Everyone has a couple of books that almost define someones life. Books that resonate and sharpen you as a person. The list is getting quite long, but I wanted to share the first three of them.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Even though studying Information Sciences implies lots of technical stuff (which is true), I attended a couple of classes which were probably the most important classes of my whole education. One of them was called ‘personal leadership’. In several weeks, we were supposed to read this book from an unknown author, Stephen Covey. It changed my life.

The book is split up in 7 habits. It starts by looking at yourself: what is pro-activity? How can you take responsibility? What is integrity and how do you develop it? After this the book focusses on habits that are keys to unlock better and deeper relationships with people around you. The last habit helps you to structure your life in such a way to keep improving and learning.

I think this is an essential book for anyone and I try to re-read at least parts of it each year.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

While the book from Stephen Covey focuses on big term goals and large habits that will sculpture your life, David Allen focusses on the day-to-day things. Mr. Allen presents a framework for things to do. For me, the most important things I’ve learnt from this book are:

  • Store everything inside one system outside your head which you can fully trust.
  • If something can be done in 2 minutes, act. Otherwise, get it out of your head.
  • Do a mind-sweep once in a while. The book provides a list of things you can go trough and write down anything that will come to mind.
  • My inbox is not a to-do list. Pick one of these 5 things for each e-mail: delete, do now (2 minute rule), put in trusted system, delegate or archive.

This book changed the way I look at my inbox, my task system and projects. Next to the 7 habits, I can recommend this book to anyone who wants to get more of the right stuff done.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

This is one of the books I’ve read more recently. Its core is about a single question: why? Most people know what they need to do. A lot of people know how they should to this, but few people think about why they are doing what they do. Once the why gets clear, you will have great focus on what the next steps should be.

I can really recommend this book. I’ve started by watching the TED talk by the author of the book, it is in essence a short version of the book. After you’ve seen the video, you probably want to read the book anyway.

There are a couple more books that have changed the way I think about certain things, but these three have been of major influence.

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