Updated: Sep 18
Find the productivity book that resonates best with your style and personality so that you can learn how to manage your time, be more efficient, and have the right perspective.
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Everyday, people are looking for ways to improve their time. It seems like the world is getting busier and busier, yet we as a society are getting even less done. When life is hectic every minute counts. This is one of the reasons why lately I have been on a mission to improve my productivity. As a mother of four, a student, business owner, and not to mention just starting a new job, I need all the help I can get.
To help accomplish this mission, I have compiled a list of eight of the best books about productivity on the market today. When I was working on this list, I was blown away at the amount of books currently on the market covering this topic. Goodreads had over 13,000 results about this topic alone. So I tried to be very strategic and purposeful in what books I included on my list. Lets face it, if you are currently looking for ideas on how to improve your time and plan your day so that you can get more done, you probably don't have a lot of spare time to research which productivity books will be the best. Let me offer a few suggestions.
Many of these books will cover similar strategies and pointers, so as you read though this list don't focus so much on the strategies, but rather on which style resonates most with you. Most importantly, have an open mind. The strategies and ideas in these books are great, but they will only get you so far if the ideas stay on the paper and are not put to the test. If you really want to improve your efficiency, then you have to be willing to do the leg work.
Books on Productivity
by Stephen R. Covey and Sean Covey
I can't tell you how many times this book has come up in my browsing for productivity books or class reading lists. It is one book I have opted out of reading just because I like to go against the flow, but maybe I should have read it.
Many consider this book a classic. What you will gain from reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is the importance of setting goals and priorities first. Once you have these objectives set, then you work around them. In essence, you define your values and goals and then build a frame-word around them. It is more of a mind shift then anything. It is not a list of actions or habits (even though that is the title of the book). In his first chapter, he talks about how changing your prospective will allow you to change your situation, because you can't change something if you don't realize it needs to be changed in the first place.
Covey also stresses the point of being proactive (which is the first habit he recommends) and doing what you see needs to be done. In a way, this makes sense to me. I can't tell you how many times I have walked passed something on the floor and thought, "I should pick that up," yet I don't. Then two days later, I wonder why my room is a mess and why it takes so long to clean up.
Want to read the an exert from the first chapter? Go to this link (Chapter One Exert), scroll down to the commentary about the author, and click on the read more button.
by David Allen
Lifehack calls this book the "Bible of business and personal productivity."
If you are looking for day-to-day productivity strategies to help you, then this would be a great choice. In Getting Things Done, Allen teaches a five step productivity system (you will see this all over the internet titled the GTD System) that anyone can adapt to their circumstances. These include capturing what has your attention, clarifying the process, organizing, reflecting, and engaging.
Getting Things Done is a great book to help you get organized and deal with whatever you have cluttering your space and mind and putting it in order. If you are looking for ideas on how to organize your desk, Allen devotes a whole chapter to this subject. (I really need help with this one.)
The edition above is the older version. There was is a new version released in 2015, however, I read some reviews that stated the new version is over the top and the older version is better.
Want to read one of these reviews? Go to this link, (Amazon customer review, Buy the First edition).
by James Clear
If you feel like you have habits that are holding you back, or you want to create new habits, but don't feel like you have the time, then Atomic Habits would be a great choice for you. James Clear teaches the importance of focusing on small improvements each day, and over time those small steps will add up to the biggest results. You will learn about the habit loop and how to build good habits in four simple steps and break habits in four simple steps.
“We all deal with setbacks, but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits. With the same habits, you will end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.” James Clear
Want to read an exert from the book? Go to this link (Atomic Habits Excert), scroll down to the commentary about the author, and click on the read more button.
by Greg McKeown
This book will help you learn how to focus on less by teaching you how to put your energy into the more important tasks. Read my Motivation Monday Post, Productivity: Discover Your Right Time to Work, to learn more about channeling your daily energy at the right time.
If you have trouble saying no and find yourself constantly overwhelmed, this would be a great book for you. It helps define what's important and to say no to distractions.
In Essentialism: The Discipline Pursuit of Less, you will learn how to analyze what you are doing and narrow it down to the two or three most important tasks that: 1. Help the most people, 2. Have the greatest impact, and 3. Do the kind of work you want to be known for.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER: "Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done."
This book is free to listen to with an Audible subscriptions, click on the Amazon button above to get your free audio book. Don't have Audible but want to try it out. Amazon offers a free 30-day trial.
by Carl Newport
If you are struggling with social media overload and want to learn how to cut down the time you spend with social media or email, then this book is for you. Carl Newport calls this work, "non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style task." This is the shallow work that doesn't require a lot of cognitive thought processing. Newport teaches the importance of saving your brain power and energy for the deep work the requires a lot of cognitive processing. If you want to learn how to master the skill of putting down your phone, turning off notifications, and being able to focus on your work, then Deep Work is for you.
Recently, I was reading an interview with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, and he was talking about how technology has outpaced productivity. In fact, "productivity has not increased in the last 10 to 15 year, whereas technology has exponentially increased." (Five Guys: The Best Books on Productivity, Recommended by David Allen) You would think that technology would help us be more productive. However, for many, including me, it has become a distraction. Deep Work teaches these concepts and helps readers turn off the distractions.
You can listen to this book for free with an Audible subscription. Click the Amazon button above to get your copy. If you don't have an Audible subscription, go to the link above to try it out free for 30-days.
Go to this link to watch a recorded review of Deep Work. (Amazon Customer Review: Tried and Proven Strategies and Tactics).
by Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey has personally experimented with every aspect of productivity. He has dedicated countless years to studying the topic and discovered some surprising lessons along the way, which he shares in this book.
If you have trouble with procrastination, then the Productivity Project is your book. Bailey teaches about why we procrastinate and how to fix it. He uses simple and effective techniques in a fun and engaging way. He provides lots of suggestions on time-management and gives challenges at the end of each chapter. Have a pen and note-pad reading, so that you are prepared to implement them into your life.
Want to read the an exert from the book? Go to this link (Productivity Project Exert), scroll down to the commentary about the author, and click on the read more button.
7. BrainChains: Your Thinking Brain Explained in Simple Terms
by Theo Compernole
If you are interested in how the brain functions and what that has to do with productivity, then this would be great read. In BrainChains, Theo Compernole provides insights on how the brain works, but don't worry about hard-to-understand jargon. This book doesn't get too heavy, and Compernole does a good job using comparisons so that you can understand what he is teaching. He looks at the "chains" that are preventing us from using our brain to it's fullest potential and talks about adapting our work habits to properly use our brain.
8. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
I know this isn't your normal self-help, productivity book, but it is still a great read. Benjamin Franklin provides different lessons he has learned. As you read this book, you will see that he is a great example of productivity. Plus, if you enjoy autobiographies and learning lessons from the eyes of others, then this is your book.
Gretchen Rubin, writer and podcast host, says, "Benjamin Franklin managed to be not only one of the Founding Fathers, but also to start a public library, discover electricity, negotiate with France, invent bifocals, and write an American classic. He's a productivity model for all of us."
Find What Resonates Most With You
The tips and strategies in the pages of these books will only be effective if you are willing to implement them. Most of them will not have immediate effects. It takes time to form new habits and break old ones. Be patient with yourself, but don't give up.
My aunt just shared with me her struggles she has had for years with being as organized and productive as my grandmother (her mom). I am here to tell you that is no easy feat. My grandmother was one of the most meticulous women I have ever known. Recently, my aunt learned about organizing according to her own personality, and it has changed everything for her. She realized that she needed to do things her way, not her mother's way and that was okay. So, take time to find personalized strategies and what resonates with you. When you do, everything will click.
If you want more books about productivity check out my shop at Booshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/feedmereads