Source: Product Hunt
Ahhh, productivity. The revered topic in both the business and personal world. It seems we’re all looking for a magic bullet to help us get more done in less time. In the end, there’s no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and actually sitting down to do the work that will, one step at a time, help you accomplish all of your goals. But, a little inspiration never hurt. The books below will give you frameworks, strategies, and action items to help you make the most of the time you have each day.
While there isn’t a perfect productivity formula for everyone, the 11 reads below will inspire you to create your very own process that works for getting more stuff done—and enjoying every day more in the process.
1. Deep Work
Have you ever sat down to do work and then, without realizing it, end up spending an hour (ahem, or two) unintentionally falling into a huge YouTube/social/blog/news hole? We’ve all been there. It seems there is so much grabbing at our attention these days, it’s hard to even get in the state of mind that allows us to get our best work done. In Deep Work, author Cal Newport addresses the increasingly important topic of focus. Learning how to do deep work—the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task without distraction—is the key to producing better results in less time. Newport offers up no-bullshit advice, suggesting that we should practice being bored and quit social media altogether (…even if you don’t, his argument is worth reading). If you’ve ever spent a workday in a haze of tweets and emails and wondered what you did all day, this book is for you.
2. The 80/20 Principle
Oh, the glorious Pareto Principle, which states that approximately 20% of your work drives 80% of your results. This book by Richard Koch takes readers through how they can achieve more with fewer resources, time, and effort simply by identifying and focusing our effort on the most import 20% of work we can do. A few of his tips include: focusing only on what you can do best (and outsourcing the rest), keeping things simple, and retaining your best employees and customers for life. Koch walks through the 10 highest value and lowest value uses of time, as well as why it’s so important to do more of the right stuff—not just more work in general. This is a great read for anyone who needs a reminder that being highly effective is about how you do your work, but also the work you choose to do in the first place.
3. Eat That Frog
Eat That Frog is a classic productivity book that you can breeze through in an afternoon. But, the 21 different strategies Brian Tracy shares in this gem are worth many lifetimes of productivity. The main premise of this book is that you should eat your “frog”—your biggest, most important task—first every day. This should also be the task that has the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment. The follow up rule is this: “If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” In other words, when you’re given a big task, it’s best to get started on it right away. Tracy also walks you through techniques like the ABCDE Method, single-tasking, and the Law of Forced Efficiency. This is a book you won’t soon forget, and we highly recommend actually doing all of the recommended exercises as you work your way through it.
4. The Checklist Manifesto
Seriously…this book might single-handedly be responsible for reinvigorating the power of a simple checklist. Author Atul Gawande, an accomplished surgeon, explores a challenge that impacts just about every corner of the modern world: how professionals deal with the ever-growing complexity of their responsibilities. He talks about the difference between errors of ignorance (e.g. mistakes we make because we don’t have the knowledge to make better decisions) and errors of ineptitude (e.g. the mistakes we make because we don’t properly use the knowledge we already have). Most failures today, he argues, are examples of the latter. Enter: the checklist. Gawande, using poignant examples in industries like medicine, aviation, and construction—where errors can be the difference between life and death—makes the case for using checklists to reduce the load of the sheer volume and complexity of knowledge required for most of us to do our work well today. This is a thought-provoking read; you’ll never see a simple checklist in quite the same way again.