The shortest month of the year was very valuable to me regarding reading and finding useful sources of knowledge. Here are my recommendations from February. My proposition from January you can find here.
#1 Deep work by Cal Newport
My book number one so far in 2021. The perfect view of this is how the ability to strongly focus on work can be helpful in realizing our plans. The deep work right now is a rare state because we are living in a world with many distractions – most of them are coming from technology. However, everyone is able to learn this skill and the author is trying to help.
- The culture of Deep Work is all about a state of flow, quitting social media for some time and avoiding other distractions, and accepting boredom.
- In today’s workplace learning complex material and adapting to the new situation quickly is important – this is where deep work plays a key role.
- There are people, like Bill Gates, who from time to time isolate themselves from the world to get a state of full focus.
- This type of work pushes your abilities to be creative and innovative to the limits.
- Cal Newport promotes the periods of deliberate practice. In each period you should be focused only on one specific task or skill – avoid switching among tasks.
- Social media cost you more than give benefits. Decide which network is connected with your personal and professional goals and leave others. You can schedule a time for checking the Internet for entertainment to avoid doing it irregularly and lose a lot of time and focus.
- Care about your time. Review how you respond to emails and do more work in it (to avoid too long email chains) – be as specific as possible in every mail conversation.
#2 Why we sleep by Matthew Walker
I’m strongly interested in the science of sleep and this was another book on my list about this. Matthew Walker – a neuroscientist and director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab – presents modern sleep research. The general truth is that these days we fall short of sleep – due to the pace of life, caffeine, alcohol, and our approach to workdays. The author tries to convince people to sleep more and better – to avoid defects that lack of this could cause.
- The lack of sleep is dangerous – it affects many areas of health like the immune system, blood pressure, and cancer-fighting “natural killer cells”. Sleep deprivation also affects diet – we used to eat more, in a less controlled way, and with more sweets and high-carbohydrate food.
- Follow your circadian rhythm – humans’ internal clock tells the brain where the day or night is and regulates bodily processes. When it’s time to go to sleep, the brain begins to release the melatonin hormone. The author also identified “sleep pressure” which involves the hormone adenosine which level is increasing throughout the day. When it reaches a certain point it causes feelings of sleepiness.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) describes sleep deprivation as an epidemic in a modern world. Walker notes that countries with the largest population with this problem – like the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea – experienced the largest increases in some diseases like depression.
- Modern technologies don’t help us to get good quality and length of sleep. The blue light, which is coming from laptop screens, smartphones, and tablets, affects the release of melatonin. Artificial light disturbs the body’s response to daylight and darkness.
- Walker pointed out that sleeping pills aren’t the best solution for problems with sleep – because they produce unpleasant side effects that show up the next day (for example slow reaction). The writer is an advocate of nondrug sleep therapies such as “cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia” (CTB-I).
- Practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial. The first thing that we can do is to schedule sleeping and waking times and stick to them every day. The temperature in the bedroom should be low and artificial light dimmed. Also, remember to avoid alcohol and heavy meals at night. Walker suggests that if we can’t get to sleep after 20 minutes, it’s better to get up and do some relaxing activity and then try again.
#3 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Sean Covey
The 30th-anniversary edition – published in 2020 – is my favorite book in the area of self-improvement and it’s a must-read for everyone who is new to personal development. Every time when I go back to this book I’m able to find something valuable to use in my life.
- Draft your personal statement – think about what you would like to hear about yourself from people in 10 – 20 years. What is your endpoint that you would like to achieve? Thinking about the right goals is crucial to be effective, to avoid situations where you are trying to achieve something without value-added to your personal mission.
- Consider your roles – everyone has them a few – as a spouse, parent, work colleague, society member. Allocate appropriate time and attention to each of your roles and make sure that you focus on the most important first. In addition to that, you should remember that failures in one role cannot affect your effectiveness in others.
- Understand others – to be perfect in communication first we need to listen carefully to others and avoid assuming something. Listening means understanding what the other party needs and wants and why. Be empathetic – try to put yourself in someone’s shoes.
- Care about yourself – effective people care about their bodies ( by exercising), souls (meditation or praying), mind (by engaging it in some challenging activities like puzzles and hearts (which refer to emotional connections with other people).
- Cultivate proactivity – respond to circumstances before something happens. Take responsibility for your actions. Instead of waiting determine who you would like to be and what initiatives can lead you to this. You cannot control everything but you have control over the majority of situations in your life.
#4 Books about project management
Two positions that I have read about basics of project management – Essential managers – Project Management by Peter Hobbs and Project Management Step by Step by Richard Newton. These books are great overviews of what project management is and about each stage of every initiative in a company. The content is easy to understand and very practical that may be used to run successful projects.
#5 TED talks about Personal Branding
The topic that I’m also hugely passionate about is personal branding. I found very useful and interesting two TED talks about this topic.
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