April 2021


We all have the same time, the poor or the rich, same 24 hours but what determines how successful we all become is the way we maximize our time. Productivity is how we efficiently use our time to maximize output. In his book, Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, Author Charles Duhigg writes:

“Productivity is about recognizing choices that other people often overlook. It’s about making certain decisions in certain ways. The way we choose to see our own lives; the stories we tell ourselves, and the goals we push ourselves to spell out in detail; the culture we establish among teammates; the ways we frame our choices and manage the information in our lives. Productive people and companies force themselves to make choices most other people are content to ignore. Productivity emerges when people push themselves to think differently.”

Here are 30 great quotes on productivity:

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell

In the early 20th century, while studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell discovered a pattern hidden in every story ever told and he called it “the heroes journey”. The heroes journey, or the monomyth, is the common template of stories that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis and comes home changed or transformed.

Joseph Campbell studied the classical myth traditions, native American mythology. He fell in love with it when he was a kid. He also studied Greek mythology, Arthurian legend, he dissected and really diagrammed all of our stories. He compared philosophies, mythic stories of the whole world. All myths, all movies all novels, all romances He found this one story within all the stories, that we can relate to, no matter where you come from. He recognized that in spite of all the different stories we seem to be telling, there is really only one. And He called it the Hero’s Journey.

The snake that cannot shed its skin must perish.” Frederick Nietzsche

The major difference between the highly successful and not too successful is the way they use their time. We all get 24 hours daily; some of us mindlessly scroll our social media timeline while some people use their time to invest in their business, spending time with their family, and focusing on what really matters to them. Time Management is mostly a myth; what we can really do is to re-order our priorities and focus on what would bring maximum output to us in the long run.

Here are some great books that could help you maximize your productivity and re-order your priorities:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R.Covey (9/10)

    The seven habits of highly effective people is one of my favourite productivity book of all time. Covey present great ideas and strategies for becoming an effective and productive individual such as Become proactive, begin with the end in mid, putting first things first, seek first to understand, before you are understood, sharpening the saw, synergizing, think win/win among other strategies.

“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).”

The book is one of the best known and best selling business book of all time with over 30 million copies sold worldwide, It is a classic book that contains lots of strategies and insight for personal change and effectiveness.

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2. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller (9/10)

In ONE Thing, American Author and Real Estate Entrepreneur Gary Keller argue that prioritizing a single task is the major key to getting things done and achieving extraordinary results. He writes: No matter how success is measured, personal or professional, only the ability to dismiss distractions and concentrate on your ONE Thing stands between you and your goals.

What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

You have only so much time and energy, so when you spread yourself out, you end up spread thin. You want your achievements to add up, but that actually takes subtraction, not addition. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.

The book discusses the benefits of prioritizing a single task, and it also provides examples of how to engage in those tasks with a singular focus.

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3. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (9/10)

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

Deep Work is one of the most impactful book have ever read as I made lots of changes to how I work and manage my priorities after reading the book. The Deep work hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

Author and professor Cal Newport argue that cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits in almost any profession. He also presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill. He presents ideas on how we can do less shallow work and more deep work, deepening our focus and productivity.

Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

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4. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (8/10)

In Getting Things Done, American productivity consultant David Allen introduces the readers to a time management tool he called The Getting Things Done (GTD) method. The GTD is based on the idea of moving all items of interest, relevant information, issues, tasks, and projects out of the mind by recording them externally and then breaking them into actionable work items. This allows attention to be focused on taking action on tasks, instead of recalling them.

“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”

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5.  Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear.

In Atomic Habits, Author James Clear shares the step-by-step plan for building better habits, why tiny atomic changes can make a big difference in forming good and breaking bad habits. The book is rich with insights, examples, anecdotes, and real-life scenarios for building good habit and breaking bad habits.

Habits are like the atoms of our lives. Each one is a fundamental unit that contributes to your overall improvement. At first, these tiny routines seem insignificant, but soon they build on each other and fuel bigger wins that multiply to a degree that far outweighs the cost of their initial investment.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.― Carl Jung

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6. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown draws on experience and insight from working with the leaders of the most innovative companies in the world to show how to achieve the disciplined pursuit of less. The book goes in-depth on how to pursue less and concentrate on what really matters relentlessly. As an Essentialist, you need to focus on the few really essential things, think of the trade-offs, say no more often, and EXECUTE.

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” – Lin Yutang

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.

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7. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker

In Effective Executive, Management guru Peter Drucker shares some very great insights for becoming an effective executive such as organizing and managing your time, choosing your contribution to the organization, amplifying your strengths, setting the right priorities, and making effective decisions.

The Effective Executive: they concentrate on one task, if at all possible. After picking what needs to be done, set priorities and stick to them.

The core theme of the effective executive book is managing oneself for effectiveness. That one can truly manage other people is by no means adequately proven. But one can always manage oneself. Indeed, executives who do not manage themselves for effectiveness cannot possibly expect to manage their associates and subordinates

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8. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

The Compound Effect is based on the principle that decisions shape your destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default.  Darren shares insights gleaned from interviewing and interacting with highly successful people. The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices.

Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE

Nobody intends to become obese, go through bankruptcy, or get a divorce, but often (if not always) those consequences are the result of a series of small, poor choices.

The premise of the book is that Success is the progressive realization of a worthwhile goal. Succeeding in any field requires putting in the work, and seeing the compounding results over time. Success requires putting in the work daily and consistently over a long time, small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference.

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9. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

The 80/20 Principle shows how we can achieve much more with much less effort, time, and resources, simply by identifying and focusing our efforts on the 20 percent that really counts.

80 percent of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20 percent of our efforts.

The unspoken corollary to the 80/20 principle is that little of what we spend our time on actually counts. But by concentrating on those things that do, we can unlock the enormous potential of the magic 20 percent, and transform our effectiveness in our jobs, our careers, our businesses, and our lives.

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10.  Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity by Charles Duhigg.

At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key 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—the book posits that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.

“Productivity is about recognizing choices that other people often overlook. It’s about making certain decisions in certain ways.”

Theme: If you can become more motivated, more focused, better at setting goals and making good decisions, then you’re a long way down the path to becoming more productive.

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11. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

In 168 hours, there is easily time to sleep 8 hours a night (56 hours per week) and work 50 hours a week, if you desire. That adds up to 106 hours, leaving 62 hours per week for other things.

Laura Vanderkam, in her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, shares some great insights on how we have more time than we think we do have and how our time can be maximized by focusing on our priorities. 168 Hours is the story of how some people manage to be fully engaged in their professional and personal lives. It is the story of how people take their careers to the next level while still nurturing their communities, families, and souls.

 The weekly 168-hour cycle is big enough to give a true picture of our lives. Years and decades are made up of a mosaic of repeating patterns of 168 hours. Yes, there is room for randomness, and the mosaic will evolve over time, but whether you pay attention to the pattern is still a choice.

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12. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less by Brian Tracy

There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re done with the worst thing you’ll have to do all day. In Eat that Frog, Author Brian Tracy uses eat that frog as a metaphor for tackling our most challenging task first and in the process of overcoming procrastination and in the process getting things done.

“If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first.” This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first.”.

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Honourable Mentions

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

“The Most celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer of her generation.” – The New York Times

N(ora). K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels, who lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. In addition to writing, she has been a counseling psychologist and educator, a hiker and biker, and a political/feminist/anti-racist blogger.

N. K. Jemisin’s session is by far one of the best masterclass session have seen on the platform. I have seen almost all the writers on the platform: Dan Brown, James Patterson, Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Gladwell, Margaret Atwood, Shonda Rhime, David Baldacci, Joyce Carol Oates, Judy Blume, R.L.Stine, Bob Woodward, Roxanne Gay, Salman Rushdie, Walter Mosley.

Procrastination is a habit you develop to cope with anxiety about starting or completing a task. It is your attempted solution to cope with tasks that are boring or overwhelming.

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In The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, Psychologists Dr. Neil Fiore highlight strategies, tools, and a comprehensive plan for overcoming procrastination and managing stress. Dr. Fiore argues that procrastination is a coping mechanism we use to deal with overwhelm and stressful situations. The Now Habit program presents 10 tools for overcoming procrastination such as The Unschedule, Three-dimensional thinking, Making worry work for you, persistent starting, setting realistic goals, guilty-free play, and working in the flow state.

Favourite Take Aways – The Now Habit

Procrastination is a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.

Since 1960: Venture capitalist have invested over $450 billion in more than 27,00 companies.

Something Ventured is a 2011 documentary film investigating the emergence of American venture capitalism in the mid-20th century. Something Ventured follows the stories of the venture capitalists like Tom Perkins, Don Valentine, Arthur Rock, Dick Kramlich, and others, who worked with entrepreneurs to start and build companies like Apple, Intel, Genentech, Cisco, Atari, Tandem, and others.

Beginning in the late 1950′s, this small group of high rollers fostered a one-of-a-kind business culture that encouraged extraordinary risk and made possible unprecedented rewards. They laid the groundwork for America’s start-up economy, providing not just the working capital but the guidance to allow seedling companies to reach their full potential.

The human quest and pursuit for material things and possessions are insatiable; we are always striving for more money, a high-paying job, vacation, a bigger home, and a different lifestyle. We believe that when we get to the destination, whatever we think it is, we would be happy, but the reality of life is that those things would not make you happy, and the zeal for more would always be there. We see many supposed rich people not living a happy life, and they even tell us that it would not make us happy, but we want to find out ourselves.

John C. Bogle, the late founder of Vanguard Mutual Fund Group and creator of the first index mutual fund, begins his 2008 book, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life with a story that buttresses the point of never enough. He writes:

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . enough.

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American author and Psychotherapist Richard Carlson shared 100 bit-sized recommendations for living a purposeful life. As a stress consultant, he found that life is not an emergency, and we could use the 100 recommendation to live life on our own terms, stop worrying excessively because, at the end of the day, most of the things we worry about are all small stuff. The sun would rise tomorrow, the wound would heal, and we would gain perspective with each life process. Not sweating the small stuff means you move from always reacting to gaining perspective, letting life flow as it would, stop resisting, and radically accepting the vicissitudes of life.

Favourite Takeaways – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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In his illuminating book The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, Psychologist and Author Dr. Neil Fiore write about a time-planning/management tool he called “The Unschedule.” I found the tool to effectively deal with procrastination, re-ordering your priorities, and getting things done.

The Unschedule is a weekly calender of committed recreational activities that divides the week into manageable pieces with breaks, meals, scheduled socializing, and play. In addition, it’s a record of your productive, uninterrupted work. It provides producers with a prescheduled commitment to guilt-free time for recreation, plus a realistic look at the actual time available for work.

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In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcolm Gladwell explores how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made instantly in the blink of an eye-that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Gladwell examines snap judgments, which are the split-second decisions we make unconsciously.

 Decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.

Carol Bartz is an American business executive, former president and CEO of the internet services company Yahoo!, and former chairman, president, and CEO at architectural and engineering design software company Autodesk. Carol delivered a great speech to the graduating class of UW Madison with core themes like embracing failure, communication, and hanging with the right crowd.

There is a great native American story between an old Cherokee and his grandson that is often attributed to the Cherokee, Lenape people, or an Eskimo fisherman. The story contains a great parable about the power of focus, mindset, and it is a great anecdote on how we can manage our thought, feelings, and action.

One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside us all. He said to his grandson:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

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The Core theme of Leading Digital by George Westerman:

Within the next ten years, industries, economies, and probably entire societies will be transformed by a barrage of technologies that until recently have existed only in science fiction, but are now entering and reshaping the business world. Becoming a Digital Master is challenging, but there has never been a better time. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will become

In Leading Digital, authors George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee highlight how large companies in traditional industries—from finance to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals—are using digital to gain strategic advantage. They illuminate the principles and practices that lead to successful digital transformation. Based on a study of more than four hundred global firms, including Asian Paints, Burberry, Caesars Entertainment, Codelco, Lloyds Banking Group, Nike, and Pernod Ricard, the book shows what it takes to become a Digital Master.

Here are my favourite take-aways from reading, Leading Digital by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee:

It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when we are all going to lose someone, lose a possession, lose a job; it happens to all of us at some point in our lives. You are either going through a storm, coming from a storm, or heading to the next storm. No one lives a problem-free life; the key to getting through the pain and hurt is to feel the pain and keep moving. Grief is painful and very hard to deal with; I have gone through my fair share – lost my closest cousin (2013), lost my mum to cancer (2019), and getting laid off (2020).

I know I will still go through some grief later in the future; it is a tough period to deal with, and having great people and resources around you can make the pain bearable. Here are some great books that helped me go through the pain and navigate the grief without losing myself.

Top 7 Books on Grief

Entrepreneurship is the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. French economist Jean-Baptiste Say noted that “The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.” An Entrepreneur is a risk-taker, problem finder, and problem solver. An Entrepreneur is someone who setups an enterprise to add value, innovate, and make a profit for its shareholders.

Here are some great quotes on Entrepreneurship:

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