6 Books on Productivity That Will Help You Smash Your Goals

Productivity is a genuine superpower. Many people chase it, but few attain it. The problem often lies in working too much on tasks that don’t have a significant impact. We focus on working hard instead of identifying the most effective actions. That’s where the following books on productivity come into play. 

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Productivity is a straightforward concept. 

Rather than counting your hours, measure your success by results. How much did you accomplish in those hours? 

Working for eight hours isn’t challenging. Coming up with satisfying results in eight hours, however, is a different story. 

That’s the difference between busyness and productivity

Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss 

By concentrating our energy on the completion of decisive tasks, not the mere passage of time, our priorities change. 

Our mentality shifts from a blind routine toward a results-oriented approach. That’s where a minimalist mindset can help you achieve more in less time.

Some of the best books on productivity 

The following are some of my favorite literary works on productivity. 

They all champion the concept of bundling your energy in the right areas. Eliminate the non-essential, and work with more determination to boost your productivity in the process. 

On this basis, here are 6 books on productivity that will help you smash your goals.

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Picture by Fabiola Peñalba / Unsplash

Deep Work – Cal Newport (2016)

Cal Newport’s Deep Work is one of the best books on productivity because it focuses on the elimination of distractions

As such, Deep Work’s key lesson is the establishment of a focused workflow. 

To complete cognitively demanding tasks, you need to get your working train rolling without derailments. These derailments are often the result of social media, uninspiring minutiae, or bad time management. 

In this context, Newport’s book provides a variety of tools that will help you build your workflow and prevent derailments. 

He compiles these tools into four “rules” that will support your “deep work” mentality. 

With clever examples – like an author who finished his book on a round-trip flight to Tokyo – Cal Newport shows how distraction-free surroundings and strict work ethics can lead to incredible results. 

Deep Work by Cal Newport on Amazon

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown (2014)

Essentialism is an excellent productivity guide, but mostly a book on prioritization. 

In his 2014 bestseller, Greg McKeown explains how the “non-essentials” hold you back by filling your life with unimportant commitments and trivialities.  

In simple terms, a lack of strong choices will force unwanted commitments into your personal and professional life. 

These commitments ultimately hinder your productivity because they prevent you from completing the right tasks at the right time. 

McKeown uses a wide variety of vivid examples from business leaders, artists, politicians, and ordinary employees. 

In this context, he showcases how the elimination of non-essential tasks and the concentration on the essential can lead to increased productivity, purpose, and fulfillment. 

Essentialism by Greg McKeown on Amazon

For a longer review of Essentialism, read How to Live an Essentialist Life

The Power of Less – Leo Babauta (2008)

Leo Babauta is one of the pioneers of minimalist blogging and part of the post-2008 Crisis wave of minimalist content creators. 

Most of his work concerns mindfulness, simple living, and sustainability, but he also offers intriguing perspectives on productivity.  

His 2008 book The Power of Less is one of the best books about minimalism in terms of decluttering, but also as a means to become more productive.

It was one of the first books on minimalism that I read, and it opened my eyes to the connection between everyday clutter and busyness. 

In simple terms, too much physical and mental clutter will hamper your workflow and prevent you from accomplishing goals. 

By focusing on the essentials, building virtuous habits, breaking down big goals into manageable targets, and removing the clutter from your life, you can design your ideal lifestyle. 

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta on Amazon 

How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci – Michael J. Gelb (1998) 

Leonardo Da Vinci was undoubtedly one of the greatest geniuses in history. 

He was far ahead of his time, and one of his strong suits was productivity. 

In his 1998 book How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb analyzes Leonardo’s thinking patterns, his mindset, and his work routines. 

One of the most memorable elements of this book is Gelb’s assessment of Leonardo’s unique mentality. 

Da Vinci’s ambition was limitless, but he also practiced signature rituals to hone his skills. 

As such, Da Vinci’s boundless creativity – coupled with his strong work ethics and smart productivity techniques – gradually formed his brilliance. 

As a natural extension to How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb also published The How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci Workbook, an excellent manual for readers to emulate Da Vinci’s principles. 

How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael J. Gelb on Amazon

Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction – Chris Bailey (2018)

If you’re into the science of productivity, Hyperfocus is the book for you. 

In his 2018 book, Chris Bailey takes a scientific approach by analyzing the ways our brain gathers and loses attention, essential parts of our everyday productivity. 

As such, Hyperfocus details a series of experiments and studies that reveal the scientific reasons behind our focus or lack thereof. 

In this context, Bailey’s work explains the difference between “hyperfocus” (the basis for productivity) and “scatterfocus” (the basis for creativity). 

Together, these two attention modes can unlock our potential by combining productivity and creativity. 

All in all, Hyperfocus is an excellent book for readers who want productivity hacks that rest on firm scientific grounds.

Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey on Amazon

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life – Chip and Dan Heath (2013) 

Productivity is often the result of conscious life choices, not just work-related techniques. 

That’s where informed decisions come to fruition. In Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive, the two bestselling authors outline our natural biases when it comes to decisions. 

In this context, we make irrational decisions due to certain natural biases. The first step is to recognize those biases. 

After knowing why we make irrational decisions, we need to find ways of tricking our brains into overcoming our innate biases. 

By using intriguing examples and academic studies, the Heath brothers explain both the causes and solutions to irrational decision-making habits.

Implementing this rational decision-making system will help you overcome your biases, make more informed decisions, and ultimately work toward your goals with more determination and productivity. 

Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath on Amazon

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