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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life

14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life

When you woke up this morning, what did you do first?

Did you hop in the shower, check your email, or grab a doughnut from the kitchen counter? Did you brush your teeth before or after you toweled off? Which route did you drive to work? When you got home, did you put on your sneakers and go for a run, or pour yourself a drink and eat dinner in front of the TV?

In 1892, the famous psychologist William James wrote, “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” I absolutely love that statement because it’s absolutely true: most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making,[1] but they’re not. They’re habits.

And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness. One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.[2]

Habits, by definition, are choices that we all make deliberately at some point—and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day. At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink, or when to go for a jog. But then we stopped making a choice, and the behavior became automatic. It’s a natural consequence of our neurology. And by understanding how it happens, you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you choose.

This brings us to this list of books on how to build better habits. Each of these books are powerful tomes in and of themselves when it comes to the challenge of building habits that stick; but together they become a comprehensive collection of resources on how to create and sustain the habits you need to succeed, both personally and professionally.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

    The interesting thing about habits is that once we develop them, they go totally unnoticed in our day-to-day activities. For example, you probably don’t think about how many simultaneous actions go into reversing your car out of the garage and into the street safely and smoothly. You just do it. That’s a habit. However, so is smoking. The Power of Habit teaches you how to be deliberate about building better habits that serve you both in life and in business.

    Buy The Power of Habit here.

    2. Drive by Daniel Pink

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      This book will equip you with everything you need to know about developing the habit of self-motivation. In other words, this book will teach you some of the most powerful leadership lessons you’ll ever learn. Author Daniel Pink debunks some of the biggest myths about what really motivates us at work, breaking down the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and how far too many organizations rely on extrinsic motivators, even though they’re counterproductive. Instead, Pink explains how we can best motivate ourselves and others by understanding how to utilize intrinsic motivators. Bottom line? You can’t lead a successful life unless you’ve developed a habit of motivating yourself on a consistent basis, and Drive is a cornerstone book on how to figure that out.

      Buy Drive here.

      3. Mindset by Carol Dweck

        Mindset discusses the differences between people with a “fixed” mindset versus those with a “growth” mindset. Our mindset determines the way we deal with tough situations and setbacks as well as our willingness to deal with and improve ourselves. This book demonstrates how we can achieve our goals by changing our mindset and then developing the success habits to help us nurture that psychological switchover the long-run. It’s a very powerful book on personal transformation that’s also backed by sound scientific research to boot.

        Buy Mindset here.

        4. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan

          I recently had an opportunity to interview the co-author of this book and he told me that one of the biggest reasons why most people fail at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions is because they set way too many of them to begin with. The key to sustainable success is actually simple: focus on one thing and see it through for long enough that you achieve your goals. That’s it. Success is sequential, not simultaneous. This book breaks down the mechanics of that process.

          Buy The ONE Thing here.

          5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

            This book was written over 1800 years ago. Guess what? The powerful principles, written way back in the second century, remain just as applicable today. Just read this quote and you’ll understand what I mean:

            “For how could we do what justice requires if we are distracted by things that don’t matter, if we are naive, gullible, inconstant?”

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            He’s got to be referring to our texting and driving habits, right? The Stoics were known for their disciplined pursuit of excellence, especially when it comes to maintaining emotional stability—which they kept regardless of how stressful a situation they might’ve been dealing with at any given moment. This type of emotional stability wasn’t built overnight. It was built by way of habit. Want to learn about adding some Stoic flare to your own habits?

            Buy Meditations here.

            6. Willpower by John Tierney, Roy Baumeister

              This book aims to re-ignite a conversation that people have been ignoring for decades: what’s the role of willpower in helping us achieve our goals? The answers will surprise you. They’ll also provide you with actionable ways to reshape your lifestyle habits in a way that allows you to find and ignite that charge within yourself to help you achieve lasting change, progress, and ultimately success. Decades of scientific research tells us that the key to forming and sustaining habits is self-control (aka: willpower). And if you want to build up your own willpower muscles, then this is the book you need to read.

              Buy Willpower here.

              7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

                This is a book about success and how there’s a lot more to it than being smart and working hard. Maybe you’ve heard of Gladwell’s famous 10,000-hour rule and how it relates to success. Even then, there’s still so much more to learn about how successful people became so successful in the first place. Outliers is a must-read title if you’re looking to expand your mind about the subtleties and nuances that contributed to the success of icons like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

                Buy Outliers here.

                8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

                  You’ve surely heard of this classic. In the book, Stephen Covey says,“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”

                  Do you have your changeless core in check? I know it took a lot of inner work before I felt like I did. And one key component of developing that powerful inner core is by developing powerful habits that are based on principles. Why? Because principles don’t change. They’re timeless. Each of the habits laid out in this book are based upon principles, and are designed to act as individual prescriptions for effectiveness in every arena of your life.

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                  Buy The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People here.

                  9. Mini Habits by Stephen Guise

                    Mini Habits is all about how taking small steps daily can lead to massive changes over time. If you’ve been struggling to lose that fat and achieve your health and fitness goals, if you’ve been looking to attain new skills or build powerful habits that stick, if you’ve been hoping to make massive changes in life but just can’t seem to make it happen, then this book is going to break down the big ideas you need to know in order to bust through those sticking points and build the habits you need to succeed.

                    Buy Mini Habits here.

                    10. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

                      In this book, author Peter Drucker tells us that “effectiveness must be learned.” What does that mean? It means that being effective is a habit, but so is being ineffective. Often times, people think they’re being effective when what they’re really being is efficient—there’s a difference. Being efficient means to be doing things right. Being effective means to be doing the right things. This book teaches you how to develop the habit of doing the latter so that you can achieve success in life and business as quickly and effectively as possible.

                      Buy The Effective Executive here.

                      11. Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry Roediger, Mark McDaniel

                        We are now living in the age of the buzz, the bing, and the flash—the age of distractions and constant notifications about the things that don’t matter. And to make matters worse, we’ve got more information flowing into our purview than we ever have before. In order to make sense of all this “stuff” and focus on our most meaningful objectives in life, we’ve got to develop the habit of learning how to learn. In other words, in order to succeed in the modern world, we need to develop the skill of grasping and retaining important concepts quickly. That’s what Make It Stick helps us do.

                        Buy the book here.

                        12. Atomic Habits by James Clear

                        Atomic-Habits
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                          James Clear is a fantastic author with plenty of insight and experience with building habits. In his book, Atomic Habits, Clear makes it straightforward and precise about setting habits and how to have them stick. On top of that, he goes into great length about the various myths around habit-building that many other books try to sell.

                          Buy Atomic Habits here.

                          13. Rewire By Richard O’Conner, PhD

                          rewire

                            Richard O’Connor, PhD is a man with an extensive background in therapy who established a groundbreaking book in his industry called Undoing Depression. In his more recent book – Rewire – the goal of the book is to expand on the information within that book and what he provides to the patients in his therapy sessions.

                            Overall, this book provides a more brain focused approach to building habits and why people choose to build bad habits as well. By learning about the ins and outs of what your brain is doing, you’ll be able to rewire yourself into building stronger and better habits.

                            Buy Rewire here.

                            14. 30 Days By Marc Reklau

                            30-Days

                              Judging by the title of this book, the purpose of the book is to provide you with a 30-day challenge to building habits. What’s nice about this book is that it provides step by step instructions and has different pacing to the rest of the books on this list. In the others, you can read them all in one sitting if you’d like. 

                              With this book, you can do the same thing, however, the book encourages you to learn and apply every single day. It’s easier to do that when you are reading one step every single day for the next 30 days.

                              Buy 30 Days here.

                              Which Book to Read First?

                              Now that you’ve got this big list of books to help you build better habits, there’s only one question left: which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? Or should you take a lifetime to read them? Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. However, if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

                              • Subscribe to a book summary site, like GetFlashNotes Book Summaries, to get the key takeaways from the books on this list.
                              • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just one book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have a tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once. As we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book and commit to reading it from start to finish.
                              • If you’re in a rush, try audiobooks, or audio summaries.
                              • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, check out some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

                              More About Building Habits

                              Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

                              Reference

                              More by this author

                              Dean Bokhari

                              Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

                              books about spirituality 7 Science-Backed Books About Spirituality That Will Change Your Life 15 Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn for a Good Mindset 7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them) How to Avoid Procrastination and Get Your Work Done 50 Self-Affirmations to Help You Stay Motivated Every Day

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                              Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                              14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                              14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                              Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                              In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                              For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                              For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                              Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                              Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                              Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                              How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                              Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                              1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                              Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                              For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                              2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                              Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                              Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                              Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                              3. Create a System

                              Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                              This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                              You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                              Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                              Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                              4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                              We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                              If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                              Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                              Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                              5. Use a Ratings Scale

                              Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                              Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                              It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                              6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                              This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                              You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                              You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                              7. Offer Feedback Forms

                              Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                              First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                              Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                              You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                              8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                              This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                              Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                              Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                              9. Use Self-Evaluations

                              Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                              Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                              10. Monitor Time Management

                              This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                              Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                14. Use an External Evaluator

                                Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                Final Thoughts

                                These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

                                More Productivity Tips

                                Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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