The 10 Best New Books for Productivity

The 10 Best New Books for Productivity

Step one, check out this list of books to help boost your productivity.

1. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing 

By Daniel H. Pink

We live our lives by the timing we create for ourselves—when to leave for school, head to work, drive home, make meals, get the kids ready for bed—the list goes on. In When, author Daniel Pink discusses the science of timing, including the effect it has on mood and productivity, the importance of breaks and the behavioral changes that tend to occur. 

For many of us, the decisions of when to start or how to organize our day are based on circumstance or convenience. Pink shows how to succeed–in life, in work, at home–by understanding the patterns that will contribute to an ideal schedule. This book takes a deep look at the timing of productivity and provides us with the research to make it work to our benefit. 

2. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less

By Michael Hyatt

Productivity can be a challenge to anyone, and with distractions filling our life constantly—especially when working from home—it can be easy to get sidetracked. In Free to Focus, Michael Hyatt’s three-step, nine-part system offers a way to cut the nonessential from your task list.

The overarching steps of his method—stop, cut and act—offer instructions to evaluate and understand how and why you’re working, removing nonessential tasks and those which can be delegated to others, and creating more efficient systems for completing work in the future. By removing distractions and streamlining the work process, productivity can be increased; and by decreasing nonessential tasks, that time to enjoy life outside of work will also grow.

3. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

By Oliver Burkeman

Time management is a skill in and of itself. And many of us try to manage our time by cramming more into each day, which, not surprisingly, isn’t always a benefit. Instead, Four Thousand Weeks author Oliver Burkeman suggests focusing on what we want, instead of doing as much as we can. 

He doesn’t try to convince readers of new ways to become more efficient—for example, incorporating your favorite entrepreneur’s productivity tips just gives you more to do, he says. Trying to work more quickly and expediently often only invites more work. Instead, Burkeman asks his readers to be more aware of their current lifestyle and encourages them to focus on truly living the only life they have.

4. The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done (2nd Edition)

By Dave Crenshaw

Multitasking has often been touted as a way to increase productivity. After all, it (theoretically) allows you to get more done in less time. However, author Dave Crenshaw argues that is not the case in the second edition of The Myth of Multitasking. Instead, multitasking hinders productivity by giving us too much to focus on at once. Simultaneously handling a plethora of tasks takes our attention away from one and disperses it to the many, which decreases quality across the board. 

This second edition provides updated research on the disadvantages of multitasking as well as steps to begin focusing on a single task at once. It might seem slower, but in the end, quality and productivity will prevail.

5. I Didn’t Do the Thing Today: Letting Go of Productivity Guilt 

By Madeleine Dore

Productivity: hustle culture’s ultimate goal. In today’s society, our success at work is often determined by how much we get done in the least amount of time. In I Didn’t Do the Thing Today, author Madeleine Dore argues that productivity is a goal that only serves to hasten burnout and ramp up our anxiety.

The pressure to do more, both at work and at home, isn’t a feasible long-term lifestyle. Dore encourages readers to shift away from a mindset of exceeding our own limits and constantly meeting other’s standards toward one of curiosity and balance. Maybe slowing down won’t lead to limitless success, but it may help you create a life you’ll enjoy. 

6. Mind Management, Not Time Management: Productivity When Creativity Matters (Getting Art Done)

By David Kadavy

Managing your time can be a struggle when there’s so much to get done, and productivity guides or daily routine suggestions don’t always cut it. David Kadavy provides a different solution in his book Mind Management, Not Time Management. Instead of focusing on managing your time, Kadavy advises to—you guessed it—manage your mind. He identifies periods of the day in which we are most productive, describes various mental states, and examines his own quest for productivity in an effort to provide an alternative option to productivity woes. The result is a new and creative view of how to achieve productivity without focusing on squeezing as much work into as little time as possible. 

7. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

By James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear may not focus on productivity, but it is certainly useful in its ability to help create it. In a discussion of habits and how to set better ones for ourselves, Clear’s topics range from changing habits to finding motivation to the necessity of support. His “four laws of behavior change” provide a guide for readers to ensure that their new habits will not only benefit them, but actually stick. While the discussion of habits may not be new, Clear stands apart from the crowd by providing examples of his concepts, plenty of encouragement to his readers, and myriad suggestions on how to follow through.

8. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

By Cal Newport

In an age of near-constant digital connection, and therefore a near-constant potential for distraction, it is easy to lose track of time or for goals to get sidelined. Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism offers a new lifestyle suggestion: focus on controlling digital use and contributing more through physical, rather than digital, work. 

His three principles, “clutter is costly,” “optimization is important” and “intentionality is satisfying,” help readers understand digital minimalism before he dives deeper into how to apply the concept to your own life and reclaim lost time. While his argument isn’t applicable for everyone—particularly in the age of remote work—it is a helpful tool to reduce technology addiction, reduce distractions and gain more time in each day. 

9. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

By BJ Fogg

Not every change is a mountain to be climbed—sometimes, you just need to focus on a few small molehills. BJ Fogg, founder of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University, has spent more than 20 years researching human behavior. Sharing his own insights and ssing his “Fogg Behavior Model,” Fogg argues in Tiny Habits that the best way to enact change in our lives is to start small. Focusing on making big changes means it becomes difficult to entrench the behavior as a habit. So, while starting small may take longer, it means the beginning steps to creating the behavior fit much more easily into our daily routines. 

10. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Revised and Updated: 30th Anniversary Edition

By Stephen Covey

The revised and updated edition of Stephen Covey’s best-selling book remains invaluable in its discussion of personal change and success. First published in 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers a comprehensive and inspirational guide to cultivating the best version of yourself with topics such as understanding and changing your own behaviors, working and communicating with a team, and taking time to focus on yourself before working with and impacting others. Change is never quick, and neither are the seven habits this book asks its readers to cultivate—but the results are worth the wait. 

Photo by George Dolgikh/Shutterstock

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