Top 14 Best Productivity Books You Must Read in 2023

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There is no doubt that productivity is something that many people struggle with. The struggle is so real that people built an entire industry around helping others improve their productivity.

Nowadays, professionals such as coaches and consultants help individuals and businesses with this matter. People attend seminars in hopes of learning the magic formula to double how much they can get done in a day. And, of course, there are videos, websites, and books about the topic — all you need to do is search the web, and you’ll find them.

Self-help books are one of the most common ways people learn to improve themselves and their productivity. Nowadays, books aren’t limited to print, either, so you can acquire one in the format most convenient to you.

This list contains some of the best productivity books available in 2023, and many of them are available in print (paperback or hardbound), digital, or audio formats.

Best Productivity Books of 2023

Why are Productivity Books a Good Idea?

In early 2021, the Pew Research Center surveyed US adults. Of their sample size of 1,502 adults, at least 23% stated that they had not read any books in any form (whether audiobook, paperback, hardcover, or ebook) in the past year. These respondents indicated that they hadn’t read even a portion of a book. And while that isn’t necessarily an issue, these respondents are likely missing out on the benefits a good book can provide.

Books offer several benefits. Just look at this article to see why it pays to read. But to paraphrase, reading:

  • Can help your job prospects by improving your reading skills and comprehension, making companies more likely to hire you for management or higher-level work
  • Can help make you more compassionate and empathetic, which can help make you a kinder human all around
  • Can keep your brain active and potentially keep dementia at bay — reading and other brain-involved activities such as puzzles can reduce cognitive decline in older age
  • Can help you to relax and reduce your stress levels significantly

So, yes — reading is great, and books are helpful. But what about books about productivity?

Books for productivity are usually easy to read and digest. They typically dispense actionable advice to help you with your work and day-to-day life. Many can teach you powerful lessons in personal responsibility and discipline. Many can also show you some of the best tips and tricks to help you improve your work life balance.

Some of the best books on organization and productivity may help you learn about any bad habits you may have and help you to correct them. They can also show you techniques to help you improve your time management and cope with a busy schedule. Reading a few productivity books can help you fine-tune your daily strategies, optimizing and streamlining your everyday experience.

Related: Best Productivity Planners

How to Improve Your Productivity

Many might agree that productivity starts in the mind. A distracted or occupied mind makes it difficult to complete any tasks. And, if your morale is low, you may also struggle with focusing on what you need to do. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help you along the way.

  • The best way to help yourself is to make it possible to focus on what matters. Making your environment more conducive to productivity can help you focus better on your task. Limiting the environmental distractions that inevitably fight for your attention can make it easier to get the job done. Of course, this alone won’t always work for those who are neurodiverse (i.e., ADHD) — in this case, it may benefit you to also seek diagnosis and a doctor’s assistance in managing your attention span.
  • There are many studies indicating that morale is vital to employee productivity. Looking after yours can positively impact how much you get done daily. You can do this by taking frequent breaks, ensuring you have days off, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating balanced meals where possible, and more.
  • It’s a good idea to build self discipline and positive habits that can help make being productive second nature. Some may say that self discipline is like a muscle, and the only way to build yours strong is to get enough training. You can read books on efficiency to learn some tips and tricks you can apply in your life.
  • Acquiring advice about improving productivity can be great, but remember that advice is no good if you don’t apply it. Part of self management is working on building productive habits. Make sure you do your best to create one at a time so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

The books below help you work on the various aspects of your life that can boost your productivity in one way or another.

Top 10 Must-Read Books About Productivity

Deep Work by Cal Newport

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  • Publisher: Piatkus Books
  • Author: Cal Newport
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to work on their self-control and improve their focus despite busy schedules and distracting environments

In Cal Newport’s Deep Work, he discusses how undivided focus is a skill that is becoming rarer and rarer in a time when distractions are everywhere. Those capable of cultivating the self-control necessary for focus can increase their chances of success in their careers.

Newport also talks about Deep Work and what it means. Deep work is someone’s ability to use focus when doing demanding tasks while also eliminating distractions. The book also emphasizes how beneficial deep work can be, regardless of your industry.

The book states there are four rules for cultivating deep focus:

  • Work deeply by minimizing distractions and developing conducive environments
  • Embrace boredom: take breaks and rest so you can recover and prepare for more deep focus
  • Quit social media: try a fast for a month and see how it impacts your life, whether positively or negatively
  • Focus on doing deep work in scheduled time blocks rather than constant shallow work like browsing and using social media

Following these rules for focused success can help you build the productivity skills you need to become more efficient. These skills can help you not just with work or school but also with your day-to-day life.

About the author:

Cal Newport, Ph.D., is a Washington resident and is a writer and assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He also authored the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and he also publishes articles on the website Study Hacks: Decoding Patterns of Success.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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  • Publisher: Piatkus Books
  • Author: David Allen
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to know how to handle inevitable distractions effectively by learning tangible methods that can help prevent their focus from going astray

David Allen states in his book that distractions are inevitable, and the question is not how to eliminate them but how to handle them more effectively.

This book gives tangible methods of handling distractions to prevent your focus from derailing. One such way is by using multiple to-do lists, separated by categories, such as your dreams, goals, life, and work. The book also says that breaking tasks down into smaller, more actionable steps is beneficial.

David Allen also states it is crucial to be disciplined when managing your clutter, meaning minimizing distractions in your environment.

About the author:

David Allen is an international best-selling author and is recognized as one of the leading experts in personal and organizational productivity. He has spent thirty years doing pioneering research and coaching for the corporate managers and CEOs of the world. Forbes recognizes him as one of the top five executive coaches in the United States.

He has written other best-selling books like Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life and Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and the Business of Life.

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

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  • Publisher: Harper
  • Author: Daniel Goleman
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to learn more about attention and how it works so they can leverage that information into improved productivity

Sharpening focus is now more crucial than ever before, especially in a world full of distractions every which way you look.

In this book, Daniel Goleman looks at and discusses something that everyone has and uses daily: attention. According to him, attention is currently one of the scarcest resources we have. However, Goleman also states that it is the “secret” to improving productivity, performance, and finally, fulfillment.

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence talks about the science of attention and the three different types: inner, outer, and other. The book combines practical findings and leading-edge research to explain why high-achievers need all three attention types to succeed.

About the author:

Daniel Goleman is the author of several best-sellers, including Emotional Intelligence, Working with Emotional Intelligence, and Social Intelligence. He has written for the New York Times and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. He received a lifetime achievement award for his work from the American Psychological Association.

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less

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  • Publisher: Currency
  • Author: Richard Koch
  • Who is this book for?: This how to be productive book is for those who want to learn how to achieve more while doing less (or at least while not having to add more effort)

The 80/20 Principle is a book that teaches readers to leverage the Pareto Principle to achieve more without having to do more.

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Principle or The Rule of the Vital Few, states that an estimated 80% of outcomes result from about 20% of causes. That doesn’t explain much, so here are some examples:

Individuals perform about 80% of their work within 20% of their time. That doesn’t explain much, so here are some examples:

  • 20% of a business’s customers count for 80% of its total revenue.
  • This principle shows how it is possible to achieve more without maximum effort by identifying the 20% and then focusing all efforts toward it. Many gurus and coaches teach this very principle.

About the author:

Richard Koch is a British writer who wears many hats. A former management consultant, Koch is now an entrepreneur and investor. He has written many books, with a few focusing on the Pareto Principle. He has successfully used his knowledge to make a fortune through some successful private equity investments.

One of Richard Koch’s more recently published books is Unreasonable Success & How to Achieve It: Unlocking the 9 Secrets of People Who Change the World.

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

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  • Publisher: John Murray Press Learning
  • Author: Gary Keller & Jay Papasan
  • Who is this book for?: This is the best productivity book for those who want to learn how to boost their focus by figuring out what matters most

According to author Gary Keller, there are countless distractions in this life. People often want fewer distractions while increasing their productivity, regaining more of their time, making more money, etc. However, life can be incredibly demanding, and often, these demands come simultaneously.

The result? Missed deadlines, sub-par work, slower career progress, and plenty of stress.

However, in this New York Times best-selling book, Keller states that it is possible to have both less and more simultaneously. You can reduce the clutter around you, minimize distractions, increase your productivity, and boost your income to help improve your lifestyle.

To do this, you must master what matters most to you — your one thing.

About the author:

Gary Keller is the co-founder and chairman of the board of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., one of the biggest real estate companies worldwide. Keller is considered one of the most influential people in the realm of real estate. He is also an entrepreneur and best-selling author of three books, although the other two are related to real estate and investing rather than productivity.

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

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  • Publisher: Profile Books
  • Author: Ryan Holiday
  • Who is this book for?: Those who feel stuck in a rut and feel like they are going around in circles; those who want to learn the “formula to success” that can allow them to turn their challenges into advantages

This book is authored by Ryan Holiday, but it was published by Tim Ferriss (of The 4-Hour Work Week fame).

In this book, Holiday talks about how people may find themselves stuck, frustrated, and lost, wondering why others can succeed but they remain going ‘round in circles. He then says that there is a formula that many historical icons used to achieve success by allowing them to turn the obstacles they encounter into life-changing opportunities, no matter how impossible their situations may seem. The Obstacle is the Way will reveal the formula to success that can help you turn your life’s challenges into your advantages.

According to the book, you don’t have to be extraordinary or exceptionally smart, gifted, or lucky to achieve your goals. Instead, you can follow some timeless philosophical principles from a Roman emperor Holiday reveals in his book.

About the author:

Ryan Holiday is an American public relations strategist, author, bookstore owner, and podcast host. A best-selling author, he has sold more than three million copies of his books since publishing them.

Holiday was formerly the director of marketing for the clothing company American Apparel, where he also served as an adviser. He has also consulted for authors like Robert Greene and Tucker Max.

Ryan achieved success despite dropping out of college at only nineteen years old. Before dropping out to pursue other goals, he studied political science and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

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  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Author: Stephen R. Covey
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to learn more about the seven habits and how they can use those habits in today’s modern age

Although this book is not exactly newly released, it remains one of the best books for productivity even in the current year. This extremely popular New York Times best-selling book has sold more than thirty million copies since its release in 1989.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has transformed people’s lives regardless of their vocation or profession. It claims to be the most influential 20th-century business book. Many will agree that this book is one of the most impactful and inspiring around — some may even say it is the best productivity book you can read today.

In this book, Sean Covey discusses the seven habits and adds critical takeaways on how people can use them in the modern age. Covey offers a principle-centered problem-solving approach, regardless of the size or complexity of your problem.

About the author:

Sean Covey is an American innovator, business executive, and speaker. He is the president of the educational-leadership program provider FranklinCovey Education, a division of FranklinCovey dedicated to transforming education worldwide using a principle-centered leadership approach.

Covey is also a well-known New York Times bestselling author who has written several books that have also done quite well, such as The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

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  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • Author: Charles Duhigg
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to examine their habits, figure out where they have room for improvement, and learn how to leverage their new understanding of habit to improve their productivity

The Power of Habit was an instant classic from the moment of release. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times named this New York Times bestseller one of the best books of the year. Although this book has been out since 2014, we still consider it one of the best productivity books in 2023, thanks to its valuable lessons and tips.

In this book, Charles Duhigg discusses habits. He talks about their existence and how you can change them by following various scientific discoveries and knowledge. The Power of Habit uses engaging narratives to impart tons of information that presents a new understanding of human nature and its potential.

The book’s compelling main argument is that the “secret” to achieving the goal you’ve always been wanting to reach is by understanding how habits work and then leveraging this knowledge to your advantage.

About the author:

Charles Duhigg is a reporter, book author, and Pulitzer Prize winner. The New Mexico native studied history at Yale and earned his MBA at Harvard Business School.

Duhigg currently writes at The New Yorker Magazine, though he was once a reporter for the New York Times, where he wrote his Pulitzer-Prize winning series “The iEconomy.” Charles Duhigg also wrote Smarter Faster Better, a book focused on the science of productivity.

Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

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  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  • Author: Brian Tracy
  • Who is this book for?: Those who struggle to start their day and find momentum with their work tasks and time management

Once upon a time, Mark Twain said that if you must eat a frog, it’s best to do it right at the start of your day.

Brian Tracy takes this saying and uses it as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task on your to-do list first thing in the morning. “Eating your frog” each morning can give you the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve already done the worst thing you need to do for the day, potentially setting you up for a smoother day ahead.

Eat That Frog! shows you how to organize your day so you can prioritize the crucial tasks and accomplish them not just effectively but efficiently. At its core, the book tackles time management and discusses its vital components, the three Ds of decision, determination, and discipline.

This is one of the best books to increase productivity, especially since it gives you an actionable tip to try to incorporate into your routine.

About the author:

Brian Tracy is the chairman and CEO of his company Brian Tracy International, which specializes in the training and development of individuals and organizations to help people achieve personal or business goals quicker and faster.

Tracy has consulted for over a thousand companies. He’s spoken in more than five thousand seminars all over the world. As a seminar leader and keynote speaker, he continues to address more than 250,000 people every year.

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

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  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee
  • Author: Neil Fiore, Ph.D.
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to learn how to overcome procrastination, as well as all of its related causes and effects

The Now Habit provides a comprehensive strategy for overcoming procrastination and all its causes and effects. This book contains techniques to help busy people get stuff done with less stress and anxiety caused by pressing deadlines and aggravated by procrastination.

In The Now Habit, Neil Fiore teaches readers to prioritize goals so they can reclaim more time for guilt-free play. The book talks about overcoming perfectionism and fear of failure, which often accompany procrastination. It also teaches readers to stop self-sabotage through negative self-talk and advises them to use positive statements instead. The Now Habit teaches you to utilize your worry and make it work — for you.

Neil Fiore also includes tangible advice about time management and efficient work styles, then teaches you how to harness them to your advantage so you can have more guilt-free leisure time.

About the author:

Dr. Neil Fiore is a licensed psychologist with a P.hD. in psychology and counseling and a bestselling author of six books. He is also a trainer and keynote speaker who has spoken to many leading Fortune 500 companies, governmental institutions, and educational institutions.

A self-proclaimed specialist in productivity and success, Neil Fiore has published articles in many professional journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine. He continues to contribute to many popular magazines, including names like Elle, Entrepreneur, Psychology Today, Glamour, and Fitness.

Free to Focus

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  • Publisher: Baker Books
  • Author: Michael Hyatt
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to figure out how to make their time work for them by learning to focus on the most important tasks so they can build momentum

Although Free to Focus is still one of the newer ones on the market, we still easily recommend it as one of our top books on productivity. In this book, author Michael Hyatt talks about proven methods to succeed and streamline work so you can succeed at the rest of your life. Hyatt discusses nine ways not to free up your time but to make your time work for you.

Indeed, as one of the best books to improve work performance, Free to Focus can help you improve your work routine. However, it also does far more than that. In his book, Michael Hyatt helps readers redefine goals, evaluate what is working (and what isn’t), cut out any nonessentials, manage energy and time better, and build momentum by finally focusing on the most critical tasks.

About the author:

Michael Hyatt has many successes under his belt, including being a USA Today, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He founded Michael Hyatt & Company and also helms it as CEO. Michael Hyatt & Company is a firm specializing in leadership development and offering workshops, transformative live events, planning tools (physical and digital), and more.

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

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  • Publisher: Icon Books
  • Author: Graham Allcott
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to learn how to work smarter and get more done in less time and with less effort

Productivity Ninja, a book released in 2019, is now one of the best productivity books 2023 offers.

In today’s tech age, and with all of the distractions available everywhere you look, it’s impossible to find true, effective focus. And it’s become even more challenging to make the old, traditional time management techniques work.

In How to Be a Productivity Ninja: Worry Less, Achieve More and Love What You Do, Graham Allcott acknowledges the unique challenges presented by the technological age. He discusses various methods, such as Mindfulness, Ruthlessness, Stealth and Camouflage, and Zen-like Calm that can help you find your focus in these challenging times.

We included this book on our list of the best productivity books to read simply because it’s a fantastic way to learn how to work smarter and get more done.

About the author:

Graham Allcott wears many hats. He is a podcaster, speaker, and author who has written six books including How to be a Productivity Ninja and the version for students, How to Be a Study Ninja. Allcott also founded Think Productive, a company providing personal productivity consultancy and training through its offices in the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, and Australia.

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

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  • Publisher: Currency
  • Author: Jeff Sutherland, J.J. Sutherland
  • Who is this book for?: Those who want to learn more about Scrum and how to streamline their work processes

If you’ve ever heard of the term “Scrum” at work or in any work-related spaces, that’s because it’s a new(ish) work framework that’s taken the world by storm. This work method is based on a team formation in rugby in which a team locks their arms together so it can get control of the ball. That already sounds like a metaphor for something, and it is.

In today’s business environments, Scrum does involve collaboration but is also about examining how we work and finding out how we can improve them. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time is definitely in the running for the best book on focus and productivity, especially with how popular Scrum is getting these days.

About the author:

Jeff Sutherland cocreated Scrum and is now a leading expert on the subject of how this work method (or framework) has evolved for the purpose of meeting businesses’ needs. He founded Scrum, Inc. and is now its chairman. Beyond his many other achievements, Jeff Sutherland continues to share the best practices of Scrum with organizations worldwide.

J.J. Sutherland is currently CEO of Scrum, Inc., which is a training and consulting firm using Scrum to deliver results rapidly worldwide. If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he won an award during his stint as a producer, Baghdad Bureau Chief, and correspondent for NPR.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do productivity books work?

Personal development books, in general, often offer valid and valuable advice and information that can genuinely make a positive impact on your life. These bits of information may be completely new and unique to the book, or they could be concepts that are already available for you to find online if you dig deep enough.

However, the problem is that the advice you get from reading any self-help books is useless unless you make an effort to apply them to your life.

Productivity books can work, but you have to make sure that you’re putting in the work, too.

Additionally, there are some cases in which the conventional-styled advice offered in some books isn’t as effective. For example, people who may be struggling with ADHD or those who may be neurodiverse might struggle to apply advice relating to focus. However, it is possible to adapt the advice into methods and techniques that may work better in this situation.

How can books improve productivity?

The books on this list contain information that can help you understand yourself, your habits, and your productivity. They also include productivity tips, advice, and tangible actions you can take to optimize your environment, morale, time management skills, and work habits. Following this advice and sticking to it can help your performance all around.

What is the best book on time management?

The best book on time management will honestly depend on what clicks with you. There are several just on this list alone, but just because we recommended them doesn’t mean they will be the perfect fit for your needs. Top productivity books that work for others may not always work for you, so prepare to do a bit of trial and error to find your perfect productivity system. You may also want to look at reviews before you buy a book.

Is reading a book considered productive?

Yes — and you don’t even have to read a book on productivity to be productive. Reading books, in general, can be productive as reading is a great way to learn things. Some people read books to relax, and that’s productive too! You can read a book to relieve your stress and allow yourself to come back to studying or work feeling refreshed (which can translate to better productivity).

Conclusion

People hold a divided opinion on the usefulness of self-help books. Some find them incredibly helpful, while others think they are unnecessary. If you are unsure of how impactful they’ll be for you, the best thing you can do is to give at least one of the best books on productivity a try.

Reading the best productivity books can only do so much, especially if you don’t apply what you learn. In the end, whether these books will benefit you depends entirely on how much effort you want to put in.

But reading even just one or two books on this list will be sure to give you plenty of inspiration on new ways you can improve your productivity habits. Pick one that looks particularly interesting to you, and give the advice a try!

We hope that our book recommendations have helped you find one to read. If you believe we missed a book that should be on this list, let us know in the comments below.

Looking to boost your productivity while working from home? Check out some of the best work from home apps and the top 9 Chrome browser extensions for productivity.

Chriselle Sy
Chriselle Sy
+ posts

Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, working with many publications worldwide. She currently writes for Productivity Spot, The Grad Cafe, and Hackr.io, among others.

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