November 28, 2023
min read

10 Great Books on Productivity

Krissy Davis

Books on productivity are definitely up there as one of my favourite genres - who doesn’t love learning how to better oneself? And if you’ve clicked on this article, you most likely feel the same way. 

In this article, I list the 10 best productivity books in no particular order, the ones that have actually helped me (not just picked from a top list I found online). Some of them are widely recognised, while others are relatively unknown. Either way, you can find them on my Kindle or bookshelf. 

RELATED: The Ultimate Developer Reading List

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

Author: Atul Gawande
Goodreads rating: 4.03

If you're not using checklists in your personal and professional life, you must have an incredible memory! And even if you already use them, The Checklist Manifesto explains how even the most complex of tasks can be achieved by learning how to effectively create and use a checklist. Through gripping anecdotes, Atul Gawande demonstrates how checklists save lives and prevent errors.  

Highlight from the book: “The checklist cannot be lengthy. A rule of thumb some use is to keep it to between five and nine items, which is the limit of working memory” 

Declutter Your Mind

Author: S.J. Scott | Barrie Davenport
Goodreads rating: 3.69

I don’t suffer from crippling anxiety, but I do suffer from mental clutter, which can cause worry and stress. Declutter Your Mind helps you discover your values, embrace meditation, set meaningful goals, and take actionable steps toward a more purposeful life. Packed with exercises and science-backed strategies, this book helped me make lasting change.

Highlight from the book: “Mindfulness requires retraining your brain to stay out of mental clutter from the future and focus instead on the present moment” 

How To Influence People

Author: Daniel Watson
Goodreads rating: 4.00

Have you ever wanted to be a leader and influence people? Then this is the book for you.  It's fascinating how some leaders effortlessly inspire others, right? But sometimes, when we're trying to steer a conversation or make a point, it feels like we're missing something. How To Influence People spills all the secrets on how to be that influential person without resorting to shady tactics. From mastering small talk to becoming a charismatic speaker, this book is a goldmine of techniques to make your voice heard at work or amp up your influencer game.

Highlight from the book: “Leadership is about using power constructively to bring about change and positivity.” 

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

Author: Steven Pressfield
Goodreads rating: 3.99

Pressfield stirs up buzz with his book The War of Art. It takes a controversial dive into self-accountability and creativity. The idea here is that we battle with "resistance," which Steven Pressfield believes is the ultimate creativity killer. The book’s all about overcoming those mental roadblocks that hold us back from doing what we love. Pressfield's got this way of nudging you to take responsibility for your creative endeavours, and honestly, it's pretty refreshing. The War of Art is a thought-provoking read that really challenges you to step up and take charge of your creative life.

Highlight from the book: “As powerful as is our soul’s call to realisation, so potent are the forces of resistance arrayed against us” 

Balance Me

Author: Matt DeCoursey
Goodreads rating: 3.83

Have you ever felt like you're juggling a million things, and that elusive "balance" seems like a distant dream? As a freelance copywriter, “the balance” is hard to come by, so reading Balance Me was a game-changer. Matt DeCoursey breaks it down without the fluff. It's all about understanding why you're stuck where you are and making those small tweaks in your habits and daily routines that actually work. What I loved is how it's tailored for real-life situations—whether you're a professional, a parent, or just someone trying to juggle it all without losing your mind. It's not about reaching some perfect balance; it's about progress, and this book gives you a clear roadmap to grow success in every aspect of your life without sacrificing your well-being.

Highlight from the book: “It’s hard to hit a target that you can’t see. If you don’t clearly define what it is that you want, then is it realistic to expect it to happen?”

Self Discipline

Author: Perfect Self
Goodreads rating: 4.50

This book dives deep into something we all struggle with: self-discipline.

It's not just about having willpower; it's about training it like a muscle. The author breaks it down into a 30-day challenge, giving you practical steps and reflections to strengthen that self-discipline muscle. And you know what? It actually works.

Each day, you tackle a new aspect, like identifying where you need to improve, learning to anticipate obstacles, and even incorporating rewards. It's all about taking control of your impulses and feelings rather than being ruled by them. By the end of it, you're not just feeling more disciplined; you're seeing real changes in how you approach life.

This book isn't just another self-help mantra; it's a practical guide that's worth checking out if you're ready to take charge and bring some order to your life. Trust me, it's worth the read.

Highlight from the book: “More often than not, we come up with excuses to give in to temptation, give up on a goal, or sideline a quest to get better, It is easy to come with excuses” 

Atomic Habits

Author: James Clear
Goodreads rating: 4.37

Atomic Habits dives into this idea that it's not about setting huge goals; it's about having the right systems in place to make those goals happen. It breaks down the science behind habits in such a simple way that you'll find yourself nodding along. The idea is that our habits are essentially a result of our systems, not just our willpower. So, it's not about aiming high; it's about tweaking your daily routine to create better habits. This book is loaded with practical strategies. From making time for new habits to designing your environment for success, it's a toolkit for anyone looking to transform their habits.

Highlight from the book: “It’s easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis” 

How to be a Productivity Ninja

Author: Graham Allcott
Goodreads rating: 3.74

How to be a Productivity Ninja isn’t your typical time management spiel. Graham Allcott introduces this concept of being a "Productivity Ninja," using tactics like Ruthlessness, Mindfulness, and Zen-like Calm to conquer that overwhelming workload.

What's cool is that it's not just about checking tasks off; it's about redefining how you approach work. From mastering your inbox to beating procrastination, it's a practical guide that's actually fun to read. And trust me, it's not about working harder—it's about working smarter and reclaiming your sanity in this crazy world of information overload.

Highlight from the book: “This book is about developing a Ninja mindset and then applying it to every area of your working life - and even beyond” 

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Author: Carol S. Dweck
Goodreads rating: 4.09

This reshapes how we think about success and achievement. Dweck's idea is simple yet mind-blowing: it's all about mindset. She breaks it down into two types: fixed mindset and growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe abilities are set in stone, while those with a growth mindset think skills can be developed.  

What's cool about this edition is how Dweck expands on the concept. She dives deeper into what she calls the false growth mindset and explores how this mindset applies not just to individuals but also to groups and organisations. It's a game-changer for anyone—parents, teachers, leaders—who want to empower those around them.

Highlight from the book: “The other thing exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting life’s setbacks into future successes.” 

Four Thousand Weeks

Author: Oliver Burkeman
Goodreads rating: 4.24

Four Thousand Weeks is a bit different from your typical time management read but in a good way. Instead of doling out quick fixes or productivity hacks, it delves into a philosophical journey that might make you rethink your approach to life.

Oliver Burkeman hits you with two uncomfortable truths: first, the limited time we have on this Earth means we'll never tick off every item on our to-do list. Second, even if we did, it might not make a lasting difference because, at the end of the day, death is inevitable. Sounds a bit heavy, right? But strangely liberating. It's all about finding joy in the present rather than chasing endless accomplishments that might not matter in the grand scheme.

Overall, this book's not for everyone, especially those clinging to the belief that perfect time management will solve everything. But for those willing to embrace the idea of cherishing what truly matters in life—those intrinsic, joyful pursuits—this is the book for you. 

Highlight from the book: “There’s one huge drawback in giving so little thought to the abstract idea of time, though, which uis that it severely limits what you can accomplish.” 

10 Great Books on Productivity

November 28, 2023
min read

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