Some days you feel on top of the world. Others, not so much. For the latter, here’s a cheap and easy solution: a quick, motivational read. For less than $20 on an e-reader and an hour or two of your time, you get the shot in the arm you need. These books may not change your life, but they might change tomorrow morning, and sometimes that’s good enough.
Anyone trying to create something encounters what novelist Steven Pressfield calls Resistance—that insidious force within the human mind that keeps people from taking action. This book teaches you how to battle the dark side and get stuff done.
David Allen’s most famous book, Getting Things Done, is at the heart of his productivity system. This is the condensed version, organized into 52 easily digestible chunks. You can read it in an evening, though not if you keep pausing (as I did) to write down ideas of things to try.
You know that tough task you really don’t want to tackle? Brian Tracy’s compilation of 21 anti-procrastination strategies hammers home the argument that, like eating a frog, you’re better off just getting it over with. Read the book, eat your frog by 10:00 a.m., and then feel free to find a restaurant that serves cocktails at lunch.
I do not plan to spend my limited time on earth decluttering, nor do I believe that "real life begins after putting your house in order." That said, millions of other people have found Marie Kondo’s organization manifesto to be the kick in the pants they need to finally clean out their closets and stop living in chaos.
It’s easy to muddle through life. But as authors Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy point out, if you can plan your vacations, why not your legacy? You may not follow their advice to set aside a whole day for writing a Life Plan (including your eulogy), but this book will encourage you to think about what should be included in such a document. That mindfulness on its own is a big win.
Much of leadership comes down to asking the right questions. In this book, Michael Bungay Stanier reminds you to spend tomorrow morning's meetings asking, "How can I help?" and, "What’s the real challenge here for you?" rather than barging in to rescue employees and making a muck of everything.
This parable is not exactly literature. But the day after you read Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson’s earnest little tale about an effective boss, you will probably try to "catch" an employee or family member doing something right. You will praise her for it, and you will be astounded at the results.
There’s a reason for the phrase, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar." This slim book from Tom Rath and Donald Clifton points out that any relationship where the negative outweighs the positive will likely fail. No matter what else is going on in your life, consciously choosing to fill other people’s emotional buckets with positive words and actions will make you feel like you’ve justified your spot on the planet.
So you’re not a morning person. Yet you probably bounded out of bed on your birthday or on Christmas as a kid. The key to success, Hal Elrod writes, is creating a life so wonderful you recapture the same excitement. Granted, you may not set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. after reading this book, but absorb the message, "Every time you hit the snooze button, you’re in a state of resistance to your day, to your life, and to waking up and creating the life you say you want," and you’ll create better days all the same.
Daniel Coyle’s best-known book, The Talent Code, looks at how certain programs and coaches produce consistent winners. This scaled-down version distills the take-aways into 50 lessons. There’s really nothing earth-shattering in here, but being reminded of exactly how you’ll improve at skills with practice is often enough to put "practice" on tomorrow’s to-do list.