Book Review: Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

(Chronicle Books)

 Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

By Christine Albert

Time is a commodity that often seems to be in short supply. Recognizing the need for professionals to learn not only how they’re using their time, but also how to work more efficiently, Kari Chapin created Make It Happen: A Workbook and Productivity Tracker for Getting Stuff Done. A business consultant, podcaster, and public speaker, Chapin has also authored two books on growing a creative business and has designed an idea-generation workbook. Having worked for 15 years in marketing and publicity, Chapin understands that time is money—so it’s important to work faster, smarter, and better.

As the title suggests, Make It Happen is not simply a time-tracking tool. Part journal, part productivity tracker, it lets users create schedules, track time spent on various tasks, reflect on their work habits and possibly improve their process. The workbook provides prompts, activity trackers, schedule outlines, and blank notes sections. While some elements repeat (such as the “Make It Happen,” “Break It Down,” “My Time Today,” “I Could Swap,” and double-page reflection prompts), they’re not set in repeating order. Instead, Chapin includes a blank date box on each recto page—a good choice as it allows for greater flexibility. This open-ended design lets users tailor the workbook to their own work style and preferences.

That being said, this design is better suited for people who prefer to think non-linearly. They’ll appreciate being able to choose the elements they want to use instead of being forced to fill out unhelpful sections. When I used the workbook, I sometimes didn’t find it necessary to create a to-do list or a schedule. Instead, I used the prompts to reflect on how I worked. On days when I had a lot of tasks to complete, I created a schedule, and at the end of the workday reflected on the time actually spent on each one. But in doing so, I had to skip pages, which took my journal out of chronological order. This bothered me, especially when I wanted to look over the week to see patterns in my work habits.  Consequently, this workbook may not be as useful for people who like to work linearly or simply want to track their time.

Make It Happen has a design that is user-friendly, especially for professionals who commute. It’s small and thin enough to fit into a purse or laptop bag without adding much weight. There are enough pages for one to two months’ worth of planning and reflection. It’s pleasant to look at, with its cheerful, pastel colours and clean design. There’s also plenty of room to write detailed reflections and notes.

Kari Chapin’s Make It Happen is a useful tool for those creative-minded types who wish to learn more about their work habits in order to improve them. Whether working in-house or freelance, editors often have to juggle numerous and various responsibilities. Make It Happen provides resources to help them prioritize, become more efficient, and work through any mental hurdles that might be affecting their productivity.

Christine Albert is an editor and indexer specializing in fantasy and literary fiction, business materials, and humanities and social science works. She holds a postgraduate certificate in publishing from Humber College and is completing her certificate in editing from Simon Fraser University.

This article was copy edited by Karen Kemlo.

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