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on April 12, 2005
I've long been a fan of Julie Morgenstern . . . her other books, ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT and TIME MANAGEMENT FORM THE INSIDE OUT, had a big impact on me--and contained much useful information that I still use.

So it was with great anticipation that I obtained and devoured her latest, MAKING WORK WORK . . . it did not disappoint!

Morgenstern presents ideas and suggestions that apply to just about any situation . . . what she writes may sound basic, but it is the type thing that you need to read more than once . . . then begin to use.

For example, she urges you to begin conversations with:

"What can I do for you?" not "How are you?" As she notes:

"How are you?" is an open invitation to chat and warm up. "What can I do for you?" immediately focuses your interrupter on getting straight to the point. It's professional and gets you both down to business. This enables you to handle the interruption in the least amount of time possible.

There were several other memorable passages; among them:

The only real chance you have at choosing the most important tasks begins with keeping a complete list of everything you need to do in one place. After all, prioritizing is a matter of relativity--the true question is, What's most important in relation to the other things on your list? Taken one item at a time, everything can mask itself as a critical task.

Control Lateness: Use odd start times, such as 27 or 41 minutes after the hour, to control lateness. People are far less likely to be late for a meeting that starts at 11:27 than one at 11:30. Designate an official timekeeper to watch the clock for every meeting, and rotate that role among attendees. It's their responsibility to regulate the meeting so it doesn't go overtime, and they'll have an invested interest in doing a good job-they could be on the other side of the clock the next time around.

Change "but" to "and." What a difference a word makes, implying a can-do, take-charge approach to problems rather than an argument. For example, a client tells you they want to bring the budget down. Instead of saying, "But that's going to compromise quality," try saying, "Okay, and that's likely to compromise quality. Where would you be most comfortable shaving costs?" Or you boss asks you to have something on his desk in two hours. Instead of saying, "But then I won't be able to meet tomorrow's deadline," try, "Okay, and if I need to do that, what should I do about tomorrow's deadline? Can someone else finish it off?" Focus on solutions, not obstacles.
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on November 10, 2005
The last reviewer must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed the morning he decided to review this book, because even the cover of Never Check Email in the Morning states that it was "Originally Published as Making Work Work"...and does it really matter anyway?!

I can honestly say that Ms. Morgensterns' book has had a huge impact on my life...at work AND on my time off. First and foremost, her advice about never checking email the first hour of the day is genius. My first thought...wishful thinking. Being in sales I was initally hesitant to believe that this was possible in my position, and that I would lose out on client opportunities if I didn't check email immediately. But when I actually understood what my email addiction was keeping me from, was when I finally decided to give it a try. And I was AMAZED at the results. Because I am now able to use my first hour on strategic planning, my sales and client retention have actually increased!

But don't get me wrong, this book has much more to offer than email advice. In fact, any one of her "grab and go" strategies will directly increase your productivity and improve your relationship to your job. More than anything, her simple strategies allow you to take back control of your workday, which in this fast paced world seems to have slipped away. And possibly more importantly, she recognizes the need for a work-life balance, giving us permission to leave work at work and use our time off to refuel ourselves with what's most important to us.

I thoroughly recommend this book! It will not disappoint.
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As a career consultant, I often find myself frustrated with mindless career advice. So it's a treat to open this book and find some truly original ideas that I can recommend to my clients and ezine readers. And, amazingly, Morgenstern's book will be appropriate to a variety of readers and career stages. It's not just for entry-level beginners or senior vice presidents. We can all read and learn here.

Happiness, says Morgenstern, means "liking what you're doing and being good at it, feeling connected, in control, successful and balanced." Now there's a realistic definition that we can work with!

I like Morgenstern's listing of nine competencies. Most are straightforward and you're heard some before, but they're presented insightfully. For instance, "organize at the speed of change" and develop an "entrepreneurial mindset" have become essential in today's world; you probably know you need to delegate and work well with others, but we can never hear this message too often.

Perhaps the most striking insight is, "Sometimes it's not you! Sometimes it's them holding you back." In working with live clients, I find that identifying this difference can be key to long-term career success, not to mention santiy.

Other messages I support wholeheartedly: "Your personal life is an investment in your work."

"Try neglecting one small task." (So true! Often nobody notices even when you neglect the big tasks!)

and

"Own your career so you're not a victim."

Well said.

This book's layout could be more visually appealing; it's not the author's fault, but the pages sometimes seem crowded. However, it's worth digging. I will be recommending this book on my ezine page and will encourage many of my clients to give themselves this book as a gift.
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on June 27, 2007
I read this book with some trepidation since I've read lots of organizing and efficiency books over the years. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this one, since it offers nine "competencies" that all should master, and number one is "Embracing your work/life balance". With this as the foundation, she builds all other competencies on this one. So, when discussing competency three (Choose the Most Important Tasks) or competency five (Control the Nibblers), they aren't described as in typical efficiency/organization books. Typically, these types of tasks are encouraged to allow us to 'get more done', but in this book, taking control of these types of issues is encouraged to allow us to achieve the ultimate goal of work/life balance, instead of making us more efficient cogs in the corporate wheel.

A nice approach, and well done.
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on September 19, 2004
We spend a lot of time, a lot of our lives working. As such it makes sense to progress at work, get as much out of your job as you can, and above all else to enjoy working so that you are not spending so much time in an unplesant atmosphere.

At first glance this book appears oriented to the female employee. As you read it, it is just as applicable to the male worker. The techniques, hints and tips are not gender specific. Most of them are oriented around work, but there is a chapter on the work/life balance. You don't want to grow older wondering where your life went. As the old saying goes, no one would want their tombstone to to read -- I should have spent more time at work.

The book is filled with short and direct tips that say do this one thing. Later you can move to the next step having accomplished the first step.
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on December 21, 2007
Lets start with the bad. The book is mostly stuff you've already heard or is completely obvious to you. Morgenstern's advice for organizing information is to 'do what works best for you'. Gee, thanks for the hot tip.

The book starts with an address to those who work far too many hours. I work an average number of hours but if I can be more efficient I'd like to see if I can make that number smaller. So I read the first part and didn't really get anything from it. As the book progresses she gets into how time is wasted and how to avoid the things and people that waste your time. This is the heart of the book's message because time is our most precious commodity. That's why I found it counterintuitive that the author's language was... far from concise; I was surprised by the amount of text devoted to the biographies of her clients. When you say something like, "meetings can be a large waste of time," we understand what you mean. You don't need to illustrate that point by telling us about someone who worked a lot of hours and attended many pointless meetings. Remember, our time is precious and this isn't exactly Literature; you would think Morgenstern would be more conscious of how much of our time she's taking.

Toward the latter half of the book Morgenstern meanders into a topic that begins to contradict her earlier ideas. When she was describing situations that waste your time she hit on the idea of other employees wasting your time. But towards the end she gives us examples of people who don't make enough time for other employees and so one can only conclude that the unifying message is don't give too much time but also not too little. This is in all capacities the same advice for how to organize your data: 'do what works best'. So in the end Morgenstern hasn't really come up with solutions. She addresses a variety of different problems people have but her advice in the end is always the same: pick your head up, figure out what's important and do it without wasting your time. Again, not a very profound message and not one that should take 272 pages to explain.

Now on to the slightly more positive. The title of the book is quite provocative and an excellent advertising scheme. Sorry to those of you who didn't realize it's the same book and now own two. The title can be explained as follows: If the first thing you do in the morning is check your email then there are any number of ways that you'll be diverted from your critical tasks to deal with all the little things your inbox has for you. Email creates a false sense of accomplishment for people because in the span of an hour or so you're likely to deal with a large number of different issues (likely half of them are personal) and so you feel like you've accomplished quite a bit but now that it's almost time for lunch you really haven't done much at all (including writing a review for this book on amazon). You've been in the office but you probably haven't done anything that makes money for your company - anything worth telling your boss about.

Lets face it. For a number of jobs not checking your email in the morning is absurd. The underlying idea, however, is that at work you spend too much time multitasking and not enough time getting that really important job done. Multitasking slows total productivity and it hurts the quality of each individual piece of work. The real skill to learn is to avoid clicking that forwarded link for a youtube video.

So Morgenstern recommends that you do one thing at a time and that you plan when to do these things based on when you have energy during the day. She also tells you to let others know your schedule so they'll be more accommodating. This again, depending on the job may be totally unrealistic but I guess if you're in charge you can set whatever rules you like.

If anything in this review is unclear to you then perhaps you should buy the book but if it all makes sense to you then you're better off looking elsewhere. You're welcome.
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on November 18, 2013
As a systems development coach, I read A LOT of "self-help" books to recommend for specific client struggles. I am a Morgenstern fan, but never picked up this particular book until recently. It's a bit different in approach from some of the others - which is the main reason I recommend it.

After a bit of introduction, she sorts "getting it all done while maintaining life balance" into categories handled in sections, so you don't have to read the entire book to get value from your purchase. It is peppered with client examples (and a few of her own, that I would like to have seen MORE of) - so it is a no-brainer to relate the content to the problem. You can also skip around and everything still makes sense.

But what is fairly unique is her "them or me?" approach - recognizing that what WE do is not *always* the primary source of productivity struggles. Some of us who work for others could even be organizing and time-management mavens, but we get trapped in *their* less-than-optimal policies and procedures, and our productivity TANKS unless we put in additional hours (and then our personal life tanks).

THEN there is the dance of the down-sizing that has left most employees with more job accountabilities with less admin-support - so we all have many elements of "administrivia" that eat into the time to actually get any real WORK done. As technology marches on and old systems die in the market-share battles, we ALL struggle to remain current so we can continue to get work done AT ALL.

It is all too easy for even the "best" of us to become overwhelmed with the glut of increased expectations, frequently left wondering if we've lost our edge - with no idea how to climb back out of the hole and feel good about life (and work) again.

She goes beyond the typical "get your boss to prioritize your work" advice.

As she continuously points out, nobody can do it ALL, yet prioritizing must satisfy your company's key objectives if you intend to have any job satisfaction, positive employee reviews - or survive the next round of employee cuts. She makes the link between what maybe USED to work for you and what you need to do differently NOW very nicely, in what the coaching field calls a "charge-neutral" fashion (no finger-pointing anywhere - simply a problem to solve).

And she does NOT make you feel like a dolt by writing in that supposedly-motivating self-help voice that seems to ignore the reality that changing the way you function is not a quick or simple fix!

As with ALL "tips and tricks" books, not everything will be new info, not all will be relevant to YOUR situation, and not all will work for your processing style or the needs of YOUR office environment. She tackles a few "Yes, buts" throughout the book as well (same caveats apply).

I believe there is enough that WILL be useful in this book for almost anyone who's attracted to the title to begin with to conclude that it has been well-worth the purchase price, even if you have to put "read book" in chunks on an over-full calendar (you can do that with this book, btw)

For those of you who have NEVER had a very solid handle on how to do your job and still have any sort of a life worth living, this might be your miracle book. Read ready to underline! Even better, enroll a buddy to go through it WITH you -- a friend or colleague with a similar struggle, or hire a coach -- so you actually DO some of what she suggests. (That's MY plan, btw, even though I work for myself and AM a coach - even GREAT dentists don't drill their own teeth!)

~~~~~
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CMC, SCAC, MCC
- ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder -
ADDandSoMuchMore dot com
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on February 9, 2008
"Never Check E-Mail In the Morning" is not about e-mail, it is about time management, self-discipline and productivity in general. The book helps you in self-assessment, helps to embrace your work/life balance, to develop entrepreneurial mindset, to choose the most important tasks, to create the time to get things done, to control the nibblers, to organize at the speed of change, to master delegation, to work well with others and to leverage your value.

Like other popular self-help books, "Never Check E-Mail In the Morning" has no "references" section, which I don't like. Once you have completed this book, you have no direction what to read next. Julie Morgenstern, the author of many time management books and a monthly columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, and a guest on television and radio programs, probably supposes that you will continue with her further publications.

When the author writes about e-mail and the productivity issues that relate to e-mail, I fully agree with the author. She offers to break counterproductive habits and stereotypes related to our way of emailing. She covers the problems related to e-mail much better that "Hamster Revolution" by Mike Song.

I highly recommend "Getting Things Done" by David Allen and "Time Drive" by Gleb Arkhangelsky in addition to this book.
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on January 11, 2007
This CD complements the book of the same title and is changing my life. Julie Morgenstern has taken me from someone that can't find anything in the mess to someone that can clean the whole house in 20 minutes with her book "Organizing from the Inside Out". Now she is helping me release that person that can't get anything done to someone that accomplishes the most important things daily with her book "Making Work Work". I cannot express my thanks appropriately. The words are not in the dictionary.
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on March 26, 2008
Small or large, the tasks and responsibilities every organization must complete to be successful are pretty much the same. But employees of smaller businesses have a wider range of responsibilities than the more specialized staff of larger firms. Small business employees--and their owners--continually are confronted by many more types of tasks requiring attention. Additionally, smaller businesses tend to "run lean" with limited back up if someone is absent. These factors tend to foster an unfocused and inefficient workplace.

This book offers employees in such situations with insights and strategies that show them how to be more productive and efficient. If done well, it will also result in better work life balance and a less stressful workplace.

Two caveats, particularly for management and business owners:
1. Woefully inadequate attention (in this book) to the value of planning as the most effective way to minimize "fires" and "the tyranny of the urgent";
2. No apparent consideration for time and attention necessary for maintaining the culture and values of the company (e.g., customers always come first, or great performance every time or measure twice, cut once, etc.)
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