The Pathway to Awesomeness

by Mark Forster

Cover image

Publisher: Hyperink
Copyright: October 2013
Format: Kindle
Pages: 97

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Mark Forster is probably my favorite time management (or, if you prefer, attention management) writer. The place to start with Forster if you're not familiar with him is Do It Tomorrow, not here. Unlike the other books by him I've reviewed, this is just an edited collection of blog posts presented in a convenient ebook form, without even an ISBN number. But if you've read his books (at least the ones that aren't out of print and cost a fortune), this is a convenient way to not have to trawl back through his blog and read the articles in a more convenient fashion.

For me, it was also an easy way to give him a bit of money for his blog. Unless you have a similar motive, I don't think the content to price ratio is worth it. But I think everything is still up at Get Everything Done in case anything here strikes your fancy.

As with most blog compilations, The Pathway to Awesomeness (I really hate that title) is composed of a whole bunch of fairly short articles, rarely more than three pages each, vaguely collected by topic. The first few are rather general and focused on the normal self-help platitudes that try to build up your sense that you're in control of your own life. But Forster doesn't take too long to get to what he's best at: short ideas, mental tools, interesting tricks, and simple techniques. Even more so than his books, due to the nature of this collection, there's a huge variety here, which means you can probably find something that strikes a chord no matter what attention management problem you've been running into. That's one of the main reasons why I prefer his writing: he tries to provide a giant toolbox instead of a single, streamlined System For Everyone.

The other thing I like about Forster is that he is much more blunt than many authors about the biggest problem I have with attention management: trying to do more than anyone could possibly do given the available time. There are some more essays here about that, and several of them are quite good. I think my favorite is the short essay in which he points out how often people decide to do some task for a particular reason, and then get so engrossed in the performance of that task that they forget the original reason, risking sinking far more energy into that task than is actually warranted. Like a lot of Forster's observations, it's obvious in retrospect, but he has a way of phrasing those observation so that they shake the right thing loose in my head and let me re-evaluate something I was doing.

Regular readers of Forster's blog know that he loves playing around with different simple to-do list management systems. Unfortunately, none of those are here, so don't pick this up expecting a collection of articles about Superfocus, Autofocus, etc. It makes sense given the topic of this collection, which is more general advice rather than systems, but this collection is so short that I wish he'd added a section on system development. I would have enjoyed reading a collection of all of his miniature systems together in one place and showing how he tweaked and changed them over time, particularly if he'd added some discussion of why he made each change and what goals he was trying to meet with each system. Ah well.

If you aren't already familiar with Forster, there's no point in this, but if you are, I got a few new tidbits out of it and will probably skim through it a few more times. Buying it is mostly an exercise in putting money in the tip jar, and his writing is much less polished here (and more prone to cliches), but I still enjoyed reading through it.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2013-11-21

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