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What Two Popular Self-Help Books Can Tell Us About Self-Improvement, Personal Growth, and Increased Productivity

Tips and Tricks for Better Living

Walk into any book store, and you will find countless books on self-improvement as well as how to increase productivity in both life and business. Because of the endless supply of resources, it can be a bit daunting to put such concepts into practice. However, if you have areas in which you need improvement that require either building up your character, your discipline, or even little behaviors in the workplace, then you may want to consider adopting some of those concepts into your life.

One of the most basic methods for self-improvement, personal growth, and increased productivity in both work and personal life is to develop checklists. Such a simple concept, I know! However, the reason that this simple concept is also so profound and often utilized is because it organizes and prioritizes tasks, not to mention provide step-by-step instructions to make sure everything is accounted for on those tasks. One such book, The Checklist Manifesto, goes in depth showing the need for and practical uses of checklists. In this book, author Atul Gawande provides examples from his own life and others' lives of how the simple act of making and going through checklists have sorted out the processes that the human brain sometimes ignores, and how doing this saved lives. He also goes in depth about reasons why failure happens, thus providing the need for checklists to ensure success.

Another self-improvement concept that has led to personal growth and increased productivity is the concept of deep work. Cal Newport, author of the book Deep Work, goes into detail about how to differentiate between deep work and shallow work, how famous thinkers of the past and present have successfully practiced deep work even busy schedules, and several methods for practicing deep work in one's own life. The methods include everything from finding a little cabin or chateau in the woods to work in all the way to taking breaks throughout the day from more shallow tasks in order to get deeper tasks accomplished.

These two concepts, while simplistic in nature, require constant practice in order to improve one's life and find personal growth. Start by using the concepts of checklists in your life as a means to organize your day (some are, of course, already well-adept at this concept, but it works for everyone professionally and personally!). One means of doing this is by breaking down your day into three parts: 1) morning routine, 2) mid-day work, and 3) night routine. Simple, right? The next step is to break down how your routines go in the morning and evening in an effort to eliminate inefficiencies. Do you need to practice shutting down all your technology after a certain point in the evening, so as to get better sleep? Add it in, and stick to it! Do you need to start waking up at 6 am to get a jump on the day? Apply that to your life! As for the mid-day work hours, do you need to figure out good stopping points to take a walk on a trail or in your neighborhood? Maybe add in a quick nap afterwards for recharge? Add that in if it helps you! Also, figure out a reasonable amount of work to get done each day that progresses you, but doesn't overwhelm you. Nothing kills a day's efficiency like getting behind on goals that are already too difficult to achieve. Utilizing the concept of a checklist properly will go a long way in helping you become more productive than you ever expected!

As for the concept of deep work, learn to recognize the differences between deep and shallow work. Deep work is defined as work that gets you closer to your goals and demands your focus. Usually, this work requires deep thought and intensive study. This could be as complex as writing a book or developing a website, and as simple as writing one really good blog post. Also, it is important to note that deep work is usually work that can only be done by specific people who have certain skill sets for different projects, such as web design, coming up with a new invention or scientific theory, or developing a screenplay. Shallow work is the opposite; it consists of tasks that can be done by anyone at any given point in the day, on an almost mindless basis. Examples of shallow work include answering emails, checking up on social media presence, uploading photos and video to social media sites, and the like.

Knowing this, and combining this knowledge with proper use of checklists in your daily life should help you stay more organized and focused, and thus leading you to a life of greater self-improvement, personal growth, and increased productivity.

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