Saturday, January 19, 2019

Three Critical Reads for Maximum Productivity: Best of 2018

All three of these books are outstanding. I strongly recommend them as they provide clear strategies for doing our best work in a world that does its best to distract us 24/7. You will notice a theme in these books: all advocate 

Greg McKeown Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Essentialism is about creating space to be able to get the right things done in our lives. It is not about doing less. McKeown has written a critical tool to help us to succeed in achieving our actual goals by maintaining focus on them. This involves learning to say "No" and removing obstacles in our lives that hinder us from the pursuit of what we actual want/desire to accomplish. Every time you say "Yes" to something; you are saying "No" to something else. Problems happen when we say "Yes" to "non-essential" tasks to the detriment to our goals. This quotation from McKeown captures the heart of what he teaches: "If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will."

Cal Newport Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World 

Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He is a prolific writer who has studied the art of productivity. Deep Work is one of the best books that I've read for writers, teacher, pastors, creatives, and designers. If part of your career demands high level thinking and planning and you struggle organizing your life to be at your best, then Deep Work is for you. Newport offers strategies for prioritizing your life via habits that support blocking out focused time for your critical work/thinking. This means identifying your best hours and allocating them to the most important and intellectually demanding projects and cutting yourself off of distraction. Newport walks the walk as he produces a tremendous amount of scholarly research in his field in addition to all of the productivity content. 

Brendon Burchard High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way 

This is Burchard's best book to date. He studied carefully several hundred high performers from around the world and distilled key principles that are immediately actionable in our lives. Burchard distills six habits under two broad headings: Personal and Social. The personal habits are Seek Clarity, Generate Energy, Raise Necessity. The social habits are Increase productivity, Develop influence, Demonstrate courage. All of this may sound like standard fare if you are familiar with personal/business coaching. What sets Burchard apart are the specific tactics that he includes with each habit. He also offers worksheets and tactical breakdowns to operationalize what he teaches. Sort of hiring a private coach this book offers tremendous value to anyone looking to take the next step in finding your edge.

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