It often feels like there isn’t enough time in the day. No matter how many tasks we complete, it seems there is always more to be done. As a result, many people feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious about keeping up with the pace of work today.
Let’s explore five of the best productivity books that can help. Each one covers a unique perspective on how to produce better results. The combined insights can transform how you work to help you achieve more of what you want in life.
Note: If you’re interested in other business-related topics, I have dedicated reading lists on startups, digital marketing, product management, leadership, and much more.
1. The One Thing by Gary Keller
It’s easy to make the mistake of measuring productivity based on the amount of time spent working. But real productivity is measured by results, not the time or energy we invest. It’s possible to spend a lot of time on something with little to show for it.
This book is about how to increase results through focus and prioritization. It can help you identify the one thing you must do on any given day to make everything else in your life easier. In short, it’s about cutting through the noise, getting clear on what truly matters, and achieving better results through prioritization.
It may seem counterintuitive to boost productivity by doing less, especially if you feel that everything on your plate is essential. However, all things are not equally valuable, and superior results can only be achieved when your efforts are focused. If you feel yourself being pulled in a million directions, this is a must-read for you.
The One Thing is available from Amazon and Apple Books.
2. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Today, we are more distracted than ever before. Between mobile app notifications, social media updates, and unlimited access to information online, it can be difficult to make productive use of our time. And things get worse when we develop unhealthy habits around the many digital distractions available to us.
This book is about taking back control of our time by embracing digital minimalism. It can help us become more intentional about how we use technology, so we can enjoy the benefits while avoiding common pitfalls. It’s packed with actionable advice for reclaiming time, improving focus, and gaining greater control over our lives.
If you often find yourself mindlessly refreshing social media, endlessly checking email, or just being disrupted by random notifications, this may be the best productivity book for you to read. I highly recommend it.
Digital Minimalism is available from Amazon and Apple Books.
3. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
The issues around digital addiction go well beyond the time spent on our devices. That’s because such habits can also affect our ability to focus for extended periods. So, even when our digital devices are disabled during work hours, we can still struggle to channel our attention toward meaningful work.
With this in mind, it’s important to seek opportunities to experience a “flow-state.” A period of time where you’re fully immersed in an activity or project. You’ve likely experienced this while reading, writing, or attempting to solve a difficult problem. Flow occurs when you’re so engaged with something that you lose track of time.
The concept of ‘flow’ was named and made famous by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In his book, he explains the psychology of optimal experience, including how flow works, how to get into flow, and how this unique experience relates to happiness and productivity.
Flow pairs well with Digital Minimalism because if you can replace mindless activities with meaningful flow-based experiences, you can improve your ability to do focused work. And this can have a massive impact on your productivity and happiness.
Flow is available from Amazon and Apple Books.
4. Atomic Habits by James Clear
It’s not easy to change our daily routines. That is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to how habits work. On the one hand, once you establish a healthy pattern, it becomes easier and easier to maintain over time. However, the same is true of an unhealthy or unproductive habit, which can quickly become difficult to change.
This book is about how to build good habits and how to break bad ones. It can help us adjust our daily routines to be more productive, rewarding, and fulfilling. While this is easier said than done, the book provides detailed and actionable advice on how to improve your odds for success.
In my opinion, mastering the ability to change automatic behaviors is the most valuable skill in the world. It unlocks the possibility of being intentional about how we spend our valuable time, making it easier to achieve almost anything.
Atomic Habits is available from Amazon and Apple Books.
5. Your Brain At Work by David Rock
Two of the most valuable traits in business today include being able to do creative work and having the ability to collaborate effectively with others. Unfortunately, many people are managing high levels of stress and anxiety at work. As a result, they are less creative and are more likely to experience conflict when working with others.
This book explains how to boost productivity, collaboration, and creativity by understanding how the brain works. It’s a very approachable guide to understanding the strengths and limitations of how our minds operate. And it provides excellent examples of how to adjust the way we work to get far superior results.
The first half or so focuses on personal productivity, while the second half is geared towards managing or collaborating with others. Every insight includes practical examples, so you’ll know how to apply them in the real world.
Your Brain At Work is available from Amazon and Apple Books. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my Your Brain At Work book summary.
Beyond The Best Productivity Books For Work
Are you interested in reading about other popular business topics? Check out the best digital marketing books, the best startup books, or the best leadership books.
You can also subscribe to The Rick Kettner YouTube Channel or The Rick Kettner Podcast to get updates about future book summaries and reading lists.