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5 Productivity Books Every Professional Needs To Read

5 Productivity Books Every Professional Needs To Read
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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

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          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 21, 2021

            The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

            The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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            No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

            Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

            Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

            A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

            Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

            In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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            From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

            A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

            For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

            This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

            The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

            That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

            Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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            The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

            Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

            But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

            The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

            The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

            A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

            For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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            But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

            If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

            For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

            These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

            For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

            How to Make a Reminder Works for You

            Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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            Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

            Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

            My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

            Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

            I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

            More on Building Habits

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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            Reference

            [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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