Over at BNET this week, I have two posts. The first is called 5 Things To Do With 5 Minutes (Other Than Read This Post). It introduces the concept of using bits of time for bits of joy, and has a few links to fun things to do at the office with 5 minutes before a meeting, like look at online art galleries, or read poetry. The “other than read this post” part is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but gets at this problem: many of us spend vast working hours following link after link. Bloggers know this (that’s why the BNET columns always have “Related” links at the bottom). But it can be a massive black hole of time. I’ve joked that I should write a post called “Don’t click on this link!”
The second post is called Why Most Self-Help Books Suck (And A Few That Don’t). I talk with Christine Whelan, a University of Pittsburgh prof who did her doctoral dissertation on the self-help industry about the problems with many self-help tomes, from made up anecdotes to the promise of easy solutions. She found a few that don’t suck (including 168 Hours!) and had her students test-drive their advice for her new book, Generation WTF. A discussion is starting at BNET on that one, so please go check it out.
As a side note, after writing that post, I finally decided to read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937). I found it fascinating from a historical perspective, in that a number of the anecdotes involved folks who had, say, 4 years of schooling, but managed to make something of themselves. This no-school-but-got-rich narrative is very much American folklore. It also seems a lot less likely today (not to mention illegal in an era of compulsory schooling, though I know some unfortunate folks have such horrible schools that they get the equivalent of 4 years… in 12). I also enjoyed all the tales of people who wrote letters to famous people and got responses. Famous people have a lot more handlers now.