21 Best Productivity Books to Read in 2024

Author: Karolina Matyska

In the quest for optimal productivity, there are no better companions than productivity books – says me, a bookworm. Of course, many would rightfully oppose it, pointing out that books usually share only theory. Well, not all of them.

The 21 best productivity books I listed in this article not only shed light on how to be productive but also provide practical advice on implementing those strategies in real life.

Let’s equip you with a couple of good book recommendations!

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The best productivity books for self improvement

best productivity books

1. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport 

Ever hear about deep work? It’s one of my favorite methods to stay productive! Deep work is when you stay focused on one thing at a time for a designated time. During this focus time, you don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked by emails, notifications, or social media; instead, you put all your attention on the task at hand.

Deep work has been in the spotlight in the productivity world, so if you haven’t heard about it yet, this classic book by Cal Newport is a must-read.

What’s in it? In the first part, it provides you with a general overview of the deep work concept and its benefits. In the latter part, the author elaborates on the four rules that help you engage in deep thinking.

This book is a good start if you want to fight distractions and embrace more focus. I won’t spoil more. Highly recommended!

best books on productivity

2. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

I don’t know about you, but I’ve fallen into the multitasking trap myself. It promised to boost my efficiency to the max, but instead, it drained me. That’s exactly what “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan addresses.

The book explores our tendency to split our attention across various tasks and projects, which often results in many started but unfinished endeavors. It strongly discourages multitasking, presenting scientific evidence that it harms our brains and reduces our efficiency.

Instead, the authors advocate for single-tasking. They suggest simplifying your workload and focusing on one thing at a time. To achieve extraordinary results, they recommend eliminating non-essential tasks and prioritizing the rest by asking, “What is the most important?” This approach helps readers concentrate on what is absolutely essential.

Where does your time go?

Start tracking your time with Timeular and boost your productivity

books on productivity

3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

David Allen’s book is undoubtedly a staple on the shelves of many highly effective people. This classic productivity guide discusses the time management and productivity method developed by the author.

Allen’s approach to productivity revolves around writing down all tasks, issues, and details that need attention. The goal is to free your mind and gain a complete overview of what needs to be done, without the constant need to recall it. Once all the information is out of your head, you should group it, prioritize it, and work on it within specific time frames.

This exercise aims to reduce stress levels and give you more control over your task list, ultimately leading to increased productivity. It’s definitely worth a try, don’t you think?

best books for productivity

4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

This is one of those life-changing productivity books that not only tackles an important topic but also reads well. It points out how we often set many goals but rarely achieve them, and then helps you figure out what’s truly essential to reach those goals.

Most of the time, we don’t use our resources, especially time, as well as we could. The author explains that we can make a big difference by learning how to prioritize tasks and separate what’s essential from what’s not.

It’s another book that advises against multitasking as it splits our attention and energy. Instead, it suggests focusing all your power on one key task that will get you closer to your goal.

Overall, from my perspective it’s one of the best productivity books out there, encouraging you to zero in on what really matters.

Which tasks take up most of your time?

Start tracking your time with Timeular and discover your time spending patterns.

books about productivity

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Yet another classic self-improvement productivity book in the list. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey was originally published in 1989 and sold over 20 million times only until 2012.

As the title suggest, the book presents seven habits that are supposed to lead to increased effectiveness in both private and professional live. What are those daily habits?

  • 1: Be proactive
  • 2. Begin with the end in mind
  • 3. Put first things first
  • 4. Think win/win
  • 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • 6. Synergize
  • 7. Sharpen the saw

Sounds enigmatic? I bet it does. For a detailed overview of each rule head straight to the book.

top productivity books

6. How to Stop Procrastinating: A Simple Guide to Mastering Difficult Tasks and Breaking the Procrastination Habit by S.J. Scott

Procrastination is the worst, isn’t it? It sneaks into your workflow and messes up your deadlines and goals. It’s definitely one of the biggest enemies of productivity.

To combat this, S.J. Scott’s productivity book offers a straightforward, systematic action plan to help you beat procrastination once and for all. The author lays out various strategies and practical methods to get rid of procrastination tendencies—just pick the one that works best for you.

Want to build an anti-procrastination habit? Check out the book!

best book on productivity

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

In my opinion, it’s one of the best productivity books out there. After Greg McKeown’s book, it’s my second favorite. Why? It really resonates with you. After reading “Atomic Habits,” you feel motivated to start changing your habits right away. The author gives you a step-by-step guide to succeed.

The author suggests specific steps to create new habits: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy. These are simple, practical steps that you wish you’d known before. However, what I appreciate most about this book is that it not only shares tips on building new habits but also on how to get rid of the existing habits.

If you’re serious about improving your productivity, this book is a must-read.

best books about productivity

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

Have you ever come across the “eat the frog” technique? It draws inspiration from Mark Twain’s famous quote: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Essentially, it means tackling your biggest, most challenging task as a priority in the morning. If you have multiple unpleasant tasks, start with the largest one.

While the title might suggest otherwise, “eat the frog” isn’t the only prioritization technique discussed in the book. Brian Tracy, the author, presents twenty-one methods aimed at boosting efficiency, combating procrastination, and ensuring consistent progress.

If you’ve been struggling with procrastination and want effective strategies, consider giving this productivity book a read.

books for productivity

9. The 4-Hour Workweek Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferriss’s “The 4-Hour Workweek” is a game-changer! Ferriss guides you through escaping the 9-5 grind and living life on your terms while still making a solid income. He breaks down how to earn a five-figure monthly income by working just four hours a week—a dream scenario made achievable, promising half the time for twice the work.

The book is packed with over 50 practical tips, from effective time management to outsourcing tasks, helping you achieve more in less time. While some may find it too good to be true, Ferriss backs his methods with real-world examples and actionable steps.

A key takeaway is Ferriss’s focus on quitting what doesn’t work, a mindset shift that has helped me prioritize effectively. “The 4-Hour Workweek” is a must-read for anyone seeking freedom and abundance in their work and life.

Want to improve your time management?

Start tracking your time to understand where your time goes.

books on efficiency

10. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

It’s an eye-opening read that offers a fresh perspective on time management. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your schedule, Vanderkam’s insights will challenge your beliefs about time scarcity. She encourages readers to track time spent on tasks meticulously, prioritize crucial activities, and eliminate tasks that don’t contribute to their goals.

Vanderkam’s emphasis on prioritization is particularly impactful. By focusing on essential activities and reducing distractions, readers can reclaim valuable time and boost productivity in everyday life.

I’ve personally seen a noticeable improvement in managing my time and accomplishing tasks since implementing the strategies outlined in this book.

best books on organization and productivity

11. Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life by Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow

We all want to achieve more by doing less. Selk and Bartow, two top human performance experts, provide practical insights that can be applied to both personal and professional life.

The book’s organization of the eight most effective ways to optimize performance is clear and actionable. From organizing tomorrow today to learning how to talk to yourself and others effectively, each chapter offers valuable strategies for improving productivity.

Overall, “Organize Tomorrow Today” is a must-read for anyone seeking to retrain their mind and optimize performance in all aspects of life. Whether you’re looking to boost productivity at work or improve personal habits, Selk and Bartow’s insights will undoubtedly help you achieve your goals.

best book for productivity

12. Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Zeratsky and John Knapp

It’s a highly praised book in the realm of time tracking and management, and for good reason. The authors emphasize the power of prioritization, advocating for one key priority each day and dedicating all available time and energy towards it.

The book delves into the importance of taking control of your daily attention and steering clear of non-essential tasks that can drain your time and energy. Zeratsky and Knapp present time management as a deliberate and intentional exercise, helping readers navigate the demands of modern life by focusing on the most essential and meaningful tasks.

What I appreciate most about this book is its practical advice. It offers actionable strategies for honing in on what truly matters every day, empowering readers to make the most of their time and achieve their goals effectively.

best productivity books of all time

13. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

This productivity book is a powerful guide to maximizing results with minimal effort. Koch introduces the concept that 80% of results stem from just 20% of the effort, emphasizing the importance of focusing on key tasks.

The book challenges the notion that busyness equals success, highlighting the value of investing focus and energy into essential tasks. Koch’s logic encourages readers to prioritize meaningful activities over simply being busy.

Ultimately, “The 80/20 Principle” concludes that reducing time wastage, claiming more free time, and improving efficiency across all areas of life can significantly enhance productivity.

It’s a valuable read for anyone looking to achieve more with less effort.

Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood

14. Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick by Wendy Wood

Wendy Wood, the author of this book delves into the process of habit development and how it can lead to desired changes and results within ourselves. Drawing from extensive research, particularly as a psychology professor, the author outlines the essential conditions for an activity to evolve into a habit.

A key insight is the emphasis on harnessing the remarkable power of our subconscious mind when seeking personal change. Rather than relying solely on willpower, the book advocates for leveraging the subconscious to facilitate lasting transformations.

Overall, this book provides valuable insights and strategies for developing habits and achieving desired changes effectively. It’s a compelling read for anyone looking to understand the science behind habit formation and make meaningful improvements in their lives.

Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

15. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The book by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang challenges the prevailing notion that success is solely determined by the number of work hours. In today’s work environment, breaks are often viewed as contradictory to productivity.

However, the book argues that being busy doesn’t equate to being productive. In fact, most individuals can only maintain focus and creativity for a limited time each day. The author emphasizes the importance of rest for optimal brain function. It suggests that the brain requires periods of rest to process information effectively, generate new ideas, and form new connections. Additionally, the book advocates for moderate physical activity as a key component of increased productivity.

“Rest” offers valuable insights into how taking breaks and incorporating periods of rest can lead to greater productivity and creativity. It’s a compelling read for anyone looking how to be more efficient and improve their well-being in today’s fast-paced work environment.

Additional read: How to calculate work hours

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker

16. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter F. Drucker

Drucker’s insights in the book help readers become better managers, motivate teams, and drive workplace success.

One of the key takeaways from this book is the importance of self-management for achieving effectiveness and productivity. Drucker’s emphasis on clarity in prioritization – whether it’s time, energy, resources, or priorities – has been instrumental in helping me stay focused and achieve my goals.

What I like most about “The Effective Executive” is Drucker’s belief that effectiveness is a skill that can be learned. His step-by-step guide has been invaluable in improving my productivity and overall performance.

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

17. The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

Through his book, Chris Bailey has significantly influenced my approach to productivity. This book stands out due to Bailey’s commitment to experimentation and testing various productivity techniques.

He shares valuable insights derived from these experiments, highlighting the importance of focusing on results rather than just time spent on tasks.

I’ve found this book to be a valuable resource packed with practical tips for achieving extreme productivity. Bailey’s emphasis on output and prioritizing tasks based on their impact has allowed me to streamline my workflow and achieve greater efficiency.

If you’re seeking ways to enhance productivity and maximize your time, “The Productivity Project” is worth considering.

Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik

18. Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik

This book by Jim Kwik is a transformative guide to improving mental performance. Kwik, a renowned coach and expert, emphasizes our limitless potential for growth and productivity.

His 3Ms—methods, mindset, and motivation—offer actionable steps to replace negative beliefs and redefine our boundaries for achieving exceptional goals.

The strength of “Limitless” lies in its practical techniques for performance improvement. Kwik’s insights on embracing a growth mindset and expanding our perceived limits are particularly impactful.

First Things First by Stephen Covey

19. First Things First by Stephen Covey

“First Things First” by Stephen Covey is another gem in my collection of productivity books, and I think it’s especially resonant for entrepreneurs.

It is a good read for reducing stress levels and increasing productivity. What’s more, it helps readers avoid procrastination by being organized and putting first things first.

The book introduces the Eisenhower time management matrix, a powerful framework for prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance. This method helps one focus on long-term goals while efficiently managing urgent but less important tasks.

Covey’s insights, especially the Eisenhower matrix, are instrumental in improving productivity and achieving goals. I recommend the read!

20. The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto

When I first picked up “The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande, I was skeptical about the idea that a simple checklist could make a significant impact on my productivity. But Gawande’s compelling arguments quickly changed my mind.

In the book, Gawande highlights how the overwhelming volume and complexity of information we deal with daily lead to frequent failures and mistakes. He presents the checklist as a straightforward yet powerful tool to manage this complexity.

If you’re looking for a simple way to enhance your productivity and reduce errors, I highly recommend giving this book a read.

15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management - The Productivity Habits

21. 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management – The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs by Kevin Kruse

The book by Kevin Kruse delves into the productivity habits of high achievers. Kruse interviewed 200 successful individuals, including billionaires, Olympic athletes, and entrepreneurs, to distill 15 actionable secrets for enhanced productivity.

The book reveals practical tips like:

  • always carrying a notebook
  • delegating tasks (Read more about how to delegate tasks)
  • focusing on one thing at a time
  • not using a to-do list
  • avoid unnecessary meetings

These habits form the foundation of becoming a productivity ninja.

Which of the best productivity books should you read first?

If you’re diving into productivity books, I’d suggest starting with “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. Once you’ve soaked up its insights, give “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear a read. Trust me, they’re game-changers!