Free To Focus

Initially I was draw to this book Free To Focus by Michael Hyatt as I thought it would help with expanding my Focus Zone sessions.

Yes it did.

It makes good points such as there are only 168 hours in a week and we need to be focused so that we do not lose track of time.

Also the book points out that with each distraction it can take us up to 25 minutes to regain our original focus, so you only need 3 or 4 distractions and that is a hour gone out of your day so the idea of blocking out time in your diary and letting everyone know you are not available is a good one and the basis of my Focus Zone sessions.

The next thing Free To Focus pointed out that led me to bringing out my Timesheet Challenge is that you do not have to do everything and if you try you will run out of day.

The book suggest a 3 point plan:-

REVIEW and analyse what you are doing.

CHANGE, can you automate or change they way you do things to make them quicker?

STOP those tasks that take you away from your desired working tasks and income generation and if you need the tasks then to look to outsource them, this is what Virtual Assistants such as me are in business for.

The third thing I liked in the book was its description of the 4 squares of work:- Urgent & Important, Important Not Urgent, Urgent Not Important and Not Urgent Or Important and what goes in to which box and who should do it. This is the joy of having a Virtual Assistant, if you are not spending enough time in your Urgent & Important box then you need to pass on some work so that you can or at least have a ‘Plan Your Week’ session every Monday morning to work out what you are going to do.

The book then goes further in to how to break down your day. Saying you should break tasks in to 2 parts – Onstage (Client work) and Offstage (everything else)

In summary Free To Focus is a good look into what stops you being focused at work, techniques you can put in place and lots of downloads you can use to record your progress.

Free To Focus is available in hardback, paperback, kindle and audio book forms at all good book shops and on Amazon.

How To Be an Overnight Success

Who Is The Author

How to be an overnight success is the story of Maria Hatzistefanis and how she set up the make-up company Rodial.



“One thing’s for sure: success does not come overnight”.

It may appear that Maria has come from nowhere and become an overnight success but in reality it has taken over 15 years to get to where she has.

This statement both fills me with hope and dread.

Hope because there is still time for my business to take off and dread in that having just set up my business there could be a long way to go.



The book has 15 chapters starting from when Maria got fired from her job and how she came to set up her company.

It then looks at the early days of her business working on her own.

Next it moves on to the company starting to be successful and looks at things such as employing staff, marketing yourself and getting your product in the shops

Finally it looks at how to keep ahead, how to stay motivated and the little things you should try and do all the time.

I like that the chapters are short (5 to 10 pages long) so you do not lose the will to live before you get to the end.

Even though her story is about the make up industry there are things that relate to any type of business that you can pick up on.

Maria understands she became an overnight success by lots of hard work.

One downside to the short chapters is that she does not go in to much depth about the problems.

Basically she says ‘I had a problem and then sorted it’ but problems and hints and tips and what people starting out are after so they don’t make the same mistakes or know what to do when those situations come up.

The best thing I liked was at the end of every chapter where there was a summary called ‘Overnight Success Secret’.

This gave 5 to 10 tips and things for you to work on your business.

Small Change

Small Change by Dan Ariely looks at money mishaps and how to avoid them by looking into what goes off in our brains to sabotage us from using money wisely.

The book is useful on two counts, Firstly and why the book was written is to show people all the mistakes they make with money and when they think about what to do with our money.

The second useful thing you get out of the book and is of most use to you and your business is that it shows you all the mistakes people make with money and when people think about what to do with our money.

If you can pick this up it can help your marketing be more effective as you can tap into those thought processes people have.

Whether you think the author is correct or not he does highlight the different ways people act when money is brought in to the equation and these issues are going to be around for many years to come if not ever so if your adverts and when you are doing your sales pitch can push those buttons you can have a better chance of your customers parting with their money.

The book looks at things like:-

How we value things  – The book says people struggle at measuring how valuable a thing is going to be to them and attach cost to it even if money was not the question as they find it an easy thing to compare.

It is harder to sell a service  – People cannot easily work out the value it will give them compared to another product and go for the cheaper one even if they get an inferior service.

People struggle planning for the future – People are more likely to take what they are given now even if the thing they are being offered in the future is better, the book uses the example of if you offered someone a chocolate bar now or a box of chocolates in a months time they are more likely to take the chocolate bar now. –    This is why ‘If you join today!’ sales approaches work.

We Compartmentalize – The key to most people’s budget planning it to put money into different pots, eg bills, kids school fees, food shopping or leisure time. Partly a good thing because it makes sure you cover the bills coming up in those sections but the book highlights how people then forget about all the other sections so if they go food shopping and see a joint of meat at £100 they will compare this to their food budget and say it is expensive whereas if they looked at all their money it may not seem that much. –    Understand which pot you are trying to get your customer to spend out of or try to offer something that will help many ‘pots’

Summary:- As I said at the start, the book makes you think twice, once as yourself and asking yourself “do I do any of those things?” and secondly, if I do that do my customers do the same and how can I use that knowledge in my marketing.

You Are Awesome

Everything is awesome says the Lego Movie and You Are Awesome says Matthew Syed the author of the book I read.

The book is a pretty simple production with big fonts, lots of graphics and not much depth but it does consistently remind you that you can be awesome if you work at it and the good old mantra of:-

Practice makes awesome.

This book is a lighter version of the other book I reviewed ‘How To Be An Overnight Success’ by Maria Hatzistefanis and explains that no one is really an overnight success you just don’t see all the practice and planning the did before they hit the top.

Yes, some people have amazing skill levels to start with which makes it easier to achieve a certain level but then how many articles have you read about sports stars and the like who had good careers but never got the top prize or wasted their time when they reached the top.

I accept you may not reach number one after all the practice and planning in the world but you will become a lot better than you were or equally you will learn you do not get on with a certain thing and if that is needed for you or your business then outsource it to someone who can do it.

The book has a good quote from Michael Jordan:-

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Getting us to think of failure as a learning tool, not an event.

The other thing the book picks up on is that on the Growth Mindset.

It compares the growth mindset against the fixed mindset in areas such as:-

Ability – Can be changed

Effort – Have a go

Mistakes – They happen

Feedback – Unless you know you can’t improve

Other people being successful – Learn from them.

As well as Michael Jordan the book has several other case studies such as Serena Williams and J K Rowling, Who was rejected by 12 publishers before her Harry Potter books were put in to print.


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