The best books to read when you are struggling with too much to do

Who am I?

Way back in 1994 I decided to build my career on the mission of helping people make better choices with their time. And my goal has always been to keep the solutions simple. I believe we have way too much in our lives that is complex and hard. While my primary work is as a keynote speaker, I have chosen to devote a significant amount of my professional hours to being a coach. I love helping people develop a plan for improvement that is aligned with their values and goals, and then walking with them through their season of change.

I wrote...

Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done—Now!

By Jones Loflin, Todd Musig,

Book cover of Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done—Now!

What is my book about?

Juggling Elephants tells a simple but profound story about one man with a universal problem. Mark has too much to do, too many priorities, too much stress, and too little time.

As he struggles to balance his many responsibilities without cracking under the pressure, Mark takes a break to attend the circus with his family. There he has a surprising conversation with a wise ringmaster. He leaves with a simple but powerful lesson: Trying to get everything done is like juggling elephants—impossible. So Mark begins to think about his work, family, and personal life the way a ringmaster thinks about the many acts in a three-ring circus. He discovers that managing his various acts can be fun and easy once he changes his attitude and follows his new friend's ongoing guidance. 
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World

Why did I love this book?

I always love books that give me a clear plan to improve some aspect of my life. Comer’s book has four key principles that are easy to remember and apply every day. They include silence and solitude, Sabbath, simplicity, and slowing. My favorite quote from the book was, “For all the talk about hurry and overload, most of it is self-inflicted.”

By John Mark Comer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who are you becoming? That was the question nagging pastor and author John Mark Comer. By outward metrics, everything appeared successful. But inwardly, things weren't pretty. So he turned to a trusted mentor for guidance and heard these words: 'Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.' It wasn't the response he expected, but it continues to be the answer he needs.

Too often we treat the symptoms of toxicity in our modern world instead of trying to pinpoint the cause. A growing number of voices are pointing at hurry, or busyness as…

How Will You Measure Your Life?

By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon

Book cover of How Will You Measure Your Life?

Why did I love this book?

I’m sometimes guilty of comparing my success to that of others without stopping to remind myself that their values system might be different than mine. This book challenged me to formally and decisively answer the question, “How do I want my life to be measured?” I now have greater peace about my career and life choices because they are being made in better alignment with my values. 

By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked How Will You Measure Your Life? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do you lead a fulfilling life? That profound question animates this book of inspiration and insight from world-class business strategist and bestselling author of The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen.

After beating a heart attack, advanced-stage cancer and a stroke in three successive years, the world-renowned innovation expert and author of one of the best selling and most influential business books of all time - The Innovator's Dilemma - Clayton M. Christensen delivered a short but powerful speech to the Harvard Business School graduating class. He presented a set of personal guidelines that have helped him find meaning and happiness…

Book cover of A Minute to Think: Reclaim Creativity, Conquer Busyness, and Do Your Best Work

Why did I love this book?

The title says it all! We are so busy doing in our day, we aren’t stopping to reflect on what choices we should be making in support of our authentic selves. In the book she talks about the four “thieves of time.” The one I most resonated with was “Drive.” Not too much… but too little. Because I was in a season where I hadn’t created clear professional goals for myself, I was letting too much time be used for things that didn’t really contribute to my success.

By Juliet Funt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Minute to Think as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"You're going to want to share copies of this book with your overbooked friends and colleagues, but before you do, take some time to read it yourself. Funt's wisdom around making space is priceless." -Seth Godin, author of The Practice

Do you wish you could stop the mayhem of work and life and just take a minute? Do you sense you could contribute more if there were a little more room in the day? Does busyness deprive you and your burnt-out team of the oxygen your talents need to catch fire?

Many have felt that way, yet taking a pause…

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

Why did I love this book?

This book came to me at a perfect time. I had at least 12 projects (which are anything to which you will give energy to) rolling around in my head and none of them were being moved forward. Gilkey’s process of helping me narrow down my choices and then prioritize my projects helped me get the clarity I needed and I was able to get two done in just two weeks!!!

By Charlie Gilkey,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Start Finishing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How much of your time and attention gets focused on what truly matters to you? Most people's honest answer is: not enough. For anyone who feels buried by busywork, responsibility, distraction, and fatigue, productivity expert Charlie Gilkey presents Start Finishing-a systematic, root-cause approach for overcoming the pitfalls to productivity and turning your ideas and dreams into finished projects.

The critically acclaimed, award-winning Start Finishing presents a nine-step method for converting an idea into a doable project by addressing the challenges you'll face and helping you create a reality-based plan for seeing it through. Learn how to identify your genius, build…

Book cover of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

Why did I love this book?

When I’m feeling overloaded with life it seems like making changes is impossible. Fogg’s amazing M-A-P strategy helped me lower the bar and make real progress on improving my personal health and ability to focus. I loved his real-life stories (especially about flossing) and simple approach to turning any routine into a habit.

By Bj Fogg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Improving your life is much easier than you think. Whether it's losing weight, sleeping more, or restoring your work/life balance - the secret is to start small.

For years, we've been told that being more healthy and productive is a matter of willpower: that we should follow the latest fad and make constant changes to our lifestyles. But whether in our diets, fitness plans or jobs, radical overhauls never work. Instead we should start with quick wins - and embed new, tiny habits into our everyday routines.

The world expert on this is Silicon Valley legend BJ Fogg, pioneering research…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in spirituality, time management, and self-actualization?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about spirituality, time management, and self-actualization.

Spirituality Explore 259 books about spirituality
Time Management Explore 28 books about time management
Self-Actualization Explore 176 books about self-actualization