The best books about how to be productive without burning out

Who am I?

I’m Charlie Gilkey, and I help people start finishing the stuff that matters. I’m the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of Start Finishing (2019) and The Small Business Lifecycle (2012) as well as the forthcoming book Workways. Before starting Productive Flourishing, I worked as a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. With over ten years of coaching clients and managing the workload of running a business, I know a thing or two about how to spot burnout in a team or organization, and the steps to take to overcome it and prevent it.

I wrote...

Book cover of Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done

What is my book about?

How much of your time and attention lately has been focused on things that truly matter to you? Most people's honest answer is: Not enough. Everyone is buried by busy work, responsibility, distraction, and fatigue. The joy-producing, difference-making ideas are waiting for when the time is right, when the current project is over, when they have a little more money, when the kids are grown, or when they get a more understanding boss. They are waiting for someday. The trouble is: someday never comes on its own.

Start Finishing presents a nine-step method for converting an idea into a project by addressing the challenges you'll face and getting the project on a reality-based schedule.

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The books I picked & why

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

By Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski,

Book cover of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Why did I love this book?

While this book centers the way women experience burnout differently than men, I love that it doesn’t just focus on ‘work’ but instead highlights the full scope of what we’re doing each day that leads to burnout. It questions the givens that are creating the emotional and responsibility loads we’re carrying and gives science-based plans to get out of burnout.

By Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Burnout as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “This book is a gift! I’ve been practicing their strategies, and it’s a total game-changer.”—Brené Brown, PhD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Dare to Lead

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between…

Book cover of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Why did I love this book?

A major component of our burnout is that we’ve implicitly accepted the “more, faster, better, stronger” paradigm of productivity and are continually committing to more because we can. Until we can’t, that is. Essentialism gets us off the maximization bus and instead has us focus on fewer things that matter more.

By Greg McKeown,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Essentialism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The life-changing international bestseller that started a global movement - now updated with the new 21-Day Essentialism Challenge and an exclusive excerpt from EFFORTLESS

Have you ever found yourself struggling with information overload?

Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised?

Do you ever feel busy but not productive?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is to become an Essentialist.

In Essentialism, Greg McKeown, CEO of a Leadership and Strategy agency in Silicon Valley who has run courses at Apple, Google and Facebook, shows you how to achieve what he calls the disciplined pursuit of…

Book cover of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

Why did I love this book?

It’s ironic that, as a species, we’ve created technologies that keep us safe and comfortable from nature, but being in nature is shown to make us more emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy. The Nature Fix makes a strong case for why our true happiness, health, and creativity aren’t going to be found in screens, but in nature.

By Florence Williams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nature Fix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For centuries, poets and philosophers extolled the benefits of a walk in the woods: Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Wordsworth composed while walking over the heath; Nikola Tesla conceived the electric motor while visiting a park.

From forest paths in Korea to islands in Finland to eucalyptus groves in California, Florence Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health and creativity. Delving into new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and strengthen our relationships. As our lives shift indoors, these ideas-and the answers they yield-are…

Book cover of Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantle Your Stress from the Inside Out

Why did I love this book?

Dr. Samantha Brody takes a look at the full spectrum of the stressors that are affecting us and creating overwhelm. This is a great book that centers on our physical health, but not myopically so. The last part of the book is especially good for creating a personal plan that incorporates both short and long-term fixes.

By Samantha Brody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Overcoming Overwhelm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Groundbreaking Four-Step Solution to Stress and Overwhelm-Tailored to Your Life

Do more. Be more. Try harder.

It's the battle cry of our culture, and it's making millions of us sick, tired, and frustrated. Why? Because we simply can't solve stress and overwhelm by doing more and more of what we've been doing.

With Overcoming Overwhelm, Dr. Samantha Brody offers an alternative.

"You don't need new ways to manage your stress," teaches Dr. Samantha, "you need to prevent it from overwhelming you in the first place."

Using her proven and practical techniques that have already helped thousands, this pioneering naturopathic…

Book cover of The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More

Why did I love this book?

One of the major stressors of our lives is that we’re not following our natural daily energetic cycles (called chronotypes) and are doing the wrong things at the wrong time. You’ve experienced this when you’ve tried to write in the afternoon if you’re a morning person or if you’re a night person who’s tried to think deeply first thing in the morning. It’s not just a matter of what you’re doing, but when you’re doing it, that will make your activities more easeful or stressful.

By Michael Breus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power of When as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The latest research shows that there is a right time for all of us to do everything, from drinking a cocktail to getting a flu shot. The catch? That 'right time' varies from person to person. Fortunately, as Dr Michael Breus proves in The Power of When, learning to work with your body clock to achieve maximum health and productivity is easy, exciting and fun. When we stop focusing on the 'how' and 'what' of our lives and start focusing on the 'when', we reveal our body's natural schedule and unlock our hidden potential.

In The Power of When, Dr…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in stress management, life satisfaction, and health?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about stress management, life satisfaction, and health.

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