If you are too busy to devote some time in your day (or week) to reading some books on productivity, we’ve got some of the most valuable insights highlighted for you in this post. This will save you time while providing inspiration for better productivity as well as some ideas on picking your next productivity book to devour.
A good book on productivity can give you ideas on optimizing your workdays, getting more payoff from your free time, and managing your schedule, skills, and resources in a more efficient manner. Scroll through our selection and dig deeper with the ones that resonate with you best.
All of the best productivity books talk about time management. Time is one of the most valuable resources that we have, meaning that the wiser we spend it, the more productive and successful we stand to be.
Here are some of our favorite quotes on time management from top productivity books on the market right now.
Laura Vanderkam in her book Off The Clock highlights that it’s the people who pay careful attention to how they spend their time who feel less of a time crunch in their daily schedule:
People who feel like they have enough time are exceedingly mindful of their time. They know where the time goes. They accept ownership of their lives and think through their days and weeks ahead of time.
David Allen in his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity teaches us to be mindful of what we commit our time and resources to:
A basic truism I have discovered over decades of coaching and training thousands of people is that most stress they experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments they make or accept.
You can also use Nitro PDF Pro for annotating your PDF books as well as try note-taking apps like SideNotes for taking hideable notes on the side of your screen or NotePlan for calendar-based notes, tasks, and reminders.
Being able to divide up your huge projects into small, digestible steps is crucial for a manageable daily schedule and a fruitful end result. Nearly all self-help books — from personal development books to books on productivity — talk about breaking any problem into pieces and tackling them one at a time.
Here are some of the most interesting views on task management we find most useful.
There has been a missing piece in our culture of knowledge work: a system with a coherent set of behaviors and tools that functions effectively at the level at which work really happens. It must incorporate the results of big-picture thinking as well as the smallest of open details. It must manage multiple tiers of priorities. It must maintain control over hundreds of new inputs daily. It must save a lot more time and effort than are needed to maintain it.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Every time you reply to an email, there's a good chance of provoking a reply to that email, which itself may require another reply, and so on and so on, until the heat death of the universe.
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
In our experience, those who enjoy the most success are the ones who do the best job prioritizing the day’s activities and accomplishing the most important tasks — not the greatest number of tasks. [emphasis by the author]
Organize Tomorrow Today by Jason Selk, Matthew Rudy, and Tom Bartow
To better manage your tasks, pick a planner for your schedule and track all of your to-dos there.
One of the apps we use for tracking tasks is 2Do. It is the perfect small planner that allows you to categorize your plans, easily schedule reminders, and enjoy ticking things off your list.
You can also explore Setapp for more tools on task management — Taskheat for making a flowchart out of the tasks in your project, plain text task manager app TaskPaper, GoodTask for combining data from your macOS native Reminders and Calendar and effectively managing your workload, and more.
No matter how many books about productivity you read, you won’t be any more productive if you make no changes in your day-to-day routine. Here’s what one of the productivity and personal efficiency book classics has to say on the subject.
Stephen R. Covey in his work The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People explains that motivation and productivity often are a product of our own mindset, rather than something that comes naturally and is outside of our control:
Proactive people can carry their own weather with them. Whether it rains or shines makes no difference to them. They are value driven; and if their value is to produce good quality work, it isn’t a function of whether the weather is conducive to it or not.
Cal Newport in his book Deep Work is another great example of some of the best books for productivity. It explores the concept of deep work, a new requirement for a successful worker — a more focused approach to getting your work done that has only become mainstream with the rise of intellect-centered jobs:
Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive abilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skills, and are hard to replicate. [emphasis by the author]
One thing that can help your productivity is removing distractions and allotting dedicated slots of time to your goals.
Be Focused is a task-focused timer that helps you get through your to-do list with a streamlined timer.
Focus is another tool you can try — it blocks out distractions for you to dedicate quality, uninterrupted time to work. It blocks websites and social media that can distract you. You can customize what gets blocked and run Focus both on demand and according to a set schedule.
And if you try to access a blocked website, you get an inspiring themed quote:
And while on Setapp, we have even more tools for helping boost your productivity mindset, our last top pick would be Lofi Garden, a simple app that’s just one play/pause button in your menu bar. The app plays a continuous playlist of lofi music to help you tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand.
Is there anything worse than hours spent reading a book you found to be a complete waste of time? To avoid lemons in your reading collection, we recommend first reading book summaries and reviews on services like these (and similar):
- Goodreads, a database of books with reviews, annotations, and ratings
- Blinkist, a book-summarizing subscription service
- Headway, 15-minute book summaries
Explore these tools for new gems on the topic. Conveniently, all three of them have a dedicated category that books on productivity, so you can start your journey there.
You can also browse similar books in online or physical bookshops, and services like Google Books and Amazon will automatically recommend similar books for productivity, time management books, etc.
You can try all the apps we’ve mentioned — Taskheat, 2Do, Focus, Be Focused, NotePlan, Lofi Garden, TaskPaper, GoodTask, SideNotes, Nitro PDF Pro, MarginNote — and many more productivity tools on Setapp. Timed with our 10 Weeks of Productivity, we’ve opened up an extended 14-day (limited offer until June 20, 2022) free trial of Setapp so that you can try all the apps and have double the time to decide if Setapp subscription is for you.
And finally, continue following this blog and our social media for more content on productivity within our 10 Weeks of Productivity and beyond!
Sign up for the extended 14-day trial now following this link.