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35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

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 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.

    Get the book here.

    2. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

      This 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!

      Get the book here.

      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 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.

        Get the book here.

        4. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

          This book 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.

          Get the book here.

          5. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina

            Brains 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.

            Get the book here.

            6. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller

              This book 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.

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              The author of this book, Gary Keller, is the founder of one of the nation’s great realtors, Keller-Williams.

              Get the book here.

              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. 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.

                Get the book here.

                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 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.

                  Get the book here.

                  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, making implementation of his strategies that much easier.

                    Get the book here.

                    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

                      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.

                      Get the book here.

                      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.

                        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.

                        Get the book here.

                        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.

                          Get the book here.

                          13. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                            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.

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                            Get the book here.

                            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.

                              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.

                              Get the book here.

                              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. 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.

                                Get the book here.

                                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.

                                  Get the book here.

                                  17. Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life by J.D. Meier

                                    This is 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!

                                    Get the book here.

                                    18. The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr, Tony Schwartz

                                      Learn 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.

                                      Get the book here.

                                      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. 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.

                                        Get the book here.

                                        20. Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Getting Things Done by David Allen

                                          This book 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.

                                          Get the book here.

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                                          21. The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore

                                            Author Neil Fiore explains 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.

                                            Get the book here.

                                            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

                                              This book 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!

                                              Get the book here.

                                              23. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

                                                Dr. Gawande explains 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.

                                                Get the book here.

                                                24. Ready Aim Fire!: A Practical Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals by Jim M Woods

                                                  This book 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!

                                                  Get the book here.

                                                  25. Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-Pleasing, Self-Doubt, Over-Commitment, Broken Promises and Chaos by Steve Chandler

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                                                    This 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.

                                                    Get the book here.

                                                    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

                                                      This book 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.

                                                      Get the book here.

                                                      27. 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Overcome Your Procrastination by S.J. Scott

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                                                        This book 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.

                                                        Get the book here.

                                                        28. The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte

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                                                          Learn 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.

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                                                          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.

                                                          Get the book here.

                                                          29. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath

                                                          Switch

                                                            This 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.

                                                            Get the book here.

                                                            30. Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! by Tony Robbins

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                                                              In his book, 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!

                                                              Get the book here.

                                                              31. The One Minute To-Do List: Quickly Get Your Chaos Completely Under Control by Michael Linenberger

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                                                                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.

                                                                Get the book here.

                                                                32. To-Do List Makeover: A Simple Guide to Getting the Important Things Done by S.J. Scott

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                                                                  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. This guide will show you how to rethink the way you manage your daily life, get clear and identify where you’ve been leaking time.

                                                                  Get the book here.

                                                                  33. 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman

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                                                                    The idea 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.

                                                                    Get the book here.

                                                                    34. How to Be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do by Graham Allcott

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                                                                      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!

                                                                      Get the book here.

                                                                      35. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

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                                                                        Although not exactly a book on productivity or organization, it 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!

                                                                        Get the book here.

                                                                        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!

                                                                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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                                                                        Published on July 17, 2018

                                                                        How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

                                                                        How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

                                                                        I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

                                                                        You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

                                                                        But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

                                                                        What is compartmentalization

                                                                        To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

                                                                        In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

                                                                        However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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                                                                        Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

                                                                        Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

                                                                        The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

                                                                        Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

                                                                        Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

                                                                        How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

                                                                        The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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                                                                        Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

                                                                        My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

                                                                        Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

                                                                        Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

                                                                        One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

                                                                        If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

                                                                        The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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                                                                        Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

                                                                        This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

                                                                        If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

                                                                        Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

                                                                        Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

                                                                        Reframe the problem as a question

                                                                        Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

                                                                        One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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                                                                        For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

                                                                        Choose one thing to focus on

                                                                        To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

                                                                        Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

                                                                        Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

                                                                        Comparmentalization saves you stress

                                                                        Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

                                                                        This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

                                                                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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