Being productive is something most people want to achieve. And many of them think that if you accomplish your tasks, you are productive and successful. But this is a common misconception people have about productivity, and this is because the world we live in is fast-paced.
Being productive doesn’t mean you have more and more tasks done every day, but accomplishing the important goals consistently. Productivity is not only about doing but about prioritizing, finding good solutions, and successfully implementing them.
At the same time, the world visually stimulates us like never before. Everywhere you go you see bright, colorful, and eye-candy ads that make you think you need specific tools to succeed. And people engage in all kinds of behaviors that should bring them the success they want, but in fact, they crowd their schedule so much that there is little time left for themselves. And for reading books too.
Books are a useful tool to improve your productivity. They are available to anyone, both in hardcover and online formats, and can be used as ways to improve productivity. Here are some facts and tips on how reading books impact your productivity levels.
It Helps You Relax
Constantly trying and working towards accomplishing your tasks can be energy draining. It can take you so many hours that you barely find time to relax and spend with and for yourself. And even though this might feel rewarding and motivating at the beginning, the dark side is that it comes with higher and higher levels of stress.
You quickly start to feel that you do not have enough time to do whatever you want. And this can take a toll on your wellbeing and mental health, as well as physical health. But studies show that reading can help you relax by offering another point or story to immerse in. Books catch your attention and help you forget, for a few moments, about the stress and your work life. They introduce you to a new universe.
But you may wonder which is the connection between reading and productivity. To be productive, you do not need to be stressed, but relaxed. Stress narrows your mental judgment and at times it may lead to wrong decisions. This is why your mind needs to be clear to achieve productivity, and books can help you do this. And spending at least 10 minutes per day reading has huge benefits.
It Helps You Focus Better
Living in a world that wants to reach you with all kinds of information is tiring. Wherever you walk or go you see bright ads that try to catch your attention. Social media does the same, as there is a constant battle for your attention between brands. Every day we are bombed with information, and technology helps us keep up to date.
At the same time, the downside is that all these decrease your power to focus. Take for example your smartphone which is always connected to the internet. Its screen lights up to catch your attention when notifications are received, and you find yourself always checking your phone. At times, this can prevent you from focusing on what you have to do. You become easily distracted and productivity is kept at a distance.
Books have the power to catch your attention in such a way that keeps you engaged for hours on end. If the book topic is interesting and attractive enough, you will find yourself absorbed in the story and focused on the storyline and characters. And little by little, you will find it easier than before to focus on your tasks. And concentration comes with productivity and efficiency.
It Improves Your Creativity
There are over 129 million books in the entire world, with over 600.000 books being published every year in the US alone. There are so many books and so little time, as Frank Zappa once said. But the best thing about this is that there is for sure a book that will catch your attention and immerse you totally in the story.
There are so many books written on diverse topics, from technology, history, or fiction to thrillers, SF, biographies, romance, or technical ones. Reading a few pages every day not only helps you reduce your stress levels and increase your concentration, but also improve your creativity.
You read and interact with many ideas you can reflect on and that can turn out to be viable solutions or perspectives. You need creativity to be productive, as creativity helps you take different points of view and find and consider fresh solutions to common issues.
Books are one of the most amazing tools you can use to improve your productivity. They come in accessible formats and with some story-lines that catch your attention in an instant. Books teach and help you think creatively, find your inner balance and focus, and relax. Because these are the main ingredients for productivity.
Till next time,
PS – If you enjoyed this resource about reading books and productivity, then you’ll love this little productivity hack using a not-to-do list.
DECISION FATIGUE: HOW TO OVERCOME THIS SECRET PRODUCTIVITY KILLER
Mark Zuckerburg is one of the richest men in the world, yet he’s known for wearing the same grey t-shirt into work almost every day.
Aside from being one of the most revolutionary entrepreneurs of our time, Steve Jobs was famous for sporting his iconic black turtleneck into work every day.
And some of the last few Presidents of the United States have been known to limit their wardrobe to only two or three colors.
These types of habits from these high-achievers may seem odd. However there is a method to their madness, and it’s all based around decision fatigue.
In this article, we’ll dive into decision fatigue and discuss how it hampers your ability to make productive, rational decisions that improve your life. Additionally, we’ll dive into some practical ways that you can overcome it through some slight adjustments to your daily routine.
The Courtroom Study
Perhaps the most famous study involving decision fatigue was conducted by Jonathan Levav of Columbia University and Shai Danzinger of Ben Gurion University.
Assisted by a team of psychologists, Jonathan and Shai reviewed more than one thousand court decisions made by judges over a ten month period. The judges had been tasked with sitting through parole hearings and making a determination as to whether or not a prisoner should be released.
As the team delved deeper into these decisions, they made a startling discovery.
Prisoners who appeared before the judge early in the morning were granted parole 65 percent of the time, whereas prisoners who appeared before the judge late in the day were only granted parole 10 percent of the time.
These findings begged the question — why the drastic difference in parole rates from the morning to later in the day?
Being a parole judge means using a lot of brainpower. It requires thorough examination of case files, personal background, and several other factors that are vital to deciding whether or not a prisoner should be released.
Each day, the judges had to expend significant mental energy in order to make judgements about the fate of the prisoners. The researchers concluded that as their reserve of mental energy depleted, their decision making was negatively impacted.
In this specific study, denying the prisoners parole is simply the equivalent of taking the path of least resistance.
It turns out that after a long day of making complex decisions, your brain will naturally start looking for ways to conserve energy later on in the day.
- You’ll start to look for excuses to procrastinate on important work.
- You’ll avoid going to the gym even though you committed to lift weights earlier in the day
- You’ll opt for an unhealthy snack in the pantry because you don’t feel like making a healthy dinner.
In summary, you’ll tend to stick with the status quo because your brain is tired of making decisions.
What Is Decision Fatigue?
Decision fatigue is simply the slow deterioration of your ability to make rational decisions as your brain fatigues throughout the day
Studies like the one above highlight the fact that your willpower is like a muscle — it gets fatigued each time you have to use it. Just like your biceps fatigue after a set of curls at the gym, your willpower gets fatigued each time you make a decision.
The link between decision making and willpower goes both ways: Decision making depletes your willpower, and once your willpower is depleted, you’re less equipped to make decisions.
In the courtroom study, each judge started the day with plenty of mental energy to analyze each case on its merits. However, as their energy started to fade, sticking with the status quo seemed like the easiest option, so that’s what they did.
Decision fatigue is one of the main reasons why we procrastinate. It’s why we give into bad habits and make decisions that sabotage our long-term goals.
And while there’s nothing we can do to eliminate decision fatigue completely, we can significantly reduce the impact that it has on our lives.
HOW TO OVERCOME DECISION FATIGUE
Before we get into some practical tips, you must realize that it’s impossible to completely eradicate decision fatigue from your life. No matter what you do each day, your capacity for making rational decisions will decrease as the day progresses.
However, you can shield yourself from these significant decreases in willpower by implementing a few lifestyle changes which we’ll get into right now.
1. Set Your Clothes Out Before You Go to Bed
One of the first decisions that we make each morning is choosing the outfit that we’re going to wear for the day ahead.
If you take a few minutes the night before and lay out what you’re going to wear the following day, you won’t have to spend any time pondering the outfit that’s going to look best on you.
Instead, you’ll walk right over to the dresser and throw clothes on without even thinking about it.
For some of you, this might only save a couple of minutes each day. For others, this one time action may save you 5-10 minutes of indecisiveness each morning.
Regardless, removing a decision from your morning routine will help you conserve mental energy for the day ahead.
2. Leverage Time Blocking To Structure Your Day
Time blocking is one of the best ways to combat decision fatigue because it sets a clear agenda for the day ahead.
When you’re armed with an agenda for how you’re going to spend your time on any given day, you bring clarity and structure to your life. And perhaps more importantly, you remove the fuzziness that many people experience while going about their daily decisions.
Making plans requires a significant amount of mental energy. So if you don’t have one when you wake up in the morning, your brain will have to come up with these plans on the fly.
In other words, you’ll have to constantly make decisions about where to focus your attention at any given moment. And the more energy you waste thinking about what to do, the less energy you’re able to devote towards getting things done.
Time blocking will ensure that you don’t waste any of your precious mental energy making plans, and it’s actually quite simple to implement. Here’s a quick guide for implementing time blocking into your life:
- Open up Google Calendar/Outlook (whatever digital calendar you use). If you’re old school, then take out a sheet of paper.
- Starting from after your morning routine, plan out your day in 1-2 hour blocks and set a focus for each of these blocks.
- If you need to create a 15 minute block for smaller tasks that still need to get done, feel free to do that.
- Set a hard stop for when you will stop working and don’t schedule anything after that.
Just so you have a reference, here’s what my schedule looks like as someone who runs a blog while also working a full-time sales job.
- 6:30 AM – 9:30 AM: Blogging
- 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM: Find new accounts to prospect
- 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM: Check email + schedule out prospecting emails in advance
- 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch
- 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Hold for client meetings
- 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: End of day admin tasks + prep for tomorrow
- 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Blogging
Now does this mean that every single day looks like this? Absolutely not.
Meetings get scheduled, laziness and procrastination kick in, fires come up that need to be put out, etc. All of that is beside the point.
The point is that at each moment of the day, I know exactly where I need to be spending my energy. I don’t need to exert any brainpower to figure out what to work on because my daily priorities have already been established.
So if you find that your days seem to lack structure and clarity, try to reduce the burden on your brain and give time blocking a shot.
3. Do The Hard Stuff First
Many times, you’ll hear people say that they struggle with knocking the high-priority tasks off of their to-do list. Usually, these are the tasks that require the greatest amount of mental energy to complete.
As a result, people tend to make the mistake of starting the day by knocking out minor tasks in order to get some quick wins under their belt. When it comes to maximizing productivity, this is a huge mistake.
Because usually by the time they get around to the high-priority stuff, they don’t have the same level of energy and willpower they possessed earlier in the day. Unfortunately, It’s been sapped due to the thousands of decisions that they’ve already made.
As a result, it becomes easier to choose the path of least resistance and procrastinate the stuff that needs to get done.
Remember the courtroom study from the beginning of the article?
At first, the judges were exercising their brainpower to make rational decisions about the fate of prisoners. As the day dragged on though, the judges started defaulting to the status quo because it didn’t require much effort.
Now for you, the status quo may not be denying parole:
- It might be binge-watching Netflix instead of working on the presentation that you need to get done
- It might be sitting on the couch checking social media instead of forcing yourself to the gym
- It might be checking emails instead of prepping for an important call that you have coming up.
The bottom line is that all of these activities detract from the kind of work that significantly moves the needle towards your most ambitious goals.
In order to combat this, you must put the tasks that you’re most likely to procrastinate at the very beginning of the day.
At the start of the day, your willpower and motivation are at peak levels. This means that it’ll feel a little easier to exert some self-discipline and complete your most cognitively demanding tasks.
Now what defines high-priority work is different for everyone.
For me, it’s writing content for my blog. That’s why it has a three hour time block on my calendar which starts immediately after my morning routine.
For you, it could be hitting the gym, or planning for calls with clients, or spending time educating yourself about your industry.
Whatever it is, get it done first. You’ll undoubtedly experience a surge of positive momentum that you’ll carry with you as you work through the rest of your to-do list.
Decision fatigue affects everyone, whether it’s Mark Zuckerburg or the janitor at your local high school.
We often underestimate the effect that seemingly insignificant decisions have on our willpower and motivation, but the truth is that they do have a compounding effect on our decision making.
Although you can’t eliminate decision fatigue from your life completely, the best way to combat it is by planning ahead. By applying the suggestions provided in this article, you’ll reduce the burden on your brain and find it easier to maintain focus as the day progresses.
PS – If you enjoyed this article on how to overcome decision fatigue, then you’ll certainly enjoy this supporting resource that showcases the keystone habits you’ll need to crush decision fatigue for good.
10 BEST PRODUCTIVITY BOOKS TO READ IN 2022
It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of the new year, end of the summer, or the beginning of Q4, it seems like everyone is trying to find ways to get more productive. But what exactly is the definition of productivity? Applying productivity to our lives isn’t exactly the same as applying it to economic contexts. However, it’s core meaning still applies. Essentially, we want to be doing the most we can with the least time and effort.
In saying that, being productive doesn’t mean working all the time, it means being smart with your time and making the most of it. These 10 productivity books will help you explore productivity in different ways; with each giving valuable insight into how you can succeed. Part of becoming more productive is learning about what tools and methods work the best.
So, without further ado, here are some of the best productivity books you can find that will definitely be able to help you…
10 BEST PRODUCTIVITY BOOKS THAT YOU SHOULD READ
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1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
If there’s one book you have to read to help you with productivity, its Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book is a classic in the self-help category. Despite being published decades ago in 1989, Covey’s lessons remain relevant today. Some of the concepts in this book may seem pretty obvious. For instance, prioritising and putting what’s important first or having a vision for the future.
However, Covey provides a lot of insight into productivity. His book has also introduced useful tools such as his time management matrix. Essentially, this involves creating a two-by-to matrix with the tiles “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” across the top, and “Important” and “Not Important” along the side.
With this time management matrix, you’re able to categorise your week’s tasks into 4 categories; Urgent-Important, Not Urgent-Important, Urgent-Not Important, and Not Urgent-Not Important. The first category being the most important, the second being tasks that matter in the long run but with no immediate benefits, the third being the interruptions that take up our time and the last being the things we do when we need a break.
The lessons and tools in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will allow you to become more aware of how you’ve been spending your time. As a result, you’ll be in tune with which tasks you should focus more of your time on and which you should be trying to eliminate in order to be the most productive.
2. Grit by Angela Duckworth
Grit is a slightly different kind of productivity book where Angela Duckworth explores how passion and perseverance are the true markers of success. Duckworth has studied the psychology of success by examining all kinds of people that are typically deemed “successful” such as army cadets and telesales executives.
Duckworth argues that people are not necessarily predisposed to succeed but instead get as far as they do because of “grit.” Essentially, “grit” is a blend of commitment, overcoming setbacks, wanting to improve and being willing to do unpleasant things in order to succeed. By knowing your passions and being able to follow through on them, you can get to where you want to be.
So how does having “grit” link to productivity? With so many distractions threatening to take up our time, being resilient is crucial in trying to be productive. Having a clear vision and being able to take the steps to reach with passion and perseverance will do wonders for improving your productivity.
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is another book that may not seem to directly related to productivity. However it teaches incredibly valuable lessons if you’re looking to take control of your personal finannces and find financial freedom. Making money work for you will mean you can spend less time working for money.
Robert Kiyosaki explores the stories of his own father and the father of his best friend, both with opposing views on how to deal with finance. One of the book’s foundational ideas revolves around the fact that you need to educate yourself financially. If you spend your extra money on an improved lifestyle, you’re guaranteed to lose all of it. If you spend it on investments, even if they were high risk, there is only a chance of losing it all.
Having made the majority of fortune through real estate investment, Kiyosaki offers a unique view on money and assets. He teaches you that in order to save and invest, you should manage risks rather than try to avoid them. By being productive about your personal finances, you can get one step closer to financial freedom.
Again, this book belongs in our list of best productivity books because it provides invaluable insights that will help you use your money in a way that help you live a much more productive life.
4. The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey originally started off writing about productivity on his blog. After running productivity experiments, interviewing experts and looking through research, Bailey came out with The Productivity Project to document the lessons he’s learned. Though his book is relatively new and not an established title, he introduces many valuable ideas on productivity.
The core message in The Productivity Project is the idea that productivity is made up of three factors; time, attention and energy. Rather that productivity being just about how we manage our time, Bailey suggests that productivity is also largely about how we manage our energy and attention.
In order to be productive, all three factors have to be in tune. Learning how to manage your time can be done by practicing how to organise your priorities. In terms of energy, you have to manage health aspects such as diet and sleep. Bailey also coins the phrase Biological Prime Time. By tracking your hourly energy levels over a couple weeks, you can determine which time of the day you’re most productive. Finally, your time and energy will be used up based on where you decide to direct your attention. Hence, it’s important to not pay too much attention to distractions.
Bailey also dives into multiple other lessons. For instance, the Rule of Three is a principle where you determine the 3 tasks you want to complete each day. Another practice to consider taking on is a weekly review on the key categories of your life such as relationships, health and career. The last lesson that comes from The Productivity Project is to make a “Waiting For” list, separate from your normal to-do list, with all the tasks you can’t do until someone else gets back to you.
5. Deep Work by Cal Newport
Deep Work by Cal Newport is another relatively new addition to the productivity book space. This book is perfect for the modern generations who have found themselves spending too much time on social media and email. Newport explores the difference between shallow work and deep work, highlighting the importance of making time and energy for deep work.
Deep focus and deep work seem to be lacking in the 21st century workplace. Deep work is a concept that allows you to develop the ability to grasp hard concepts, and to produce work with quality and speed. The key to high productivity is to increase the time you can work on a task without interruptions.
In order to make the most of our limited willpower, Newport suggests we schedule deep work blocks into your calendar. Focus on the critical tasks, track your new behaviours, keep a scoreboard and stay accountable for maintaining this continual process. Often, we’re used to checking our phones even at the potential of boredom. Hence, Newport also introduces the idea of scheduling breaks in order to give into our boredom and distractions.
In terms of the things we should stop doing to achieve deep work, Deep Work implores readers to quit social media and any other tools where the negative impacts on your professional and personal life outweigh the positive impacts. Newport proposes that you attempt consciously staying away from social media for 30 days without deactivating. Afterwards, consider whether you were greatly inconvenienced and whether anyone cared.
6. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, is a well known title in the productivity space. Though there are criticisms surrounding the book since some of Ferriss’s ideas aren’t completely practical, most people can agree that The 4-Hour Workweek offers useful insights that anyone can benefit from, even if you don’t completely take on his approach.
One of the most popular concepts explored in Ferriss’s book is the 80/20 principle. Essentially, the principle suggests that 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your tasks. Hence, you should focus on the 20% of tasks that produce the most output. At the same time, you should eliminate the 80% of tasks that only produce 20% of your productivity.
As mentioned early, the ideas in The 4-Hour Workweek aren’t practical for everyone. However, if you’re an aspiring business owner, the book might be able to teach you a few lessons. Ferriss suggests that you must validate your business ideas by ensuring you can profit. Even if an idea can solve a problem, it might not be solving a big enough inconvenience for people to pay money for it.
The bulk of Ferriss’s book is based on four steps. First, you need to define your goals by asking yourself what you really want. Then, you need to eliminate distractions, the 80% of tasks that only make up 20% of your productivity. Thirdly, you should automate your cash flow by outsourcing any menial tasks and by creating a business that can run on autopilot. Finally, Ferriss implores readers to liberate themselves from the traditional expectation of a 40 hour workweek by designing your job around mobility.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with this classic productivity book, so don’t hesitate to give it a go.
7. The STRIVE JOURNAL
The final suggestion for top productivity books is The Strive Journal. This resource is more of a workbook than an actual book. However, it does contain a short motivating story about the power of persistence.
The main reason this resource makes the list is because of it’s unique layout and built-in daily activities that lend to increased productivity, especially as it pertains to reaching your daily to dos and quarterly goals.
So, as a best practice, you should consider reading these first six books on productivity, and then utilizing this goal planning resource to help you manage your productivity for the next 365 days.
8. Extreme Productivity
If you’re looking for a productivity book that will show you how to harness a laser-like focus so you can get the most done in the least amount of time, then this book is for you.
Written by one of the business world’s most productive and successful business leaders, Robert C. Pozen, you’ll get a good dose of productivity insights and mindset shifting tips. By the end of the book, you’ll be ready to put your newfound efficiencies and productivity to the test, and chances are you’ll like your results.
So, give Extreme Productivity a read if you’re ready for some next-level productivity hacks.
9. Getting Things Done
David Allen is one of the most widely recognized experts on personal and organizational productivity. He’s also one of the most highly rated executive coaches who’s been coaching and researching on productivity for over three decades now.
Needless to say, he knows his stuff when it comes to productivity and getting things done. So, if you’re looking for one of the best books on productivity, ‘Getting Things Done’ delivers.
Without a doubt, this book will add structure and consistency to your productivity efforts, and will get you on the right track towards being more productive. Some say it’s a long dry read, and that you only need to read the first third of the book, but we believe regardless of how much you read, you’ll walk away with insights that will help you become your most productive self.
10. The 5 Am Club
Robin Sharma is the best of the best when it comes to high performance coaching. He’s been coaching, educating, and inspiring billionaires and business icons for over two decades now, and he shows that he still has tons of life-changing insights left to share with this book.
Sharma’s ‘The 5 Am Club’ will show you how a few simple adjustments to your life can dramatically reduce your stress, increase your focus, improve your creativity, and give you the foundation to skyrocket your productivity in business and in life.
You really can’t go wrong with this book, it delivers on its promises.
There is no better time than now to take a deep dive into reading. These 10 productivity books are definitely worth the investment if you’re looking to take control of how you spend your time. With a better understanding of productivity, you’ll be better equipped to tackle any projects or goals you’re currently working on.
PS – If you enjoyed our top list of productivity books, then you’ll likely also enjoy these additional productivity supporting resources:
KEYSTONE HABITS: THE QUICKEST WAY TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE
How do you change your life?
As someone who’s intensely passionate about personal development, I think about this question often.
What I’ve come to realize is that it’s not the right question. Because when most of us ask this question, what we really want to know is this:
What specific lifestyle changes would have the greatest impact on my overall happiness levels?
Well, to answer this question accurately we must talk about keystone habits. This article will discuss keystone habits in more detail and how they can rapidly improve your life.
What are Keystone Habits?
Charles Duhigg was the first person to introduce the idea of keystone habits. In his all-time classic book, The Power of Habit, he writes the following:
“Keystone habits don’t create a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but they can spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.”
Keystone habits are habits with tremendous upside. Once solidified into your life, they unintentionally create a ripple which brings about several other positive changes.
Let’s suppose that you have a goal to get in better shape. In order to achieve this goal, you decide that you’re going to start exercising for twenty minutes per day. Assuming that you actually follow through on this intention, you’d probably lose a decent amount of weight after a few months.
However, is the number on the scale the only thing about your life that would be different?
- As you get in better shape, you’ll probably increase the difficulty of your workouts, which means you’ll be looking even more fit and lean.
- You might start skipping out on fast food because you don’t want to gain back the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose.
- Repeated consistency in the gym will likely boost your self-esteem because you like the body you see when you look in the mirror.
- Since you’re now less insecure about your weight, you may have more confidence when interacting with the opposite sex
See what’s going on here?
At no point did you set a goal to change your diet or improve your self-esteem. These changes just came about naturally due to your commitment to getting in better shape.
That’s the real power of keystone habits — once the first domino falls, others fall naturally.
How To Identify Keystone Habits
Now that we’ve talked about the powerful compound effect of keystone habits, let’s talk about how you can identify your own.
There’s a couple of different ways to go about this, so we’ll discuss two methods that will help you pinpoint the perfect habits for you to focus your energy on.
The first method you can use to identify potential keystone habits is called the Lookback Method.The lookback method requires you to analyze your past experiences and take note of the periods in your life when you felt your best.
We’ve all experienced certain periods in our life where we just seemed to feel more motivated and energized. During these periods, it’s likely that we were engaging in a collection of habits that set us up for success.
Think about these periods and see if you can find any common themes. In order to make this process easier, here’s a few self-reflection questions that you can ask yourself.
- Is there a specific daily ritual that was constant among each of these periods?
- Was there a particular lifestyle change that you were focused on?
- Were you on a consistent sleep schedule?
- Were you exercising?
- How often were you seeing your friends?
After some self-reflection, there’s a good chance that you’ll notice a pattern — there’s likely a collection of behaviors you were engaging in during these time periods.
If you are able to find some of these constant behaviors, that’s a good sign those behaviors are keystone habits.
The second method that you can use to identify your keystone habits is called The Biggest Demon Method.
For this method, you’re simply going to think about the demons and insecurities that wreak the most havoc on your emotional state.
We all have character flaws that we’d like to fix. But as you’re sitting here reading this article, there’s likely a few specific ones that require urgent attention because they’ve been sabotaging your life for years, or even decades.
And for whatever reason, you just can’t find a way to address them. This brings up an important principle about keystone habits, which is that they’re individual to you.
Duhigg talks about the versatility of keystone habits by saying, “The power of a keystone habit draws from its ability to change your self-image. Basically anything can become a keystone habit if it has this power to make you see yourself in a different way.”
You’re the only person who hears your internal dialogue all day. You’re the only person who knows what your biggest demons are, and you’re also the only person who’s capable of overcoming them.
So look at your life and think about the one thingthat torments you on a daily basis — the character flaw that you keep telling yourself that you’re going to fix.
Maybe it’s your weight. Maybe it’s your social skills. Maybe it’s your lack of deep personal relationships. Maybe it’s your addiction to binge-watching TV.
Whatever it is, identify it so that you give yourself a starting point to drill down on a highly impactful keystone habit.
Tying Your Keystone Habit Back To Your Daily Actions
Once you’ve used either of these methods to identify a potential keystone habit, now you have to tie this habit back to your daily actions.
For example, let’s assume that you implemented the biggest demon method and decided that you want to focus on building a more expansive social circle.
What would happen if you made a habit of texting one person from your social circle every single day?
Seems like a pretty minor change right? Well, let’s consider the potential ripple effects if you were to do this every day over the course of a few months.
- If you text someone you know every day, then there’s a good chance they will text back and you guys will engage in a conversation.
- If you’re having conversations with someone you know every day, you’ll likely receive more invites to social events.
- As you attend more social gatherings, you’re going to have more fun and meet more people.
- As you meet more people, your social skills will improve and your circle of friends will expand.
The list of ripple effects could go on forever, but the main point is this — one tiny habit can create a burst of momentum which leads to a plethora of positive changes.
Texting a friend every day doesn’t doesn’t require much effort. However, it still represents a drastic shift in your identity, and that’s why it’s such a powerful agent of change.
After a period of sustained consistency, eventually the compound effect kicks in and unintentional benefits come to fruition.
What Are The Best Keystone Habits?
Both of the methods described above should give you a keystone habit to focus your energy on.
However, if you’re still struggling to pinpoint a specific behavior, there are certain habits that are widely considered to be the best keystone habits for just about anybody.
Let’s discuss a few of these top notch habits now.
Exercise is perhaps the single greatest habit that you can build to improve your body and mind.
Study after study has shown that people who exercise regularly tend to sleep better, handle stress more effectively, have more energy, and improve their mood.
Putting aside the research-backed benefits, working out just feels good. Developing a daily workout habit requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline, which can ripple out into other areas of your life.
I find that the days where I workout end up being my most productive. However, if I cheat myself and decide to skip the gym, then that small error tends to lead to other bad decisions throughout the day.
Remember, you need to start small in order to solidify a new habit into your life. If you start off aiming too high, you’ll never be consistent enough to see real progress.
- Want to walk for an hour per day? Start with 100 steps per day.
- Want to lift weights for an hour each day? Start with 1 set.
- Want to do 100 pushups and squats per day? Start 5 pushups and 5 squats
Build up your confidence and willpower first, then worry about challenging yourself later.
Related: Link Between Fitness and Success
It seems like our mind is always thinking about something. Some of these thoughts are useful, but a majority of them aren’t.
Our brain is like an email inbox with 15,000 unread emails — mostly junk with a few golden nuggets sprinkled in.
Daily meditation reduces the endless mental chatter that shifts our attention away from the present moment. It teaches you that your mind is going to wander whether you like it or not, but that you don’t always have to follow its lead.
With enough practice, you can develop the highly important skill of being fully engaged in whatever you’re doing. Your focus and mental clarity will improve as you begin to fully immerse yourself in your daily experiences.
The act of being present is a meta-skill, and it’s one that can be applied to almost every single situation that you encounter in life.
It’s amazing how little we seem to care about sleep considering how important it is for our brain.
Without adequate sleep, your brain cannot function properly. Lack of sleep can impair your ability to concentrate, process memories, and think clearly and rationally.
Additionally, your brain starts forming new connections while you sleep. So by not prioritizing sleep, you’re actually making it harder to learn new skills and develop new habits.
Good keystone habits create a positive ripple effect which impacts several areas of your life. Lack of sleep produces the same ripple effect but in the complete opposite direction.
So if you’re looking for an easy keystone habit to jumpstart the rest of your life, getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night may be a good place to start.
4. Keeping A Food Journal
In 2009, Kaiser Permanente published a study that looked at a unique approach to weight loss — keeping a food journal.
They put together a group of 1600 people and asked them to concentrate on writing down everything they ate on a daily basis. As the study progressed, many of the participants had made food journaling a daily habit.
Once this habit was solidified, interesting things started to happen. People began to recognize their own eating patterns and started keeping healthy snacks around for when they got hungry.
Others used the journal to plan future meals. When dinner rolled around, they ate these meals instead of mindlessly snacking on the first thing that caught their eye in the pantry.
Overall, the study found that those who kept a daily food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t.
What’s even more intriguing about this study is that the researchers didn’t tell the participants to develop any of the supplementary behaviors described above. Keeping a food journal simply acted as a springboard for these behaviors to flourish naturally.
5. Doing Your Hardest Thing First Every Morning
When you look at your to-do list, there’s usually one or two things on there that should take priority over everything else.
Yet when many of us sit down to start working, we avoid these high-priority tasks like the plague. Instead, we tend to opt for the quick wins and knock out the low hanging fruit to build some positive momentum.
While this principle sounds good in theory, the truth is that starting with low effort tasks makes it easier to put off the more important stuff.
High-performers get important things done in the morning because they know that’s when their energy and motivation are at peak levels. And when you start your day by knocking out high-priority tasks, you’re setting the tone for the rest of the day.
Leverage this powerful keystone habit if you’re looking to take control of your time and make massive progress towards your most ambitious goals.
Related: Link Between Willpower and Success
We’re often told that any new habit that builds momentum is a good thing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this philosophy, but you’re limiting your potential if you choose to adopt it.
The truth about behavior change is that not all habits are created equal. Keystone habits offer a way to get more out of the time that you invest into changing your life.
Figuring out your keystone habits is step one. Once you’ve done that, you’re on the path towards radical change.
Once these new keystone habits become a daily practice, it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience a drastic shift in your identity.
PS – If you enjoyed this post on keystone habits, then you’ll likely enjoy these other supporting resources to help you build the habits that will help you change your life:
WANT TO BOOST YOUR PRODUCTIVITY AT WORK? TAKE MORE BREAKS
Believe it or not breaks increase productivity. So, if you want to do more and perform at your best, you need to start taking more breaks. But, isn’t taking a break counter-intuitive if I want boost productivity at work? Well, if you believe that taking short breaks will lower your productivity, you’re in for a surprise.
Many studies have actually discovered that when you take a short break, like getting yourself a cup of coffee or taking a quick stroll at the park, you recharge your energy and replenish your willpower to tackle your tasks more efficiently than before.
Ever wonder why sometimes it takes a longer time to write an article at 4 PM than it does at 10 AM? Well, this is due to the different energy levels you’re in. In the morning, when most people just wake up from a good rest, they feel energetic and able to focus better.
On the contrary, in the late afternoon like 4 PM, most people have used up most of their energy and if they don’t take any breaks and continue to work, their productivity suffers.
This is why it is so much more difficult to write an article at 4 PM when you used up most of your energy in the morning. It makes things way more difficult, especially focusing on the tasks at hand.
And hence, this is why you need to take short breaks throughout the day to maintain your energy level so that you can perform at your peak.
According to this article from Edutopia.org:
“Regular breaks throughout the school day—from short brain breaks in the classroom to the longer break of recess—are not simply downtime for students. Such breaks increase their productivity and provide them with opportunities to develop creativity and social skills.”
Yes, take more short breaks throughout your day to improve your creativity and productivity.
But, how do you take short breaks? How do you schedule your breaks so that they won’t interfere with your productive work? Here are a couple of tips…
BREAKS INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY IF YOU USE THESE…
1. Follow Your Natural Rhythm
One of the easiest ways to gauge whether or not you should take a short break is to follow your natural rhythm. You will know when you feel tired, stress, and can’t concentrate. And that’s the cue that perhaps, you should walk away from your work and take a quick 5 minute break.
In my case, whenever I find that I can’t focus on doing my work, like writing articles or creating content for my blog, I will stop and just take a short 5 minute break. I will go to the toilet, listen to my favorite song, or go and make a cup of coffee. After that, I will come back to my work and discover that I’m able to focus better.
Your body knows when you need to stop and when you need to push on. Just trust your natural rhythm and keep an eye on your energy level.
2. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique suggests you work for 25 minutes and then take a quick 5 minute break. This 30-minute cycle is called a ‘Pomodoro’. After 4 ‘Pomodoro’ cycles, you should take a longer 30 minute break before you get back to work again.
This technique is good because it makes sure you will never miss out on taking the breaks and so you will have longer-lasting energy that allows you to focus better throughout the day.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to the Pomodoro Technique if you find that 25 minutes is too short. You can always make your productivity duration longer. For instance, you could work for 50 minutes and then only take a 10 minute break.
A study from DeskTime discovered that most productive office workers work at an average of 52 minutes before taking a 17 minute break.
Therefore, you can always customize the Pomodoro Technique to fit and work best for you. If you think you can focus longer, then, by all means, work for 50 minutes or so and take a 10 minute break before you continue your work again.
3. Schedule Your Breaks
Look at your calendar, if your calendar is filled with only work but no break, it can make you feel dreaded. But when you see that there are breaks in your schedule, you will at least feel a breather.
The key is to schedule breaks into your calendar. Make breaks as a part of your daily routine. For instance, don’t schedule any work from 3 PM to 3:30 PM. During those 30 minutes, you will take a break and do things that delight you.
This way, you will make sure you incorporate breaks into your daily work routine. The key is to take a break so that you give yourself a chance to recharge and replenish your energy.
Now that you understand why and when to take a break, but how are you going to do it? What can you do to take breaks? Here are some suggestions…
When you stay long hours in the office with artificial lighting and a stressful environment, it is a good idea to get a quick escape. Research has found that spending time in nature can help alleviate mental fatigue and relaxing the mind. Taking a 10-minute walk in the park has a lot more benefits than you think.
Exercise and Move Your Body
I bet I don’t have to explain to you that exercise is good for your body. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress, boost your energy, and improve your productivity throughout the day. Research from the University of Sao Paulo found that a 10 minute exercise can boost your memory and attention to increase your performance for the day.
Yes, you read that right. Simply sitting and doing nothing is a great way to refresh your mind. Just let your mind wander and let your thoughts run automatically. It has a similar effect as meditation.
When you stop paying attention, your brain’s Default Mode Network will take over and this helps improve problem-solving and allows for creativity to soar. Ever wonder why most great ideas come during the shower or when you’re doing nothing?
Another great break that improves productivity is meditation. You can simply close your eyes, get still, and meditate on one thing, or nothing. It doesn’t really matter what it is, so long as you aim to be intention about getting your mind still and focused.
So, even it if is just for a few short minutes, meditation can be a powerful way to spend your scheduled breaks.
Take a Quick Power Nap
Taking a short power nap is one of my personal favorites. You have to understand that the secret to becoming more productive is not managing your time but your energy. You can’t make more time, but you can manage your energy so that you can perform at your best at all times. When you feel tired, sleepy, and need a quick energy boost, take a short 20 to 30 minute nap. After you wake up, you will feel more alert, energetic, and able to tackle your work and focus better.
Taking a short break has been scientifically proven to be useful in recharging your energy and help you focus and perform better at work.
Most people look at taking breaks as something lazy or unproductive, but now you know that this is far from the truth. When you take breaks, you are recharging yourself to go further.
Always remember that you can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself, which is your energy. Hence, when you know how to maintain your energy at an optimum level, you can perform at your best throughout the day.
Till next time,
PS – If you enjoyed this article on why breaks in increase productivity, and how you can boost yours, then you’ll also love this resource on how to create a not-to-do list to how it can improve your productivity.
3 KEY WAYS TO THINK LIKE JEFF BEZOS
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com needs very little, if any, introduction. Much has already been written about this giant of the online retailing world.
Numerous articles exist detailing his history, where he grew up, and how he made his meteoric rise to becoming one of the wealthiest people in the world.
In doing research on this titan of online trade, we discovered many different things that lead to his success. This post reveals the one thing we found to be most attributable to his success. In addition to this, the post will also reveal three powerful ways you can apply this attribute yourself…which will help you make massive headway in your business or life.
Continue reading to discover this key success attribute and to learn some tactics to help you go big like Bezos.
To GO BIG, THINK BIG… Think Like Jeff Bezos
It’s no surprise that the owner of the world’s largest online retailer is one of the richest people in the world. To reach such levels of success, you have to be a big thinker. To reach such levels of success you have to think bigger than the trends of the day.
This is exactly what Jeff Bezos has been doing since 1994. Jeff’s secret sauce, is his ability to THINK BIG.
Before Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com, he worked for an investment firm. Jeff was making 6 figures at the time, an income most would be happy to have. However, Jeff saw the potential that existed on the internet when he noticed how web usage at the time was growing by 2,300%.
If Jeff wasn’t thinking big, he never would have saw the possibilities that existed for him and the online marketplace. Even worse, if Jeff wasn’t thinking big, he may have never taken action to tap the potential of starting an online retail store.
Fortunately for us he did, otherwise, Amazon would not be around, and holiday shopping would be way more taxing than it already is.
Thinking Big is ingrained into everything Jeff Bezos does. When Amazon.com first started off it was just an online book retailer, but Jeff saw the potential for growth, and expanded his online offering to more than just books.
Needless to say, the company now sells just about everything under the sun, and is the largest online retailer in the world.
3 WAYS TO START THINKING LIKE JEFF BEZOS
Similarly, Jeff’s big thinking has got him owning one of the oldest news publications in America, ‘The Washington Post’, and running ‘Blue Origin’, the aerospace company pursuing services that will allow people to access space through their commercial spaceflight services. Talk about out of this world BIG thinking.
To help you go big like Bezos, here are 3 simple strategies to get you started on thinking bigger.
1. Measure Your True Size
The first strategy to pump up your thinking levels, is to measure your true size. To do this, all you need to do is simply make a list of your top four or five key assets or personal qualities you deem as strengths.
If you need help acquiring your list, find a person who is honest, knows you well, and can be objective in helping you determine what your top four or five strengths are.
Under each strength you came up with for yourself, list the names of two or three people you know who have achieved a high level of success, but who do not possess the strength/assets you have at the same level as you do.
In most cases, you will find that you have strengths and key assets that are well above some of the most successful people. The end result of this strategy is discovering that you are much bigger than you think yourself to be. And people who think they are big, think bigger.
2. Shift Your Vocabulary
Another powerful strategy to strengthen your mind muscles and force yourself to think bigger like Jeff Bezos, is to shift your vocabulary.
Many people don’t realize the power that words have on how they think. In addition to this, many people aren’t even aware that the words they use reflect the limitations of their thinking.
A person who always uses defeatist phrases like, “I doubt it..…”, or “yeah, but……”, “I just don’t have time for this…”, “I could never….”, or “There’s no way I could do that….”, are capping their possibilities.
People who use these types of phrases showcase their lack of belief from the get go. People who use these phrases often, have created a habit of limited thinking.
On the other hand, people who use phrases such as “It will work…”, “Why not?”, “Sky’s the limit….”, ”What if….”, “Imagine if….”, showcase their bias for possibility thinking. The same can be said for people who say things in a cheerful way.
If you ever get the chance to pay close attention to what high achievers say while conversing with others, you would notice that they do not use words or phrases that lend themselves to limitation. Nor do they use negative words that create a feeling of defeat.
Therefore, if you want to strengthen your ability to think bigger, start by making a conscious decision to shift your limiting vocabulary into a more positive and unlimited one.
Related: Positive Thinking
3. Stretch Your Mind
One of the most powerful strategies to help you think like Jeff Bezos is to actually practice stretching your mind. Just like the body needs a good warm up before a strenuous exercise, so too does the mind benefit from a good mental warm up.
Here are two excellent ways to stretch the mind.
The first way, is to try and see things not as they are, but as they can be. To do this, you simply need to visualize.
For example, if you want to live in a bigger more expensive house in a highly desirable neighborhood. Force yourself to see or visualize in your mind, you living in that home or neighborhood that you most want to be in. Then visualize what needs to take place to make such a thing a reality (getting a raise, saving x amount of money for down payment etc..).
We’ve practiced this on multiple occasions, and it has worked every time.
Another example, is if you wish to be a CEO of Rockstar Corp someday, visualize yourself being one and acquiring all the qualities that being such a leader would entail. Then use action to bridge the gap between that future you and where you are now.
Or, you can just go big like Bezos, and imagine yourself becoming the CEO of the world’s largest online retailing company. Why not? Competition is good!
Another great method for stretching your mind is to actually practicing coming up with ideas. When you force yourself to think up all kinds of crazy ideas for how you can solve a problem, or for how to succeed at something, you will grow your mind’s capacity for making it happen.
This is a powerful method that we just started using ourselves which we borrowed from James Altucher, and it works! James suggests we write down at least 10 ideas each morning in a journal or notebook. He recommends doing this as a habit as it will help to develop confidence and creativity on demand. The key is consistency, because practice is important.
“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches or pounds or college degrees, or family background, people are measured by the size of their thinking.” – David J. Schwartz P.h.DTweet Quote
Bonus Way to Think Like Bezos
Okay, here’s one last method to help you begin thinking bigger like good ole Jeff Bezos, and that is, to study the success stories of people who have achieved massive success.
It sounds simple, but it is a very effective way to begin thinking bigger. And if you truly want to think like Jeff Bezos, it will do you good to study him and his accomplishments in depth.
By learning more about how other high achievers grew their wealth or accomplished their dreams, you’ll grow your ability to see what’s possible for you.
One of the best things that you can start doing in your life right now to improve it, is to start thinking bigger like Jeff Bezos. If you’re not looking up, dreaming big, and seeking a grander mode of being, then the chances of achieving a bigger and better life are slim to none.
All success and achievement starts with thinking, and all BIG achievements start with expanding your mind to consider all that is possible for you. The three strategies mentioned above are good starting point to help you begin the practice of thinking big.
If you liked these exercises, but want something more to help you power shift into some real deal big thinking, then you’ll love this resource to help you supersize your thinking….
Note: We’re reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission
With that said, be sure to THINK BIG till you reach your aims, but most importantly….
P.S. – If you enjoyed this page, and you want to know more about Jeff Bezos, then you’ll likely enjoy this inspiring Jeff Bezos Success Story.
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