Program Your Life:
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity By David Allen
A cult leader with the mildness of a middle manager, Allen preaches a rigid system based on label-makers and manila folders.
• Create a collection bucket (notebook, in-basket, PDA) for all your input.
• Empty the buckets regularly by deciding what action each input needs.
• If the action takes less than two minutes, do it immediately.
Help Your Better Half Win:
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard By Chip and Dan Heath
A new set of tactics in the endless struggle between our rational self and our emotional self.
• Come up with a black-and-white, all-or-nothing, absolutely essential goal.
• Define each “mistake” as a crucial part of the learning process, rather than an individual failure.
Worry Your Way to Inner Peace:
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking By Oliver Burkeman
Taking the low road to happiness.
• Focus on worst-case scenarios. (This reliably produces happiness, because the worst case usually doesn’t appear.)
• Goals that are too definite lead to cheating.
• Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity, just start taking action, using what you have, who you know, who you are.
Be the Prince:
The 48 Laws of Power By Robert Greene
Machiavelli for the modern mass market.
• If you need help, appeal to people from the angle of their own self-interest.
• Refrain from committing on contentious issues, so that you become a desired (and powerful) object.
• Be suspicious of free or cheap things, but use other people’s trustfulness of them to your advantage.
• Concentrate on one single outlet of power, so as not to dilute your strength.
Learn Not to Beat Yourself Up:
Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To By Sian Beilock
Understanding this most shameful phenomenon, for athletes and others, in order to prevent it.
• Before a challenging situation, like an important test, write down your worries about it.
• To avoid overthinking, try counting backward by threes or singing a song to yourself.
The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential … In Business and in Life By Leo Babauta
A minimalist, neo-Taoist Martha Stewart.
• Work on your most important task first thing in the morning.
• Block out time to clean your desk.
• Fully focus on the simplest of activities, like showering or eating; move on to more complicated tasks.
Learn to Live With Loud
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking By Susan Cain
A feel-good book for the silent type.
• Look for “restorative niches”: time when you can escape from the tyranny of extroversion.
• Seating arrangements become crucial in an introvert’s livelihood. Opt for casual buffet-style dinner (instead of sitting around a large table). It’s a less imposing atmosphere.
Readjust Your Thinking Cap:
Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long By David Rock
The neuroscience of the working world, from creativity to collaboration.
• Practice setting expectations a little lower.
• Say this to yourself when feeling anxious: “That’s just my brain.”
• If you must multitask, toggle between active-thinking tasks and repetitive ones.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation By Thich Nhat Hanh
A Buddhist chestnut on how meditation can change the world.
• When washing dishes, treat each of them as objects of contemplation and focus on the rhythm of your breath.
• Try to remain mindful for an entire day—as you bathe, do chores, even speak.
Let Your Mind Work:
Thinking, Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman
The War and Peace of the war between the impulsive, unconscious self and the reasoning self.
• Frowning will help you avoid the pitfalls that come with being overconfident.
• If you want to hire the best person for a job, establish six traits that represent the ideal candidate before the interviews start. Make your decision based on the candidate’s consistency with these traits, rather than your first impression.
• In order to lessen the emotional blow that comes with losing a gamble, repeat this mantra to yourself over and over again before gambling: “You win a few, you lose a few.”
Make It Easy:
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness By Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Building a better nanny state (“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”) by making people do what they should do because they want to.
• If someone is doing something in a way that is better than average, don’t point it out—if they realize they aren’t “normal,” they might adjust their behavior.