Book review: Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey

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I’m a long-time fan of Charlie Gilkey’s website Productive Flourishing, so when I found out he had published a book, I was very excited to read it!

Charlie is a productivity guru and guide for entrepreneurs and creatives. He has a really interesting background: he’s ABD for a PhD in philosophy, and was a lieutenant in the Army where he served in Iraq. He went out on dangerous convoy missions and planned convoy movements. The combination of academia and thinking about the biggest-picture “Why?” questions with military service and seeing war close-up has given him a unique perspective on how to drive yourself to see what is important to you and how to work for it.

Start Finishing: How To Go From Idea To Done does just what it says. It walks you through the process of turning your idea into a project, then into achievable goals, then helps you work through all the way to completion.

Charlie focuses on what he calls “your best work.” Your best work could be anything from a world-changing invention to doing art that inspires you to raising your family. It’s not necessarily your job, and it doesn’t even have to be anything that brings in money. Your best work is whatever calls to you or drives you.

This is not just, “If something is important to you, you’ll find time for it.” If it were that easy, we would already be doing our best work!

Start Finishing tells you how to determine which of your ideas to turn into projects, how to turn your projects into achievable goals, how to determine how much time you’ll need to complete them, how to actually carve out the time to work on them, and how to carry through all the way to the end goal.

Some of my favorite parts of the book:

He helps you determine which times of day you do your best deep-focus work. This may not necessarily be normal business working hours, so he helps you figure out how to work around other people’s schedules so you can do your focus work when it’s best for you.

He takes the concept of time blocking to a whole new level with different types of time blocks:

  • Focus blocks are when you do your deep-concentration work. Insight moment: you have far less time during the day/ week/ month for your focus blocks than you think you do! He tells you how to carve out and guard your time for these focus blocks.
  • Social blocks are whenever you interact directly with other people. This might be fun socializing, meetings, brainstorming with colleagues, etc.
  • Admin blocks give you time to take care of things like emails, phone calls, arranging appointments, cleaning up, etc. These actions often support your best work, or if left undone can get in the way of your best work. Creating designated Admin blocks in your schedule keeps these things from piling up.
  • Recovery blocks are essential for recharging our batteries so we are able to do everything else. This is where you focus on your health (mental, physical, and emotional), fitness, and rest. The trick is to be intentional with your Recovery blocks so you don’t spend them mindlessly scrolling, which doesn’t actually allow you to recover.

He tells you how much time to allot for each type of block, and when in the day and week to schedule them for maximum effectiveness depending on what times of day you are most or least energetic.

There is a section on how to build your team, and which types of people you need on your team: Guides, Peers, Supporters, and Beneficiaries. These people will all have different roles. He gives advice on how to approach people to ask them to be on your team, how to follow up with them, and how to manage people you need information from in a timely fashion.

Throughout the book there are contributions from experts like Seth Godin, Jonathan Fields, Chelsea Dinsmore, Pamela Slim, and many more.

The tone of the book is conversational, helpful, and non-preachy. It’s like your cool big brother/ best friend who happens to be an expert on these things is imparting his wisdom and knowledge upon you.

Something I really appreciated about the design of the book is the extra-large margins which are very convenient for writing notes (which is exactly what I did).

The book acknowledges that many of us have great ideas, and might even start turning them into projects, but can’t seem to see them through. Start Finishing gets you to do just that: work through and finish those projects you’ve always wanted to do!

You can find out more about Start Finishing here.

Disclaimer: Quo Vadis is not affiliated with Charlie Gilkey or Productive Flourishing in any way. I (Laurie Huff) purchased this book with my own money and received no compensation from Charlie Gilkey/ Productive Flourishing for this review. I thought this book would be helpful and of interest to Quo Vadis Blog readers.


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