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20 Essential Books To Supercharge Your Productivity

20 Essential Books To Supercharge Your Productivity

Perhaps the number one rule that productive people emphasize is the need to have a mentor. But with busy lifestyles today, it is difficult to find time to build that relationship. Thankfully, great mentors and teachers for a productive life are only an arm stretch away in a book. Success and productivity comes first from gaining the knowledge. Here are 20 essential productivity books that will turn you into a productivity machine:

1. The 4-Hour Chef, by Tim Ferriss.

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    Tim Ferriss has fast become the ‘go-to guy’ when it comes to productivity, accelerated learning and life hacks. In this book he gives his 4-step method of speed learning: Deconstruct, Selection, Sequence, Stakes. His latest book is a comprehensive coverage of what he also touches on in his earlier books, The 4 Hour Work Week and The 4 Hour Body.

    2. The War Of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

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      Perhaps one of the greatest books on overcoming obstacles in creative work is this by Steven Pressfield. In it he explains Resistance as being that crippling enemy we face every day and gives great short reflections on how to break through.

      3. Getting Things Done, by David Allen.

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        A classic by David Allen, one of the most successful corporate coaches, his book is described by Time Magazine as, “the definitive business self-help book of the decade.” A great tip from this book is the two-minute rule: if there is any task that takes less than two minutes to finish, then drop whatever it is that you are doing and finish that task.

        4. Your Brain At Work, by David Rock.

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          Understanding how your brain works is crucial for success and being productive. David gives a great metaphor for the mind as a stage performance. Your brain’s functions are like a director trying to manage actors and actresses- you need to find the optimum amount that you can work with in order to be productive.

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          5. The Power Of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

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            Get an insight into what makes good habit and bad habits with this book. Charles Duhigg breaks down the stages of building habits: cue, routine, reward. Productivity is very much dependent upon what your daily habits are. Create better habits and understand why we do the things we do in work and life.

            6. Made To Stick, by Chip Heath & Dan Heath.

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              It is one thing to work hard, but it can be futile if you are not working smart also. This book will teach you about what sets a winning brand apart from the rest. Be productive but also stand out from the crowd.

              7. What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter.

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                That voice in your head can make all the difference in terms of how productive you are. Shad Helmstetter teaches you to become mindful of negative thoughts that are holding you back and replace them with with productive and positive self-talk you need.

                8. See You At The Top, by Zig Ziglar.

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                  Another classic by the great Zig Ziglar. Learn how to turn “lemons into lemonade” in this book. If you have gone through some difficulties recently, Zig gives some great advice along with a healthy all-round approach to success and being productive.

                  9. Willpower Instinct, by Kelly McGonigal.

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                    Procrastination and lack of self-discipline are the greatest enemies of productivity. Dr. Kelly McGonigal is a professor at Stanford University where she teaches on many subject including self-discipline through a psychological lens. She reveals much of her lessons in this book.

                    10. Thinking Fast And Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

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                      Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnerman helps you to be more productive through understanding the two different faculties of your thinking: the fast, intuitive, and emotional; and slower, more deliberative, and more logical.

                      11. Invisible Influence, by Kevin Hogan.

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                        There are so many subliminal effects at play that may be holding back your productivity. It may simply be the color of your room that is making you lazy. Uncover what some of these are in this book.

                        12. The First 20 Hours: How To Learn Anything…Fast! by Josh Kaufman.

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                          Josh Kaufman unpacks his 4 step method to rapid learning. He teaches an important point on making pre-commitments of 20 hours to your learning in order to see great results and be productive.

                          13. The Art Of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin.

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                            Josh Waitzkin is a grand master chess player who also became a champion martial artist. He breaks down the secrets to learning and being successful in this book as he shares his own personal experiences of what he found to be productive and what was not.

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                            14. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuck.

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                              Gary Vaynerchuck is dominating the online marketing world and he gives the secrets to making huge progress and seeing profitable results. He give an incredible amount of case studies showing what practices are the most productive for online work.

                              15. Your Creative Brain, by Shelley Carson.

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                                Dr Shelley Carson from Harvard gives 7 steps to maximize imagination, productivity, and innovation in your life. She explains that creative brains are developed and trained, and breaks down the creativity process to allow you to be creatively productive.

                                16. The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy.

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                                  Being the publisher of Success Magazine, Darren Hardy ought to know a thing or two about being productive and successful. In this book he discussing the crucial accumulation of the little decisions we make each day and how they can drive us toward our goals.

                                  17. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.

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                                    Regarded by many as one of the greatest books for writers. Lamotte’s incredibly entertaining book helps not only writers but all artist overcome those demons that keep us from being stagnant and overwhelmed with our work.

                                    18. The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.

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                                      Journalist Daniel Coyle takes readers through 9 different case studies from sports teams to music academies uncovering the truth behind talent. Rather than a gift, it is a product of hard work and productivity.

                                      19. Train You Brain For Success, Roger Seip.

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                                        This book includes a phenomenal section on developing your memory and speed reading. The ability to read and remember well are crucial for being productive.

                                        20. How To Become A Straight-A Student, Cal Newport.

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                                          Cal Newport teaches some unconventional paths and strategies to getting high grades through some more refined studying strategies. Rather than continually cramming he gives effective methods that can be applied to those outside a school setting also.

                                          Add some of these titles to your growing library and begin to enjoy having a more productive life.

                                          Featured photo credit: reading a book by feedough via stockfresh.com

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                                          Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                                          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                          The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                          What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                                          Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                                          Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                                          According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                                          Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                                          Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                                          Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                                          The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                                          Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                                          So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                                          Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                                          One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                                          Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                                          Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                                          The Neurology of Ownership

                                          Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                                          In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                                          But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                                          This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                                          Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                                          The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                                          So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                                          On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                                          It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                                          On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                                          But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                                          More About Goals Setting

                                          Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

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