Possessing productivity and organizational skills will give you an advantage in living a life of fulfillment and extraordinary achievements.
These skills can also help reduce stress and overwhelm by arming you with the knowledge to choose the most effective thoughts and actions to get the results you want, instead of just doing things that keep you busy without actually accomplishing anything worthwhile.
How do you begin acquiring these skills? Read, of course! But with the massive selections of books on these topics available today, choosing the right guide for you may seem overwhelming.
Don’t fret! Books have always played an important role in my family’s life and as such, I simply went through my insane collection of books (hardcover, digital, and audio) and compiled for you a list of the top 35 books to learn the most useful productivity tips and organizational skills:
1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford, explains in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that all of us possess one of two mindsets: fixed vs. growth.
In the world of fixed traits, success is about validating yourself by proving you’re smart or talented. On the other hand, the world of growth and changing qualities is about continuously stretching yourself to learn something new. The latter empowers you to break through your self imposed limits, thrive and succeed.
2. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy
Eat That Frog is a quick read. Brian Tracy gets right into the action and covers such things as determining priorities, delegating and eliminating tasks, knowing what’s okay to hold off for later and whether to tackle your “frog” (big task that will deliver the greatest results) first or a lower priority task.
By regularly eating your frogs first, you develop a habit that makes it easier to accomplish more – with much less effort!
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
You’ll not only learn how to declutter material excess but how to clear out your personal space so you have room to surround yourself with more of what makes you happy.
If you are like me and have the tendency to feel guilty over letting objects go, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up will show you how to free yourself from that. After all, an organized environment breeds a calmer mind; leaving you with the freedom and energy to be more effective.
4. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art shows you how to overcome obstacles of ambition and how to discipline yourself.
Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the resistances that every one of us face, outlines a plan to blast away the excuses we make for ourselves for not taking action, and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.
5. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina
Brain Rules gives you 12 “rules” for optimal mental performance. The book includes a brief history of the brain and how it came to operate as it does. The author then explains why his principles help your brain perform better as well as provide practical ways to implement his strategies into your everyday life.
6. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
The One Thing introduces you to a simple but powerful concept where you focus your energy on just one thing at a time, achieving extraordinary results. You will learn how to cut through clutter, reduce stress and distractions, increase your energy and achieve more in less time.
The author of this book, Gary Keller, is the founder of one of the nation’s great realtors, Keller-Williams.
7. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday teaches a simple method for understanding and acting upon the challenges and setbacks life throws at us in The Obstacle Is the Way. The method centers on tactics from stoicism where no matter how unjust or tragic the situation may be, remaining calm, avoiding the victim mentality and pushing your way through is the most effective path to success.
8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Stephen Covey teaches you how to be more effective in the areas of relationships, awareness, spirituality and business issues; and provides you with simple to understand strategies for achievable and lasting results.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People continues to be a key resource in helping me improve my effectiveness in all areas of my life, that I picked up a copy of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” (written by Covey’s son, Sean) for my own teenage son.
9. 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith
Hyrum W. Smith (creator of the “Franklin Day Planner”) teaches his time and life management system based on your values as well as what is most important in your life in 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management, making implementation of his strategies that much easier.
10. The Power of Focus: What the World’s Greatest Achievers Know about The Secret to Financial Freedom & Success by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Les Hewitt
The Power of Focus is an excellent book that clearly shows you how to set your priorities in order. The content is rock solid with each chapter containing clear action steps to carry out.
11. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
The idea is to transfer all the “to dos” floating around inside your head as well as those you’ve jotted down on sticky notes and scrap paper into an “in-box” so you can organize everything using Allen’s rules of “do it, delegate it, defer it or trash it” to get your in-box to empty as covered in Getting Things Done.
This enables you to free your mind, arm you with an organized plan of action and focus on what you’re working on while reducing stress.
12. Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System by Leo Babauta
Zen To Done offers a simplification of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” (see #11). It’s a set of 10 habits to help you get organized, simplify your life, get things under control and actually get things done. It’s about organization and productivity through simplicity.
13. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is an insightful book explaining the various ways people experience states of flow (or being in the zone), how we create meaning for our experiences and what makes human day-to-day experiences enjoyable.
The author provides insights on how one can apply the ideas presented in the book to your own life.
14. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge
Peter Senge describes the five disciplines necessary for proper organization within a company including personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning and system thinking in The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization.
The book goes into depth about the fifth discipline in particular – system thinking. The system must be looked at as a whole and the team must work towards a common goal or vision with an understanding on how to complement each other’s abilities. The concept will stimulate ideas for communicating with colleagues as well as your own family.
Note: This was required reading for a leadership class I was taking. While the book contains plenty of valuable material, it is long-winded and repetitive.
If you are prone to boredom like I am, I recommend The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook” instead, which includes several helpful exercises to implement the key ideas in The Fifth Discipline.
15. Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D
Dr. Halvorson applies science to the goals and struggles we all face in Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals. This engaging and often humorous book explains the best ways to frame our goals, plan for success, build willpower and take actions to reach our goals – even in the face of adversity.
16. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, explains the power of habits and what we can do to correct the habits that need changing; in our personal life, business and society in The Power of Habit.
17. Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life by J.D. Meier
Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life talks about a simple system for achieving both short and long term results in all aspects of your life. Meier’s methods are so simple that anyone can start using them immediately!
18. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz
In The Power of Full Engagement, earn how to increase your energy levels through the four primary sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. The training system encourages the reader to define their purpose, face the truth about their energy management and to take action through positive rituals.
19. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
McGonigal effectively explains habits and procrastination and includes real world examples and exercises to put the methods into practice in The Willpower Instinct. The author also reveals how we make internal, illogical bargains and shows how to identify when and where this behavior is likely to take place.
20. Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done by David Allen
Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done contains 52 short chapters of essays on productivity, delivered in 2-5 page bite sized pieces. It helps you to understand the values behind Allen’s GTD system (see #11) and serves as inspiration to use the GTD process with more discipline.
21. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore
Author Neil Fiore explains in The Now Habit that procrastination is a strategy to obtain temporary relief from the stress of starting or completing any task or decision and not a character defect or personal/moral failure. The book addresses key issues underlying procrastination to help you work on your thoughts and prepare you to overcome procrastination in your life.
22. One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good by Regina Leeds
One Year to an Organized Life takes the guess work out of organizing. Tasks are broken down into categories (kitchen, bedroom, etc.) and assigned to do during a specific month. Each month is broken down into weeks and each week includes small assignments to be completed to avoid being overwhelmed.
Not only does this system help in organizing your home, it encourages you to organize yourself mentally, emotionally and physically as well!
23. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
Dr. Gawande explains in The Checklist Manifesto that checklists are not just for simple, straightforward tasks. They help people communicate and work together more effectively.
Another benefit of the checklist is that the act of creating a checklist focuses the mind on the most important areas of our tasks. The book encourages the reader to reflect on how a checklist can be used to improve their life in both personal and business environments.
24. Ready Aim Fire!: A Practical Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals by Jim M Woods
Ready Aim Fire!: A Practical Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals takes you through a 32 day journey with practical steps to set and accomplish goals that are important to you. It includes plenty of bonus links and free resources too!
25. Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-Pleasing, Self-Doubt, Over-Commitment, Broken Promises and Chaos by Steve Chandler
Time Warrior is a series of short, easy to digest chapters that instill Steve Chandler’s point about how much more important “priority management” is over “time management.” I highly recommend this book if you are having difficulty managing your time, keeping promises and making the progress in life that you believe you can.
26. The Productive Person: A How-To Guide Book Filled with Productivity Hacks & Daily Schedules for Entrepreneurs, Students or Anyone Struggling with Work-Life Balance by James Roper, Chandler Bolt
The Productive Person is geared toward people who make their own schedules every day (stay at home parents, self-employed, students, etc.) and feel like there isn’t enough hours in the day for all the things they want and need to do. The authors offers actionable plans for how to be more productive, including example schedules.
27. 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Overcome Your Procrastination by S.J. Scott
23 Anti-Procrastination Habits will show you how to create an action plan and actually get things done on time, every time! You will learn how to prioritize which tasks are worth your time and effort and which can be shelved for later. It is a highly recommended anti-procrastination and anti-laziness guidebook.
28. The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte
In The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, leearn to clarify what is truly important to you and what you want in life. This clarity enables you to shape your life in a way that brings you genuine joy and fulfillment.
Decision making becomes much easier because you will know if something aligns with the life you want to live and with this confidence, you will find that you no longer regret the choices you make.
29. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath
Switch is an entertaining book packed with useful principles for successfully making changes no matter what. The concept is easy to remember and the book includes great examples and practical solutions.
30. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! by Tony Robbins
In Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins gives you effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, relationships, finances and your life. The book is a step-by-step self mastery program with plenty of actionable advice to help you discover your true purpose, take control of your life and shape your destiny. One of my favorites!
31. The One Minute To-Do List: Quickly Get Your Chaos Completely Under Control by Michael Linenberger
The One Minute To-Do List explains a to-do list strategy that is simple to learn and easy to apply! Linenberger’s approach is a simple progression: start on paper then seamlessly move to your computer or smart-phone. If you want a quick and easy organization solution, this system is it.
32. To-Do List Makeover: A Simple Guide to Getting the Important Things Done by S.J. Scott
Do you find yourself creating to-do lists that never gets completed? The key is to create lists that are actionable and fits into your busy life. To-Do List Makeover will show you how to rethink the way you manage your daily life, get clear and identify where you’ve been leaking time.
33. 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman
The idea in 18 Minutes is to combat distracting interruptions by creating “productive distractions” of your own. This includes simple reminders to pause, reflect, recharge, re-calibrate and refocus – for just 18 minutes a day (5 minutes at the beginning; eight 1-minute check-ins during the day; and 5 minutes at the end).
The book provides a variety of tools, tips and techniques intended to enhance productivity and maximize your potential.
34. How to Be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do by Graham Allcott
How to Be a Productivity Ninja talks about techniques to stay calm, get through your tasks, make the most of your time and overcome procrastination. You will also discover new methods on how to increase your personal time and declutter from an overload of information. You also get weekly and daily checklists that are very useful!
35. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
Although not exactly a book on productivity or organization, The Four Agreements teaches simple, practical and powerful lessons to empower you to live with emotional and mental freedom. This gives you the energy and confidence to make more effective decisions and show up into your life at your best!
So here you go, 35 powerful books on productivity and organizational skills for a more effective, fulfilling and less stressful life. Pick one, start to read it and finish it. Don’t just read through the book either. Apply the tips you’ve learned from the book in your everyday life and that’s how you really will pick up the skills!
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