A (very) short list for office humans
Books. Printed pages full of wonders, answers, questions, answered questions and answers that spawn new questions. Whole Universes both born and reborn and a single tiny certainty: that knowledge is unlimited. Now, if you are a professional in any given field, you are probably well acquainted with the sweet-sweet habit of reading. Time though, even if for some just a social construct, prevents most of us from enjoying every single book that lies on our ”list”, either on a piece of paper, on a Word file or on Goodreads.
Now, it is more than obvious that ”taste” is subjective and that, when it comes to non-fiction books we are prone to read whatever suits us better, depending on the field we work in. At the end of the day it might not help that much if, say, we are discovering the works of Seth Godin when we are ”grinding” in the field of constructions. That being said, we did put together a very short, albeit effective list (hey, we are subjective too, have you not been paying attention?) of works that could very well suit every single professional, regardless of their field. And no, they should not fall in the ”self help” category, even though they are non-fiction, aimed for improving our life, being that professional or personal.
So here it is:
3. Deep Work, by Cal Newport
The whole title, ”Deep work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”, pretty much gives it away. Here it is, a book that understands that we, as individuals, are highly distracted in this time and age. Which is understandable, given the fact that pretty much every single wish awaits only a couple of clicks away.
Introducing the concept of ”deep work” to a much larger audience, the ability to focus without any distractions to a cognitive demanding task, professor Cal Newport masterfully succeeds in pointing us in the right direction when it comes to ”being there, fully present”, committed to our task at hand, getting better at our job and actually enjoying more free time afterwards. A great read, the book is also more than accessible timewise, its under 300 pages being manageable in a single day. Divided into two parts, the author first makes a compelling case in favour of cultivating a strong work ethic, something achievable no matter one's profession, before ”training” us (and by ”us” we mean our minds) for harnessing these skills. Much like a super-power. Super office dudettes and dudes, assemble!
2. Atomic Habits, by James Clear
”An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones'' might not be the most honest of all subtitles, given the fact the book has a no-nonsense approach and that a lot of work and dedication and time for breaking bad habits is implied. And needed. So easy...probably not. Proven, however, yes. We could not question that.
James Clear writes with such ease and simplicity that it will get you on board pretty quickly, and the best thing is that the framework that he builds is actually suitable for probably the majority of us. Which is obviously a rare, rare thing to do. Making you think in ”systems'' should also be considered a highlight, probably because we are so accustomed in believing that ”we” are both the problem and the solution for our own life. Which the author pretty much debunks with a lot of care and examples. Some information might feel a little bit ”distilled”, but that is also because James Clear really knows how to unpack complex topics, making them really accessible. It might take a couple of days to go through the whole book, but it is a most worthy read.
1. Why we sleep, by Matthew Walker
Now this is the moment some of you might go ”wait, wait a minute!...”. We know. A book about sleeping, topping a list of books designed to help your professional life. Bare with us for a moment though. ”Why we sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” is way more than a book about naps and that well deserved shut eye. It is a work designed to help us understand how sleeping works and how and why sleep-patterns can help us improve our personal and professional lives.
Both a neuroscientist and a sleep expert (if only we knew that that can be a career, are we right?), dr. Matter Walker sets sail, in about 500 pages, with the goal of exploring (often with lessons taken from through-out the history of mankind) how sleep affects every single aspect of our mental and physical well-being. Juggling with both scientific studies, research and practical advice, the book slowly sucks you in, revealing, chapter after chapter, how fundamentally wrong or, in the best case, vague, most of us understood what we thought was a meaningless part of our lives. And how, with a not-so-hard-routine, we can improve our cognitive abilities, our focus, our memory and, in a couple of words, our lives. Feel like taking a nap now? It might actually help.