The best productivity books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about productivity and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education

By W. Edwards Deming,

Book cover of The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education

Deming’s work is classic. He understood how messed up the corporate world was getting way back in the 1960s. But we Americans wouldn’t listen, so he went and helped Japan, and most notably, Toyota. It’s fascinating to read his work that was way ahead of its time and notice the things we are just starting to implement today. It’s also a great prophecy of what’s to come.


Who am I?

My mission in life is to create soulful workplaces because I believe that we spend so much time at work that it impacts society at large. To feed this passion I read. A lot. Too much. I have devoured many hundreds of books on improving organizations. I haven’t found one book that has all the answers, but there are several that capture a lot. I also find that if a book is fun and easy to consume, it’s stickier; I can hand out copies and enroll people in the vision and start to implement the ideas in their organization.  Fun books lead to action.


I wrote...

Cultivating Transformations: A Leader's Guide to Connecting the Soulful and the Practical

By Jardena London,

Book cover of Cultivating Transformations: A Leader's Guide to Connecting the Soulful and the Practical

What is my book about?

The nature of transformation is that it’s about uncharted territory, and that means that the answers are unknown. This book will offer you tools to get oriented, identify patterns, and work through the challenges without feeling lost and overwhelmed. If you’ve ever felt like you could help but no one was listening, or people were resistant to your help, this book will help you stay grounded and supported in your work. When it starts to feel like it’s you against the world, this book and this community are here for solace and support. This book will be your partner while you dance between the soulful and practical.

The Now Habit

By Neil Fiore,

Book cover of The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

I recommend this book to my coaching clients and friends and family members because it provides clear, practical, effective advice for getting things done without beating yourself up. Using Fiore’s “Unschedule” is so motivating and positive, you avoid feeling guilt-ridden or otherwise miserable with yourself. My favorite part? Rewarding yourself with guilt-free play.


Who am I?

In order to earn my Ph.D. in Psychology before I turned thirty, I had to learn how to be efficient and productive. As a life coach and author of two dozen books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people overcome challenges, get things done, and get more out of life. 


I wrote...

You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

What is my book about?

It doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on or what you’re trying to do, this book is designed to help you be more productive. Inside you'll find: three essential keys to get things done; seven effective time management strategies; a five-part process to figure out what you really want; how to prioritize; how to devise and implement a plan; eight ways to get started; six essential tools to stay on track; how to overcome obstacles and common setbacks; how to identify and overcome self-sabotage; how to know when it’s okay to quit a project (and when it’s not); four common challenges to finishing — and their solutions; and how to finish something well.

Getting Things Done

By David Allen,

Book cover of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

This is a classic and for good reason. I love the idea of putting each thing you have to do on its own piece of paper because once you do, you can organize and manage everything on your plate. You can triage and prioritize what needs to happen when, in any area of your life. And the “Someday/Maybe” file is a great way of retaining ideas and plans that aren’t a priority right now.


Who am I?

In order to earn my Ph.D. in Psychology before I turned thirty, I had to learn how to be efficient and productive. As a life coach and author of two dozen books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people overcome challenges, get things done, and get more out of life. 


I wrote...

You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

What is my book about?

It doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on or what you’re trying to do, this book is designed to help you be more productive. Inside you'll find: three essential keys to get things done; seven effective time management strategies; a five-part process to figure out what you really want; how to prioritize; how to devise and implement a plan; eight ways to get started; six essential tools to stay on track; how to overcome obstacles and common setbacks; how to identify and overcome self-sabotage; how to know when it’s okay to quit a project (and when it’s not); four common challenges to finishing — and their solutions; and how to finish something well.

Time Management from the Inside Out

By Julie Morgenstern,

Book cover of Time Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking Control of Your Schedule--and Your Life

People have productivity challenges for different reasons. Sometimes, we need to learn specific skills or techniques. Sometimes we are unproductive because of external factors out of our control. More often, we have to identify, address, and overcome internal factors that are hampering our ability to get things done – which is the focus of this book.


Who am I?

In order to earn my Ph.D. in Psychology before I turned thirty, I had to learn how to be efficient and productive. As a life coach and author of two dozen books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people overcome challenges, get things done, and get more out of life. 


I wrote...

You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of You Can Get it Done: Choose What to Do, Plan, Start, Stay on Track, Overcome Obstacles, and Finish

What is my book about?

It doesn’t matter what you’ve got going on or what you’re trying to do, this book is designed to help you be more productive. Inside you'll find: three essential keys to get things done; seven effective time management strategies; a five-part process to figure out what you really want; how to prioritize; how to devise and implement a plan; eight ways to get started; six essential tools to stay on track; how to overcome obstacles and common setbacks; how to identify and overcome self-sabotage; how to know when it’s okay to quit a project (and when it’s not); four common challenges to finishing — and their solutions; and how to finish something well.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

By Stephen R. Covey,

Book cover of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This book probably needs no introduction. It was the first time management book that I read, and it had a really big effect on me. I remember really enthusiastically jotting down ideas from this book and making changes to how I worked. It's an absolute classic! The book would probably look really different if written today, but I think a lot of the ideas are just so evergreen.

Who am I?

So quite a few years ago now, while juggling a hundred and one things – some paid, some voluntary; some work-related, some not – I developed a new obsession in my quest to change the world: productivity. I have now written multiple books on the subject, and I am the founder of Think Productive which helps people and organisations around the world to increase productivity & wellbeing. These are the top 5 books that have shaped the way I look at productivity and the way I work and live my life.


I wrote...

How to Be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do

By Graham Allcott,

Book cover of How to Be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do

What is my book about?

When it comes to overflowing inboxes, ever-expanding to-do lists, and endless meetings, traditional time-management techniques—like those in bestselling books by David Allen or Dominic Wolff— simply don't cut it in the age of information overload

Thankfully there's a better way. Graham Allcott, founder of the global productivity workshop company, Think Productive, presents How to be a Productivity Ninja, his brilliant—and originally self-published—guide to cutting through the procrastination, getting more done, and enjoying your work and your life more as a result. Using techniques including Ruthlessness, Mindfulness, Zen-like Calm, and Stealth and Camouflage, you will get your inbox down to zero, maximize your attention span, and learn to work smarter, not harder.

Deep Work

By Cal Newport,

Book cover of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

This book really makes you rethink how to manage time. It was shocking how many pitfalls I fell for. Deep work helps you identify what work is critical and fulfilling. Anyone who wants to make tackle big projects in a work setting can take some advice from the structure of working deeply.

Who am I?

The whole concept of Your Next Big Idea is to change your perspective on how people come up with ideas. It is easy to count yourself out as not creative, but creativity and the ability to generate ideas are something that can be taught. You just need to refresh your perspective on how to look at the topic. These books do the same things for other categories in nonfiction, rethinking kindness, working, play, and changing people’s minds. These are skills that anyone can apply to any field of work (like with Your Next Big Idea) and can change how we act for the better!


I wrote...

Your Next Big Idea: Improve Your Creativity and Problem-Solving

By Samuel Sanders,

Book cover of Your Next Big Idea: Improve Your Creativity and Problem-Solving

What is my book about?

Your Next Big Idea teaches the reader how entrepreneurs, inventors, creatives, and innovators come up with their big ideas. Whether those ideas are giant multi-million-dollar businesses or simply ways to improve everyday activities, this book describes a process that can be used to help the reader originate and cultivate ideas that can change their life. It is styled as an interactive workbook where the main character is the reader, with each section featuring exercises that will challenge the reader's perspective, improve creativity and help them become a better problem solver.

New book lists related to productivity

All book lists related to productivity

Bookshelves related to productivity