The “New” Secret to Productivity

July 12, 2011

There are over 408 books listed today on under the classification of “personal productivity.”  Considering myself an avid reader as well as a self-improvement nut, I often cruise Amazon to see if there are any new, exciting, fresh resources out there that I should be aware of.  You know the kind I’m talking about – the “magic bullet books” that will change your life, solve your problems, double your income, and balance your checkbook all in one reading.

Although I’ve amassed quite a library throughout my career, I can tell you that from my perspective there are very few “new,” “fresh,” or “exciting” resources in the personal productivity space.  Rather, there are a few basic, proven, common sense principles that are presented with the individual spin and creativity of countless authors.  Entertaining? Yes.  Thought provoking? Sometimes. Fresh? No.

One of the greatest resources in my library is also one of the oldest – How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie – first published in 1944.  What does stress and worry have to do with personal productivity? A LOT. In 300 or so pages, Mr. Carnegie provides 30 principles for combatting worry; countless nuggets of wisdom that have profound impact on our professional and personal lives if applied consistently over time.

A friend of mine was recently struggling in her job.  She was feeling overtaxed, ineffective, and just plain burnt out.  I pointed her to Chapter 4 – Four Good Working Habits that Will Prevent Fatigue and Worry; key points are summarized below:

  1. Clear your desk of all working papers except those relating to the immediate task at hand
  2. Do things in order of their importance
  3. When you face a problem, solve it then and there if have the facts necessary to make a decision.  Don’t keep putting off decisions.
  4. Learn to organize, deputize, and supervise

I’ve distilled down the main points here, but Mr. Carnegie provides colorful insights and examples to illustrate each point in his book. Common sense – yes – but not always common practice!  Just imagine how serene and pleasant our work lives would be if we could do these four things WELL and CONSISTENTLY?

If you haven’t read this book before – do it now!  If it sits idly on your bookshelf – dust it off and start reading!  Every time I think I have found a book that tops it – I am proven wrong.  It continues to be a long-time favorite. Just as fine wine ages with time, Mr. Carnegie’s wisdom continues to grow in value.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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