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7 Books You Should Read to Increase Your Productivity

7 Books You Should Read to Increase Your Productivity


Learning to be more productive is one of the best things we can do to be more effective and efficient with everything that we do. Being more productive means stuff takes less time, you make fewer mistakes and you make better quality progress towards some desired outcome. That said, it’s amazing they don’t teach basic productivity skills in schools and colleges. So, I’ve put together a short list of some of books that teach the essentials of productivity that everyone can benefit from.

1.The 4-Hour Work Weekby Tim Ferriss

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    The 4-Hour Work Week teaches techniques to increase your time and financial freedom giving you more lifestyle options. By automating a passive income and liberating yourself from unproductive tasks, you can live the lifestyle of the “new rich”—one defined by having, doing and being what you want. Even for those people who have no interest in starting their own business, the principles in The 4-Hour Work Week can be applied to almost any situation or environment you find yourself in. The ideas behind the 80/20 principle, outsourcing, elimination and liberation will help you develop a much more productive mindset.

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    2.
    Getting Things Doneby David Allengtd

      Getting Things Done is arguable the world’s most well known book on productivity. The lessons in this book should be considered essential reading for anyone looking to pursue a more productive lifestyle. Getting Things Done takes you through a workflow which you can use to manage your workload much more effectively. The principles in the book are simple, but are often the things we forget about that we need reminding of. Getting Things Done was recently updated to reflect how this workflow applies to modern technology.

      3.How to Win Friends & Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie

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        Everyone, and I mean everyone can learn something from How to Win Friends & Influence People. The principles in the book are simple, but something a lot of us fail to use or remember. This book will help you to convince people to your way of thinking, avoid arguments and become more liked. If you’re in a leadership or sales type role, I strongly recommend this book. HTWFIP was one of the first best-selling self-help books ever published. Written by Dale Carnegie and first published in 1936, it has sold 15 million copies world-wide. But what has it got to do with Productivity? Well, by managing people more effectively (particularly in a working environment), you can produce better quality work together. This increased effectiveness goes hand-in-hand with higher productivity.

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        4.I Will Teach You to be Richby Rami Sethi

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          I Will Teach You to be Rich helps you identify where your money is going and gets it working for you so that you can save for the things that will bring you true happiness and lead a rich life. The six week program identifies how to create a system for optimising your bill payments, savings and investments so that your money goes to all the right places with less than an hour of maintenance a month. Now who wouldn’t want to spend less time managing their bank accounts while at the same time knowing that your money is going to the places it needs to be. Automating your finances like this is incredibly rewarding and will save you heaps of time every month.

          5.Manage Your Day to Dayby 99U

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            As the book describes; should you answer that email, or answer your calling? Tune into social media, or tune in to your own voice? Respond to other people’s needs or actively set your own agenda? When it comes to creative work, every decision, every day, matters. 99U brings together the insights of 20 creative experts to produce Manage Your Day to Day. Learn how to build a rock solid routine, find focus and sharpen your creative mind.

            6.Sleep Smarterby Shawn Stevenson

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              Sleep Smarter

              is a quick and easy read packed with facts, studies and scientific insight all about getting better quality sleep. Author, Shawn Stevenson takes you through the essential components of a good nights sleep. The book also contains a few surprises about how much impact sleep has on your day to day health. When you improve the quality of your sleep, almost every aspect of your life improves, including—yes, you guessed it—your productivity. By the end of the book you’ll definitely be settling in for a good nights sleep.

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              7.What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfastby Laura Vanderkam

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                Productivity researcher Laura Vanderkam has combined her three mini e-books into one comprehensive guide. Through Laura’s research and interviews, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast reveals how to plan your mornings, weekends and work time to be achieve greater productivity and happiness. It was after reading Laura’s book that I transformed my morning routine which is now one of my favourite times of day. If you’d like to learn the most common productivity skills among the worlds top performers, then this is the book for you.

                Featured photo credit: PicJumbo via picjumbo.com

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                Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                1. Start Small

                The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                Do less today to do more in a year.

                2. Stay Small

                There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                Why?

                Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                Peter Drucker said,

                “What you track is what you do.”

                So track it to do it — it really helps.

                But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                Peter Drucker also said,

                “What you measure is what you improve.”

                So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                For writing, it’s 500 words.
                For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                6. All Days Make a Difference

                Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                Will two? They won’t.

                Will three? They won’t.

                Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                What happened? Which one made you fit?

                The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                10. Punish Yourself

                Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                11. Reward Yourself

                When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                In the End, It Matters

                What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                Keep going.

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                More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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