⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
In this edition, I’ll summarize and share the first 15 (of 50) key concepts from the first 2 (of 8) books that helped me develop my personal operating system. They’ve been a game-changer for me and know they will help you too.
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The First 15 Key Takeaways From 2 Amazing Books
Over the past 2 years, I have read the 8 best books for developing an effective personal operating system — twice.
I have distilled them down to the 50 key insights that will upgrade your life.
Save yourself time and just implement these life-changing concepts.
What is a Personal Operating System?
Before we get to them, it’s first important to define what a personal operating system is.
Here’s the way I look at it: We know more about that status and needs of the devices we use every day, from our smartphone, to our laptop, to our EV – their battery level, how much we’re using them, and when they need maintenance, versus the most important device – ourself.
I think of a personal operating system as a way of operationalizing awareness to generate the most leverage from our mind and body in order to achieve extraordinary things in our career while living a life we our intently satisfied with.
The following concepts from these books helped me to develop this awareness and then I took them a step further to harmonize them in a way each workday so that success and satisfaction became natural, consistent outcomes – not obsessions.
Book 1: The Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballantyne
Most people are vague with what they want in life.
This book teaches you how to design the perfect day using the Three Cs:
No matter who are or what you do, you can put these big three pillars in place with a proper plan. Here are 5 simple ingredients of a great plan:
- Get up 15 mins earlier starting tomorrow
- Know and focus on your #1 priority first
- Use personal rules to create rituals and routines to overcome obstacles, eliminate temptation, and end procrastination
- Replace bad habits w/ new, good ones
- Get to bed on time
Key Concept (1): Planning And Preparation
Focusing on your top priority in the morning allows you to leverage your willpower and avoid getting off course by reacting to others.
A strong morning gives momentum to conquer the chaos of the afternoon.
Key Concept (2): Professional Accountability
Studies prove being accountable to a pro is significantly more effective than a non-expert.
With anything important (money, health, productivity), you can’t succeed without proper coaching.
Key Concept (3): Social Support
Find people, online or offline, trying to improve the same way you are.
Learn from them.
Support them in return.
Bonus: Pretend they are with you all the time when you don’t want to tackle that big priority task.
Key Concept (4): Have an Incentive
Delayed gratification is not something we’re born with, but it’s an effective habit you can build.
Anything important is going to be hard at first, but the small, consistent actions will compound.
Look at all of the struggles as learnings.
Key Concept (5): The Big Deadline
If we don’t have a deadline, we’ll naturally procrastinate.
Think back to your last vacation and the hyper focus you had to clear your plate and organize your work so you could properly check out.
Bring that focus into each day.
Book 2: Deep Work by Cal Newport
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.
Shallow work is non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style work, often performed while distracted.
Deep work is your superpower in today’s knowledge economy.
The main ideas:
- Deep work = Master hard things quickly and produce at an elite level
- To be your best, you need to commit to deep work daily
- It is the type of work that produces the highest value
- Ironically, it’s harder than ever to do deep work
Key Concept (6): Mastering Hard Things Requires Intense Focus
A knowledge professional can climb to the top of their field with 2 key skills:
- Ability to quickly master hard things, and
- Ability to produce at an elite level
Eliminating distractions is the key.
Key Concept (7): Deep Work Can Help You Find Meaning in Your Job
Deep work produces the right conditions for flow, and can help maximize happiness in your work.
By focusing on refining your practice, you can find satisfaction and meaning in your work, regardless of role.
Key Concept (8): Find The Right Way to Incorporate Deep Work into Your Days
There are four effective approaches for integrating deep work into your life and routine:
1. The Bimodal Approach
They set aside large chunks of time for total focus.
2. The Rhythmic Approach
Their goal is to cultivate a habit of deep work, even if they can focus only for a couple hours at a time, helpful those who can’t devote many uninterrupted hours in a row to deep work.
3. The Monastic Approach
This is the classic “go to a cabin in the woods to write a book approach.” For example, they eliminate social media accounts entirely, and use email sparingly.
If extreme lifestyle changes will help them achieve professional goals, they’ll make them.
4. The Journalistic Approach
This approach is best for those with unpredictable schedules, or who need to act quickly when inspiration strikes.
Even if they have only thirty minutes free, they’ll quickly retreat from distractions and focus on their work.
Key Concept (9): Embrace Boredom and Concentration
Many people multitask in order to avoid boredom.
If you do this, you may struggle to concentrate when you really need to.
Research shows multitaskers struggle to ignore irrelevant information and have trouble staying focused.
Their brains expect to be constantly relieved from boredom.
To succeed at deep work, multitaskers first need to regain the ability to concentrate on a single task.
Key Concept (10): Schedule Time For Distractions
Make deep work your default work mode, and instead, schedule time in your day for distractions (sparingly).
For example, schedule blocks of time for using the internet, and then avoid the internet completely at all other times.
Key Concept (11): Choose Your Tools Deliberately
Anybody on Twitter, TikTok, or YouTube knows that these network tools significantly impact our concentration.
The key is to understand which tools aid or hinder you and to be intentional about how you consumer and use them.
For a simple way to determine if a tool (like social media) is right for you, try a 30-day cleanse.
At the end, for each tool, ask yourself two questions:
- Would my life be notably better if I had used this service?
- Did people care that I wasn’t using the service?
Key Concept (12): Schedule Every Minute of Your Day
Every day, schedule your entire workday into blocks of deep and shallow work.
Batch similar activities together. For example, reply to all emails in a single block of time.
Key Concept (13): Prioritize Your Tasks by Depth
To prioritize your activities, you need to understand which are shallow and which are deep.
Ask yourself, “Which tasks take the longest for an untrained college graduate to complete?” (👈 That is deep work and deserves priority)
Key Concept (14): Stick to a Shallow Work Budget
Set a specific guideline for how much you spend on shallow work (i.e. 30% per day is a good target for non-entry level role).
Setting a shallow work budget forces you to prioritize, and preserve the remaining time for deep work.
Key Concept (15): Reply to Emails Sparingly and Thoughtfully
Email can take up massive amounts of time, especially when others expect you to reply quickly.
If you can, set expectations about responses and response times, and avoid replies that ask vague or open-ended questions.
Instead, think through possible next steps and questions your correspondent might ask, and answer them proactively.
Be clear about when it would be most helpful for them to reply to you.
And if you don’t need them to reply in most cases, say so.
That’s a wrap on the first 2 books. See you next week for the next 9 concepts!
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1. Get the exact system I’ve used to go from earning $200K to over $1M a year in SaaS sales without burning out here. (2,000+ students)
2. Join a community of Purpose-Curious™ sellers in the Make More Hustle Less Club where we develop a personal operating system together here. (300+ members)
3. Book a 1:1 coaching session to up-level your performance here. (Limited spots available)