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8 Inspirational Productivity Books To Change Your Mindset Forever

8 Inspirational Productivity Books To Change Your Mindset Forever

The right book has the potential to change your mindset and significantly improve your productivty. By studying these productivity books and applying their concepts, your life will never look the same.

1. The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

FourHourWorkWeek

    Published in 2007, this book has inspired people around the world. If you have ever wondered how the lifestyle entrepreneur concept became so popular, much of that movement can be attributed to this book’s success. I’ve read the book twice and found it valuable both times. In mindset, this book shows us that time freedom is often more valuable than cash.

    A book sitting on the shelf cannot do anything to help you. One of the best aspects of the book are the challenges that Ferriss lays out for readers. For example, he suggests lying flat on the ground in a public space for 10 seconds. It’s a small unconventional act that demonstrates there is little actual risk from challenging an established norm.

    Favorite tip: propose solutions instead of asking for opinions. It moves conversations and daily life along much faster.

    Buy The 4 Hour Workweek on Amazon

    2. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

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    GettingThingsDoneCover

      David Allen’s classic book is the Bible of business and personal productivity. Unlike some business books that simply present a list of tips and other concepts, Allen delivers a full productivity system to the reader. In terms of mindset, “Getting Things Done” shows that we can maintain perspective and control over our ever growing to do lists. Truly, the book delivers on the promise of helping you to achieve stress free productivity.

      Favorite tip: I learned how to do a weekly review after reading Getting Things Done.

      Buy Getting Things Done on Amazon.

      3. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod

      TheMiracleMorning

        They way you start your day has an incredible impact on your productivity. Many of us have read about the morning routines of successful people. The Miracle Morning goes much further. In reading this book and applying the ideas, you can find the time to reinvent yourself through fitness, reading and other personal development activities. When it comes to mindset, this book demonstrates that you can boost your productivity and results through an effective morning routine. It is possible to wake up early!

        Favorite tip: Build a morning routine with several components (e.g. read for 10 minutes, journal for 10 minutes and do 10 minutes of exercise) so you are ready for the rest of the day.

        Buy The Miracle Morning on Amazon

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        4. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker

        TheEffectiveExecutive

          Published over 50 years ago, Drucker’s book is an outstanding resource for people in large organizations. For mindset, the early chapter “Know Thy Time” challenges the reader to make a log of how they spend their days. Simply understanding how you spend your time at work can be a shocking revelation. The book also teaches a great

          Favorite tip: The focus on contribution is an outstanding tip. As Drucker writes, “To ask, ‘What can I contribute?’ is to look for the unused potential in the job.”

          Buy The Effective Executive on Amazon.

          5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

          Rich Dad Poor Dad

            Taking command over your money is an important aspect of productivity. With greater financial resources, you can outsource tasks (e.g. use cleaning services or hire a virtual assistant). Of all the financial books I have read, this book had the greatest impact on my view of money. For example, Kiyosaki defines an asset as something that generates cash for you – that means your car and personal home are not assets! For many of us, we are used to looking at our homes as assets. In fact, our homes usually drain cash! The book reminds us of the importance of building new income producing assets (e.g. dividend paying stocks, ownership in companies, royalties etc).

            Favorite tip: Kiyosaki recommends seeking work that gives you learning and growth opportunity, rather than a comfortable job – that’s a great way to grow your productive capability.

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            Buy Rich Dad, Poor Dad on Amazon.

            6. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber

            TheEMyth

              Many entrepreneurs cite this book as a key resource in growing their skills and taking control over their lives. Many people get into business because they are tired of working for someone else. Others are interested in focusing on their craft or passion – baking, writing or working on cars. Gerber’s book points out that it is vital to create systems and procedures for the business to grow – otherwise the business will never grow past your personal productivity.

              Favorite tip: Write standard operating procedures for every aspect of your job so that you the business can keep running whether you show up or not.

              Buy The E-Myth Revisited on Amazon.

              7. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

              TheChecklistManifesto

                Making mistakes is frustrating! The typical answer to avoiding mistakes and improving performance is more education and training. However, there are other options. The mindset lesson from The Checklist Manifesto is that a simple checklist can significantly improve performance. For example, Atul Gawande discuses examples where commercial pilots constantly use checklists so that flights run safely. Many medical professionals including surgeons, nurses and others use checklists to avoid mistakes in health care.

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                Favorite tip: Learn how to create a checklist to improve your productivity.

                Buy The Checklist Manifesto on Amazon.

                8. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

                Essentialism

                  Deciding where to focus your limited time and attention is a key choice in productivity. While hacks and tips will improve your results, those are secondary considerations. The mindset lesson from “Essentialism” is to say no to requests, people and tasks that are non-essential. It is a painful skill to master, especially if you have been a people pleaser. The book is an enjoyable read and includes illustrations from McKeown’s life experience.

                  Favorite tip: Follow the “protect the asset” suggestion by getting enough sleep and exercise. A sound body is key to staying productive.

                  Buy Essentialism on Amazon.

                  Featured photo credit: Library/James_Valma via pixabay.com

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                  Bruce Harpham

                  Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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                  Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                  11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                  11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                  Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                  You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                  But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                  To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                  It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                  “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                  The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                  In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                  Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                  1. Start Small

                  The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                  Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                  Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                  Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                  Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                  Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                  It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                  Do less today to do more in a year.

                  2. Stay Small

                  There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                  But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                  If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                  When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                  I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                  Why?

                  Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                  The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                  Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                  3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                  No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                  There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                  What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                  Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                  This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                  This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                  4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                  When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                  There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                  Peter Drucker said,

                  “What you track is what you do.”

                  So track it to do it — it really helps.

                  But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                  5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                  Peter Drucker also said,

                  “What you measure is what you improve.”

                  So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                  For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                  For writing, it’s 500 words.
                  For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                  For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                  Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                  6. All Days Make a Difference

                  Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                  Will two? They won’t.

                  Will three? They won’t.

                  Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                  What happened? Which one made you fit?

                  The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                  No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                  7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                  Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                  But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                  What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                  It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                  The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                  It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                  It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                  8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                  Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                  Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                  When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                  The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                  Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                  9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                  The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                  Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                  You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                  But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                  So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                  If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                  This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                  The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                  Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                  10. Punish Yourself

                  Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                  I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                  It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                  You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                  No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                  The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                  But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                  11. Reward Yourself

                  When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                  Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                  The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                  After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                  If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                  Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                  If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                  In the End, It Matters

                  What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                  When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                  And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                  “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                  Keep going.

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                  More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                  Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                  [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                  [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                  [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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