Reviewed: Scary Fast

Art by Mark (Me)

Title: Scary Fast: 7 Advanced Hacks to Boost Your Productivity 1,000x
Author: Brian Michael Stegner
Publisher: Thunderbox Digital
Rating: 4/5
Buy: Amazon


Scary Fast is like a 201 course in Productivity. It assumes that you’ve already taken a (metaphorical) Productivity 101 class (and passed?) and now you’re ready to take things to the next level.

It covers the more ‘advanced’ stuff.

The stuff your mom didn’t tell you about because she didn’t know.


As the synopsis notes, this book dives into a little more of advanced items in regard to productivity and therefore, its reader should have some basic concepts of productivity and an existing workflow in which to apply the items that are covered in this book.

The author starts with a review of basic skills or things we should be doing or know to have some level of productivity. Fitness is one such example that is included as part of basic skills. Many exclude this as something that aids productivity when it is vital for your physical and mental health.

For the majority of this book, the author focuses on two main items for productivity:

Pareto Principle aka 80/20 rule

The 80 / 20 Principle is the idea that you get about 80% of the results on any given task from only the initial 20% of your time and effort put into it. Conversely, if you insist on pressing for 100% of the results, you’ll spend approximately another 80% of the amount of time and energy in pursuit of that missing 20%.

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

As the core of the book, the author walks us through, with many examples, on how he is able to mix these items to multiply his productivity. Let’s take a brief look at the structure and the small notes I’ve made on each section.

Book Structure

The book is broken into multiple sections which introduce varying productivity components:

I – Introduction
II – Review of Basic Skills
III – Hack #1 – 80 / 20 Principle (4x)
IV – Hack #2 – Parkinson’s Law (6x)
V – Hack #3 – Parkinson’s 20 (10x)
VI – Hack #4 – Parkinson’s 20 of 20 (20x)
VII – Hack #5 – Synergized 20 (50x)
VIII – Hack #6 – Systemized 20 (200x)
IX – Hack #7 – Extended 20 (1,000x)
X – Don’t Fill in the Gaps / Final Remarks

Short Notes On Sections & Methods

II – Review of Basic Skills

These are common productivity workflow items that form the basis of my podcast, The Productivity Lab. Included would be time management, planning, writing, personal health, and more.

Granted, I have not shared much about my personal productivity workflow, but the podcast, The Productivity Lab, will give all the insight you can imagine.

In short, this section covers brief highlights of things you should be doing to have an existing productive workflow.

III – Hack #1 – 80 / 20 Principle (4x)

This principle (also called Pareto Principle has been applied to much more than just productivity. I am familiar with its usage in the business world in how the top 20% fund what we do but also used in an alternative like 90/10 in which we “can’t focus on the 10%” when dealing with issues.

I also made a note regarding this section:

Not really one for research if you could not tell already. No backing up and confirming the information he is giving, even with a bare bones Google search to confirm if the title, “law” or other item is indeed that. Is this just due to lack of work or to come off as a friend telling a friend about their productivity methods and not wanting to be the expert?

This was in reference to the author just sliding past verification of information. In retrospect, the information seems to be tongue in cheek and not wholly meant to be an official declaration of said rule as the author often challenges the reader to investigate themselves.

IV – Hack #2 – Parkinson’s Law (6x)

This deals with time blocking and deadlines.

When creating a project the SMART methodology has to apply or at least be specific about the task and set a deadline. The time boxing, restricting task work to a specific window of time, comes in for tasks that need it. Ex; I want to record and edit a video, I set a time box of 4hrs to do so. After that, whatever I have goes up, else I can spend so much more time tweaking and editing it for perfection. Maybe not the best example BUT you can argue the perfection rule in which a person that puts out a 100 videos in 100 hours learns faster than the person that puts out one video in 100 hours.

V – Hack #3 – Parkinson’s 20 (10x)

This is where the author starts combining principles and laws. But that was pretty much what I stated above on the video example.

You look at the task you have and apply Parkinson’s Law to artificially restrict the work to a specific time window. Then by applying 80/20, 80% of your results will come from 20% of the work.

VI – Hack #4 – Parkinson’s 20 of 20 (20x)

This is looking to get to the 20% of the 20% out of a task or project. We are stacking things now.

VII – Hack #5 – Synergized 20 (50x)

Single effort with work that can be reused. Not multitasking but as he puts it—pre-learning. Learning about a subject before you need it.

Personal example; recording my planning session as it is something I need to do, but now I can use that for YouTube, and small clips on Instagram.

Another example? Reusing the show notes for my personal book review and blog. (This very post) Reusing those notes for social media posting.

VIII – Hack #6 – Systemized 20 (200x)

This is pretty much automation.

IX – Hack #7 – Extended 20 (1,000x)

Delegation and training of others.

X – Don’t Fill in the Gaps / Final Remarks

Don’t add more to your list just because you automated or completed something faster. Savor the time saved and spend it recuperating.

Final Thoughts

The book wasn’t revolutionary to me. Even so, there were some good parts that highlight the many things we do in our day-to-day that utilizes the methods and principles the author put forward.

I am a fan of reading many books on a singular subject. If you need fast action then this can be read in an afternoon as the author doesn’t spend much time stretching out the concepts which is welcome. The author also includes action steps and a math section at the end of each “hack” for you to apply to your own work and calculate the savings for yourself. But to quote the author:

Some things shouldn’t be rushed.

Definitely check out this book. It’s small, fun, and packs a punch to your productivity.

Want to hear more about this book? Check out my podcast, The Productivity Lab, where my co-host and I discuss this book and more. Listen to Scary Fast Book Review

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