Read these if you want to become a high performer in your work field
When it comes to the balance between a full-time job and a side interest sometimes it’s difficult to navigate between them. I am not referring to the lack of time organization, but more to the lack of understanding of which one is more important for you and why you need more in your life when it comes to work-life besides your job. Lesuire time, family, socializing and the other areas are not part of this, this is simply the need for more in your professional life that can’t be fulfilled by these.
It’s crucial to understand what success is for you and to have a clear picture of how you can advance in your professional life. Professional life is different for everybody, for some is a 9 to 5 job plus freelance writing and social media content, for others, it’s a demanding job that extends after work hours, for others, it’s only freelance work or managing their own business. Regardless of how you define your professional life, there are 3 aspects — FOCUS + EXPERIMENT + SHOW, which if are understood and applied they will help you achieve more without compromising the other areas of your life. Basically, do better work, sometimes even more for the same amount of time.
These are the 3 books that changed how I approach my work life and helped me achieve more in a shorter time:
Deep Work by Cal Newport — FOCUS
This book makes a great point about how distracted we are these days. Cal Newport, a professor of computer science at Georgetown University, says that the key to his productivity and success is his ability to do Deep Work — to lock in on intense periods of focused work for long stretches of time. While this might sound like common sense, it’s not. You will find examples of well-known people such as J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates or Woody Allen and their deep work process that lead to their success, all these combined with psychology research, but also Cal’s personal experience, in order to prove why distraction-free and intensely focused work sessions are essential to becoming a high performer in your professional life.
What impacted me and made me get rid of any distractions during work was the part where Cal explains how the quality of work is often decided by the intensity of your focus rather than the amount spent to do it. It’s only about social media or other notifications the author talks about. To be focused while doing a task means to solely do just that, without switching in between tasks, answering e-mails or calls, and so on. In order to get focused, creating a deep work ritual could help, there is no wrong way to do this. For me it starts with having my desk is order, any books or devices that are not needed are gone from the room, setting a timer, and having water and coffee near me. There are some general questions in the book to help you create that ritual:
- Where you’ll work and for how long?
- How you’ll work once you start to work?
- How you’ll support your work?
This book is for you if want to learn how to build your work life, but also your personal life around experiencing as much flow and deep focus as possible. It’s a path to more fulfillment, peace of mind, and life satisfaction.
Range by David Epstein — EXPERIMENT
How many times have you heard that it’s too late to learn a new skill? That you should have started while young, as you will not be able to catch up. It is largely known and even proved by experts anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. This book looks at research on the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, showing that early specialization is the exception, not the rule. David Epstein argues that in most fields — especially those that are complex and unpredictable — generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel.
It got me right from the begging when it explained how going through various hobbies as a kid can have tremendous benefits for your adult life. I didn’t specialize in anything early, I always liked to try different sports and hobbies, and as the author puts it, the best way to find your desired work field is to go through more than one while you are young. Not only as a child but also as a young adult you should aim to study more than one field and switch jobs when you see that they are not a great fit for you (not because you are bored, it’s not about jumping from one job to another every month, but about not being scared to make a career switch when you know you need to).
Why should you read Range? It will show you the importance of inter-disciplinary work, how can you make use of past experiences that seem irrelevant, and how to succeed as a generalist. If you studied humanities or liberal arts you need to give this a chance. You will learn how to make your education work for you instead of against you.
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon — SHARE
If you are not a fan of networking, but you will like to connect with other people from your work field this short book is for you. It reads easy and it gives some great advice.
This helped me see the relevance of sharing my work on a social media platform even if I don’t have the most expertise in the field I am interested in. Documenting the process of learning something could be useful for more people than you think, even if you don’t have a follower base, starting and keeping it consistent is the key.
The author provides clear lessons about how to find your voice, the dangers of oversharing, how to succeed in the online medium. These are my favorite lessons from the book:
- “Small things, over time, can get big.”
- “Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.”
- “You should always share the work of others as if it were your own, treating it with respect and care.”
- “If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.”
I believe that these books will provide you with what you need in order to improve your work life. Once we start understanding the power of experimenting and having multiple skills while being able to dive in and focus on individual tasks and taking time to share our learnings and work we will be able to thrive and find the right professional path.