16 Best Productivity Books To Read Today

Best Productivity Books To Read
Jacob UdodovJacob U. & Ksenia M.
14 Jan 2022
13 min read

If you are looking for the best productivity books that will teach you all time management skills and key productivity tricks, then you are at the right place!

The 16 productivity books that we are sharing with you today talk about all things productive:

  • A productivity technique for any scenario you can think of.
  • Working habits and practical tips to tackle important tasks.
  • Productive habits for everyday life.
  • Time management strategies of all kinds.
  • Stress-free productivity for a creative mind.
  • How to boost productivity when you’re feeling low.
  • The importance of discipline and ways of mastering it.

And, most importantly, the books share real-life stories and uncover the simple truth behind extraordinary results that we can adapt and make our own.

#1 Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done by David Allen

David Allen’s Getting Things Done or the GTD has become an overnight success and continues to grow following ever since the publication date. The productivity book is a practical guide for our personal and professional lives. It provides clear and actionable steps that each of us can take and turn our lives around.

David Allen is considered a stress-free productivity author pioneer, with many other productivity coaches adopting and changing his method. If you are not sure where to begin, The GTD productivity book is a good start on your productivity journey.

Notable quotes from the book:

“Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.”

“There is no reason to ever have the same thought twice, unless you like having that thought.”

#2 Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done by David Allen

Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done

If you’ve already familiarized yourself with number one hit by David Allen, the next book you can grab is Ready for Anything. It is like an extension to the system that we learn about in GTD with 52 practical recommendations to make things happen with less effort.

The short chapters make it a perfect everyday read. You can go through a chapter a day to keep your motivation high.

Notable quotes from the book:

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but the way out is through.”

“Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.”

#3 The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

In his award-winning book, Charles Duhigg takes us on a journey of learning about habits, the way they are formed, why they exist, and how they can be changed. This book is a great combination of productivity tips, scientific insights, and motivational examples.

Some people adopt new healthy habits easily while others struggle. If you are looking for a profound solution to level up your life, give this book a try. It will tell you how to change and will showcase why some people struggle with change. And it’s always good to learn from others’ mistakes, right?

Notable quotes from the book:

“If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.”

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”

#4 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse

15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management

Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy title of this productivity book!

This best-seller by Kevin Kruse would be a great pick for someone who’s already learnt the basic principles of time management and productivity techniques but still struggles to unleash their full potential. The book is largely based on the studies of billionaires, athletes, top students and successful entrepreneurs.

It’s almost like Kruse is selling us a dream, except it’s real working tools and examples that we can use to:

  • Stop being overwhelmed all the time.
  • Stop overworking ourselves and get things done efficiently.
  • Cure procrastination and learn to get rid of distractions once and for all.
  • Identify our real goals and priorities.
  • Get back a couple of hours a day to do whatever our hearts desire.

As you read, you will learn the surprisingly simple truth behind the success of many people society admires.

Interestingly, in the book, Kruse describes how many successful people schedule their tasks on the calendar rather than putting them on a to-do list. It helps reduce stress and free their minds from thinking about it. If you want to try doing that too, sign up for Bordio today and get access to all tools you need for productivity in a single console. Bordio uses the calendar as the main view and offers a waiting list for all unscheduled tasks. So, you can implement the books’ tips and also have alternative tools in case you’d like to combine a few methods.

Notable quotes from the book:

“Highly successful people take immediate action on almost every item they encounter.”

“You can never lose time and get it back again.”

#5 Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is one of the top productivity gurus out there, and he does a great job of motivating his readers to change and giving them the exact instructions on how to implement that change.

Now, our vegan friends should not worry. A frog is merely a metaphor for the toughest, off-putting, and most challenging task that we have to tackle on a given day. Brian teaches us to get rid of the frog first thing in the morning or as soon as possible in order to have an efficient and effective day.

Eat That Frog has become one of the most read productivity books, and the ideas that Brian shares are often interpreted by other authors. If you are familiar with the basics of productivity, you will not find a lot of shockingly new information here, but that doesn’t make the book any worse. Because we all basically know that eating well and exercising regularly leads to fit and healthy bodies, but how many of us fail to reach the desired results? Same with productivity and time management. Sometimes knowing the facts is not enough.

The vibrant language, the structure of the book, and the examples are what makes Eat That Frog a true hit.

Notable quotes from the book:

“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.”

“People who take a long view of their lives and careers always seem to make much better decisions about their time and activities than people who give very little thought to the future.”

#6 Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth defines grit as a mix of passion and perseverance that, together, guide people to outstanding achievements.

In Grit, we read about Duckworth’s findings from observations of new cadets, teachers from top schools, and other high achievers whom the author has interviewed. We uncover how people reach exceptional results in the toughest environments. And, as it turns out, there is no magic that helps them. It’s the passion and perseverance that drive and guide them. And if you’d like the same for yourself, go ahead and start reading this productivity book today.

Notable quotes from the book:

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential.”

#7 Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

You’re probably asking yourself: what does the book about sleeping do in the productivity books top-list? Well, it is very intentional, trust us.

Sleeping plays an insanely important role in our lives. People can easily survive with no food for a few days, but going sleepless for more than 24 hours is already a huge struggle. A good night sleep helps us function better, be more energetic, productive, and think clearly. And, according to the neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker, sleep can also prevent certain diseases, slow down the aging process, and even increase longevity.

In his book, Walker uncovers some of the mysteries of sleep and its impact on our bodies. He goes into detail about many reasons why sleep has to be taken seriously and not sacrificed. So, if you are still choosing to cut down on sleeping in order to finish a project or catch up with your favorite TV show, then it is a must-read for you.

Notable quotes from the book:

“Practice does not make perfect. It is practice, followed by a night of sleep, that leads to perfection.”

“Ten days of six hours of sleep a night was all it took to become as impaired in performance as going without sleep for twenty-four hours straight.”

#8 The 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Timothy Ferriss encourages readers to create an extreme productivity system and work smarter. If you are looking for a new way to develop a work-life balance, then this book is for you. Ferriss emphasizes that our personal lives must have higher priority than work. And to be able to do things you love and spend time with your closest ones, you need to learn to delegate and defer anything that’s not valuable.

Ferriss also talks about a new way of living and working, where instead of having jobs for 40 years and then retiring, we switch to work hard, play hard mode. Meaning that we have bursts of work and then go on lengthy vacations.

If you’re an average employee and worry that it’s unrealistic in your case, Timothy shares tips on getting housing and air travel at a fraction of a cost. And he gives recommendations on how to outsource parts of your work to a lower-paid workforce overseas.

Notable quotes from the book:

“Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective – doing less – is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.”

“Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”

#9 Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work is one of the best books on productivity out there.

Cal Newport gives us hope and shows the way. In the book, he talks about the surprisingly simple truth behind a lot of success that we see others achieve. And while it seems unattainable for us, Cal argues that deep focus will lead us to any goal we dream about.

To stay focused in the crazy world of today is a fine art. But anyone can master it, and Cal tells us how. So, if you are swamped by distractions and seems to have lost control over your own life, then Deep Work is the book for you.

Notable quotes from the book:

“What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.”

“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.”

#10 The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

The Secret to Achieving More with Less

Just 20% of our efforts yield 80% of the results. But what constitutes the 20%? How do we know what to focus on? All of those questions and more are answered by Richard Koch in his best-selling productivity book.

The 80/20 principle helps millions of people re-evaluate their to-do list, cut off non-valuable activities, and focus on what’s truly important. When it comes to productivity or time management, the real struggle often is not doing the maximum in the given time. It’s about doing only what matters.

The book might come across as a little repetitive, but hey! Humans need to hear information multiple times for it to stick. So, grab this book and make your productivity and time management better.

Notable quotes from the book:

“The way to create something great is to create something simple.”

“We can change the way that we think about external events, even where we cannot change them. And we can do something more. We can intelligently change our exposure to events that make us either happy or unhappy.”

#11 The Power of Discipline: How to Use Self-Control and Mental Toughness to Achieve Your Goals by Daniel Walter

The Power of Discipline: How to Use Self-Control and Mental

Daniel Walter argues that before we create smart to-do lists, set goals, or try and copy the habits of highly effective people, we need to master the art of self-discipline. There is little sense in reading about productivity or creating a personal results system if we cannot sit through the task and not get distracted.

So, in his book, The Power of Discipline, Daniel explains how self-control works, how we can adapt it in our day-to-day, and ways of tricking our minds into getting excited about work.

The book is filled with inspirational examples of Navy SEALs, Zen Buddhists, and successful people to hype us up. It is definitely a worthwhile read because self-discipline is like a muscle. You can’t practice it once and be done with it. It is an ongoing process that we take through life.

Notable quotes from the book:

“From this day forward, you are not going to TRY, you are going to DO! You must be decisive and have courage in everything you say and do.”

“If you persevere, your very best work might be just around the corner. If you give up now, you will never know what the outcome of your hard work could have been.”

#12 The Now Habit: a Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-free Play by Neil Fiore

Procrastination brings us down in many ways. The main downside is the stress that we endure while procrastinating on the task. Then at the last minute, we opt out for an unhealthy hustle session to catch up and meet the deadline, saying no to sleep, family, and anything else.

But the even more frustrating thing about procrastination is how it doesn’t let us enjoy the good stuff either. You can’t have guilt-free play as there is, in fact, a lot of guilt. Because when we put something off, we very well understand that we should be doing the work and that our behavior is wrong.

In his book, Neil Fiore teaches you a way of fighting the procrastination beast and not letting it affect your personal life.

Notable quotes from the book:

“You’ll need to drop the model of self-alienation that you learned as a child—the one that tells you, “You are lazy and need someone to force you to work.”

“Procrastination is a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.”

#13 Zen to Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System by Leo Babauta

Zen to Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System

The Zen to Done hit by Leo Babauta is inspired by numerous books on productivity and combines some of the best productivity methods into a single system.

The key idea is simplicity. Leo shares a way to integrate new and efficient habits into our lives, organize those habits in a clear system and live a happy life. This book would be a good fit for someone who is not ready to adopt multi-step complicated systems that some productivity books suggest.

Notable quotes from the book:

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.”

“Keep it simple, and focus on what you have to do right now, not on playing with your system or your tools.”

#14 The Anti-Procrastination Habit: A Simple Guide to Mastering Difficult Tasks by Steve J. Scott

The Anti-Procrastination Habit: A Simple Guide to Mastering Difficult Tasks

This next productivity book is a hands-on guide on getting rid of procrastination. Steve Scott gives a straightforward framework for changing your habits and adopting new ways of working and living.

The book is filled with tips on creating goals that actually motivate you and tools to get where you want. There is also a section where Steve dives deep into the reasons behind procrastination. It helps us get to know the enemy in order to fight it.

So, if your time management is out of control, and you want to stop procrastinating and save time, then grab this book right now and start changing your life for the better.

Notable quotes from the book:

“If you match your internal beliefs to your current obligations, then it’s not hard to exclusively focus on the activities that make you happy.”

“Even if you receive bad news, the earlier you hear it, the more opportunities you will have to overcome a potentially worse situation.”

#15 Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life by Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, Matthew Ruby

Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life

Sometimes people look down on productivity books because they believe there is nothing new to learn from them. But knowledge does not equal understanding. And understanding an idea does not equal implementing it.

So, it’s not the lack of knowledge out there that’s stopping some of us from being our most efficient selves. It is something else. And Organize Tomorrow Today is created by an athlete coach and a management consultant who explain the eight key productivity concepts and how you can act on them and achieve strong results.

Notable quote from the book:

“Greatness is predicated on consistently doing things others can’t or won’t do. Simply put, success is not about being brilliant. It is about being consistent.”

#16 Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

The Essentialism productivity book differentiates itself from many other hits on the market. It is not teaching readers to do more in less time but rather doing only the right things. And one might argue that all productivity books reach to prioritise, outsource etc. But this idea is made absolute by Greg McKeown.

So, if you feel like you are being pulled in many directions at once, and your to-do list seems only to grow longer, then you should definitely check out this book. You will walk away with clear selection criteria in mind to choose what to do (and not to do) and a set of good habits to break bad patterns.

Notable quotes from the book:

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

“Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”

Conclusion

Best productivity is stress-free productivity.

And it comes from being organized, diligent, self-disciplined and persevering. The productivity books we shared today will not do the work for you. Still, they will show you the ways and guide you as you learn to be a productive person that achieves outstanding success.

If you’d like to get more book recommendations on time management, check out the Top Time Management Books article on the Bordio Blog.