So it is now 2017 and you want to be more productive? These five books should help you out. Below is a list followed by more detail and a description of each book.
- ‘Why We Work‘ by Barry Schwartz
- ‘What Got You Here Won’t Get You There‘ by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter
- ‘Designing Your Life‘ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
- ‘Smarter Faster Better‘ by Charles Duhigg
- ‘Pivot‘ by Jenny Blake
More on all the books below as well as a video on the topic
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We’ve long been taught that the reason we work is primarily for a paycheck. In fact, we’ve shaped much of the infrastructure of our society to accommodate this belief. Then why are so many people dissatisfied with their work, despite healthy compensation? And why do so many people find immense fulfillment and satisfaction through “menial” jobs? Schwartz explores why so many believe that the goal for working should be to earn money, how we arrived to believe that paying workers more leads to better work, and why this has made our society confused, unhappy, and has established a dangerously misguided system.
Through fascinating studies and compelling anecdotes, this book dispels this myth. Schwartz takes us through hospitals and hair salons, auto plants and boardrooms, showing workers in all walks of life, showcasing the trends and patterns that lead to happiness in the workplace. Ultimately, Schwartz proves that the root of what drives us to do good work can rarely be incentivized, and that the cause of bad work is often an attempt to do just that.
How did we get to this tangled place? How do we change the way we work? With great insight and wisdom, Schwartz shows us how to take our first steps toward understanding, and empowering us all to find great work.
2. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
America’s most sought-after executive coach shows how to climb the last few rungs of the ladder.
The corporate world is filled with executives, men and women who have worked hard for years to reach the upper levels of management. They’re intelligent, skilled, and even charismatic. But only a handful of them will ever reach the pinnacle — and as executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shows in this book, subtle nuances make all the difference. These are small “transactional flaws” performed by one person against another (as simple as not saying thank you enough), which lead to negative perceptions that can hold any executive back. Using Goldsmith’s straightforward, jargon-free advice, it’s amazingly easy behavior to change.
Executives who hire Goldsmith for one-on-one coaching pay $250,000 for the privilege. With this book, his help is available for 1/10,000th of the price.
3. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life
#1 New York Times Bestseller
At last, a book that shows you how to build—design—a life you can thrive in, at any age or stage
Designers create worlds and solve problems using design thinking. Look around your office or home—at the tablet or smartphone you may be holding or the chair you are sitting in. Everything in our lives was designed by someone. And every design starts with a problem that a designer or team of designers seeks to solve.
In this book, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans show us how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling, regardless of who or where we are, what we do or have done for a living, or how young or old we are. The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.
“Designing Your Life walks readers through the process of building a satisfying, meaningful life by approaching the challenge the way a designer would. Experimentation. Wayfinding. Prototyping. Constant iteration. You should read the book. Everyone else will.”
—Daniel Pink, bestselling author of Drive
4. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The Power of Habit comes a fascinating book that explores the science of productivity, and why managing how you think is more important than what you think—with an appendix of real-world lessons to apply to your life.
At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key productivity concepts—from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this painstakingly researched book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.
They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways.
A young woman drops out of a PhD program and starts playing poker. By training herself to envision contradictory futures, she learns to anticipate her opponents’ missteps—and becomes one of the most successful players in the world.
A group of data scientists at Google embark on a four-year study of how the best teams function, and find that how a group interacts is more important than who is in the group—a principle, it turns out, that also helps explain why Saturday Night Live became a hit.
A Marine Corps general, faced with low morale among recruits, reimagines boot camp—and discovers that instilling a “bias toward action” can turn even the most directionless teenagers into self-motivating achievers.
The filmmakers behind Disney’s Frozen are nearly out of time and on the brink of catastrophe—until they shake up their team in just the right way, spurring a creative breakthrough that leads to one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
What do these people have in common?
They know that productivity relies on making certain choices. The way we frame our daily decisions; the big ambitions we embrace and the easy goals we ignore; the cultures we establish as leaders to drive innovation; the way we interact with data: These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.
In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Charles Duhigg explained why we do what we do. In Smarter Faster Better, he applies the same relentless curiosity, deep reporting, and rich storytelling to explain how we can improve at the things we do. It’s a groundbreaking exploration of the science of productivity, one that can help anyone learn to succeed with less stress and struggle, and to get more done without sacrificing what we care about most—to become smarter, faster, and better at everything we do.
5. Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One
“Looking to make a career change? Pivot is a book you will turn to again and again.”—Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell Is Human and Drive
If you’ve got the perfect job or business, congratulations. But if you are even a little bit uncertain that your current gig is the right one, it is time to start thinking about your next move. In the new world of work, it’s the only move that matters.
What’s next? is a question we all have to ask and answer more frequently in an economy where the average job tenure is only four years, roles change constantly even within that time, and smart, motivated people find themselves hitting professional plateaus. But how do you evaluate options and move forward without getting stuck? Jenny Blake’s solution: It’s about small steps, not big leaps—and the answer is already right under your feet. This book will teach you how to pivot from a base of your existing strengths.
Pivoting is a crucial strategy for Silicon Valley tech companies and startups. Jenny Blake—a former training and career development specialist at Google who now runs her own company as a career and business consultant and speaker—shows how pivoting can also be a successful strategy for individuals looking to make changes in their work lives, whether within their role, organization or business, or setting their sights on bigger shifts.
When you pivot, you double down on your existing strengths and interests to move in a new, related direction, instead of looking so far outside of yourself for answers that you skip over your hard-won expertise and experience. It empowers you to navigate changes with flexibility and strength—now and throughout your entire career.
Much like the lean business principles that took Silicon Valley by storm, pivoting is the crucial skill you need to stay agile, whether or not you are actively looking for a new position.
No matter your age, industry, or bank account balance, Jenny’s advice will help you move forward strategically. Her Pivot Method will teach you how to:
· Double down on existing strengths, interests, and experiences. Identify what is working best and where you want to end up, then start to bridge the gap between two.
· Scan for opportunities and identify new skills without falling prey to analysis paralysis or compare and despair. Explore options by leveraging the network and experience you already have.
· Run small experiments to determine next steps. Do side projects to test ideas for your next move, taking the pressure off having the entire answer up front.
· Take smart risks to launch with confidence in a new direction. Set benchmarks to decide when the time is right to go all-in on your new direction.
Pivot also includes valuable insight for leaders who want to have more frequent career conversations with their teams to help talented people pivot within their roles and the broader organization.
No matter your current position, one thing is clear: your career success and satisfaction depends on your ability to determine your next best move. If change is the only constant, let’s get better at it.