Productivity and habit changing often go hand-in-hand as one tries to develop new approaches and establish more fluid workflows, all in an effort to keep up with every day personal and professional demands. Who hasn’t wished that there were 30 hours in a day instead of 24, though if this were the case the new target would be 36, right?…Parkinson’s law.
Taking care of home, staying on top of our business affairs, while trying to maintain our own personal needs can be a handful for anyone in today’s fast moving world. Finding ways to become more productive encompasses finding your own set of unique practices based on things such as peak alertness/energy times, lifestyle, and schedule…and of course a willingness to introduce new habits into your realm of daily functioning.
Which brings us to why we’ve sifted through some of the most highly-praised productivity and habit-developing books available today. Check out our pickings below to discover ways to be your best “productive self” and you may find that you can shave HOURS off of your day just by tweaking a few habits and outlooks.
5 Must-Read Productivity Books
This book arrived on bookshelves in 2001 and has remained a top seller since. Written by productivity veteran and New York Times Best Selling author David Allen, it includes some of the most effective methods for increasing performance, and in a way that isn’t chaotic or haphazard, but done with a clear and stress-free mind. Allen incorporates several principles into his delivery of some of the best ways to change the way you view and approach tasks. Inside the book Allen provides details on how to:
-Apply the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule to get your in-box to empty
-Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
-Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
-Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
-Feel fine about what you’re not doing
In this page-turning read, Covey uses anecdotes, thoughtful insights, and a real step-by-step approach to functioning with authentic and holistic living principles. Covey’s theory of how certain personality traits and characteristics are prevalent in many of today’s most successful people is truly thought-provoking. Be sure to highlight the section on empathic (aka “effective”) listening, as it’s definitely one to refer back to. It’s hard not to spoil this one because it’s filled with so many gems on human nature and mindset patterns-but we’ll let you be the judge!
Greg McKeown A New York Times Best Seller, Essentialism pulls focus from hoping for more time, to focusing on the “must do’s”. He illustrates how we can develop and apply an evaluation of what things should require our time-and how much of it they should require. This book is a great read because it takes a different approach from so many other productivity books, and brings home the point that we have the power to create more productive and fulfilling days for ourselves by taking specific, selective ownership (and guarding) of our time.
A best seller on Amazon, authors Charles Duhigg and Mike Chamberlain tackle productivity by demonstrating that “How” we think is more important that “What” we think. This read speaks to how new apps, productivity software, and other automation tools that are designed to make our lives more efficient can actually end up doing the opposite. This amazing read allows you to delve into key personal findings from various professionals on how they view the world and as it relates to their daily productivity-super interesting! Each of the 8 chapters focus on a different key component of managing productivity from Goal Setting and Focus, to Managing Others and Motivation-all the makings of a perfect read that encompasses productivity improvement with self-awareness as the backbone.
A WSJ Best seller, in this read, Jeff Bottoms and Cal Newport define “Deep Work” as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” Deep Work actually flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing that distraction is bad, it instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, they first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. Then they present a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
6 Must-Read Habit-Changing Books
The Power Of Habit is a longtime Best seller for The New York Times, USA Today, and The Habit Loop, and after reading it you’ll soon understand why! With fascinating examples and science-based deductions, Duhigg introduces a completely new deconstruction of human nature and its potential for transformation. In this brilliant read Charles Duhigg presents the argument that neurological patterns govern our habits. The pattern itself he mentions, consists of three elements: a Cue, a Routine, and a Reward. He demonstrates how understanding these components can help in understanding how to change bad habits and/or form good ones. The book harnesses new science to illustrate how a “Habit Loop” is always initiated by a cue, or a trigger. Subsequently, your brain responds by determining which habit to use. Then finally, there is a reward that helps your brain ascertain if this particular loop should be stored future use. Anyone looking to make any type of major transformation in their life should ABSOLUTELY check out this book!
Authored by Spencer Johnson, this entertaining read offers an amazing illustration about change. The two main characters, Scurry and Sniff (who are mice btw) are met with unanticipated changes and their contrary reactions to these deviations provide profound truths about the concept of change, and how it affects each of us differently. Suitable for all ages this short read (it’s less than 100 pages) provides a wonderful parable with strong messages surrounding how to survive in an ever-changing world. It’s definitely a book that’s worthy of an occasional re-read as needed!
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan definitely struck gold with The One Thing. Keller co-founder of Keller Williams Inc. and Papasan, editor at Harper Collens Publishers immediately suggest to readers that they ask themselves one question, “What is the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Next, they suggest that your main day-to-day priority should be protecting and managing your time in order to focus on this solely. In the book, they offer super-effective (and easy to start) approaches to achieving and improving results in the many areas of our life for a complete work, personal, and whole-body health. Every chapter ends with a summary of its “Big Ideas” and even includes pre-printed pencil underlines to highlight the key ideas within each-so you won’t have to! Talk about an A for creativity!
A recommended WSJ best seller for anyone who’s serious about making significant changes in their life, Habit Stacking provides the perfect formula for developing a daily routine to achieve multiple goals. Broken down in to 22 different aspects of life including: Productivity, Relationships, Leisure, Health/Fitness, and Finance, S.J. Scott presents a workflow approach to accomplishing many tasks within a given day in order to chip away at personal goals-all while avoiding overwhelming yourself. Inside this book you’ll learn how to create easy and simply daily routines (and corresponding checklists) to build small habits that produce BIG results. Scott offers such a practical approach to change and habit formation that productivity will almost become second nature when implementing these strategies.
While this book may not be a bestseller like many of our recommendations, it definitely comes highly recommended. Dr. Siegel, a psychiatry professor at UCLA has offered a deep and mind-blowing insight into emotional intelligence and how obtaining it can allow us to free ourselves from toxic thoughts and actions, such as reliving bad memories and breaking unexamined emotional patterns. Through scientific research and stories from his psychiatry practice, he presents various approaches on how to gain this “mindsight” via everyday applications and acknowledgement. Truly inspiring, you’re guaranteed to have an “aha” moment with this read.
Written by Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist at Stanford, Willpower Instinct examines the psychology behind the various elements self-control. Based on her renown course, The Science of Willpower, McGonigal argues that willpower is a biological function that can be improved with mindfulness being at the forefront, and that emotional elements such as shame and guilt can and do often plague willpower, causing setbacks repetitive patterns. McGongial covers the topic from all angles and provides substantial case studies and research-based theories to show how self-awareness plays a critical part in how we harness the willpower to create sense of self-control.