I read a lot of books. The Dymocks in Melbourne’s CBD would be in my top ten list of favourite places in the world. I want to share with you five of my favourite business and productivity books from the last year, in case you’re looking for a bit of late summer reading.

At Your Best

The first book on our list, At Your Best, is one of the best personal productivity books I’ve read in a long time (since picking up a copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People a long time ago).

The hypothesis of the book is that the reason we are so stretched thin constantly is that we’re using the times of the day we have the most energy to do the most pointless work, and vice versa. The solution to this is to deliberately rearrange our daily schedules to make sure that times of the day we have the most energy (such as mid-morning for me) are used to do the most important work, and times when we have low energy (for me, late afternoon) are used for less important work (such as taking the dog for a walk).

Work Clean

Another personal productivity book I really enjoyed last year was Work Clean. It’s both a discussion about how chefs do the amazing work they do in kitchens, making hundreds of different meals in a space of hours, but also how we (as non-chefs) can learn from how they work, train, and rest in order to improve our productivity. One of my favourite hobbies is cooking, so I found this a particularly interesting read. My cooking has improved as well as my work!

The Future of the Professions

If you are a professional or run a professional services business, this is a must-read book. The Future of the Professions details the decline of traditional professions in the Internet age, discusses new models for how professionals and the professions might survive into a future that features the Internet and artificial intelligence, and asks questions about which jobs should be reserved exclusively for human beings, rather than being outsourced to machines.

I think this book is worthy of a much longer discussion, but in summary, our thoughts are this: computers are amazing machines that we can and should absolutely leverage to collect and present information for making decisions, and for acting out those decisions. But humans are built for decision making in a way that computers are not, and we don’t see that changing in the near future. Humans will continue making the big decisions, and computers might do the rest.

Million Dollar Micro Business

As consultants, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can best help our clients and potential clients solve their problems. Currently, we spend most of our time working with clients one on one, but we would love to be able to leverage our time and help more organisations reach their most effective use of technology.

Picking up this book, Million Dollar Micro Business, gave us the inspiration for a move that will come later this year – building an online course and other products that will give more people an opportunity to work with us.

Crisis Proofing

I picked up Crisis Proofing on a whim as I was strolling the aisles of the local Officeworks store one evening, and boy am I glad I did! This book starts as a fascinating read about what exactly an organisational crisis is (and what it isn’t). It then goes on to detail how to prevent crises from occurring, how to pre-plan for when they do occur, and what to do once they have occurred. It’s an important book to have in the bookshelf for the leadership of any organisation.

What are the best books you read in 2021? Let us know in the comments!

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