Leadership

10 life-hacking books that will power your way to more creativity

When we think about creative types, our attention often turns to the end result. We focus on how the "creation" changed an industry, disrupted a marketplace, or shaped how we do things.

But with all eyes on the prize, we end up overlooking one important factor: the thought process that got them there. We all know why we need to tap into our creative sides, but we don't always know how to do it.

Maximizing your own personal productivity can help. You look for those life hacks that allow you to get your creative juices flowing — or at least clear the way to a deeper self-awareness of how you get things done throughout the day so that you have more time for creative thought. In other words, working smarter, not harder, as clichéd as that may sound.

As someone who's recently published my own book of life hacks for breaking bad habits and increasing motivation — "The Entrepreneurs Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful" — I love to read about new ways to jump-start our innovative sides. The following books are also great resources if you want to start hacking your life and tapping into your creative self:

1. "Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind"

In "Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try," Dr. Srini Pillay challenges the traditional ideas about productivity by sharing the positive benefits of adding unfocused time to your daily routine. When you plan specific kinds of "unfocus," you actually stimulate cognitive calmness, which can jump-start your productivity. It also has a way of inspiring creativity, prompting innovation, and improving long-term memory.

2. "Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life"

Gretchen Rubin believes that the method to changing your life is through your habits, as they often serve as the invisible framework for how you go about your day. "Better Than Before" is all about changing progress-impeding habits into ones that build happier, more productive lives. The key is understanding your relationship to creating habits, which Rubin explores through what she calls the four tendencies, and how to alter your habits regardless of your tendency.

3. "Big Magic: Creative Thinking"

In "Big Magic," Elizabeth Gilbert uses her own generative process to share insights into the nature of inspiration and how your attitude ultimately shapes your creativity. By letting go of needless suffering and embracing your curiosity, you can uncover your own hidden talents that will allow you to live a more creative life.

4. "Self-Employed: 50 Signs That You Might Be An Entrepreneur"

Let's face it: Many of us would love to have the freedom for creative pursuits, but life — and especially work — can get in the way. But what if your creative spirit could be the very basis for a successful business venture? Experts Joel Comm and John Rampton outline 50 unique, essential qualities that make up the recipe for a successful entrepreneur. This is the perfect book for those wondering whether marrying work and play is a pipe dream or the path to happiness and success.

5. "Finish This Book"

Keri Smith created a novel in which you collaboratively work together to write the story and gain control of what happens next. By walking you through the research process and providing the initial content to allow you to "finish the book," you can begin to find the creativity within yourself.

6. "Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work"

"Stealing Fire" came about after Kotler and high-performance expert Jamie Wheal spent four years investigating the life-hacking revolutions taking place in Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and other organizations around the globe. They learned that four forces — psychology, neurobiology, technology, and pharmacology — may be the keys to accelerating information and inspiration in order to lead richer, more productive lives. Through this guidebook, Kotler aims to show you how to radically upgrade your life.

7. "Drive: The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us"

"Drive" employs four decades of research on motivation to uncover the discrepancy between what research tells us and what businesses do and outlines how this imbalance can affect your performance and satisfaction at work, school, and home. But by tapping into the three elements of true motivation — autonomy, mastery, and purpose — you can change how you think and start directing your life to better serve yourself and the world.

8. "Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration"

"Start Where You Are" is a journal created to help you maximize your creative potential and motivation. If you get to know yourself and take the time to remember your dreams, you can better navigate the chaos of everyday life, appreciate the world around you, and move closer to achieving your heart's desires.

9. "Thinking, Fast and Slow"

At its core, this book discusses the two systems of thought in each one of us. The first revolves around your ability to almost instantaneously tap into your intuitive side, while the second involves a more deliberate and analytical thought process. By understanding the two systems and how they interact, you can apply this knowledge to everyday decision-making — and make better decisions because of it.

10. "Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative"

A great and easy read for creatives, this book compiles lessons learned by its author about getting in touch with your creative side. Being creative doesn't have to mean designing something new; it can mean solving everyday problems in creative ways.

When you hack your life, you take the busyness out of your day — even though you may still be busy. You know where your responsibilities reside, and you can make more informed decisions about how you spend your time — which leaves room to get more creative.

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