Productivity comes in waves. Sometimes you’re in the flow, ticking things off your to-do list at impressive speed, and making progress with your most important projects.
But other times? Yeah…
If you’re anything like me, productivity books can be one of the best ways to find your focus, remember what’s most important, and get out of a rut.
Read on for my collection of the best books about productivity, focus, and time management that I’ve read so far – including both new productivity books for 2023 and some of the best of all time.
Most of these are self-improvement books, but I’ve also included a few philosophical books to provide a different definition of productivity.
Take your pick to get inspired, plan your priorities, and get to work…
The best books about productivity and time management to find your focus
The Greatness Mindset: Unlock the Power of Your Mind and Live Your Best Life Today by Lewis Howes
Read The Greatness Mindset for… the encouragement and tools you need to transform one of the essential levers for productivity: your mindset.
You’ve probably heard of Lewis Howes and his podcast, The School of Greatness. His new book, The Greatness Mindset, will wake up the ideas, dreams, and potential inside you to guide you towards the life you dream of living.
After all: what’s the point of productivity if you’re not happy or where you want to be in life? Read this next and get yourself in the best position for success.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Read Atomic Habits for… one of the best self-improvement books of all time about changing your habits and your life.
You might already be clear on where you want to be in life – maybe feeling fitter, writing every day, or changing careers.
But how to get there? With the right habits – and the thoughts and systems that ensure these happen consistently. Atomic Habits is one of the best books to help you achieve this and transform your life through daily habits.
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Read The ONE Thing for… a fantastic reminder of the power of focus and single-tasking in your life and work.
I read this productivity book early in my twenties and it’s stuck with me ever since, especially when I find myself overwhelmed and unfocused.
Read The ONE Thing to hone your focus and prioritise the one thing that will make everything else easier. That can change everything.
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
Read The Miracle Morning for… the kick-start you need to wake up earlier and have the best possible start to your day.
If you love reading books that blend motivation with productivity advice, read this. After nearly losing his life in his early twenties, Hal Elrod knew that he needed to shake things up.
This book is his story of how he did just that – in the hours before 8am. Try your own Miracle Morning for a week to see how it changes your level of joy, focus, and productivity.
The Code. The Evaluation. The Protocols: Striving to Become an Eminently Qualified Human by Jocko Willink
Read The Code. The Evaluation. The Protocols. for… military-grade strategies, tactics, and tools to become what Jocko Willink calls an Eminently Qualified Human.
In many ways, productivity is really about discipline. After all, how else will you consistently show up, focus, and do the right tasks first?
In this motivating book of tough love and fail-proof systems, Jocko Willink explains how Unmitigated Daily Discipline is the best way to hold yourself accountable to the highest standard in all areas of your life.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Read Getting Things Done for… a reminder that productivity correlates with how relaxed and clear-headed you feel.
Getting Things Done is one of the best productivity books of all time to help you organise your mind, create systems for success, and get more done.
The main takeaways from the book? 1) Get things out of your head and onto lists or systems. 2) If you can do something in less than two minutes, do it now.
Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt
Read Your Best Year Ever for… a simple program to design your best year yet and close the gap between reality and your dreams.
Michael Hyatt is the author of some of the best productivity books of all time. Free to Focus is excellent, but I especially love Your Best Year Ever.
This guide to focused, intentional action will increase your likelihood of achieving your goals, help you get unstuck, and enable you to make big progress in the shortest time.
Hell Yeah or No: What’s Worth Doing by Derek Sivers
I love Derek Sivers’s writing. His guidebook to business, Anything You Want, changed the direction of my life and work, and now I read all of his books as soon as they’re released.
This little book is brimming with useful wisdom and simple mental models to guide your decisions, slow your thinking, and dodge overwhelm.
The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey
Read The Productivity Project for… a fun and personal look at accomplishing more by nurturing and monitoring your time, attention, and energy.
Our focus is a more precious resource than ever. Here’s what Chris Bailey learned in his year of productivity experiments, ranging from spending more time alone to quitting caffeine.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Read Deep Work for… an in-depth look at one of the best ways to stand out and reach big goals in today’s age of distraction: focus.
Cal Newport is one of my all-time favourite non-fiction writers. I read his productivity advice throughout high school, university, and the various iterations of my work and businesses more recently.
Deep Work is an essential guide for anyone seeking focused success and joyfully slow, imaginative ways of thinking in a fast-paced and distracted work.
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
Read Four Thousand Weeks for… an inspiring book that will encourage you to think about what’s most important to you and give it the attention it deserves during your time on earth.
This life-changing book is about productivity, but a different type of productivity than the definition we’re used to.
Oliver Burkeman defines productivity as prioritising what matters to us in the grand scheme of things: the four thousand weeks we have to live our lives. It’s a fantastic book I’ve been recommending to everyone.
How to Think More Effectively: A Guide to Greater Productivity, Insight, and Creativity by The School of Life
Read How to Think More Effectively for… a guide to productivity and creativity from The School of Life, the indispensable source of philosophical wisdom for better living.
We know that our minds are capable of great things. But they’re also unpredictable, often distracted, or idle. As this book explains, understanding how to work around this can be the best strategy for productivity.
Get your copy and learn how to optimise the beautiful instrument that is your brain and regularly generate the insights and focus you need to fulfill your potential.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Read Essentialism for… a powerful reminder of the value of doing less (and doing the right things).
I read Essentialism just after The ONE Thing, and the two books are very similar. They share the message that simplicity and a narrow focus are the best tools for productivity and getting stuff done.
If you need to remind yourself of this (I certainly do – often) then I’d absolutely recommend reading both books.
Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown
Read Effortless for… an empowering guide to achieving your goals with a simple principle at its core: not everything has to be so difficult.
If you’ve already read Essentialism and know the power of doing less but need actionable tips to actually get to work, Effortless is your perfect next read.
Greg McKeown’s latest book is packed with actionable advice to make your most essential activities the easiest ones, so you can achieve the results you want without burning out.
The Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change
Get your copy of The Productivity Planner for… the best productivity journal I’ve come across to guide your focus and prioritise what’s most impactful each day. It’s so wonderfully simple.
After reading stacks of productivity books, what really matters is taking action. This bestselling planner from Intelligent Change is an indispensable tool for keeping your time, focus, and priorities on track.
I also love the Five Minute Journal, which I was given by a coach years ago and still use every morning and evening.
With the coupon code TOLSTOYTHERAPY, you can enjoy 10% off any purchases on Intelligent Change.
For more of the best books about self-improvement and productivity, you might like…
- 15 best self-improvement books for 2023 to change your life
- 15 life-changing books that will stay with you forever
If you like reading books about business, you might also enjoy my book Simple Business. It’s about a simpler way of doing business that fits around the life you want to lead.
If you adore books, need a bit of a boost, and would love some gentle comfort and guidance, check out The Sanctuary, a seven-day course from Tolstoy Therapy.