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5 Productivity Books Every Professional Needs To Read

5 Productivity Books Every Professional Needs To Read

One of the interesting things I’ve realized after learning from, reading about, and interviewing some of the most successful professionals in the world, is that we can’t separate our personal lives from our professional lives without sacrificing our productivity potential in one (or both) of those areas. The key to achieving high levels of productivity consistently is to blend it all together and focus on the few, key priorities that matter most in our lives… Whether these priorities are considered “work” or “personal” doesn’t make one any more important than the other.

The reason I’ve chosen to title this article “5 Productivity Books Every Professional Needs to Read” is because, as professionals, we tend to focus on being productive only at work; allowing our personal lives (friends, family, hobbies) to fall by the wayside.This is not productive. Nor is it healthy. Because sooner or later, it catches up to us. But not you. Not today. Because by the time you’re through here, you’ll have a solid list of best-selling productivity books you can reference and read whenever you need to revamp your workflow or tweak your way to a more productive way of life. All while maintaining that oh-so-sexy work-life balance everyone’s after these days.

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#1. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

the-effective-executive

    The author of The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker, is like the Godfather of modern management. In this book, Drucker provides actionable insights on how to be as effective as possible with our work — all drawn directly from his decorated career as a confidant to the CEOs of some of America’s most successful corporations. Buy the book here.

    #2. Getting Things Done by David Allen

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    getting-things-done

      You know that feeling you get when you know there’s something you’re forgetting to do — but you just can’t remember what that something is? If you hate that feeling as much as I do, then GTD is your fool-proof guide to preventing that from ever happening again. How? Simple: the GTD methodology is all about capturing and closing every single one of your “open loops” (the things you know you need to do, but haven’t captured in a planning system you trust). Once you’ve done that, you’ve got a starting place to begin organizing and executing around every arena of your life. Buy the book here.

      #3. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan

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      The One Thing Cover

        The ONE Thing advocates a simple path to success: determine your ONE most important priority in every major category of your life — and then simply work backwards from there; chunking down your own “one thing” into smaller single things that you can do this year, this month, this week, this day, and in this very moment. Buy the book here.

        #4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

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        The_7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People

          If there’s one book on this list that you need to read in order to get it together across every arena of your life, it’s this one. Unless you’ve been hibernating over the last couple decades, it’s very likely that you’ve heard of The 7 Habits. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s measure of just how much of an impact this book has had on the lives of the millions of people who’ve read and put it’s principles into practice. Buy the book here.

          #5. The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

          pomodoro-technique-summary

            What if you could start getting more done with less stress and overwhelm? What if you could finally beat procrastination? What if… you could actually enjoy doing your work and managing your time? If you’ve got issues maintaining your focus for extended periods of time, then The Pomodoro Technique’s unique approach to productivity might be just what you need in order to get your productivity where it needs to be. Buy the book here.

            Let’s get productive.

            Now that you’ve got this list of books, there’s only one question left… Which one do you read first? Should you go out and get them all right now? Should you read them all at once? So many options. So little time. Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. But if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

            • Subscribe to a book summary site, like FlashNotes 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 tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once… and as we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book. And then 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, checkout some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

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            Dean Bokhari

            Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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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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