Come Up For Air

Want to read a fresh look and perspective on becoming more efficient and effective?  This is a valuable book with insights and tips to help increase efficiencies in work flows that resonates with common sense and logic while Sonnenberg’s suggestions and proven recommendations reduce waste and costs.  Check it out!



“Come Up for Air: How Your Team Can Leverage Systems and Tools to Stop Drowning in Work” by Nick Sonnenberg is a guide aimed at businesses and teams who are struggling with inefficiency and overload.


The book primarily focuses on the following key points:

  1. Diagnosis of Common Workplace Issues: Sonnenberg identifies common problems in modern workplaces, such as over-reliance on meetings, email overload, and inefficient communication and project management practices.
  2. Introduction to the CPR Framework: The core of the book is the CPR Framework, which stands for Communication, Planning, and Resources.  This framework is designed to help teams streamline their operations.
    • Communication: Strategies are provided to improve internal communication, reducing email clutter and meeting inefficiencies.
    • Planning: Focuses on effective project management and task prioritization, helping teams to work on what matters most.
    • Resources: Covers the optimal use of tools and resources, including the adoption of technology to automate and streamline work processes.
  3. Implementation Strategies: Sonnenberg offers practical steps for implementing the CPR framework in any organization.  This includes tips on choosing the right tools and technologies and customizing them to suit specific team needs.
  4. Real-world Examples and Case Studies: The book includes examples from various companies that have successfully implemented these strategies, providing readers with real-world context and practical insights.
  5. Focus on Culture Change: Emphasis is placed on the importance of fostering a culture that embraces continuous improvement, efficiency, and effective collaboration.
  6. Long-term Sustainability:  Sonnenberg also discusses ways to maintain these systems over time, ensuring that the improvements are sustainable and adaptable to future changes.


Overall, “Come Up for Air” is a practical guide for teams and organizations looking to improve their productivity and efficiency through better systems and tools.  It’s especially relevant for those who feel overwhelmed by the pace and volume of modern work.


He recommends Asana as a work management tool.

I Power Seeds

Here are our takeaways and thoughts - pause and reflect, then nourish and grow!

We don’t want to provide spoiler alerts, so here are just a few notable points from the book to pique your interest.


Sonnenberg’s book offers a fresh perspective on enhancing meeting productivity.  It’s packed with innovative tips to streamline meetings, save time, and reduce costs due to inefficiencies.  For instance, it suggests empowering team members to opt out of meetings where they can’t add value.  It also points out how people tend to fill a meetings scheduled time with unnecessary discussions.  Synchronous communication is another key recommendation for more effective collaboration, steering clear of ineffective meetings.


The book’s insights are echoed in EOS, underscoring their importance.


I recently had a personal experience that illustrates these points.  Someone proposed a 30-minute meeting with me and another colleague, but I suggested a quick Teams chat for efficiency.  Despite this, a meeting was insisted upon, which concluded in just 5 minutes – a clear indication that a chat would have sufficed.  This is one of the challenges many of us face is the culture of “we have always done it this way” (booking meetings) as well as a culture of not embracing technology to streamline and improve workflows.


Another common scenario, that we are sure you can relate to, is when meetings ending early, with the host remarking about ‘giving back time’.  This, as Sonnenberg notes, is a symptom of inefficiency, leading to financial losses and reduced productivity.


Sonnenberg advocates for a test: reducing meeting times by 15 minutes, using agendas and collaboration tools like Teams, and then assessing the annual cost savings.  This approach, along with transitioning to a Pull vs Push communication strategy, can significantly reduce the ‘data scavenger hunt’ that consumes valuable time.  His staggering examples encourage readers to evaluate these strategies in their own workplaces.


After applying these methods myself, I shared a 5-minute summary and demonstration where I received significant positive feedback and interest in the book.  Here is the PPT.


In conclusion, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to optimize their workplace efficiency.

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