The best books to help manage projects

Jeff Davidson Author Of Everyday Project Management
By Jeff Davidson

Who am I?

I am the recognized expert on work-life balance, harmony, and integrative issues, and since 2009, hold the registered trademark from the USPTO as the “Work-Life Balance Expert®." I'm the author of several popular books including Breathing Space, Everyday Project Management, Simpler Living, and The 60 Second Organizer. My books have been featured in 68 of the top 75 American newspapers and, in two instances, advertised in Time Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. I offer hands-on strategies for a balanced career and life to audiences from Singapore to San Diego, with clients as diverse as Novo Nordisk, Worthington Steel, Lufthansa, American Law Institute, Wells Fargo, the IRS, and more.

I wrote...

Everyday Project Management

By Jeff Davidson,

Book cover of Everyday Project Management

What is my book about?

Everyday Project Management provides you with what you need to know for successful project management. The book covers vital aspects of project management including plotting your path, drawing upon supporting tools, assembling a winning team, expending your resources wisely, monitoring your progress, adjusting course as needed, and learning from your experience to be even better at managing projects in the future.

In the form of a quick reference tool, each of the 16 chapters can be read and absorbed in about 20 minutes. The book provides essential nuggets of wisdom with an understanding of what your role as project manager involves, the kinds of challenges you’ll encounter, the interpersonal issues that will arise, and how to stay on time and on budget in pursuit of the desired, quality outcome.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Data Smog: Surviving the Information Glut

Why did I love this book?

Information overload threatens our ability to educate ourselves, leaves us more vulnerable as consumers and less cohesive as a society, and diminishes control of our own lives. As such David Shenk offers numerous “Laws of Data Smog," i.e: Information is now plentiful and taken for granted. I was immediately impressed by his pithy observations: Putting a computer in every classroom is like putting an electric power plant into every home; education cannot be fixed with a digital pipeline of data. Too many experts spoil the clarity, and lead to the paralysis of analysis.

The law of diminishing returns, says Shenk, applied to the growing speed and abundance of information, will produce an infoglut that will no longer add to our quality of life. Infoglut is already cultivating stress, confusion, and, yes, ignorance. I have found this to be too true!

In a glutted environment, he says, the most difficult task is finding a receptive audience. As information volumes increase, our common discourse and shared understanding decrease, and people turn to niche media and specialized knowledge.

Here is something that we've all experienced: Amidst increasing distraction and speediness, beware: Lies and mistruths will move so much faster than the truth, they will too often become the truth. On the web, most roads bypass journalists, reducing the power of the press and enhancing the power of public relations. What can we do? He offers many ideas for readers, that work for me: he suggests sweeping away clutter, resisting advertising, limiting e-mail, turning off the TV, avoiding information iniquity, practicing voluntary simplicity, and reaching across niche boundaries.

By David Shenk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Data Smog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Media scholar ( and Internet Enthusiast ) David Shenk examines the troubling effects of information proliferation on our bodies, our brains, our relationships, and our culture, then offers strikingly down-to-earth insights for coping with the deluge.

With a skillful mixture of personal essay, firsthand reportage, and sharp analysis, Shenk illustrates the central paradox of our time: as our world gets more complex, our responses to it become increasingly simplistic. He draws convincing links between data smog and stress distraction, indecision, cultural fragmentation, social vulgarity, and more.

But there's hope for a saner, more meaningful future, as Shenk offers a wealth…


By James Burke,

Book cover of Connections

Why did I love this book?

James Burke is a genius who had his own PBS series based on his book, Connections. Right from the get-go, he convinced me that one small malfunction can cripple our entire technologically-based system. This interdependence is typical of almost every aspect of life in the modern world.

Burke made me realize that we live surrounded by objects and systems that we take for granted, but they profoundly affect the way we behave, think, work, play and run our lives and those of our children. If you doubt his assertion, he says, look around you. How many machines could you either build yourself or repair if they stopped working? In my case, practically none.

When you start a car, press the button in an elevator, or buy food in a supermarket, you give no thought to the complex devices or systems that make the car move, the elevator rise, and the food appear on the shelves. As such, Connections reinforced for me the notion that the products of technology continually change our lives.

Examples abound: At the simplest level, the availability of transportation has made us physically less fit than our ancestors. Most of the world's population relies on the ability of technology to provide and transport food, which is available only because of the use of fertilizers. The working day is still structured by the demands of the mass production systems.

The objects and systems produced by technology, he observes, operate interdependently and impersonally. If I step across the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle, my life will depend on the accuracy with which the brakes were fitted by someone I don't know and will never meet. Connections makes me think and that makes it a valuable text. Project managers everywhere can benefit.

By James Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Connections as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century lead to the invention of the printing press?
How did the waterwheel evolve into the computer?
How did the arrival of the cannon lead eventually to the development of movies?

In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world.

Says Burke, "My purpose is to acquaint…

Book cover of How to Win a Lot More Business in a Lot Less Time

Why did I love this book?

Success in today’s rapidly changing business world, says Michael LeBoeuf, requires moving quickly. This doesn’t mean pushing yourself and others to work at an over-stressed, breakneck pace. No way. It does mean taking a whole new approach to working, selling, managing, and leading to speed up the business.

Much of what the author writes was new to me: For example, speed improves morale because employees are working for a more successful, responsive company. Speed also forces management to give employees more autonomy and flexibility. Perhaps most important, speed creates an innovative edge. Speeding up (shortening) the product-development cycle enables a business to bring out more new and improved products. Most important, I think, is that the business with a shorter product-development cycle gets products on the market that are way ahead of the competition.

In Fast Forward, I learned that speed pays even when things go wrong! How so? 70% of customers who complain, he says, will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint to their satisfaction. If you resolve it on the spot, 95% will do business with you again.

LeBoeuf also stresses the importance of teaching everyone on your staff how to generate new ideas. Anyone can learn to generate ideas on demand, he says, with the application of a few good idea-generating techniques. Creativity is a normally distributed human ability. Everybody has some. I'm convinced: everyone can learn to produce more good ideas by consciously applying the techniques he offers in the book. Project managers take note!

By Michael LeBeouf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Win a Lot More Business in a Lot Less Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This guide identifies the ten key essentials practised by thriving businesses and their employees. It shows how to achieve better results by taking an action-ready approach and how to streamline and update the way organizations are led and managed.

Learning to Use What You Already Know

By Stephen A. Stumpf, Joel R DeLuca, Dan Shefelman (illustrator)

Book cover of Learning to Use What You Already Know

Why did I love this book?

The authors maintain that everybody experiences flashes of insight: those moments when an "aha!" reaction leaves us feeling enlightened and empowered. I have felt this and you probably have too. Insights are the bits of knowledge in different parts of ourselves and they can be harnessed into a more integrated and effective whole.

Learning To Use What You Already Know explains how you can encourage insight. Consider that each of us knows more than we think we do. Thus we can employ a reflective process, described in the book, that integrates our conscious and unconscious resources, and prompts our perceptions of everything from getting along with coworkers, to being a visionary leader, to coping with technological change.  

Here are what I consider to be some of the book’s amazing takeaways: Life repeats itself until we learn. Lack of fit is not failure. If you get it right the first time, every time, you aren't risking enough. Laughter allows one to suspend judgment. When you develop your creativity, your intellect will follow. And my favorite: Rules are tools, not to be placed in the hands of fools!

By Stephen A. Stumpf, Joel R DeLuca, Dan Shefelman (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Learning to Use What You Already Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is there a way to encourage the kind of "aha!" perceptions that leave us feeling enlightened and empowered? Are there methods for facilitating the flashes of understanding that make us holler "eureka!" or smile with quiet contentment? Though insights may feel like they come out of the blue, Stumpf and DeLuca make us aware of the process behind the flash so that we can stimulate our capacity for learning and growth.
Beginning with the premise that each of us knows more than we think we do, Stumpf and DeLuca provide a reflective process that integrates all of our conscious and…

Book cover of Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

Why did I love this book?

I read this book, so short and simple, in one brief sitting, as the author intended, I guess. It is all about change and Spencer Johnson defines the beast through the metaphor of a mouse seeking cheese. He offers key tips: Change happens; they keep moving the cheese. Anticipate the change; get ready for the cheese to move. Monitor change; smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old. Adapt to change quickly; the quicker you let go of old cheese the better. Move; as the cheese moves!

I learned here to savor the advantages and enjoy the taste of new 'cheese,' then, to be ready to change again quickly. Noticing small changes early, he says, helps you to adapt to the bigger changes to come. Being afraid to change, however, is like holding onto the illusion that old cheese is still in place. And what makes people hang onto the illusion? Perhaps it's fear of starvation. 

Here's some wisdom from the book that I especially like: The fastest way to change, if you feel stuck, is to laugh at your own folly, let go, and quickly move on. Happily, when you are ready to move on, sometimes you are startled by what you find, such as the greatest supply of cheese that you have ever encountered. Yum!

By Spencer Johnson,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Who Moved My Cheese? An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple parable that reveals profound truths. It is the amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life, for example a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. The maze is where you look for what you want, perhaps the organisation you work in, or the family or community you live in. The problem is that the cheese keeps moving.


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