struggling to get focused at work, a good place to start is with a properly written To Do list. According to life coach, Rachida Benamar (otherwise known as The Coaching Diva) people mistakenly believe this just involves jotting down everything you have to do in one long list and ticking them off one by one. The trouble with this technique is that the initial list we’re working from is often overwhelming and unfocused and therefore doesn’t actually bolster our efficiency at all.
Here, Rachida shares her insights on the way to create a list that’s productive – and that you’ll actually stick to.
Think about the bigger picture to work out your priorities
Before even starting their to-do list, I always advise my clients that they need to have a clear idea about what goals they are trying to achieve. This is because your goals should determine your daily priorities. No one ever stuck to a to-do list that wasn’t made up with at least a few tasks that set their soul on fire.
Goal-setting is a whole separate topic but the result of the process should be tasks that you can pursue immediately. For example, if you have the goal of being fluent in French within six months then one of your priorities should be to practice with a tutor each day. Let your goals determine your daily priorities.
Add some structure to your to-do list
One of the major problems I find with to-do lists is every item gets treated with the same level of priority – “get milk from the store” is right next to “complete presentation for meeting tomorrow”. You can very easily spend your day doing chores and then panic at some point in the evening because you haven’t done the one important task on your list.
You should have your three most important tasks (your priorities) at the top of your to-do list. Resolve to complete your priorities as early in the day as possible and not to move on to any other tasks before you have done so. This discipline can be life changing. Think about how effective you would become if you completed your most important tasks every day.
Keep your to-do list to a manageable size
Together with your three priorities, you should never have more than five items on your to-do list at one time.
This may sound counterproductive but if you have more than this, you run the risk of not completing everything and feeling defeated as a result.
Nothing is stopping you from keeping another list of tasks written down somewhere with everything you need to do written on it but keep your daily to-do list separate. Remember, your mind should be used for important thinking, not holding hundreds of tasks. You will be amazed at the power a little bit of focus can have on your productivity and thinking.
Be specific with your tasks
It is essential that you are extremely clear with every task that makes it on to your list. Lack of clarity can make a task virtually impossible to achieve. For example, you may decide that one of your priorities for the day is to work on the book you are currently writing. You could write “work on book” but this could mean lots of different things: finding a publisher, working on the cover design, outlining a new chapter etc. A much better description of the task would be something like: spend one hour brainstorming the premise of the book. When you are specific you create clarity in your mind which enables it to focus.
Calendarize your to-do list
This is one of my all-time favourite to-do list hacks. Once you have your five tasks for the day, take out your calendar (paper all the way if you are like me – I love crossing off a completed task) or open whatever electronic calendar you use and schedule your tasks into your day.
There is something so satisfying about knowing exactly when you are going to do a task and how long it will take. Of course, as the old saying goes: “make a plan and make the gods laugh” but intention does count when it comes to to-do lists. Putting your tasks into your calendar also enables you to block out this time – no interruptions allowed!