Column Description: Join Alicia Abdul each issue as she recommends a book or two through the lens of lifelong learning. Be it fiction or nonfiction, using a format like verse or graphic novel, books can teach us, inspire us, and reconnect us. So, what better way to pay tribute to the things that keep us reading just one more chapter past our bedtime or that we can’t see over when stacked tall as we leave the library than hyping them here?

Greg McKeown spoke to me through his book (on audio) called Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most published in 2021. There were several important points he made and revisited over the course of the book so much so that I made a note to check out the print copy soon to reread and pull those nuggets from in print which is so much easier than rewinding the audio (if they even call it that anymore?) to try to jot down what he was saying. 

But without that print version yet, I can tell you the most salient point: do not believe that if it is important, it is therefore hard. Or, hard work means it’s important work. They are not mutually exclusive. Work, housework, schoolwork, brainwork can be effortless. 

First, you distill what the work is and then you find ways to create inroads-- to automate it, streamline it, fix it, or otherwise tame it. Laundry matters because we all like to be clean and smell good. It’s a necessary evil for some and effortless for others. I am the laundress in the household and its effortlessness comes from my streamlined process (and the audiobook I have on my phone to make it enjoyable). So think about work. Are there elements of your work that you can achieve a level of effortlessness if only you decided to? Because as a reminder from McKeown, it does not need to be hard because you think it’s important. It can be important and be easy to do. 

Think about tools, tricks, and tips that people share. Is there something you can adopt? You can learn from someone in a different profession or a different department. That’s why I love paying attention to how people complete tasks because there might be something I can take and translate to a part of my life. We should always be learning from others and McKeown shared research from companies and groups on how to make things easier to do, if only we’d leave the ego at the door. That’s why he wrote the book. And that’s why you should read it-- because there was a reason Staples sells and advertised the EASY button. It is possible to make something easier, especially when it matters.

Alicia Abdul has worked as a high school librarian for the City School District of Albany since 2007. Her contributions to the profession include reviewing for SLJ, SLC, and VOYA, serving on YALSA committees, and presenting at local, state, and national conferences on books, programs, and graphic novels. She has a keen interest in writing and contributes to the Albany Times Union’s books blog and manages her own at along with being published with the Nerdy Book Club, SLC, and in SLJ. You can usually find her at home with her family drinking tea and baking while looking for a dress to buy.