Allow me to read your mind and address your first question, which is: why would you pick only 4 books? Let’s just say that it’s quality over quantity and if that’s not cliché enough let me double it and say that less is more.
I could throw a list of 10, 20, or 50 books at you but most people would never read all of them, or frankly any of them. When it comes to productivity it’s not a numbers game of how many but focusing on the right ones and implementing them with action steps.
You could read a thousand books, never take action on any of them, and not be any more productive than you were before, although you’d certainly know how to get there! With just four books it’s not overwhelming, you can focus on applying the techniques within them, and even if you just picked one of these you could still get massive results from taking action on it.
These four books had a huge impact on my life so I’m confident you will gain value from reading them. From getting organized to boosting your productivity, changing your perspective, and learning how to create good habits, these books are rock stars.
So without further ado, meet the stars.
- The Power of Habit
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg is a gem for its versatility and the power of the technique it introduces to you. In the right hands this book can be the cure for bad habits and addictions, while also providing the secret formula for developing good habits.
Using the pragmatic approach described in this book allowed me to overcome my bad habits and form good habits in their place. Things like writing and working out used to be a struggle for me to keep up with consistently, but now I do them routinely with ease and in fact, I love doing them.
It goes without saying that bad habits can put a huge damper on your productivity and your life. From taking up your time to damaging your confidence these are things you want to learn how to address, and The Power of Habit shows you how to do this, with science and detailed examples to support it.
From studying productivity I’ve picked up on a concept that appears again and again, and that is that productivity depends not on discipline per se, but on forming good habits. No one is a disciplined machine who does all the right things all the time; if you know someone like this please introduce me.
The most successful people aren’t necessarily more intelligent and disciplined than everyone else, in fact they could be neither, but a common thread is that they have formed really good habits. It’s all about tricking ourselves into doing the right thing on a consistent basis, and this book shows us just how to do that.
- The 80/20 Principle
I first became aware of this title when it was referenced in Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week (another great one by the way). The 80/20 Principle, by Richard Koch is a revolutionary book that will change your perspective on how to get results and maximize your full potential.
Koch takes Pareto’s Principle, aka the 80/20 Principle, and applies it to business, productivity, and life. The core of 80/20 thinking is that 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results.
This is an eye opener on success, wealth distribution, and time management. I use the principle every single day whether it’s to focus on the 20% of weight lifting that will yield 80% of my results, the one thing I need to do to get closer to my goals, or if I’m at work prioritizing my schedule around the few things I do which will yield the highest performance.
Conversely you can use this idea to become aware of the 80% of your efforts that yield only 20% of your accomplishments, and judicially trim the excess fat. When you stop thinking of all activities as equal, and begin giving proportionately more time to the ones that impact your success, the results will be life changing.
- The One Thing
The One Thing, by Gary Keller is a force to be reckoned with. Keller shows us how multitasking, busy work, and trying to do everything kills our productivity, and then he describes what we can do about it.
Even the well intentioned to-do list can be a binding contract between you and busy work, as you work through a never ending list of items, none of them getting you closer to your goals. This book shows you how to get laser focused and do the one thing that matters every single day.
Does this sound slightly familiar? This book is a perfect companion to The 80/20 Principle because where that one shows you how to double, triple, and quadruple your results, this book helps you figure out what your 20% is so you know just what to focus on.
By prioritizing our schedule around the most important thing we will feel more accomplished, multiply our results, and not get bogged down with busy work. I use this technique every day to look at my list of things to do and mark only 1 as the most important; that one gets done no matter what challenges the day might bring.
Additionally, the book goes into excessive detail to address any remaining questions you might have, such as how to deal with the busy work you’re leaving behind, and how to say no when you need to. Being a Yes Man might have worked for Jim Carrey, but on the road to success the No Man comes in first.
- Getting Things Done
This book is a manifesto on how to get organized and how to do it right. Getting Things Done, by David Allen is easy to understand, and has very detailed processes you can implement for reorganizing your life.
David helps you go from wherever you are presently to completely organized, and then he helps you build a system that works for you to keep it that way.
This was another game changer for me, which on a side note, is the only reason I’m recommending any of these books. I went through everything: bills, taxes, paperwork, personal to-dos, work to-dos, future goals, and got all of it re-organized.
Then I created a system where I revamp my lists once a week, which keeps me organized and takes me less than 15 minutes to do. I keep my lists on a white board and in a journal because that’s what works for me.
The biggest value I found with getting organized is that, with all my “stuff” written down and organized it no longer takes up valuable cranial space, allowing me to be more creative and focused, and do my best work. In other words, being organized takes a huge weight off your mind, allowing you to be more productive and focus all of your attention on what’s most important.
So there you have it, four rock stars to massively improve your results in 2016.
Do you have a favorite productivity book that you think should be on here? Please share it in the comments.