Ever find yourself stuck in a rut? A rut where you just want to stay in bed, cuddle your cat, and stare at the ceiling all morning—or is that just me?
If we are being honest, we all experience ruts in our lives, especially our work lives. We feel stuck and unmotivated. We lack the productivity that was once second nature.
In order to break out of a rut, you will want to re-motivate yourself and increase your life productivity. To do this, there are three books you should read.
Why three books? That’s a good question. Realistically speaking, there are probably hundreds of books that could help improve your productivity, but if I actually listed 100 books would you actually read all of them? Probably not. And moreover, if you actually read 100 books that would probably decrease your productivity not increase it.
These three books not only discuss work, but how you live your life. These books get you to focus in on what is important to you, and take steps to make those important things a bigger part of your life.
These three books are just what you and I need to lift ourselves out of a rut, so let’s take a closer look.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Imagine for a moment if you could get rid of everything in your life that you didn’t like doing. Math, laundry, unloading the dishwasher, sitting in pointless meetings at work, math… you get the idea.
We always say there are certain things in life we have to do, even if we don’t want to. Greg McKeown disagrees. While he doesn’t think we can get rid of everything, he does think we can get rid of a lot of things.
In McKeown’s book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” he discusses what an Essentialist is and how to become one.
According to McKeown, “the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.”
To break that down, an Essentialist first figures out what is vital. Then get rids of things that aren’t vital, so the vital stuff has more time in your life.
To illustrate this, I’ll give you an example from my life. Personally, I have always wanted to be a writer. After college, I had a job where I was writing for an Advertising Agency. However, I spent too much of my time there sitting in pointless meetings.
Pointless meetings did not help me become a better writer, so I quit my job and transitioned into being a Freelance Writer, and now, I don’t sit in any more pointless meetings.
(For the record, you don’t have to quit your job to get rid of pointless meetings. You can replace meetings with email updates or determine whether or not you actually need to go to all your meetings by talking with a manager, etc.)
Reflect upon your life and how you spend your time. We all do unnecessary stuff, so come up with some unessential things that you can get rid of. This will give you more time for the stuff that matters.
Then, once you are spending more time on the things that truly matter in your life, you will feel more productive than ever.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
We all complained that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Most of us have endless to-do lists and over-stuffed schedules. If only there was a way to get more done in less time.
According to Cal Newport, there is. Cal Newport is a professor and author of the book “Deep Work.” His book discusses how the ability to focus and dig deeply into cognitively demanding work will help us work better and faster.
Newport talks about how social media, email, and constant notifications prevent us from truly getting deep into the work we do. Most people do fragmented work in a constantly distracted state of mind, so they aren’t able to get as much done or do as quality of work.
When I first started working full-time, I always had my email open and my phone was upright on my desk. This paved the way for being distracted from every task I was doing.
Now, I try to set up specific times to write and think more deeply. I set up my environment to help out with this by limited distractions and turning off notifications. It helps me produce a better product in less time.
How many times do you check your phone in an hour? Could you benefit from getting rid of distractions and working more deeply? Think about what distracts you and how you can make a change for the better.
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Ever had that New Year’s Resolution that you didn’t hit? Most of us have, and it might be because you didn’t form the habits you needed to hit your mark.
In “The Power of Habit,” Charles Duhigg takes a look into how habits work in order to help us learn how we can change our habits.
Duhigg describes how each of our habits has a cue. This cue signifies that we are going to start with a particular habit. According to Duhigg a cue can be a location, a time of day, a pattern of behavior or even a certain emotional state.
The cue is what starts everything off. For me, one cue of mine was a time of day. At 5 pm, the end of my work day, I was tired from the day and I wanted a break from work. This cue started the habit of me going home and watching TV every day.
Watching TV wasn’t the healthiest habit, so I decided to sign up for a kickboxing class that occurred at 5:30 pm Monday through Friday. My cue of 5 pm then became a cue that I needed to go to workout class. I still got the nice break I needed from working all day, but I got it in a way that was healthier than watching TV.
Take a moment to think of some of the habits you would like to change in your life. Think about what cue triggers you to start the bad habit, and brainstorm some ideas to change that habit.
Hopefully, just this post gave you some ideas to lift you out of your rut and increase your productivity. If you want to go further, read these books yourself. You will learn to get rid of all things that are unessential, to truly focus on your work and get your tasks accomplished faster, and to improve your habits so you can change your world.