It all started in 1997 when my boss gave me Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Successful People. I had been coming late into the office, and I wasn't getting much done despite pulling long hours at my desk.
Getting his message, I started coming in early, scheduled my priorities and organized my inboxes into four categories to reflect Covey's four quadrants (QI: urgent/important, QII: not urgent/important, QIII: urgent/not important, QIV: not urgent/not important). This was a life changer.
Then in 2011 while living in the Alps, I perused the internet looking for solutions to my full inbox and messy desk and discovered Leo Babauta and his Zen Habits blog. There I learned about getting my inbox to zero and about the GTD system (Getting Things Done by David Allen). This is where my obsession with self improvement and productivity really kicked in. I became a devoted GTDer, experimenting with all kinds of electronic and paper versions of lists.
Now, while I drive or walk, I listen to business and self development podcasts. The voices of James Altucher, Stephen Dubner, Tim Ferris, and Jordan Harbinger have become so familiar, that they seem like family.
Inspired by what I hear, I make tweaks to my daily routines and I have started writing again thanks to Seth Godin and The Minimalists on Writing, (April 19, 2016).
My morning routines have changed thanks to Asian Efficiency, James Altucher's Choose Yourself! and Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning. Writing is becoming more fun thanks to books on writing (The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith, On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott). Inspiration has come from brilliant thinkers like Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who walks hours every day and refuses to work with people who can't manage their personal relationships. Thanks to Dan Buettner's The Blue Zones Solution, I know that eating and moving like they do in Costa Rica, Sardinia or in Okinawa will give me health and longevity.
Is this obsession a good thing? Does it signify a mid-life crisis search for meaning? I don't know. All I can say is: I like it.