What’s on Your Learning Bookshelf?

20160420_064541I’ve written about conference homework and the importance of investing in your success. For me both of these usually lead to more books on my reading list. Here’s my current stack —

Reinventing You by Dorie Clark. I recently started following Dorie Clark on Twitter after hearing one of her interviews with Ron Friedman as part of the Peak Work Performance Summit (there will be another one fall 2016). In this book, she provides a step-by-step guide to assessing your strengths, developing a compelling personal brand and ensuring that others recognize the contributions you can make.

Mastermind by Maria Konnikova. A psychologist and journalist, Konnikova says that we can develop our powers of thought and observation just as Sherlock Holmes did. While I haven’t yet finished the book, I did hear her speak recently, and can’t wait to explore further the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights.

How Philosophy Can Save Your Life by Marietta McCarty. McCarty was recognized by Virginia Professional Communicators as its Newsmaker in 2014. During her talk she shared how clear thinking, quiet reflection and good conversation are essential to a well-lived life. She strongly encouraged members to start their own Philosophy Club. This book frames ten big ideas for such a club to discuss. When I finish the book, another member and I are considering starting a Philosophy Club.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’m looking forward to diving into this book because it’s about getting the right things done, and not trying to do it all. McKeown’s website includes a quiz to see how you are doing with respect to essentialism. He was another participant in the Peak Work Performance Summit, and following his interview, I began to make adjustments on how I spend my time. One way I’ll be spending my time is reading this book.

If you struggle to keep up with your reading list, Peter Bregman writes about how to read a book a week. I have found the advice helpful with particular books. Perhaps you will, too.

Would you share what book (s) are on your learning bookshelf by posting a comment with the title and author and the reason it’s on your list?

Productivity tips from the experts

For the past several evenings, I have been watching way too many videos, but it’s okay. They are an investment in myself. I recently blogged about the importance of investing in yourself, and one of the things I recommended was finding free webinars.

Capture_PeakWorkPerformanceThe Peak Work Performance Summit is a series of video talks with some of the top productivity names in the industry. It’s a wealth of “research-based insights and actionable tips for elevating your performance,” according to the email I received from Ron Friedman, author of “The Best Place to Work,” and organizer of the Summit. Unfortunately, the videos are no longer available for free, but you can purchase access.

Here are just a few of the takeaways I had –

Gretchen Rubin on Changing Your Habits noted, “Nothing is more exhausting than the task that is never started.” After watching her session, I wrote the introduction for a book idea I have. I’d been talking about writing the introduction for three months. I also developed a writing schedule. She also suggested developing some fun habits, including running down stairs because it’s energizing. I did it at work, and people commented on how much energy I had!

Christine Carter, who wrote, “The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work,” talked about the “better than nothing workout.” Her point is that more is not necessarily better, especially if you don’t even start. I’m on a Fitbit quest, but there are days that 10,000 steps seem daunting. After listening to Carter, I gave myself permission to just walk 2,500 steps that day. Once I started, I was good. That day, I reached 7,700 steps. I was short a bit, but at least I moved.

Greg McKeown spoke about “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” The antidote, he said, “is the disciplined pursuit of less but better.” For example, when an opportunity presents itself, is it a great opportunity, or a just a good opportunity?

I have always been a list maker, and in the last few years, I’ve become even more intense about my lists. I feel vindicated now thanks to David Allen who said, “Don’t use your head as an office.” He said that writing things helps us stay clear and focused. He is the author of “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity.”

One of the ways, I have developed my skills is by volunteering through groups to which I belong. Dorie Clark, author of “Reinventing You,” recommended doing just that — volunteering in areas of interest where you want to take your career. “It can help you pivot,” she noted. She also recommended creating a networking plan and being strategic about who to spend time with and who you want to learn from.

Carrie Wilkerson, who wrote the “Barefoot Executive,” recommended picking one person and intentionally following them through the year, whether you invest with them or not. Currently, I personally pay a monthly fee to be part of an inner circle in which I get tips on earning positive media coverage. You could also follow a person’s blog or buy their book. The key, Wilkerson said, is to listen and not try to be on all the lists (of course, that’s easier said than done after participating in this summit!)

An underlying theme was the importance of developing and implementing routines. Doing so makes execution as effortless as possible, McKeown said. Turns out our mothers were right to line up our clothes for the week.

My takeaways were many, and I’ve put them on a master list so I don’t lose sight of them. Some of the items are action items, and I’ve assigned due dates to ensure that I follow through. Mostly though, I came away inspired.