Getting It All Done [Book Review]

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HBR Press’s book, Getting It All Done, is part of the Working Parents series. It was the type of book I would have read in one go, if not for the fact that I would be up at 5.30 AM with my children.
It’s a collection of essays about balancing work and family. But what I loved most was the way the authors encouraged readers to apply their business skills to their home lives.
Our house is a very project-managed place. We have a family calendar. We have a meal plan in the fridge and a checklist at the front door. This lists what the children need to bring before they leave for school.
There are filing drawers in our kitchen for school notes, and our ‘go-to’ place to leave notes is by the kettle.
Because… we also enjoy a lot tea in our house. We can guarantee that the adults (and sometimes children) will be drawn to the kettle at one point or another.
Initial thoughts
I learned a lot from this book, and I honestly didn’t expect to. As a professional organizer, I assumed I would already be doing most of the work. I don’t like essay-led books and this would make me feel disjointed.
It is not disjointed. The editor did an incredible job bringing together the themes. The essays and short sections are exactly what working parents need. Who has the time to read 500 pages of advice on how to be more efficient and productive at home? The tips, stories, and strategies for “the job that never ends” are presented in a digestible format that is easy to understand.
A family huddle
One of the most insightful chapters was the one about an Agile practitioner who brought Scrum and huddles into the family. This is something I would love to do. Our house holds a weekly review on Sundays. However, it would be great to have the kids get involved.
We don’t focus on the retrospective aspects of the book at the moment. One author suggests asking family members what’s working and what’s not, so that the work of being family can always evolve.
This idea is so great! I’m trying to find ways to make it work for my family.
Value-driven schedules
Another thing I took away was the value-driven schedule. This is a great way to plan your week: Prioritize the work that aligns with your big goals.
It’s about choosing what is important to you and arranging your life around it. Is it work or is it being there to support the children? Whatever that means for you.
What activities do your children value you doing with them, and what are their favorite? Another interesting segment was the story of a mother who was stressed about attending sports practice. However, her daughter was not bothered by this. As she grew up, her expectations and needs had changed and she stated that she would prefer her mother spend more time with her in a different manner. This was a better fit for them both.
Another thing I took away was the value-driven schedule. This is a great way to plan your week: Prioritize the work that aligns with your big goals.
Top Takeaways
This book was very dense. Let me summarize my top two takeaways.
Get rid of the guilt
It is productive work to help others. Instead of thinking “What have I accomplished today?” ask yourself “How can I contribute today?”
Feel the weight lifting off your shoulders.
Parenting is leadership
This book’s epilogue is spine-tinglingly amazing.
Peter Bregman writes, “If you’re a parent you are already a leader.”