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Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours Hardcover – October 2, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Academic and former executive Pozen offers his set of recommendations on productivity, urging us to adopt a proper mind-set, to focus on the results we seek rather than the hours we work. He defines personal productivity as “the quantity and quality of your results in achieving your own objectives.” Presented in five parts, his advice and “takeaway” lessons include setting goals with specific priorities, focusing on final results, not sweating the small stuff, organizing your daily routine, improving reading comprehension, writing and speaking effectiveness, and long-term career decisions. His ideas are for all types of professionals, and he suggests action for certain stages of their careers. His insights on traveling effectively, embracing change, and balancing home and work are particularly valuable. He concludes, “Regardless of your employer’s culture, you can adopt most of the specific techniques in this book. . . . Ultimately, it is within your power to boost your results and reduce your working hours.” An excellent how-to on personal productivity. --Mary Whaley


“It’s impossible to get ahead in today’s knowledge economy without knowing how to read, write, and speak effectively. Pozen’s tips on these three subjects alone are enough to make Extreme Productivity required reading for professionals-and aspiring professionals-of all levels.” (Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Former Chairman of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995 - 1999))

“This book is a must read for overwhelmed professionals. It gives you tips and tools to accomplish more on a daily basis and to make better choices about your career.” (Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, former U.S. Trade Representative, Partner at WilmerHale)

“Bob Pozen’s prodigious output is extraordinary. Read this book to learn how he does it all in a 24-hour day.” (Martin Feldstein, Professor at Harvard University, Former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers)

“Read this book if you want to learn how to run efficient and effective meetings-or how to avoid them altogether. Bob really knows how to lead a discussion, get the group engaged, and drive to a consensus on what to do.” (J. Michael Cook, Director of Comcast and IFF, Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Deloitte)

“Personal productivity requires you to focus on the most important tasks rather than spending your time on busy work or small wins. If you want to learn how to raise your game, look no further than Extreme Productivity.” (David Calhoun, Chairman and CEO of Nielsen, former Vice Chairman of General Electric)

“Filled with useful recommendations on a wide variety of topics, this book will find adherents at every level of the company org chart.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[Pozen’s] insights on traveling effectively, embracing change, and balancing home and work are particularly valuable…An excellent how-to on personal productivity.” (Booklist)

Extreme Productivity is filled with such sage advice and pragmatism… The book is populated with practical, real world anecdotes....For companies’ to have more effective boards, they will need to change with the times. A good place to start is to read Extreme Productivity.” (Huffington Post)

“I believe that everyone will find at least one section of the book that will resonate with them. Extreme Productivity is the essential guide to investing our time wisely.” (Newsweek)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; 9.2.2012 edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062188534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062188533
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The majority of this book would be somewhere between boring and simplistic to any experienced manager. Much of it is about the author's personal preferences for breakfast, aeroplane seating, wardrobe, etc, which he appears to think are worth knowing about and even following. He has indeed accomplished a lot in his career, but the book is advertised as advice, not biography, and the details about his life quickly become tedious. Most of the content could be conveyed simply through the summary points at the end of each chapter -- readers could dramatically improve their own productivity by skipping the rest of the book. People interested in setting goals and finding ways to meet them would be much better off reading Clayton Christensen's book "How will you measure your life". Readers outside the US will find substantial portions of the author's advice irrelevant; readers who have evidence-based knowledge about topics such as jet lag will realise that some of the advice is just plain wrong.

That being said, the chapters on reading, writing, speaking, and holding meetings were good reminders about how important it is to do these things well and how often they are done badly. Unfortunately those chapters are unlikely to resonate with the young and inexperienced readers who might find the rest of the book useful and even interesting.

Pozen says many times in the book that one way to be more productive is to give only a "B+" effort to low-value tasks. He apparently applied that advice to writing this book, but I would rate it a "C-".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I consider myself a highly productive person, but I have always wondered about the secrets of those rare individuals who seem inhumanly prolific. The book jacket sets up this promise by describing the author as teaching a "full course load at Harvard Business School while serving as the full-time chairman of a global financial-services firm...written six books...hundreds of articles...raised a family...." Imagine my surprise when the one example the author gives for a typical calendar day includes almost none of these activities, but rather is typical white collar day that begins at 8:30 a.m., includes some ordinary-sounding meetings and some mid-morning exercise, and ends around 6 p.m. These examples don't suggest any "extreme" productivity or any apparent reduction in typical working hours as suggested in the title, unless you are comparing his hours to those of young investment bankers.

Some of the the author's more provocative suggestions (such as mid-day naps) would be very difficult to achieve in some environments, i.e. in a union-based work setting or in open office interior designs. I was hoping to see how the author would adapt his advice to these challenges, but I ultimately felt his key message was to find a different job or try to change the system.

Admittedly, there are some common sense tips and reminders that may be helpful for someone new to the working world, and certainly I have colleagues who could benefit from advice about topics like prioritization and meeting facilitation.

Ultimately, anyone who follows the author's recommendations should be reasonably productive, but it turns out there is no special sauce to "extreme" productivity.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With an increasingly interconnected world, we have more access to knowledge and each other than ever before. This has been tremendous in some ways, but it has also had some unintended consequences. It has become more difficult for working professionals to separate their work and home life, and this has caused some damage to the social fabric. Just because you can reach your employees at 10 p.m. on a Saturday does not mean you should be doing so. In Extreme Productivity, Pozen provides excellent practical guidance on how to save time getting tasks accomplished in the workplace during work hours so that professionals can have a healthy work/life balance.

The tips on saving time in meetings, emails, and travel are extremely beneficial for young professionals. The chapter on writing is great, because professional writing has become extremely sloppy with the advent of smartphones. Although, I think the great purpose of this book is the advice to managers on how not to waste your employees time and damage their morale. Pozen goes into extensive detail on the bad habits that certain types of bosses have, even if they are doing so subconsciously. Pozen's book is not bogged down in dull statistics or research. It is written by a man with a life's worth of experience who is seeking to impart some wisdom on younger managers.

I purchased this book because I was having trouble managing time as the director of a small business. The reason I didn't give the book a full 5-star review was because I thought there just wasn't enough for the small businessman, which I was hoping for. This is understandable, because I don't believe Mr. Pozen has operated a small business based on his bio.
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Format: Hardcover
A consistent theme from leaders we work with is "too much to do, not enough time to do it." Bob Pozen has written a book that will benefit every leader. His chapter on prioritizing is like a strategic planning lesson applied to life. His chapters on reading more strategically, writing more effectively, and speaking more confidently are each worth the price of the book if taken to heart and practiced. His insights on habits are a great supplement to what you may have read in Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit. And his chapter on work/life balance is powerful, not only because of the wise advice, but also because Bob is an inspiring model of how to live a life of extreme productivity while maintaining strong family relationships.

I had the opportunity to interview Bob on our People and Projects Podcast ([...]) and found him to be one of the most kind, engaging, and generous guests ever. Bob Pozen is the real deal and this book encapsulates powerful lessons that have been tested in the real world. Every aspiring leader needs to read this book.
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