I am not sure if I have ever mentioned this here, but over the past several months now, I have found myself veering more and more towards non-fiction, more specifically towards books on productivity & time-management, even though I’ve been reading other sub-genres as well.
And this is new for me, because while I have always read non-fiction, it has typically constituted a relatively small part of my reading, and right now it’s almost at 50% (if not more).
There have been a couple of reasons for this, but I guess it boils down to the fact that late last year I realized that whatever I was doing to manage my time and tasks just wasn’t good enough, and I really needed to do something about it, because I was sick and tired of always being in this state of eternal backlog, and it was adversely affecting my mental health & peace of mind in general.
Some of my family and friends suggested that I had possibly taken on more than I could handle, and that I should let go of a couple of things, one of which was blogging. But honestly, I just could not bring myself to give up blogging, because for whatever reason I started it, it’s now the one creative outlet that gives me immense joy and a great deal of satisfaction and pride.
Moreover (the way I see it) it’s also the only way I can accomplish the goals I have set for my future, so even back then I knew I just had to figure out how to make it work, and that too without compromising on the things that are higher on my priority list like my health & time with my family.
And here is the thing, if I am being really honest, I have to admit that even though I often cribbed about not having enough time to do it all, I also could not deny the fact that I wasn’t necessarily making good use of the time I did have.
I mean at the end of the day, everyone has the same 24 hours, and how we handle it makes all the difference. So we can either take the lazy way out, by sitting around and expecting a miracle, or we can actually do something about it. And I decided to do the latter, and take control of my time instead of letting it control me.
Now there were several things I did, a few strategies that I adopted, to effectively manage my time, while boosting my productivity, and I can definitely share more on that in a different blog post, but for today I want to talk about the 3 books I read which were the initial fuel behind the fire that kept me inspired, motivated and on track on my journey of taking back control of my time.
PIN THIS for later: 3 Books to Boost Your Productivity
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
This was the very first book I picked up when I wanted to get started with the genre, because being the compulsive list-maker that I am, this one was right up my alley, and let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of validation every now and then?
Though at the same time I have to admit that I did wonder if this book could possibly add any value to me, considering I was already acing this list-making thing.
However I need not have worried, because this book was not only a pretty interesting read, but also an immensely helpful one, even for someone like me, who was already sold on the importance and the many advantages of checklists.
For one, like I expected (and mentioned earlier), it did validate my natural inclinations, which was great. But more importantly, it also gave me new perspective on how to use lists effectively.
Because you know sometimes it is easy to get stuck in a rut of doing things, without ever evaluating whether they are actually helping us in our goals or hindering them. In that sense, this was the perfect reality check for me.
That being said, even if you have never made a single list, and consider it to be a complete waste of time, I’d still highly recommend this book to you. Mostly because I know how critical checklists can be when it comes to effective time management.
So if you are seriously looking to boost your productivity, this is one book you must not ignore.
GET THIS BOOK HERE:
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
This was the next book I picked up, though honestly it wasn’t the one I was intending to get to. I originally planned to read The Power of Habit by the same author, but that book had a crazy number of holds on it, which meant I couldn’t get my hands on it anytime soon. So I thought I’d as well go with this one because it was by the same author, readily available, and from the title alone, it seemed to fit with the productivity theme I had in mind.
However after having read the book I have to admit that it’s not what I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, this book had a lot going for it. The author explored some truly mind boggling concepts, and shared some amazing case studies. But then none of those things tied to an overarching idea or even the theme of the book – Smarter Faster Better. And to be honest, that really bothered me.
I usually prefer non-fiction in which the author might explore several angles but it usually all connects to a single overarching idea or a theme at the very least. So these unrelated examples (as amazing as they may be) did not work for me after a certain point.
That being said, if you are new to the genre, and don’t share my quirks, you will possibly enjoy this book, because like I said, the concepts explored, and the examples chosen were pretty great. Also, there was a section at the very end that shared ideas for practical application of the concepts discussed, and that I truly enjoyed.
All in all, while the book seemed to go on many unrelated (but good) tangents, it’s still a great read if you are looking for a practical summary of some productivity concepts, and also some ideas on how to organize your life to manage your time, tasks and energy more efficiently.
GET THIS BOOK HERE:
ALSO READ: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – Book Review
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
After I got done with those 2 books, this was the third one I picked, and I have to say that (for me) this was by far the most useful one (out of 3). Because it directly addressed my problem areas, and provided actionable tips to work on them.
And at the end of the day, that’s what we want from self-help books like these, right? Unlike fiction, it’s not entertainment we seek, but valuable insight, actionable advice, and general help in the areas we need it. So in that sense, this book was the best of the lot for me.
Having said that I feel compelled to clarify something –
Was this path-breaking information? – No.
Was this something that I’d never come across earlier – No.
However, was this just the right thing at the right time (for me)? – Hell, yes!
So much so that I made extensive notes on this one, that I keep referring to every now and then. I will possibly share some highlights from the book with you guys (things that really spoke to me), but in a different blog post, so as to not make this one impossibly long.
But essentially the book talks about some basic principles of productivity, and more importantly, how to deal with chronic (and selective) procrastination (something that I am guilty of).
And here’s the thing – I don’t procrastinate my tasks and sit around wasting time. I am usually always working towards something with respect to my goals. However, I might not be necessarily handling the most important tasks first, even though I know they are the priority.
It seems crazy right? I mean why would anyone not handle the priorities first? Now I cannot answer for everyone, but when it comes to me – it all mostly boils down to two things – the need for perfection (especially when it comes to the bigger, more important tasks) & anxiety and overwhelm caused by the former need.
Of-course procrastinating the important and the inevitable doesn’t make anything better or ‘more perfect’. It just delays your success, and makes the journey way more painful than it needs to be.
But just knowing that, did not help me break the vicious cycle/pattern I had fallen into – of taking care of smaller/lower priority tasks first, just to “get them out of the way”, so that I can then “really focus” on the more critical tasks (or at-least that’s how I justified it in my head).
Which is why, the following excerpt really spoke to me –
Clarity is very important for success. Know what needs to be done and in what order. Setting your priorities is important.
We all have time, if we but use it right.One of the worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all.
People tend to procrastinate the tasks that yield the maximum result. Don’t do that. Focus on the vital few tasks, instead of the trivial many.
Resist the temptation to clear small things first. It will become a habit. Refuse to work on bottom 80% tasks while you still have tasks in the top 20% to get done.
Force yourself to eat your frog first.
There is never going to be enough time to do everything. But there is always enough time to do the most important things.
You can only get your time and life under control to the degree to which you discontinue lower value activities.
The above excerpt is just one example of how the book opened my eyes to the reality of my situation, which to be honest I always knew, but never really admitted even to myself, much less worked on fixing these attitudes and habits that were not working in my favor.
Which is why, needless to say, I highly recommend this book, especially if you are looking for books on productivity and time management – start with this one.
But don’t just read it – make notes, do the exercises, and try to incorporate what truly resonates with you. It can and will dramatically alter your productivity!
GET THIS BOOK HERE:
That’s all from my end folks. I would love to hear from you. Have you read any of these 3 books? How did you find them? Have you read any other books on Productivity & Time Management that you really enjoyed? Do share!
LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT!