It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of the new year, end of the summer, or the beginning of Q4, it seems like everyone is trying to find ways to get more productive. But what exactly is the definition of productivity? Applying productivity to our lives isn’t exactly the same as applying it to economic contexts. However, it’s core meaning still applies. Essentially, we want to be doing the most we can with the least time and effort.
In saying that, being productive doesn’t mean working all the time, it means being smart with your time and making the most of it. These 10 productivity books will help you explore productivity in different ways; with each giving valuable insight into how you can succeed. Part of becoming more productive is learning about what tools and methods work the best.
So, without further ado, here are some of the best productivity books you can find that will definitely be able to help you…
10 BEST PRODUCTIVITY BOOKS THAT YOU SHOULD READ
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1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
If there’s one book you have to read to help you with productivity, its Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book is a classic in the self-help category. Despite being published decades ago in 1989, Covey’s lessons remain relevant today. Some of the concepts in this book may seem pretty obvious. For instance, prioritising and putting what’s important first or having a vision for the future.
However, Covey provides a lot of insight into productivity. His book has also introduced useful tools such as his time management matrix. Essentially, this involves creating a two-by-to matrix with the tiles “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” across the top, and “Important” and “Not Important” along the side.
With this time management matrix, you’re able to categorise your week’s tasks into 4 categories; Urgent-Important, Not Urgent-Important, Urgent-Not Important, and Not Urgent-Not Important. The first category being the most important, the second being tasks that matter in the long run but with no immediate benefits, the third being the interruptions that take up our time and the last being the things we do when we need a break.
The lessons and tools in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People will allow you to become more aware of how you’ve been spending your time. As a result, you’ll be in tune with which tasks you should focus more of your time on and which you should be trying to eliminate in order to be the most productive.
2. Grit by Angela Duckworth
Grit is a slightly different kind of productivity book where Angela Duckworth explores how passion and perseverance are the true markers of success. Duckworth has studied the psychology of success by examining all kinds of people that are typically deemed “successful” such as army cadets and telesales executives.
Duckworth argues that people are not necessarily predisposed to succeed but instead get as far as they do because of “grit.” Essentially, “grit” is a blend of commitment, overcoming setbacks, wanting to improve and being willing to do unpleasant things in order to succeed. By knowing your passions and being able to follow through on them, you can get to where you want to be.
So how does having “grit” link to productivity? With so many distractions threatening to take up our time, being resilient is crucial in trying to be productive. Having a clear vision and being able to take the steps to reach with passion and perseverance will do wonders for improving your productivity.
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is another book that may not seem to directly related to productivity. However it teaches incredibly valuable lessons if you’re looking to take control of your personal finances and find financial freedom. Making money work for you will mean you can spend less time working for money.
Robert Kiyosaki explores the stories of his own father and the father of his best friend, both with opposing views on how to deal with finance. One of the book’s foundational ideas revolves around the fact that you need to educate yourself financially. If you spend your extra money on an improved lifestyle, you’re guaranteed to lose all of it. If you spend it on investments, even if they were high risk, there is only a chance of losing it all.
Having made the majority of fortune through real estate investment, Kiyosaki offers a unique view on money and assets. He teaches you that in order to save and invest, you should manage risks rather than try to avoid them. By being productive about your personal finances, you can get one step closer to financial freedom.
Again, this book belongs in our list of best productivity books because it provides invaluable insights that will help you use your money in a way that help you live a much more productive life.
4. The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey originally started off writing about productivity on his blog. After running productivity experiments, interviewing experts and looking through research, Bailey came out with The Productivity Project to document the lessons he’s learned. Though his book is relatively new and not an established title, he introduces many valuable ideas on productivity.
The core message in The Productivity Project is the idea that productivity is made up of three factors; time, attention and energy. Rather that productivity being just about how we manage our time, Bailey suggests that productivity is also largely about how we manage our energy and attention.
In order to be productive, all three factors have to be in tune. Learning how to manage your time can be done by practicing how to organise your priorities. In terms of energy, you have to manage health aspects such as diet and sleep. Bailey also coins the phrase Biological Prime Time. By tracking your hourly energy levels over a couple weeks, you can determine which time of the day you’re most productive. Finally, your time and energy will be used up based on where you decide to direct your attention. Hence, it’s important to not pay too much attention to distractions.
Bailey also dives into multiple other lessons. For instance, the Rule of Three is a principle where you determine the 3 tasks you want to complete each day. Another practice to consider taking on is a weekly review on the key categories of your life such as relationships, health and career. The last lesson that comes from The Productivity Project is to make a “Waiting For” list, separate from your normal to-do list, with all the tasks you can’t do until someone else gets back to you.
5. Deep Work by Cal Newport
Deep Work by Cal Newport is another relatively new addition to the productivity book space. This book is perfect for the modern generations who have found themselves spending too much time on social media and email. Newport explores the difference between shallow work and deep work, highlighting the importance of making time and energy for deep work.
Deep focus and deep work seem to be lacking in the 21st century workplace. Deep work is a concept that allows you to develop the ability to grasp hard concepts, and to produce work with quality and speed. The key to high productivity is to increase the time you can work on a task without interruptions.
In order to make the most of our limited willpower, Newport suggests we schedule deep work blocks into your calendar. Focus on the critical tasks, track your new behaviours, keep a scoreboard and stay accountable for maintaining this continual process. Often, we’re used to checking our phones even at the potential of boredom. Hence, Newport also introduces the idea of scheduling breaks in order to give into our boredom and distractions.
In terms of the things we should stop doing to achieve deep work, Deep Work implores readers to quit social media and any other tools where the negative impacts on your professional and personal life outweigh the positive impacts. Newport proposes that you attempt consciously staying away from social media for 30 days without deactivating. Afterwards, consider whether you were greatly inconvenienced and whether anyone cared.
6. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, is a well known title in the productivity space. Though there are criticisms surrounding the book since some of Ferriss’s ideas aren’t completely practical, most people can agree that The 4-Hour Workweek offers useful insights that anyone can benefit from, even if you don’t completely take on his approach.
One of the most popular concepts explored in Ferriss’s book is the 80/20 principle. Essentially, the principle suggests that 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your tasks. Hence, you should focus on the 20% of tasks that produce the most output. At the same time, you should eliminate the 80% of tasks that only produce 20% of your productivity.
As mentioned early, the ideas in The 4-Hour Workweek aren’t practical for everyone. However, if you’re an aspiring business owner, the book might be able to teach you a few lessons. Ferriss suggests that you must validate your business ideas by ensuring you can profit. Even if an idea can solve a problem, it might not be solving a big enough inconvenience for people to pay money for it.
The bulk of Ferriss’s book is based on four steps. First, you need to define your goals by asking yourself what you really want. Then, you need to eliminate distractions, the 80% of tasks that only make up 20% of your productivity. Thirdly, you should automate your cash flow by outsourcing any menial tasks and by creating a business that can run on autopilot. Finally, Ferriss implores readers to liberate themselves from the traditional expectation of a 40 hour workweek by designing your job around mobility.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with this classic productivity book, so don’t hesitate to give it a go.
7. The STRIVE JOURNAL
The final suggestion for top productivity books is The Strive Journal. This resource is more of a workbook than an actual book. However, it does contain a short motivating story about the power of persistence.
The main reason this resource makes the list is because of it’s unique layout and built-in daily activities that lend to increased productivity, especially as it pertains to reaching your daily to dos and quarterly goals.
So, as a best practice, you should consider reading these first six books on productivity, and then utilizing this goal planning resource to help you manage your productivity for the next 365 days.
8. Extreme Productivity
If you’re looking for a productivity book that will show you how to harness a laser-like focus so you can get the most done in the least amount of time, then this book is for you.
Written by one of the business world’s most productive and successful business leaders, Robert C. Pozen, you’ll get a good dose of productivity insights and mindset shifting tips. By the end of the book, you’ll be ready to put your newfound efficiencies and productivity to the test, and chances are you’ll like your results.
So, give Extreme Productivity a read if you’re ready for some next-level productivity hacks.
9. Getting Things Done
David Allen is one of the most widely recognized experts on personal and organizational productivity. He’s also one of the most highly rated executive coaches who’s been coaching and researching on productivity for over three decades now.
Needless to say, he knows his stuff when it comes to productivity and getting things done. So, if you’re looking for one of the best books on productivity, ‘Getting Things Done’ delivers.
Without a doubt, this book will add structure and consistency to your productivity efforts, and will get you on the right track towards being more productive. Some say it’s a long dry read, and that you only need to read the first third of the book, but we believe regardless of how much you read, you’ll walk away with insights that will help you become your most productive self.
10. The 5 Am Club
Robin Sharma is the best of the best when it comes to high performance coaching. He’s been coaching, educating, and inspiring billionaires and business icons for over two decades now, and he shows that he still has tons of life-changing insights left to share with this book.
Sharma’s ‘The 5 Am Club’ will show you how a few simple adjustments to your life can dramatically reduce your stress, increase your focus, improve your creativity, and give you the foundation to skyrocket your productivity in business and in life.
You really can’t go wrong with this book, it delivers on its promises.
There is no better time than now to take a deep dive into reading. These 10 productivity books are definitely worth the investment if you’re looking to take control of how you spend your time. With a better understanding of productivity, you’ll be better equipped to tackle any projects or goals you’re currently working on.
PS – If you enjoyed our top list of productivity books, then you’ll likely also enjoy these additional productivity supporting resources: