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Ali Abdaal's New Productivity Book Is the Best I've Read

This Year. Everyone Should Feel This Good About Their Work. Ali Abdaal has a new book and it's about figuring out how to feel good about productivity.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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I read a lot of books about being productive. I just do. It's partly because I am the type of person who thinks a lot about the systems and tools that can help me be more productive, and it's partly because I know that it's a thing a lot of people care about. I guess, in some ways, I read the books so you don't have to.

Recently, however, I read a book that I genuinely think everyone should read. 

Feel Good Productivity, is a new book from Ali Abdaal, a medical doctor-turned-YouTuber, who has amassed a huge following on a channel centered on the general idea of how to build and live a better life. 

Ali Abdaal's New Productivity Book Is the Best I've Read

Courtesy Ali Abdaal

I had a chance to talk to Abdaal, and I was really interested in pulling on this idea that being productive isn't just about how much you get done. That is, after all, the way we've defined it basically forever. 

You can listen to our entire conversation on the Undigital Podcast (Apple Podcasts / Spotify), but I want to share what I think are a few highlights from our conversation here. Maybe the most interesting thing Abdaal writes about is the problem with the way we think about productivity.:

"So the issue with the old-school way of thinking about productivity is that productivity is seen as like efficiency," Abdaal told me. "It's cranking out more widgets in the same amount of time or something to that effect. And in the sort of the era of factories--the Industrial Revolution--all that mattered was how many widgets your factory cranked out, and people would get paid and stuff based on that."

If that's the way you think of productivity, all of your energy goes into figuring out ways to reduce friction or increase efficiency. It goes into finding ways to squeeze more out of the same set of resources. The problem is that only scales so far. It also thinks of people as just another piece of a system from which more and more widgets are made.

That's just not how most people work, however. "Very few of us have jobs where our job is to crank out widgets," Abdaal says. "We're all doing creative things that involve using our brain and sort of synthesizing sources from multiple different ways or working on projects that are maybe not quite explicitly defined."

The key, according to Abdaal, is to change the way we think about productivity. Or, more importantly, change the way we think about what contributes to being more productive. It turns out it's less about the things we usually think about, like managing your time or creating more efficient systems, and more about finding the things that give you energy. 

"What I tried to figure out when it came to the book--and when it came to my own personal productivity is--how do I get more of this energy," Abdaal said. "How do I get home from work feeling energized, rather than drained? I realized that if I can find a way to make my work feel good, if I can find a way to make it fun, make it feel more like an adventure, make it feel more enjoyable, then I generate energy, and I'm more productive. I'm more creative, and I'm less stressed. And just everything in my life is better"

That's the thesis behind the book. In fact, it's right there in the name. 

"It's called Feel Good Productivity because productivity can and should feel good," says Abdaal. "But, it's also called Feel Good Productivity because feeling good is actually the way to become more productive. Whereas trying to coerce yourself, trying to use grit and willpower and discipline and all these negative emotions, to get yourself to do something--that only works for so long before you burn out. But if you're feeling good about something, you can then do that thing forever."

Maybe my favorite thing about the book is the way Abdaal weaves practical "experiments" throughout. This isn't just a book that will help you think about productivity, it's full of ways to try things. The fact that they're called experiments means that not everything will work, but--like every experiment--you'll generate information and learn something valuable about yourself and your work. 

Every entrepreneur faces a point where they're overwhelmed by the pile of work in front of them. Instead of looking for something that will tell you how to organize, filter, manage, and check off all the to-dos that have piled up, Abdaal's book is different: It teaches you how to love what you're doing and do what you love. That, it turns out, is the most helpful productivity tip I've read all year. 

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