New Nonfiction Books – November 2016

A Quick Message

Every month I scour the internet from top to bottom - no, really the whole thing - looking for the best nonfiction books being published that month.

Here are the best new nonfiction books from September 2016 and October 2016 if you don't believe me.

These are the books that any fan of nonfiction will want to check out and see if they should add them to their library. I hope this helps!

1
Losing Isn't Everything - Curt Menefee & Michael Arkush

Lessons and stories behind the epic failures that live forever in sports fan’s minds.

2
Casanova - Laurence Bergreen

Like Levert, I ain’t much on Casanova, but his life looks amazing and this book looks worth a read.

3
Countdown to Pearl Harbor - Steve Twomey

The 12 days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the many factors and assumptions that led to this American tragedy.

4
The Spy Who Couldn't Spell - Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

A detailed accounting of the FBI’s hunt for Brian Regan.

5
God, Wasps and Stranglers - Mike Shanahan

How fig trees affected human history and offer hope for our future.

6
Final Solution - David Cesarani

A sprawling history of European Jews that challenges some commonly accepted beliefs.

7
Culloden - Trevor Royle

A look at the last major battle held on British soil between English and Scottish forces.

8
The Revenge of Analog - David Sax

Maybe real stuff still matters in the age of apps, algorithms and AI.

9
An Extraordinary Time - Marc Levinson

How the boom years of the 1950’s and 1960’s spoiled a nation and led directly to today’s political, social and economic climate.

10
Payoff - Dan Ariely

Ariely writes a book, you read it, you get smarter. It is that simple. This one is on the complexity of motivation.

11
Snake - Mike Freeman

A new biography of the best quarterback ever. Said the diehard Raider fan.

12
Bellevue - David Oshinsky

A narrative history of New York’s iconic hospital.

13
The Platinum Age of Television - David Bianculli

The artistic evolution of modern television and why binge-watching became a national pastime.

14
The Social Organism - Oliver Luckett & Michael Casey

How social media and memes mimic real organisms and what that means for the future of culture, society and the internet.

15
A Most Improbable Journey - Walter Alvarez

Big History written by an acclaimed scientist that explains the big events that led to modern life.

16
The Unnatural World - David Biello

A guidebook on what must be done to save planet Earth.

17
Wonderland - Steven Johnson

OK, I’ll say it. Johnson is not playing around when he talks about how play and amusement helped make the modern world.

18
Rules for Revolutionaries - Becky Bond & Zack Exley

22 rules to drive massive social and political change with minimal resources.

19
Six Figure Author - Chris Fox

Leveraging Amazon to build your author platform and sell more books.

20
Thank You for Being Late - Thomas L. Friedman

How technology, globalization and Mother Nature are changing our world for better and worse and how to deal with it without losing our perspective.

21
Rasputin - Douglas Smith

A comprehensive biography that aims to set the record straight on this legendary figure.

22
Mini Habits for Weight Loss - Stephen Guise

Forget diets and use small changes to finally lose weight the right way.

23
American Commander - Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke commanded SEAL Team Six. If you want to learn something about leadership he is probably someone worth listening to.

24
The Pursuit of Power - Richard J. Evans

A narrative history of Europe from Napoleon to the beginning of World War I.

My Surprising Journey to Procrastination Help

procrastination help image of clock
I didn’t need any kind of help, I needed procrastination help.

I needed to figure out why I can jump on some tasks and others make me do just about anything to put them off.

The worst part was I felt like the projects I was procrastinating on were the ones that if completed could potentially change my life in tremendous ways.

Writing a book, starting that online business, doing some type of daily exercise.

I couldn’t keep going through the stress, anxiety and disappointment of putting off stuff I knew I needed to do.

I’ve tried different ways to combat procrastination in the past, but nothing stuck.

I knew this time had to be different.

Instead of just researching and reading and feeling like I was getting something done (probably another form of procrastination), I tried a different tactic on my quest to get this help.

I would still do my research on procrastination help. I love doing any kind of research. Must be my introvert side.

This time though I would take 30 days and conduct an experiment on my life and see where I ended up.

The 30-Day Procrastination Challenge

This is the first in a series of posts on what I learned, what I did, where I failed and what system I put together to finally begin to stop procrastinating.

Full disclosure, I didn’t fix my procrastination habit in a month, but I am off to a great start.

I know that what I learned in those 30 days will help me manage my procrastination in a more effective manner. You can expect updated posts as I go along and continue to build out my procrastination system.

Please join me. I hope you take what might work for you from what I write and do your own experiment. Let me how it worked out and how your battle against procrastination is going.

Procrastination Statistics

First I needed to reassure myself that I wasn’t the only one going through this procrastination hell.

I started with a simple Google search on “procrastination stats” and I came across a nice infographic called 17 Lazy Procrastination Statistics that I was able to use as a starting point for further research.

I pulled four key takeaways from the infographic:

  1. Procrastination affects over 20% of the population
  2. Some researchers show that procrastination has quadrupled over the past 30 years
  3. One online study found that 18% of respondents said procrastination had an extreme negative effect on their happiness
  4. Dryden and Gordon (1993) point to three main causes of procrastination:
    1. Anxiety
    2. Low frustration levels
    3. Tolerance and rebellion

Causes of Procrastination

It was the fourth takeaway on causes that caught my eye and began my process of looking at why I procrastinate.

We’ve all felt the anxiety of putting something off we know we should be doing.

As for frustration, that describes perfectly how it feels to have days, weeks or even months to get something done and to only wait until crunch time to even start.

Tolerance and rebellion struck me as odd, but rebelling against being told to do something or made to do it made some sense.

In my next post I’m going to spend more time analyzing causes because it deserves more attention. However, in the beginning I wanted to quickly experience some small wins to start building some momentum.

Quick View of Procrastination

If anxiety, low frustration levels and tolerance and rebellion are potential causes of procrastination what could I do about it?

In order to go wide and get a better feel for the psychology of why we procrastinate I jumped on YouTube. Again, I was just starting out. I planned on digging into the science behind procrastination later. Think of this as my 30,000 foot view of the subject.

We all have our individual learning styles. Mine is definitely verbal (linguistic). I love to read everything about a topic, as you’ll find out below.

However, when I want a big picture understanding of a topic I’ll search YouTube to find anything that can help me begin to get my head around the topic.

There is just something about a short, well made video (<10 minutes) that helps me begin to pull all the loose threads together.

I recommend you try something similar, especially when it comes to tackling a new topic. Just using a different learning delivery system may make some connections that you hadn’t thought of before.

My Favorite Procrastination Video

This video was perfect in helping me start putting my procrastination system together.

The video covered a lot of ground. Temporal discounting, present bias, hyperbolic discounting, and the effects of dopamine on the brain were just a few of concepts reviewed.

What stuck with me was the fact that procrastination was a symptom and not a cause of why we put things off.

This was the beginning of me changing my view on procrastination.

Another reason I started changing my view of procrastination was an article I read on Thought Catalog called Procrastination is Not Laziness.  In it the author, David Cain writes:

It turns out procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.

Once I started thinking of procrastination as tied to my brain’s normal operating function (more on this later) and a coping mechanism to protect my self-worth, I started to understand how I might turn the tide against it.

First, I had to talk to some people way smarter than me.

Procrastination Brain Trust

In order to continue my procrastination deep dive I turned to my brain trust.

Farnam Street is a blog that I’ve followed for years. It calls itself an “intellectual hub.” Shane Parish, the founder of Farnam Street, says he reads a lot to “make friends with the eminent dead.”

He assumes that people smarter than him have already figured out most of the issues we face today, so why not turn to them to help us.

It is quite brilliant.

Another couple of sites I always turn to when doing this kind of research are James Clear and Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

All three sites write in clear, understandable language and break down complex topics in a way that is easy to understand and act on.

The way I used each site was to do a Google search on each using this format:

site:farnamstreetblog.com “procrastination”

I read each article that came up (max 10 per site) to get a flavor of their thinking on procrastination.

The Power of Temptation Bundling

One article by James Clear stood out, Procrastination: A Scientific Guide on How to Stop Procrastinating.

He talked about one way to overcome procrastination called temptation bundling that resonated with me. You take something you don’t want to do and combine it with something you love to do.

A perfect example of temptation bundling is in this video by Dan Ariely and how he kept himself from procrastinating while getting treated for a medical condition.

The treatment had painful side-effects, but to keep himself on it he found a way to bundle it with something he loved. After the treatment was over his doctor told him he was one of the few patients to see the course of treatment all the way through.

Check out the video below to see how he did it.

Clear also offered three other frameworks to help anyone stop procrastinating immediately.

  • Making consequences more immediate (see stickK below)
  • Design your future actions (removing social media apps from your smartphone for example)
  • Making a task more achievable (working on something for 2 minutes just to get started – more on this later).

I’ll examine each of these in more detail in upcoming posts, but for now I focused on temptation bundling  and 2-minute tasks because those were the ones that appealed to me the most.

Procrastination Help Apps

There are many forms of procrastination help. One that I was excited to explore was procrastination help apps.

Talking to other people, getting face to face dialogue and support from friends and family and even strangers would probably help with anyone’s procrastination problems.

Realistically though we don’t all have the time, money or drive to attend local procrastination support groups or seek out other real life options.

Sad, but true.

A cheaper and easier option are procrastination help apps.

I researched these for two reasons.

One, I love finding new apps. If Product Hunt had a TV show I would binge watch it like Stranger Things.

Two, technology needs to be more than just food porn and cat gifs. It needs to solve problems as well. I reckoned that if technology is a cause of so much procrastination maybe somewhere there was an app that could help fight it.

In my research I read about 7 clever mobile apps to beat procrastination.

I also read that research out of Cornell showed that these anti-procrastination apps did indeed work.

I followed that up with an article that argued procrastination can’t be cured by task management apps.

Like most internet research you can find any resource to prove or disprove your point.

So what to do?

After looking through way too many apps I realized the answer was already in front of me. I looked at what was already working for me and committed to taking those apps to the next level.

RescueTime

If you haven’t heard of RescueTime, this is how they describe it:

Find your ideal work‑life balance.
With so many distractions and possibilities in your digital life, it’s easy to get scattered.

RescueTime helps you understand your daily habits so you can focus and be more productive.

I love that this app works in the background and tracks where I’m spending my time online. I do most of my work on my laptop so getting the weekly email from RescueTime that breaks down my week by percentages is a lifesaver.

Below is my last report. By the way, the app is free. Score!

rescuetime report

iPhone Clock App

Sure you can pay a buck or two to get a Pomodoro app, by when you are bootstrapping like me every cent counts.

Pomodoro is a technique to get you focused and working on tasks in a consistent manner.

Watch the video below to get a basic understanding of the process (and how to potentially customize it for your own use).

I can do any Pomodoro setup I want using my phone. I’ll cover this more in a later post.

stickK

OK, I wasn’t using stickK, but the thought of losing money if I didn’t keep up my end of the bargain appealed to me. It is something I’ve tried in the past with good results, but I had never used an app to streamline the process.

stickK helps you put your money where your mouth is (or procrastination is, anyway).

Here is how stickK works:

Yet, most of us struggle to achieve our goals. That’s because there’s a big difference between having a goal and achieving a goal—stickK works by helping people eliminate this gap by using, what we call, a Commitment Contract.
A Commitment Contract is a binding agreement you sign with yourself to ensure that you follow through with your intentions—and it does this by utilizing the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change.
By asking our users to sign Commitment Contracts, stickK helps users define their goal (whatever it may be), acknowledge what it’ll take to accomplish it, and leverage the power of putting money on the line to turn that goal into a reality.

You set up Commitment Contracts that are tied to a goal you want to accomplish. Then you dedicate a dollar amount to be donated to a cause you despise. If you don’t complete your goal the money gets sent to your mortal enemy charity.

You can choose different options, but the fear of loss will always win out over the fear of gain.

Between getting a weekly snapshot of where I was spending my time, using the Pomodoro technique to do work “sprints” and putting some skin the game when it came to bigger projects using stickK, I started to feel a plan coming together. And like Hannibal from the A-Team…

via GIPHY

Procrastination Help Books

I read over 100 nonfiction books a year. I’ve already read plenty of procrastination books over the past few years. The problem hasn’t been knowledge. The problem, like many people, is action.

Reading about a great tactic to overcome procrastination and not doing anything with it is the same as never having heard of the tactic in the first place.

These 30 days had to be different.

One thing I committed to was reviewing all the books I had read and reading new ones if I had to and compiling their insights into some type of master document.

Then I would pick and choose what I thought could work for me.

In the beginning, three books stood out in my research on procrastination.

The Procrastination Equation – Piers Steel, Ph.d.

Steel’s name kept coming up in my research so I figured I would go to the source.

23 Anti-Procrastination Habits – S.J. Scott

Scott’s books on productivity, organization and habits are full of detailed tips and tactics to solving problems. I expected the same with his book on procrastination.

The Art of Procrastination – John Perry

This book appealed to me because Perry takes a different approach on procrastination and argues for the benefits of “structured procrastination”.

I have many more to cover and will on a separate post dedicated solely to procrastination books.

My Procrastination Help System

Finally, I started to put together a simple system to battle my procrastination.

It has three parts and while still a work in progress at this point, it has helped me overcome some early procrastination hurdles.

Two-Minute Rule

When I know I’m procrastinating I immediately snap out of it by dropping what I’m doing and commit to doing what I’m putting off for 2 minutes. No more and no less.

My only goal for that day becomes to do that task for 2 minutes.

At this point even a Pomodoro sprint of 20 minutes can seem like too much, so I start with the path of least resistance.

We can do two minutes of just about anything, right?

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

I tapped into my inner Abe Lincoln.

abraham lincoln quote

One week recently I spent two days coming up with a detailed outline of what I was going to write each day.

Not surprisingly, each day that week I woke up, did my morning routine, fired up the laptop and was off to the races. I can’t remember a more productive week of writing I’ve had in the last year.

The next week I didn’t spend the time to do my detailed outline and I hit my writing goal (500 words/day) only once that week.

Having a clear plan of action to do anything that you might procrastinate on is now a must-have for me.

Temptation Bundling & Office Supplies

I came up with a weird temptation bundling system. That included paper clips. And it is awesome.

First some backstory.

While reading through James Clear’s site I came across a link to an article he wrote called How to Stick With Good Habits Every Day by Using the “Paper Clip Strategy”.

You should read the article.

If not, here’s a two minute summary. It tells the story of Trent Dyrsmid and how he became a hugely successful stock broker.

His secret?

Every morning he would put a jar of 120 paper clips in front of him. After each phone call he made to potential clients he would move a paper clip to another jar. When he had moved all the paper clips he would stop making calls.

Everyday he did this. For years.

I’m currently running another 30-Day Challenge on Pinterest marketing.

It is a 30-Day Challenge to get on Pinterest and post articles that might help me and anyone else trying to be a stay-at-home parent and build an online business.

Right now the experiment is to pin 10 articles every day. So every day when my boys go down for naps I take a jar of 10 paper clips and start pinning. Once all the paper clips are in the other jar, I’m done.

Tomorrow I’ll be up to 200 pins after these first 20 days.

The amazing thing is I get so much satisfaction from seeing those paper clips move from one jar to the other. Forget the pins, the increase in followers and hopefully the boost in traffic to my site, this is fun!

It is nice to see my Pinterest platform growing because of these efforts (I’ll have a blog post on that soon), but I’m getting more satisfaction from moving those tiny office supplies around.

I can’t wait to try it on something else. It might be 20 or 30 paper clips per day for the next experiment, who knows.

The important thing is the enjoyment I get from this silly little exercise helps me move away from any thoughts of procrastinating.

Final Thoughts

Here is what I learned in the first few days of my procrastination challenge.

Information Overload

There is so much information out there to help us overcome our procrastination and get the procrastination help we need that delaying finding it can be a legitimate stumbling block.

If you have trusted sources of information on procrastination, habits, productivity or behavior change, start there before trying to swallow everything Google will give you.

I hope to have a more refined process for my future 30-Day Challenges, but as long as the next one is smoother than this one, the lessons learned will have been worth it.

Information Organization

One unexpected barrier has been keeping all this information organized in a way that makes it helpful and not just another headache.

For instance, I was a devout user of Evernote until recently. Now I’m test driving Google Keep.

I read a ton of articles on Feedly and like to do research on sites like reddit, Hacker News, Alltop, Medium, Popurls, Pocket and Product Hunt. That doesn’t include all the notes I highlight on my Kindle.

I suddenly realized it could be real easy to procrastinate on my procrastination research if I let this information supply become overwhelming.

This will have to be something I figure out soon.

The first barrier is having way too much potential information to sort through. The next barrier has been saving so much of it that it still presents a hefty challenge to shape what is left over into something actionable.

I’m hoping switching to Google Keep will help. I’ll let you know. Maybe a 2-Minute Rule and some paper clips will help…

Simplicity from Complexity

Simple is hard. Whatever procrastination system I eventually come up with has to be something that I can take anywhere, use anywhere and is virtually bulletproof.

What I mean is if I have a bad day, get thrown off schedule or life just takes a dump on me, I need to know that my system to beat procrastination will make it through.

In Sum

I want to share something that has stuck with me since I read it on James Clear’s site.

He wrote:

Here’s the problem: “Everybody already knows that” is very different from “Everybody already does that.”

I can feel the loose ends coming together. It is not there yet, but it is getting closer.

Some of what I’ve learned feels like common sense. Actually doing it day after day is the uncommon part.

I want my procrastination system to fix that.

I’ll be back next week with a another deep dive into my 30-Day Challenge. I’ll share what I did on a day-by-day basis to fight my procrastination.

If you have any questions or need any help please reach out to me. I’d love to help.

The Best Nonfiction Books I Read in November 2016

best-nonfiction-books-november-2016

The best nonfiction books I read in November include many of the books I’ve found researching my upcoming Kindle books. I try to read as widely as I can, but between the research for my books and all the moving parts of trying to build an online platform, it can get overwhelming.

I’ll have more organized reading habits in 2017.

I did notice after reviewing the books I read in November that the mix between research, digital and content marketing and Kindle publishing stayed consistent with the last few months.

As always, I’ll only share the books worth your time and attention. These are only the best nonfiction books I read. I’ll spare you all the ones I started and quickly discarded to the Never TBR pile.

Email Management

I’ve almost finished writing my email management book and Chris A. Baird’s book was helpful in reminding me of the little things we can all do to up our email organization on a daily basis.

One simple idea that stuck with me after reading his book was not to use email as a to-do list.

How many times have you read an email and decided you would get back to it later when you had more time?

It is a simple idea but powerful if you make it part of your daily email workflow.

Digital Marketing

Zarrella’s book gave great advice on why ideas get popular on social media. Anyone trying to make sense of social would learn from this book.

The following stood out the most to me:

When I’ve conducted focus groups or surveys about why people read blogs, the respondents have told me the same thing over and over again. What they’re interested in is the author’s unique point of view, the perspective that only that specific person could have. Talk as yourself, not about yourself.

That last sentence should be printed above every blogger’s computer screen. I know I’ve struggled with finding my voice, but it is the only thing that is going to separate me from the millions of others out there trying to get heard.

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

I’ve started studying local SEO recently and may launch a local service helping businesses make sense of search engine optimization. Just a side project at this point.

Perry and Singleton’s book did a great job of explaining the basics and what it takes to move up the search engine rankings on a local basis.

Social Media Marketing

I read two Michael Clarke books in November and both were full of great tips. His writing style is conversational, he provides actionable examples and I look forward to reading the rest of his books in his Punk Rock Marketing Collection.

His book on Pinterest got me so motivated I started a 30-Day Experiment to see how much I can build my audience on that platform.

I plan to write a detailed post about that next month.

Content Marketing

Duistermaat’s book on seductive web copy was what you would expect from an experienced copywriter. She does a great job of walking the reader through situations we have all faced when trying to write persuasive copy. I liked the book so much I immediately subscribed to her email list.

It was definitely one of those books that reminds you that you have so far to go to get as good as the author. That can be both inspiring and demotivating depending on how you look at it.

Kindle Publishing

I’ll probably never read one of Wayne Stinnett’s fiction books. Just not my type. But if he writes another book on how to self-publish I’ll buy it the day it comes out.

He takes you on his journey from blue collar worker to super successful author and tells you straight what you should and shouldn’t do on your own author journey.

What I said for Stinnett holds true for Chris Fox’s fiction. Unlike Stinnett, Fox has a large backlist of nonfiction books on self-publishing that are required reading for anyone trying to make a living with their words.

He is an open book and his more technical and research-driven perspective on self-publishing is new and refreshing when so many authors are telling the same stories.

Parting Thoughts

So those were the best nonfiction books I read in November.

(Full Disclosure: the links below are affiliate links. If you purchase one of those books – most are on Kindle Unlimited – I get compensated from Amazon. Which I will use to buy more books).

You’ve Got (Too Much) Mail! – Chris A. Baird

Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness – Dan Zarrella

Local SEO – Ray L. Perry & Phil Singleton

Video Marketing Made (Stupidly) Easy – Michael Clarke

How to Write Seductive Web Copy – Henneke Duistermaat

Blue Collar to No Collar – Wayne Stinnett

Pinterest Marketing Made (Stupidly) Easy – Michael Clarke

Six Figure Author – Chris Fox