Book Review – Workflow: Beyond Productivity

Who is it for? Those looking to take a deep dive into the concepts of productivity, workflow, creativity and mastery that goes far beyond the “how to”.

Kourosh Dini has already written an incredibly useful – if not the most useful – ebook on the popular task management application, OmniFocus, with Using OmniFocus. His latest work, Workflow: Beyond Productivity is very different, and will be increidbly useful to perhaps a very different audience. It dives deep into the realm of workflow and indeed goes well beyond productivity, compelling the reader to really spend some time thinking, fostering, and mastering their own workflow.

The book clocks in at over 500 pages, so it is isn’t a quick read. Nor is it meant to be. This kind of work is something you need to dwell on as a reader, digesting it slowly. Dini calls it an “eTextbook” and that’s an apt description.

The text is composed of five “books”, each of which focuses on a particular element of workflow:

  1. Book One discusses intention and organization. This book is almost like a prologue in that it prepares you for what’s to come by putting you in the right state of mind.
  2. Book Two is where the rubber begins to really meet the road as Dini writes about stations, habits, and sessions. This is where you’ll learn how to start developing the muscles needed to enhance and embrace your ability to develop a solid workflow.
  3. Book Three is all about silence, agency, and decisions. I found that this was the book that asked the reader to work on understanding and developing the idea of mindfulness when dealing with both work – and play.
  4. Book Four focuses on mastery and magic. Once you make it to this point, you’ll start to notice an “a-ha” moment has the propensity to occur. It’s almost as if Dini guides you through all of the ’“front-end work” of productivity to get you to this portion, where workflow mastery – and the magic that comes with it – really starts to kick in.
  5. Book Five is an excellent end point, as it discusses communication, meaning, and action. I found this to be the book where awareness and mindfulness were at the forefront, especially considering that every other phase of workflow had been explored and dissected.

There is more to this book than just the sheer amount of depth, breadth, and care that went into the text. Workflow: Beyond Productivity also comes with flash cards (something I’ve not encountered in this platform before) that allow the reader to review definitions of terms and questions that are asked throughout the work so they can achieve a deeper understanding of them – which will assist in their journey to mastering workflow. There is also accompanying video, which can be used in conjunction with the music section of the text (and most certainly should be to get the most out of that section).

Let me be clear: this isn’t a book that will be for everyone. It’s not only a “how to” book but it is very much a “why to” book as well. I have found that having both elements equally explored can really take your work and life to new heights, and Dini has gone further and deeper with Workflow: Beyond Productivity than I’ve ever read in one collection. It’s an academic work, and it’s something you’ll spend time “studying” more so than simply “reading”, and it is priced as such.

Workflow: Beyond Productivity is a master class in workflow that, as indicated, goes well beyond productivity. I recommend it highly and suggest you buy this DRM-free eTextbook (and its companion materials) for the introductory price of $29.95 through the end of May (click here to purchase). It is one of those rare works that will truly help you in the quest to stop doing things and start doing the right things.

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  1. I’m about a third of the way through Kourosh’s latest book. As with “Creating Flow with Omnifocus”, I’m really struck by the clarity and depth of his writing. It feels somewhat like my mind is being tidied, or put in order, as I work through the text. In some ways, this book is a foundation not only for “Creating Flow with Omnifocus”, but could also be considered a foundation for “Getting Things Done”, since it truly explains how our minds work and play, and how that knowledge can then be harnessed to create a workflow methodology like GTD. Truly fascinating stuff!

    • Mike Vardy says:

      Glad you’re enjoying it — and I think you’re spot-on with your assessment.

      Thanks for chiming in!

  2. Antonio López says:

    As of now — using the inShort app for iPad — I am developing a process diagram out of Kourosh’s new Workflow book (I´m currently in the “Organization” section). Well, guess what I have discovered from Koursoh’s superb “oeuvre”?

    I find that what Kourosh has achieved is nothing less that tracing out the critical path NOT of our projects but of ALL CREATIVE INTENTIONS which a single project can possibly contain. Just as the PMBOK talks a lot about critical paths for projects, I feel that what Kourosh provides us with since last week that the book launched is none other than a way to work our way through a perfectly sealed tunnel of thought and associations where focus is the absolute master and motivation a mighty enigine. We focus exactly on a critical path, the line which lays between an individually considered creative intention and its iterativley developing vision.

    Proof of what I say:

    “Organizing aids the crafting of our settings of work and play and is, at times, the work itself. In organizing, we add catalysts and lower thresholds towards doing consciously intended work, and raise barriers to that which would otherwise lead us astray. It is in the support and clearing of paths by which we attempt to improve conditions for the intentions we favor to develop.”

    Passage of: Kourosh Dini, MD. “Workflow: Beyond Productivity.” iBooks.

    All the best

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