Which self-improvement books do you recommend for time management and productivity in life?

A productivity book I really enjoyed was The Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballantyne.

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I’ve followed Craig’s work for nearly a decade. He is the creator of the Turbulence Training fitness program and now heads up the popular personal development site, Early to Rise. Over time, his content has evolved and I think The Perfect Day Formula is his best work so far.

Like any good book on productivity and time management should be, it is short and actionable. You can get through it in a couple of hours. I don’t know about you, but I cannot take an unnecessarily long-winded time management book seriously.

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book followed by my commentary:

“Control your mornings. Conquer the chaos of your afternoons. Concentrate on what really matters in the evenings.”

The thing I liked the most about the book is how it is structured. It is written with your typical day in mind, starting in the morning and ending in the evening. Craig has a theme for each phase of the day (control the morning, conquer the afternoon, concentrate on what counts) and teaches you specifically how to master and optimize each segment.

“Whatever the changes you wish to make—losing weight, improving your relationships, or making more money—I guarantee that adding more structure in your life will help get you there.”

This reminds me of the famous Jocko Willink quote, “Discipline equals freedom.” In my experience, I have found this to be true. You must have a structured approach and a daily practice for every area you want to improve. If you leave these things to chance, they will never materialize because there are simply too many distractions in life.

“Commit to your rule. Believe in it. Follow the rule as if it were law. Uphold it as if breaking it would put you in jail.”

This is in reference to having strict “rules” for yourself that help you stick to your intentions and values no matter what. These rules might be more like guidelines to most people. Things like eating dinner with your family at a certain time. But for you, they are not.

Breaking the personal rules you set for yourself may not actually land you in jail. But behaving as if they would makes them much more effective. It creates a mentality that deviating from your values is unthinkable, which is the mindset you need to truly succeed.

“Every time you default to a bad habit, like visiting a forbidden website or biting your nails, you make the wiring stronger and the habit harder to break.”

I have a belief that every action you take is either getting you closer to your goal or further away from it. There is no neutral action. Habits will form no matter what we do. It’s just how our brains are wired. So, it’s up to us to make sure we are strengthening good habits and weakening bad habits, not the other way around.

“10 hours before bed – No more caffeine. 3 hours before bed – No more food or alcohol. 2 hours before bed – No more work. 1 hour before bed – No more screen time (turn off all phones, TVs and computers). 0 – The number of times you will hit the snooze button in the morning.”

I like the 10-3-2-1-0 rule because it’s catchy and easy to remember. This is actually a practice that sets you up for success the following day, not the current day. All these rules are designed to help you get better sleep an put yourself in position to attack the next day to the best of your ability. I find having these time checks throughout the day to make sure you are on track for a good tomorrow is very helpful.

“Sheryl Sandberg, the COO at Facebook, is famous for setting a rule that she would be home every night at 5:30 p.m. to have dinner with her children. That was a non-negotiable deadline.”

This might be my favorite example in the whole book. Getting back to the personal rules theme. Here is an example of a C-level executive at one of the biggest, most influential companies in the world who has a personal family rule and sticks to it as a “non-negotiable deadline.” If the COO of Facebook can put her family first and still be successful, surely you can.

The principles in The Perfect Day Formula are a great fit for business executives and 9-5 employees, but I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to add more meaning and productivity to their life.

If you’ve been looking for a short, action-packed book that will help you take your average day and optimize it, then you should check it out.

Here’s to your future success and productivity!

First published on Quora.


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