Books have the power to teach, educate, change lives, and inspire. Productivity and self-improvement books specifically can show you the way to a new life, a new you, and also a new way of seeing things. To help you ignite change (in yourself and in the world), I put together a list of the 50 best productivity books out there.
Hope you enjoy!
If you only ready a few, read these
These are the 10 books that had the most impact on my life. When it comes to self-improvement and productivity, I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone is different and there are millions of ways to reach millions of different targets. But I truly believe that the insights contained in these books can help anyone with structuring their work better, learning to focus on what matters, and widening their vision and understanding of the world.
→ In a hyper-connected and distracting world, most people have lost the ability to focus deeply without even realizing it
→ Deep work allows you to master complicated information and produce better results in less time
→ The future belongs to those who will reclaim their focus, and this book teaches you how to do just that
→ Ask yourself “What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
→ Learn to identify the one thing that will drive your life/project/business forward
→ Learn how to prioritise your other tasks in order to achieve the most important first
→ The most powerful lesson in this book: how to shape your environment rather than being a spectator of it
→ Learn how to put together your mission statement and bring more clarity in your life
→ Begin with the end in mind: set goals, have a clear vision, create roadmap
→ Your frog is your most important, most challenging task of the day. Eat it first thing in the morning and you’ll be done with it
→ Accomplishing the hardest task of your day first is hugely rewarding and inspiring
→ I’ve personally used this technique to build my blog from 0 to 1M views
→ 1 week is 168 hours. Even if you work 8 hours per day, commute for 2, sleep for 8, and spend 5 on other stuff, you still have 27 hours left.
→ Learn how to track your time use over one week and identify time pockets to get more done
→ Most people think they don’t have time, but the truth is they don’t prioritse
→ Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life
→ If you work hard and think creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want
→ Good habits come from thinking repeatedly in a principled way. Good thinking comes from exploring the reasoning behind the principles.
→ During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.
→ Flow is key to reaching high levels of creativity and productivity in any field
→ In this book, you’ll learn how to work without the distractions of modern technology and reach a state of flow
If you have more time, they're worth the read
First introduced decades ago by the U.S. Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple ninety-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third. An intellectual adventure in which lives are lost and saved and one simple idea makes a tremendous difference, The Checklist Manifesto is essential reading for anyone working to get things right.
The Way of the Essentialist isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done. It is not a time management strategy, or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter. Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. A must-read for any leader, manager, or individual who wants to learn who to do less, but better, in every area of their lives, Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.
With the countless distractions that come from every corner of a modern life, it’s amazing that were ever able to accomplish anything. The Power of Less demonstrates how to streamline your life by identifying the essential and eliminating the unnecessary freeing you from everyday clutter and allowing you to focus on accomplishing the goals that can change your life for the better. By setting limits for yourself and making the most of the resources you already have, you’ll finally be able work less, work smarter, and focus on living the life that you deserve.
Chris Bailey turned down lucrative job offers to pursue a lifelong dream—to spend a year performing a deep dive experiment into the pursuit of productivity. Bailey went several weeks with getting by on little to no sleep; he cut out caffeine and sugar; he lived in total isolation for 10 days; he used his smartphone for just an hour a day for three months; he gained ten pounds of muscle mass; he stretched his work week to 90 hours; a late riser, he got up at 5:30 every morning for three months—all the while monitoring the impact of his experiments on the quality and quantity of his work. He also created a blog to chronicle his experiments, where he also continued his research and interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts, from Charles Duhigg to David Allen, 2 of my favorite authors.
In this eye-opening account, Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up loving what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and others who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it. This book will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.
The 80/20 rule is very simple, and very powerful: 80 percent of all our results in business and in life stem from a mere 20 percent of our efforts. For instance, 20 percent of customers account for 80 percent of revenues. 20 percent of our time accounts for 80 percent of the work we accomplish. We can achieve much more with much less effort, time, and resources, simply by identifying and focusing our efforts on the 20 percent that really counts. Richard Koch reveals how the principle works and shows how we can use it in a systematic and practical way to vastly increase our effectiveness, and improve our careers and our companies.
Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.
Legendary leadership and elite performance expert Robin Sharma introduced The 5 AM Club concept over twenty years ago, based on a revolutionary morning routine that has helped his clients maximize their productivity, activate their best health and bulletproof their serenity in this age of overwhelming complexity. Now, in this life-changing book, handcrafted by the author over a rigorous four-year period, you will discover the early-rising habit that has helped so many accomplish epic results while upgrading their happiness, helpfulness and feelings of aliveness.
Rework shows you why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses. What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.
Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments. She takes readers into the field to visit teachers working in some of the toughest schools, cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers; from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to the cartoon editor of The New Yorker to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll.
You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.
Outliers are the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. In his book, Gladwell asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.
The Japanese concept of Ikigai roughly translates to “the happiness of always being busy”. According to the Japanese, everyone has an Ikigai and according to the residents of the Japanese village with the world’s longest-living people, finding it is the key to a happier and longer life. Having a strong sense of Ikigai means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire: they remain active and work at what they enjoy, because they’ve found a real purpose in life. Ikigai reveals the secrets to their longevity and happiness: how they eat, how they move, how they work, how they foster collaboration and community, and how they find the Ikigai that brings satisfaction to their lives.
Popular business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin proves that winners are really just the best quitters. Godin shows that winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt, until they commit to beating the right Dip. Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out fun…then gets really hard, and not much fun at all. You might be in a Dip – a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac (a total dead end). What really sets superstars apart is the ability to tell the two apart. Whether you’re an intern or a CEO, this fun little book will help you figure out if you’re in a Dip that’s worthy of your time, effort, and talents. The old saying is wrong – winners do quit, and quitters do win.
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things. He begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
Most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities. David Goggins calls this The 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential. For Goggins, childhood was a nightmare – poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”
The accumulated wisdom of the most celebrated motivational writers of all time is distilled into one brief playbook for unlocking the prosperity-power of your mind. Each chapter in How to Be Rich is short enough to read in a grocery store checkout line-yet powerful enough to challenge years of ingrained, self-limiting thinking. How to Be Rich boils down the cumulative insight of leading self-help and positive-thinking guides into one surprisingly concise rule book for releasing your hidden potential.
For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “Fk positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is fked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is often lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up. Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fk is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.
If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights. Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits, whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan – there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint. This book details the author’s journey to going from $40,000 a year to $40,000 a month. It also includes more than 50 practical tips and case studies from readers (including families) who have doubled their income, overcome common sticking points, and reinvented themselves using the original book as a starting point.
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list). With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.
The Bullet Journal Method is about much more than organizing your notes and to-do lists. It’s about what Carroll calls “intentional living:” weeding out distractions and focusing your time and energy in pursuit of what’s truly meaningful, in both your work and your personal life. It’s about spending more time with what you care about, by working on fewer things. Carroll wrote this book for frustrated list-makers, overwhelmed multitaskers, and creatives who need some structure. Whether you’ve used a Bullet Journal for years or have never seen one before, The Bullet Journal Method will help you go from passenger to pilot of your own life.
According to time management expert Laura Vanderkam, mornings hold the key to taking control of our schedules. If we use them wisely, we can build habits that will allow us to lead happier, more productive lives. Drawing on real-life anecdotes and scientific research that shows why the early hours of the day are so important, Vanderkam reveals how successful people use mornings to help them accomplish things that are often impossible to take care of later in the day. While many of us are still in bed, these folks are scoring daily victories to improve their health, careers, and personal lives without sacrificing their sanity. This book is a fun, practical guide that will inspire you to rethink your morning routine and jump-start your life before the day has even begun.
Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. It’s the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world. Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude. He then shares strategies for integrating these practices into your life, starting with a thirty-day “digital declutter” process that has already helped thousands feel less overwhelmed and more in control.
Still in his early thirties, Chris has visited nearly 175 countries, and yet he’s never held a “real job” or earned a regular paycheck. Rather, he has a special genius for turning ideas into income, and he uses what he earns both to support his life of adventure and to give back. In preparing to write this book, Chris identified 1,500 individuals who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less), and from that group he’s chosen to focus on the 50 most intriguing case studies. In nearly all cases, people with no special skills discovered aspects of their personal passions that could be monetized, and were able to restructure their lives in ways that gave them greater freedom and fulfillment. Chris tells you exactly how many dollars his group of unexpected entrepreneurs required to get their projects up and running; what these individuals did in the first weeks and months to generate significant cash; some of the key mistakes they made along the way, and the crucial insights that made the business stick. Among Chris’s key principles.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the whirlwind. By following the 4 Disciplines—Focus on the Wildly Important; Act on Lead Measures; Keep a Compelling Scoreboard; Create a Cadence of Accountability—leaders can produce breakthrough results, even when executing the strategy requires a significant change in behavior from their teams. 4DX represents a new way to think and work that is essential to thriving in today’s competitive climate. The 4 Disciplines of Execution is one book that no business leader can afford to miss.
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning. But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and generated a ton of computer data in a five-year project.
The Success Principles will teach you how to increase your confidence, tackle daily challenges, live with passion and purpose. Not merely a collection of good ideas, this book spells out the 64 timeless principles used by successful men and women throughout history. Taken together and practiced every day, these principles have the potential to transform your life. Filled with memorable and inspiring stories of CEOs, world-class athletes, celebrities, and everyday people, this book will give you the proven blueprint you need to achieve any goal you desire.
Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.
There is a formula for success that’s been followed by the icons of history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they found the astounding triumphs we all seek. These men and women were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted. Their success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor who struggled to articulate a method for excellence in any and all situations. This book reveals that formula and shows us how we can turn our own adversity into advantage.
Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum. Some laws teach the need for prudence (“Law 1: Never Outshine the Master”), others teach the value of confidence (“Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness”), and many recommend absolute self-preservation (“Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally”). Every law, though, has one thing in common: an interest in total domination. The 48 Laws of Power is ideal whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game.
Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, shares the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure book—a compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 130+ of the world’s top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors, their short profiles can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and transform your life.
At the core of Smarter Faster Better are eight key concepts—from motivation and goal setting to focus and decision making—that explain why some people and companies get so much done. Drawing on the latest findings in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics, this book reveals that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently. They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways. Smarter Faster Better is a story-filled exploration of the science of productivity, one that can help us learn to succeed with less stress and struggle—and become smarter, faster, and better at everything we do.
In Getting Things Done, veteran coach and management consultant David Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to tens of thousands of people across the world. Allen’s premise is simple: our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.
For those who don’t want a lifetime subscription to “settle for less,” and a slight chance of elderly riches, there is an expressway to extraordinary wealth that can burn a trail to financial independence faster than any road out there. The Fastlane is an alternative road to wealth that actually ignites dreams and creates millionaires young, not old. Hit the Fastlane, crack the code to wealth, and find out how to live rich for a lifetime.
Could you be getting in your way of producing great work? Have you started a project but never finished? Would you like to do work that matters, but don’t know where to start? In his book, Steven Pressfield shows you that it’s not about better ideas, it’s about actually doing the work. Do the Work is a weapon against Resistance – a tool that will help you take action and successfully ship projects out the door. Do The Work identifies the predictable Resistance Points along the way and walks you through each of them.
Hal Erold was a normal sales guy ho made a lot of money, and then the Great Recession happened. He faced a lot of financial issues and had to basically start everything from scratch. He started by pulling himself out of bed every morning to go for a run, along with a friend. This simple habit evolved into an ironclad morning routine that enabled him to become succesful again.
Mornings are the most important part of the day. This book will give you the simplest and most effective step-by-step process to wake up each day with more energy, motivation, and focus to take your life to the next level. As Hal Erold writes, “Your morning routine or lack thereof affects your levels of success in every single area of your life.”
75 productivity experts on entrepreneurship, finding purpose & getting things done.
→ Over 100 tool and book references
→ 75 interviews, 200+ pages of content
→ How the pandemic reshuffled the cards for entrepreneurs
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