Book Review: On top of Everything: Manage Your Life and Projects with Ease

Laurence H Seton writes that life was simpler a few generations ago in On Top Of Everything: Manage your Projects and Live with Ease.
Seton claims that he has tried almost every productivity system over the past 30 years. He rejected the paper-to-do list method of staying organized that I use with great success. He hasn’t found a satisfactory system so he created his own. His criteria were computer-based, allowing him to see the big picture, and allowing him to prioritise tasks.
Projecteze is the end result. It is much simpler than you might think. Seton suggests that we convert our sticky notes and paper to-do lists into Microsoft Word tables. These can be sorted according to priority, date, or client.
Microsoft Word tables for organizing
I don’t know if putting your to-do list in a Word table format qualifies as a system.
Seton recommends creating Word table with four columns: Priority, Date, Date, and Commitments/next steps. Although the examples are not the most current version of Word, there are many pages that will show you how to set up a Word table. The appendices provide the Office 2007 menu options.
He says, “The system is so easy to learn and use that it is the only problem remaining is to have the discipline to use.” That’s what I agree with.
He also stated that it is easier to not have to go through every action item in a notebook, which frees up the mind. He writes that it is liberating not to have to go back through pages and pages of your notebook to check if you have covered everything. Later chapters will show how to use the tables for personal tasks like household maintenance and juggling school work. Again, I agree. It is a good idea to have one way of organizing yourself.
What do you do when you have all this time?
Seton also emphasizes that it is not a good idea to be organized and free up time if you fill it with more work. He says that having more time for fun is the best way to manage your tasks. This is a great point. You will crash if you don’t establish personal boundaries.
I disagree with his belief that this method of working will empty your inbox, and free you from the threat of email. Projecteze is a method to keep your inbox full. However, the work to be done is still there. It’s just organized differently. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of items in your inbox, you might consider a different method of organizing your work.
I believe that a book that teaches you how to manage electronic lists using tables in word processing software is too much for most project managers. Seton offers training courses that will help you get the most from this method of working.
The book was too long and contained too much information about Word formatting. Word pros can skip the sections that explain how to change font size or sort tables to make more text fit on a page. This approach can be used with any word processing program, but the book is so heavy that non-Word users won’t feel as comfortable because there are pages of irrelevant information.
Would you consider adopting the method?
I was intrigued by the book and decided to give it a try. I didn’t transfer my lists from paper to Word for weeks. Now I know that I will never do it again. I love paper. It’s portable, I don’t have to print anything and I can easily review the list without switching to my PC. Perhaps that’s Seton’s system.

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