Category: Book Review

Managing Phone Notifications

Managing Phone Notifications

Over the past few months, you may have noticed that a lot of my posts have focused on different ways that you can use technology to save time and work more productively. As a father of two little kids, my time has quickly become one area of my life that I protect. Making sure I am around for their activities and to see them grow up is something that I feel is super important for both them and my wife and me.

Today I wanted to share some thoughts about an area that I still struggle with but feel like I am getting better at.

A few years ago I read Nir Eyal’s book Hooked. The book is about how to positively build habit-building products. In the book, Eyal shares that in order to build a habit-building product you need to have some sort of internal or external triggers.

One of the worst external triggers we face is the dreaded phone notification. Something like a push notification or red dot can be extremely distracting and take us out of our current situation. I know myself I have found myself stop mid-conversation with someone to check my phone because I got a notification.

A few years ago I went through all of my notifications and tried to cut out the ones that I felt were not really needed. One of the first to go was email notifications, then Facebook (ultimately I purged the entire app from my phone), and then anything else I felt was causing me to get distracted. While this helped a lot I still had a hard time sometimes choosing which notifications to turn off.

A few months ago Nir Eyal published a new book about being indistractable. Since I enjoyed Hooked so much I had to pick this book up. In the book Eyal shares about how to master your internal triggers, make time for important work, and how to hack back external triggers.

In the introduction to the section on hacking back external triggers Eyal shares a great test, you can use to determine if you should mute a notification.

Is the trigger serving me or am I serving it?

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

If you are not sure if you should turn off a notification ask yourself is the trigger serving you or are you serving it? In the book Eyal points out that not all notifications are bad. Notifications that remind us about healthy habits (Apple Watch’s stand notification, meditation reminders, food logs, etc.) can be super helpful for building good habits or staying on track to meeting a goal. Notifications about what a celebrity recently did or who liked your picture are distractions and keep you from meeting your goals.

A notification is a great tool. When used correctly they can inform us about important things. When used incorrectly they can become distractions that keep us from meeting our goals. If you are looking for more ideas on how to regain your focus I highly suggest checking out Indistractable.

“Are There Any Books That You Recommend for New Teachers?”

“Are There Any Books That You Recommend for New Teachers?”

A few weeks ago one of my new teachers asked me if there were any books that I would recommend for new teachers. At first I was stumped by this question. It has been a while since I read a teaching specific book. Most of my recent reads have been about the creative process. After some thinking I came up with a list of three books that I would recommend for new teachers.

Shouting Won’t Grow Dendrites

By Marcia L. Tate

Buy this book on Amazon

During my first year of teaching I participated in BTSA. While I didn’t find most of the program useful, I did have the opportunity to attend two presentations from Dr. Marcia L. Tate. At one of the presentations BTSA provided us with a copy of her book Shouting Won’t Grow Dendrites. This was my classroom management bible for my first few years. In the book Dr. Tate shares 20 classroom management techniques that are based on brain research. What I really like about the book is that it  just doesn’t share a bunch of research, it also offers actionable management tips that can be implemented immediately. I highly recommend it to anyone who has never taught before.

A Whole New Mind

by Daniel Pink


Buy this book on Amazon

I was first introduced to Daniel Pink through his book Drive. I really enjoyed Drive so I decided to pick up one of his earlier works. This book is awesome. It really helped me open up my mind to how much design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning impact our day to day lives as educators. I would recommend this book for new teachers because it helped me think about lesson planning and designing assignments for my students.

Die Empty

by Todd Henry


Buy this book on Amazon

This past spring I randomly found Todd Henry’s podcast The Accidental Creative while searching the iTunes store. Being obssessed with creativity and looking for ways to improve my own creativity I immedietly took an interest in Todd’s work. Die Empty is Todd’s second book. It focuses on how to maximize your potential every day and ultimately feel satisfied with the work that you are doing. New teachers are normally overwhelmed with learning about the culture and climate of their new school, navigating the politics of education, and ultimately teaching. It is very easy in the first few years to get discouraged and give up or lose hope because you feel like you are not living up to your potential. Die Empty offers several tips for avoiding this burnout. Even as an “experienced” educator I still found this book to be extremely helpful. I have already started implementing some of the strategies Henry shares and have seen an increase in productivity and overall work happiness.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon


I recently finished reading Austin Kleon’s second book Show Your Work! Being a fan of his previous book Steal Like An Artist, I was super excited to get my hands on Show Your Work! The basic premise of this book is to well….show your work. In this short yet insightful read Kleon offers 10 tips for showing your work and getting noticed.

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The biggest takeaway that I had from reading this book is that creatives don’t need to find an audience for their work, the audience finds you. As an educator I there are a ton of parallels between Kleon’s artistic sharing and the sharing that we do with students. We no longer work in a world were  our student’s only share their work with their teacher. When leveraged correctly, teachers can use technology to help students show their work to a broader audience. By doing this we are showing our students that their work matters beyond just getting a grade. 

Another takeaway I had from reading this book is Kleon’s process for deciding what he posts online. Kleon uses a very simple process to decipher what to post and what not to post. I’m sure we can all agree that this is something that we need to be teaching our students. Kleon says to

Ask yourself is this helpful is it entertaining this is something I would be comfortable with with my boss or mother seeing.

Overall I highly recommend checking out Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. To properly write a review of this book I would need to basically rewrite it. There is no filler here and it’s a very fast yet motivating read. For more on the book you can check out my book notes by clicking here.