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The thing I think I ask myself most often in life is, how do I get more done with my time? What tip or strategy am I missing for being as productive as those superstars I see on social media? What I’ve found after a lifetime of reading and researching is that there is no productivity magic bullet. But there is a lot of great ideas out there that can help you if you commit to honestly giving them a shot.
There are approximately 1 trillion books out today about time management and productivity trying to answer that question of how to get more done in a day. Most of them are actual garbage, unfortunately. I have found 5 though that, while never solving all my problems individually, have given me tools that have significantly improved my efficiency and my outlook on productivity in general.
Top Books to Get More Done
The first book on my list is by the incomparable Mel Robbins. I was first introduced to Mel when I watched her amazing Ted-X talk about motivation. Spoiler alert: that talk led to this book.
It’s no exaggeration when I say that I use her motivation technique on myself literally EVERY DAY. If you have trouble starting tasks or frequently talk yourself out of doing the things you know you NEED to do, this is the book that will change your life.
If you want to know more about Mel and her style, I’ve included a link to her talk below. As I said above, it was the inspiration for the creation of the 5 Second Rule and it gives a pretty good primer to what you’ll find inside.
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months – Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington
I’ve previously written about my thoughts on the 12 Week Year here. To summarize though, the 12 Week Year a productivity framework meant to shorten the timeline of your goals.
It does this through prioritizing your tasks during the week, having you measure how well you accomplished those tasks, and then refocusing your goals with an accountability group of peers also participating in the 12 Week Year. One of the things I most love about this book is that they stress accountability as a motivational tool, not a way of punishing yourself.
If you struggle with keeping yourself on target with your goals then this is the book for you. As a framework of focus and accountability, it also works really well with all the other productivity methods out there.
Damon Zahariades is the man behind ArtOfProductivity.com, a site devoted to showing you how to hack your day to get more things done. The Time Chunking Method is basically an entire book on the Pomodoro technique. It would be a mistake however, to write it off because his insights and suggestions for how to make this method work for you are stellar.
As someone who thought that they had become a Pomodoro master, I was almost instantly humbled by the suggestions I found in this book. I particularly like the suggestions for things to do during your 5-minute breaks. It helps you keep non-work productivity up while you are resting your brain!
The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy – Chris Bailey
Over the course of one year, Chris Bailey conducted intensive research, as well as dozens of productivity experiments on himself to discover how to become as productive as possible. And then he put everything he learned into this delightful book.
The Productivity Project focuses on 3 things: time, attention, and energy. All three are of limited supply and how you choose to combine them makes all the difference in the world.
These factors are so important that every section starts with estimated read time so that you know before getting into it if you’ll have to break partway through. (Most sections are around 10 minutes!) Every chapter also ends with a challenge of some sort which tells you upfront the time/energy/focus required, how much value you’ll get from it, the level of fun it is to do, and what you’ll get out of it.
While not specifically a productivity or time management book, The Power of Habit is an amazing resource for learning how to make productive actions a habit.
The core of this book is about how habits are formed, how they function, how they can be modified and how they influence our lives and our business world. The basics of habit can be boiled down to a cue of some kind that triggers a habit, followed by a routine that happens pretty much automatically, followed by some form of reward that reinforces the habit.
Duhigg goes into detail on how to identify these cues for bad habits and redirect the routine to a good habit instead. He also takes this cycle and shows us how to create entirely new cues and routine pairs for good habits.
There is no productivity magic bullet. With some dedication though, these 5 books will take you farther and allow you to get more done than you ever thought possible.
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