Desperate to make more productive use of your time? We hear you! We're all busy people but finding a way to make the best possible use of the hours in the day you're dedicating to work related stuff will free you up to have the head space to enjoy your free time a LOT better, and if you're a creative then the natural flow on effect will be more time and mental space to work on personal projects that keep you feeling rewarded and engaged in your interests too.
So when we found this list from NYMag of some of the best texts about productivity (recommended by folks who have a history of Getting Things Done) we knew we HAD to share some highlights with you. Get reading, pals!
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
One of the tricks of being more productive is learning to prioritize tasks so that you focus more time on the things that are actually important to you, or, if you will, the essential. “Oh, the beauty of the essential!” swoons Sophia Amoruso about this title on getting the right things done, rather than more things done, by Greg McKeown. She adds, “Choosing what’s essential and what’s not is one of the hardest things I’ve learned. It means finding ways to politely decline and disappoint others while protecting ourselves.” Candace Nelson of Sprinkles agrees: “This book has helped me to stay focused on what is important and learn how to say no to the peripheral distractions, particularly when faced with a large project.” It’s about quality over quantity, a good title if you’re struggling to figure out what’s actually important to you in your life.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Though productivity books might seem like a modern phenomenon, they have a long history that can be traced all the way back to the 18th century, with the publication of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. “It’s the story of Franklin’s life, but written with an eye toward the lessons he’s learned and how those might help the reader,” says Vanderkam. And Franklin was definitely a human who knew how to make the most of his time. “Benjamin Franklin managed to be not only one of the Founding Fathers, but also to start a public library, discover electricity, negotiate with France, invent bifocals, and write an American classic. He’s a productivity model for all of us,” says writer and podcast host Gretchen Rubin, who notes that even though this book was written centuries ago, it’s still “fascinating, stimulating, and also quite funny.”
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
If you’ve ever gotten sucked into reading the Cut’s “How I Get It Done” series, in which successful women outline their daily routines in exacting detail, Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals scratches a similar itch. Rubin recommends this title because it shows all of the different ways to be productive: “Reading Currey’s accounts of the work habits of 161 highly successful, creative people shows that there’s no magic, one-size-fits-all solution — only the way that’s right for us. We could live a life of quiet predictability, like Charles Darwin, or we could indulge in boozy revelry, like Toulouse-Lautrec.” What’s most important, however, is sticking to the habits that actually help you achieve your goals.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
If you’re looking for a title to help you cut down on the amount of time you spend on social media or email, Cal Newport’s Deep Work makes a compelling case for eliminating shallow work, or “noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks” (like scrolling through Twitter or responding to emails as they arrive), in order to create time and mental energy for deep work, the stuff you produce at a high level that requires concentration and focus. It’s a good reminder that one of the best things you can do to improve your productivity is to put down your phone, turn off your notifications, and simply focus on the work that needs to get done.
You can check out the entire list of books put together by the excellent team at NYMag by following the link below!
MORE: The Best Productivity Books (NYMag)