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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

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            Last Updated on April 19, 2021

            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

            The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

            Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

            The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

            Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

            In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

            When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

            Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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            1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

            When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

            As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

            That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

            The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

            What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

            Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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            There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

            So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

            2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

            When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

            No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

            3. Move Your Body

            A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

            It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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            So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

            4. Connect With Another Person

            Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

            One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

            Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

            5. Use Your Imagination

            When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

            That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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            And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

            Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

            Final Thoughts

            Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

            Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

            More on the Importance of Taking a Break

            Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

            Reference

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