The self improvement industry is growing rapidly and with a never ending supply of audiobooks, podcasts, motivational speakers and youtube channels, we thought we would take a step back and recommend some good old fashioned books for your next big read!
“what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.”
– Cal Newport.
Do you ever feel like you were busy all day and didn’t have a moment to catch your breath? You know those days spent running around, frantically trying to get things done but at the end of the day you feel like you haven’t accomplished single thing?
The ability to multitask no longer has the sought after value it once did. Employees are not clamouring to add this“skill”to their resumes and claim that they can juggle multiple tasks at once, because, being busy does not mean you are being productive and certainly doesn’t mean you have the ability to work for longer periods of time. Focussing on completing one project at a time, is fast becoming the number 1 useful tool in any employees skill box.
Cal Newport defines deep work as“Professionalactivity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” and goes on to say that“Non-cognitivelydemanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”
Busy work or shallow work,as Cal puts it,is work that requires little cognitive ability and can be done quickly and with a few distractions. Tasks such as responding to emails, replying to messages, answering questions & going in and out of meetings are all very important but,these tasks are not always productive, they just keep you busy.
Deep work is the work that moves the needle of your business.
Work with a purpose.
Apply these 4 strategies to create a space that allows you to be free of distraction.
Location: Where are you going to work from? Home, a coffee shop or a co-working space? Choose a space that is free of distractions and that you are familiar with to complete your most important projects.
Duration: How long are you going to work for? Look at the tasks you need to complete and decide the time frame you are going to give yourself. If you are still new at this concept, start with a 30 minute timer, take a 5 minute break and then head back in for another session.
Structure: What are you going to be doing? Having an idea or even better, a written plan of what exactly you are going to be using this time for,will eliminate wasted time.
Requirements: What do you need to assist you in your pursuit of productivity?
Perhaps some noise-cancelling headphones and binaural beats to help you to focus?
“As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live.”
Even though this bestselling book is almost 15 years old, the lessons that lie within are still relevant. In Screw it, Let’s do it, Branson accounts events from his childhood, into adulthood where he learnt valuable life and business lessons that helped guide his decision making.
With refreshingly simple concepts, a way of conveying his message in a relatable easy to understand and humorous way, Branson touches on the foundations upon which his business and personal life is built.
In the age of hustle or no sleep, Branson emphasises the need to take a break, and rest. To switch the brain off and allow it time to reset is essential. When you are exhausted, all you are thinking about is how exhausted you are and that does not allow for any space to be productive.
“there’s nothing you can’t do if you get the habits right.”
– Charles Duhigg
We have all been guilty of making those profound New Years resolutions quite loudly and to whomever will listen in an effort to change our lives. Sometimes we think of new things we would like to change for the year going forward and within 6 months a few of those habits might have fallen away.
The thing about habits are we usually don’t know a lot about them…We make promises to ourselves but don’t really understand the psychology of our habits, how they are formed, created orsustained.How could we possibly expect ourselves to break negative habits without fully understanding them?
In The Power Of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the science behind habit making. Why we tend to drop them when the motivation to continue disappears and what we can do to create a sustainable healthy habits.
Keystone Habit is a term coined by Charles Duhigg and is used to describe the domino effect that almost everything we do has on our lives.
Take this example. You go to bed anywhere between 11:30pm and 12:00am every night. You want to get as much sleep as you can so when your 6:00am alarm goes off you snooze it until 6:30am and then you groggily pull yourself out of bed trying to remember what day it is.
You stumble around the house looking for your clothes and only have enough time for a quick coffee. Before you leave the house you quickly look for your keys and your shoes and rush down to the car before the traffic gets worse. You get to work just a little bit late and have no time to plan or settle in before the day starts, setting the tone for the day.
Oh,and you still have not had anything to eat and it’s already 11am…
They keystone habit here would be to adjust your night time routine and whatever led you to go to bed so late. Your lack of sleep affects your waking experience and subsequently doesn’t serve you well for the rest of the day, resulting in mood swings and unproductivity.
Keystone habits are the small changes or habits we slowly introduce into our routines that carry over into other areas of our lives.
Look at the areas of your life that are less than satisfactory and see where the problem stems from, that way working in reverse you can see what areas of your life need a small tweak to get you the results you want.
“What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.”
– Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Rework is a book that takes everything we think we know about business and turns it on it’s head. Talking about aspects such as why you don’t need a business plan and why you should not hire any staff until it hurts – are just some of the thought provoking topics tackled. Pushing the notion that ideas in business are a pound a penny and that the real value comes from how you execute the idea. Prioritising sleep and why you shouldn’t worry about what your competitors are doing.
Rework pushes the norm and questions the status quo to find a new way to work. We no longer need to have major capital to start a business and being in the age of social media can reach further and do more.
It has been proven that the more interruptions we have the less productive we are. Most of us are not able to simply snap back into what we were doing. Often times, we also can’t discern between important tasks that are not urgent,and urgent tasks that need to be dealt with immediately.
Bookoff some time on your calendar, find a space to be alone and give yourself an opportunity to shield yourself off from any distractions. That includes emails and phone calls or office chit-chat.
What other self improvement books can you recommend that have helped in your life or business?
© Work & Co. 2020.