Best productivity books

16 min read

We decided to write a post about the best productivity books to help our customers become more productive. At HiveDesk, our goal is to make our customers’ employees more productive and their businesses more profitable.

You may wonder, ‘Why should I spend time on reading a book about productivity. If I just work more hours and complete more tasks each day, I will be productive. Where’s the need to learn a productivity technique?’

Productivity is not about doing more things; it’s about doing the right things. Most people think being productive means working harder, longer, and knocking off more items from the to-do list. It’s not. In fact, being productive is about getting more results per unit of time. Being more productive is more about changing your mindset and your approach to work. This is where these productivity books shine.

Reading is one of the most productive uses of time and contributes to growth and self-improvement. These are some of the most popular productivity books written by acclaimed authors. Even though each book teaches a different productivity idea, you need not follow all of them. Just pick one that resonates best with you and stick to it. You will see significant improvement in your productivity no matter which technique you use.

Let’s dig in and look at these books:

Table of Contents

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life


Author: Nir Eyal

Nir Eyal hit the headlines around the world with Hooked, a book that taught how to create a product that keeps bringing users back every day. Many software companies today use the Hooked framework to develop their products.

In Indistractable, Nir focuses on how to develop positive habits that will improve your overall productivity. The book teaches you how to minimize useless distractions, which free up more time to get the real work done. Nir does an excellent job of simplifying complex research data and facts to create a highly relatable book.

The discussions in the book regarding ‘internal’ and ‘external’ distractions are the most useful in overcoming the weak links in our focus. This book lays out a guided four step framework to help you get the most out of everyday technology instead of the technology controlling you.

Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

Tiny Habits

Author: B. J. Fogg

B. J. Fogg is a professor at Stanford University and one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation.

Tiny Habits is not just a book, it’s a productivity system that Fogg has developed and taught for many years. The book shows how you can have a happier, healthier life by making minor changes to your life.

Fogg argues that if we want to become more productive or improve anything in our life, we should start small. If we try to start with a big change, the enormity of that change will ensure that we don’t make any progress.

He illustrates the point through the example that if you want to improve yourself, start with two pushups a day instead of 10. Doing two pushups takes only a couple of minutes and very little effort. So you’re more likely to start and follow through every day. Once you develop this habit, it will be super easy to go from two pushups to 5 and then to 10.

It’s a simple but powerful concept that can make a huge difference in our lives.

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

The Effective Executive

Author: Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker is well known as one of the most influential management thinkers of all time. In his words, the measure of the executive is the ability to get the right things done. After all, making effective decisions is a vital productivity skill for everyone to master.

The Effective Executive focuses on techniques for making effective decisions. The book teaches a method that measures how you spend your time. Building upon that premise, Drucker introduces an excellent framework for making decisions. Drucker introduces essential practices for business productivity. By applying the principles in this book, you will notice an increase in your efficiency.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Getting things done

Author: David Allen

Authored by productivity consultant David Allen, we consider this book the ultimate guidebook for increasing business productivity. The book encapsulates the philosophy that our productivity is directly related to our ability to relax. It focuses how to clear your mind and organize your thoughts to achieve productivity.

Getting Things Done teaches the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule. When practiced, the rule helps you clear your mind, get the tools to assess your goals and stay focused. The book also focuses on overcoming negative feelings such as exhaustion and anxiety and learning to become comfortable about what you’re not doing.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less


Author: Greg McKeown

A common problem we face is wanting to increase our productive every day, only to end up not being productive at all. This book teaches the tricks of focusing only on essentials to become more productive.

The key idea of Essentialism is to focus only on what is necessary by breaking down tasks into important and unimportant. By focusing only on the important tasks, completing them in the right manner and at the right time, one can become much more productive.

Practicing what Greg teaches in Essentialism leads to a disciplined approach in life which helps people increase productivity in not just achieving long term business success, but personal goals as well.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Author: Carol S. Dweck

The success of your business depends on your mindset. Through this book, you will discover the power of having the right mindset. You will learn about how success is directly linked to the way you think.

Carol backs up the claims by providing a wide variety of examples, case studies, and stories and scientific notes. These examples illustrate the importance of the way we think.

Throughout Mindset, Carol explains how both growing and fixed mindsets can affect businesses and relationships. This book is not just limited to business productivity, it applies to everyone- from athletes to children.

Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less

Free to Focus

Author: Michael Hyatt

According to Charles Duhigg, choosing a particular behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives makes willpower a habit.

This book takes an interesting approach to productivity management by focusing on forming right habits. It looks into what habits are, how we form them, and how we can change them.

One of the keys to success is instilling the right habits and maintaining them with discipline. This Power of Habit has step-by-step information on how to improve your habits. This book has persuasive examples of how people and businesses have changed their habits to become more productive. Charles makes a strong case for how we all can change our habits to achieve what we want.

Eat That Frog

Eat That Frog

Author: Brian Tracey

Brian Tracy is an acclaimed speaker, coach and author. He has written over 80 books on sales, productivity and success. Eat That Frog is inspired by the old adage, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve already completed the worst thing you have to do that day.”

Tracey likens this example to focusing on your most challenging tasks that can have a huge positive impact on your life. The core of this book is the importance of effective time management. Brian teaches 21 tips that he himself uses to create his outstanding success. These tips can easily be applied, and the book is easy to read, which makes it an excellent start for even beginners.

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The Power of Less

The Power of Less

Author: Leo Babuata

Leo Babuata is well known for his blog Zen Habits, and this book is a direct extension of what he shares there. His philosophy as written in this book is, “Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can love what you are doing.”

This book not only focuses on productivity management but also encourages you to reflect and understand your priorities. This book will help you work smarter and lesser by effectively utilizing the resources available to you, giving you more time to focus on living your best life.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto

Author: Atul Gawande

As a medical practitioner, Atul Gawande is no stranger to checklists. He takes this concept of creating checklists and translates that into productivity management.

His book explores how having a checklist of the most basic actions can lead to incredible successes. He draws on several riveting case studies, such as how a simple checklist saved one of the most famous airline companies in the world from going bankrupt.

He traces his own experiences of using a simple but effective checklist to reduce the rates of post operation infection in patients. This book will teach you to focus on the most basic, simple tasks and collate them to create a checklist for success.

Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits

Author: James Clear

Whatever goals you have, this productivity book has the key to improve yourself daily to achieve them.

James Clear, one of the world’s best-known experts on habit formation, discloses many strategies for building new and efficient habits. Atomic Habits offers a successful framework for improving daily routine. You will learn how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that will lead to significant results.

Atomic Habits will offer you tools and strategies that will help you win a championship or redefine an industry. This book also provides a strategy to quit bad habits and focus on building positive ones.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work

Author: Cal Newport

This book looks at the dilemma of quantity over quality. By trying to multitask and focus on everything instead of only the necessary, people are unable to work without distractions and cannot learn to prioritize effectively.

The author explains deep work as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create a new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate”.

The book examines how introspection and time to rewind are important to get rid of distractions and focus only on what is important. This will lead to better business productivity and self-growth.

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy

The Productivity Project

Author: Chris Bailey

The author Chris Bailey took perhaps the most unusual path to learning about productivity. He rejected attractive job offers when he graduated from college to carry forward his dream.

He performed many experiments for a year in his pursuit of productivity. The Productivity project includes the lessons Chris learned on that year-long journey. The book has a treasure trove of insights and more than twenty five best practices to help you accomplish more.

The Productivity Project offers a breakdown of different aspects of productivity. The focus of the book is on productivity that includes overcoming elements such as excessive sleep, procrastination and many more. This is also a brilliant book for students looking to build and develop a productive habit.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

The One Thing

Author: Gary Keller

Gary Keller provides a simple yet powerful concept to focus on what matters the most in personal and professional lives. He focuses on cutting away unnecessary clutter in your life to focus on achieving your goals, getting rid of stress and anxiety and reviving your energy.

The ONE Thing teaches you to focus your energy on one thing at a time. In this way, you will live a more rewarding life – whether they want to build your careers, lose weight, get in shape, improve finances or personal relationships.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Author: Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is probably the book that established the genre of productivity books. It has sold over five million copies worldwide and used by people of all ages and occupations, including presidents and CEOs.

Steven Covey was a management consultant helping executives and business owners become more successful. He turned his learnings into one of the most famous self-improvement books. He prescribes the seven habits of highly successful people that contribute to better productivity management and success, both in personal and professional lives.

The focus is on self-improvement and growth by changing our perceptions and our response to the situations we are in. These seven habits can empower you to grow and change in a positive manner. Each of his seven habits will help you take charge of your life to become productive, well rounded and successful.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Manage Your Day-to-Day

Author: Jocelyn K. Glei

Author Jocelyn says that the single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second.

This book has a vast number of contributors that make it a book for everyone. There are many tips, viewpoints, and observations on routine-building, focus, and creativity, it has many useful tools for everyone.

Jocelyn wrote the book, keeping in mind the challenges faced while working in a constantly evolving and always on workplace. With knowledge from leaders in creative fields, this book is a great guide for tackling the challenges of a fast-paced lifestyle and workplace.

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The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

The 4-Hour Workweek

Author: Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek turned Tim Ferriss into a celebrity author. The book hit a raw nerve with readers disillusioned and exhausted by working harder and longer work weeks. Tim’s idea of swapping the regular nine to five, eighty hour work weeks for a four-hour workweek and a significant pay raise caught everyone’s fancy.

While the title and the claim of being successful working just four hours a week sounds outlandish, Tim lays out a framework to make it happen. He took the concept of outsourcing, used by large companies, and applied it to his personal life. He outsourced every task in his life that absolutely did not need him. He even outsourced communication with his dates to a virtual assistant!

The 4-Hour Workweek lays out the methods and concepts needed to reach there. Tim provides the exact checklist for creating a productivity and time management plan to create the life of your dreams and also to achieve financial freedom.

The book also includes tips and case studies from those who used the book as a guide to reform their lives and boost productivity, business and personal success. Even though many people are put off by Tim’s self-promotion throughout the book, it’s a fun read and discusses many important tools we can use to increase our productivity.

The Compound Effect

The Compound Effect

Author: Darren Hardy

Did you know that if you become 1% better every day at what you do, by the end of the year you will be 37 times better than what you are at the start of the year?

This is the power of compounding at work and the basis of The Compound Effect.

It’s one of the best known success and productivity books ever written, and Darren Hardy is one of most followed and celebrated business authors and coaches.

Darren was the founding editor and publisher of the SUCCESS magazine. He has interviewed and worked with hundreds of successful people. The Compound Effect is a compilation of what he learned from them and from his personal success.

The Compound Effect borrows the compound interest concept from mathematics and applies it to our daily lives. Compounding return (or interest) on a financial investment has a dramatic impact on return. The same impact can happen in our professional and personal lives by developing the right habits.

The key message is that decisions we make today have an outsized impact on our lives for years to come. Small decisions we make every day will either take us to the life we desire or to disaster. Darren teaches how good habits help us make the right decisions that can have a compounding impact on our lives.

The message is simple, yet powerful. If we make even small progress towards our goals every day, in the long run, we will not only become better at what we do but also be successful.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

168 Hours

Author: Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam takes a radically unique approach to work and productivity. She claims that most of the people claiming to be overworked are in reality doing less than what they think they do. She goes on to claim that many of the ways people work are extraordinarily inefficient. According to Laura, calling something ‘work’ does not make it important or necessary.

The book The 168 Hours illustrates the real-life stories and experiences of successful and happy individuals to showcase how productivity management makes a difference in success. The book makes the argument that everyone has the same 168 hours in a week, and how that time is spent is up to you. The main idea is to focus on productivity management and ensuring that you make the most of those 168 hours by focusing on the right tasks.

Living the 80/20 Way

Living the 80/20 Way

Author: Richard Koch

Richard Koch in Living the 80/20 Way looks at the concept of how working and worrying less can actually improve the quality of your life. He takes the famous 80/20 principle and applies it to our daily life and habits.

The book shows how in today’s cluttered and stressful world takes the focus away from things that are really important. It teaches the methods to find and focus on these few but important things to increase happiness and greater success. The book shows why “less is more” is a proven way to achieve your goals and have the life you want.

The book is widely acclaimed for its message and the power to simplify our lives.

The 30-Day Productivity Plan

The 30-Day Productivity Plan

Author: Damon Zahariades

The 30-Day Productivity Plan offers you the tools to get most out of your time. It outlines a 30-day plan to declutter your life, remove distractions and build the right habits to become more productive.

One of the key things Damon teaches in the book is a formula for creating to-do lists that actually work, increasing your productivity and stopping yourself from becoming a people pleaser.

The book also has ideas on how to break your procrastination habits, learn to counteract the productivity killing effect of television, decrease your addiction to social media, control your inner critic and become more confident.


Productivity is important for our success, but it does not happen by chance. You need to put in place a productivity system that will make you and your team more productive. The 22 productivity books we cover in this post are the best ones written on the subject. You can use any of these to implement the right process and build right habits to become more productive and successful.

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