Top 3 Productivity Boosting Books for Freelancers

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Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Sometimes, we need motivation from outside of ourselves to be as productive as possible.

We live in a world which is designed to distract us endlessly.

From never-ending emails to ceaseless app notifications, everything is set up to rob our attention away from us.

This conflicts with our desire to be as productive as possible and produce the best work we can.

So how can we regain control of our productivity and do our best work?

I’ve found that books are the best way to regain my focus and drive to work on the things that matter to me.

Today, I’d like to share three of the books that have helped me the most, along with some takeaway tips you can use to make more of your time.

Let’s get to it!

4 Hour Work Week

The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss is a classic in the digital nomad genre.

It’s focus is on teaching people to attain a target income that allows them to live an adventurous lifestyle full of travel and other delights.

As well as an overall philosophy, the 4 Hour Work Week also includes a range of practical tips on how to set up an automated business.

This can be very useful for you as a writer or other type of creative freelancer. You can directly apply the ideas Ferriss advocates to do more with your time and get better results from your work.

So what are some takeaway principles from the 4 Hour Work Week you can use to be more efficient and effective?

  • Automate. Where possible, you should put systems in place that allow you to maximize the use of your time. For example, if you regularly check out the blogs of other writers, you could sync them all to an RSS feed. You can automate your budgeting as a writer. This saves on the time wasted navigating between different sites. You can also use a grammar app to automate your proofreading. Automation equals time saved for creative work.
  • Limit your time on email. In these days, with our smartphones and even our smart watches now, it’s almost impossible to escape the endless cascade of notifications. Tim Ferriss strongly suggests limiting your time on email to a strictly defined period, such as twice a day. This allows you to regain control of your time and not get interrupted while you are in the middle of a flow state.
  • Test your ideas. The 4 Hour Work Week strongly advocates testing a business idea before fully carrying it out. For example, if you are thinking of taking up a new form of writing, you could trial it with one or two small projects before devoting too much of your time and energy too it. This stops you wasting time on ventures which are doomed to go nowhere.

Ultimately, the 4 Hour Work Week stresses taking advantage of ways of doing more with our time and focusing on the things that matter to us. As creative workers, we can all make use of this advice in our day to day lives.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Steven Covey wrote one of the definitive works on personal effectiveness and prioritizing our time in a way which serves us the most.

His 7 Habits provide valuable advice on allocating the hours given to us in a way which serves our larger aims.

He also provides a set of philosophical values and ideas which are intended to then underpin all of our other deeds and actions.

So, what are the lessons we, as writers, can take from Covey’s work and apply to our own writing lives?

  • Start with an end vision. The 7 Habits strongly advocates having an end goal for one’s life. You can apply this to your creative life as a writer as well. By having a vision of the writer you eventually want to end up as, you ensure that all your choices serve this ultimate aim along the way.
  • Think win/win at all times. Covey is a strong advocate of the principle of win/win or no deal. He stresses that both parties should benefit from an agreement or no deal should be struck. You can apply this to your life as a writer or a blogger. If you collaborate or partner with anyone, ensure that both people genuinely stand to get something of value from participating in the agreement.
  • Renew your juices. The 7 Habits advocates taking the time to renew your abilities and do the things that recharges you as a person. This is important for writers. By taking the time to renew your creative juices, you allow yourself to have new inspiration and enthusiasm for the work you do. Taking a writing class or learning a new style of writing are great ways to do this. Working too frequently is a recipe for burnout.

By following the ideas found in the 7 Habits, you can ensure that your time is spent serving a larger vision for your life. You can also write with the knowledge that any partnerships you carry out will be engaged upon on a win/win basis.

Awaken the Giant Within

Tony Robbins is a famous motivator and success strategist.

He has recently reached a far greater audience than ever before thanks to his Netflix documentary.

Tony Robbins has also published a number of works which have resonated with people seeking to enhance their personal productivity and effectiveness.

One of his classic books is Awaken the Giant Within.

It teaches people to boldly get in touch with their deeper values and live the life of their dreams.

So what are some of the ideas from Awaken The Giant Within we can use to better our own productivity as writers?

  • Think of your deeper values. Our times of deepest motivation come when our actions are in line with our deeper values. We all have a set of personal values which we should try and align our work with. For example, you might have the personal value of being charitable. If so, you should try and ensure your writing is of a type which helps and serves others, in order to be aligned with your value system.
  • Make your today part of a bigger tomorrow. Sometimes, it can be hard to do the things which we know will benefit us in the long run. As humans, we are wired to seek short-term comfort over long-term reward. Therefore, having a bigger aim can increase our motivation to do what we need to do on a daily basis. Examples include exercising, learning new writing skills, and taking the time to build our networks as authors.
  • Your language matters. One of the key teachings found in Awaken the Giant Within is that the language we use to describe things to ourselves and others directly influences the way we think about them. For example, if you tell yourself you are furious about something, as opposed to merely annoyed, it directly impacts the level of emotional energy you have about that situation. As writers, we know this to be true. Therefore, choose the language you use to describe things very carefully.

Applying the ideas found in Awaken The Giant Within can inspire us towards far greater levels of motivation and personal productivity as writers.

Productivity Boosting Books for Writers – Final Thoughts

Thanks for checking out my thoughts on the best books to boost your levels of personal productivity as a writer.

Whether you need a short-term boost of your motivation, or a longer-term realignment of your vision and values, you should find something here that is able to help you out.

I’ll now turn the discussion over to you guys

What are your favorite personal productivity tips as a writer?

Which books have helped you achieve the best results in your own creative life?

Be sure to hit me up in the comments and I’ll respond!

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