I just finished reading The ONE Thing - a book that tells you how focussing on that one critical thing - on thing at a time - you can achieve the highest goals you ever dreamt of. And finding this one next thing that you should be doing can help get your goals in any area of life - work or profession.
Start with Why- a book that I’ve never been able to go past a few pages of talks about how finding your “why” is the key to success in life.
James Clear’s Atomic Habits breaks down the science of how we can prevent old habits from taking over and build new habits. We can do that by looking at the obstacles around and inside us and overcome them. For instance it could be changes in your environment or your attitude towards a task.
I have another book lined up - How To Begin by Michael Bungay Stonier - because The Coaching Habit was such a great book. And I hope that’ll help me a little bit more.
However, after finishing The ONE Thing, I got to thinking. Do I remember tips from so many other books that I have read? How much of all those hours of reading has made a difference to my life and work. Maybe I’ve imbibed some of it unconsciously.
For instance, after reading Atomic Habits I realised that working at a table in the first place makes me more productive rather than plonking on the sofa first and then hoping to get back to serious work.
What else do I remember? Getting Things Done by David Allen was so confusing that despite reading it twice, I think I’d waste more time following the system.
I know that eating the frog first thing in the morning is good - from Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog - but I still don’t do it. In fact, I am still finding my morning rhythm and maybe hopefully I’ll do it.
Pomodoro technique is another thing that I picked up from wherever and do use different versions of it. It does help cut out distractions and stay focussed at the task at hand. Probably this is the only time management technique that has remotely worked for me.
Maybe it’s time to revisit self-help books that I read and actually make the action points. At least this way there is a reference list to check what really got done and how much of it was just for reading pleasure.
If we are talking about productivity and extracting the maximum from the tasks we spend time on, it is a good idea to take an inventory of how much did the self get helped.
Otherwise we are just flitting from book to book concept to concepts figuring out our “why” one day only to ricochet in the pursuit of our one thing the next. And not knowing if we’ve really improved as people, if there has been a permanent change in our habits and attitudes.
Of late, I have also found that self-help as a genre - be it for motivation or for business - has been on the rise. People don't believe in the quality of fiction. I think Chetan Bhagat and J K Rowling were the last of the fiction authors that people explored.
Beyond that, everyone just wants to know how to hustle, how to work smarter, how to make optimal use of every minute of the day, how to fight social media addiction and probably how to become as rich as Elon Musk in this lifetime.
And that's why I am also running a poll of Linkedin to see if these books have really helped people. I think this will also help others ponder over the question and think of an answer. Maybe one of my future posts can be on the poll results.