Why are productivity books useless?

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In general, productivity books are a good way of motivating any action you take or any situation you are in life. They often show you a way of solving certain problems, and in some cases, they even guide you through the path to inner freedom and happiness. I must admit that those kinds of books have changed my life and I am now a different person in many situations than the old me. Creating this blog page was an inspiration by one of my favorite books called “The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide” by John Sonmez. At this point, you might ask me: Hey Ram, why did you choose that controversial title for this post? Didn’t you say they are useless? Yes, it sounds controversial; however, there is an important point I want to make.

While I was in my Bachelors’s studies, everything in my life was running on autopilot mode. At causal times, I used to study meet friends whenever they called me; in a word, I didn’t have any specific plan and timing unless defined by others (ex. lectures, work). At that time, I felt very overwhelmed by life because I had to do so many things, and it was hard.

However, when I started with my Masters, the story changed a bit. I got even more to do. That was when I started to plan things one or two weeks in advance, where I was keeping a to-do list with me. My planning was straightforward, and often I kept skipping things from my to-do list because, at some point, it was getting too much. I was never thinking that reading a productivity book could be of any help. I kept trying and trying with my autopilot and default methods, and my life was getting more and more overwhelmed.

At some point, I was left with free time only when I was sleeping and traveling between home and university or work. I was thinking about how to utilize even this time so that I can do more things. The sleeping time is actually unreplaceable. However, in the travel time, there is something I found out I could do. I signed up for an Audible membership and decided to listen to audiobooks. Even I was still convinced that I am doing my best with managing time, I decided to listen to productivity books. One of my first titles I listened to was “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. When I finished the book, I found his effective and productive usage of the time interesting. However, I didn’t felt it can fit in my life. The book was fine, but I was not ok with it.

One of the books that really attempted to change many things in my life was “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg. In this book, I found myself when the author explains how habits work. Actually, I discovered way too many habits in my life that I didn’t even notice the specific things I’m doing. This book was also a great push forward for me to continue listening to more similar books. More specifically, to create a habit of listening to audiobooks. At some point, I had already listened to over 20 such books, unconsciously expecting that just by listening to the books, I am getting better until, for a moment, I realized that actually nothing has changed in my life, except listening to audiobooks during traveling instead of scrolling through Facebook.

Why did this happen? Well, I couldn’t take the time to change something in my life according to the books’ recommendations because I was overwhelmed enough to keep doing my things still on autopilot and not have the time to change something. When I realized this, fortunately, I was listening to the book “Make Time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. This book doesn’t show how to really make time because the time is limited by physics laws and will always be 24 hours a day, but it is a great guide for time management.

I started applying things that I learned from this book, so now I created even more time for putting into action the stuff I learned from previews books. Not only now I finish thing faster and more efficiently, but i also have more time to do other things like posting weekly articles on this blog, regularly going to the gym, and working on some other private projects, besides my full-time job and master studies at the Technical University of Vienna.

So here is the point: the books you read or listen to are completely useless until you start applying the recommendations you learn from them. I am not saying that you must read the book “Make Time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, but I would say it is a good starting point if you struggle with time management like me before. Even the things you learn from this book, you must apply those to take advantage of the knowledge. Otherwise, those are totally useless!

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