What Books Help You Be Productive?

There are numerous self-development and productivity titles out there to choose from.  Starting with works by David Allen (Getting Things Done, Making It All Work) to Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, The 8th Habit) to Neil Fiore (The Now Habit), there are different viewpoints and models that you can refer to when looking to increase your  productivity.

Some books you may have read may just inspire you to be more productive or are particular to your passion (Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit would be an example).

What books have you read that helped you out?  What authors inspire you to improve?  What books would you like to read that could help you even more?  Let us know in the comments.

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to Vardy.me and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Lori on the 3rd June

    After reading the GTD books by David Allen, I came across “The Power of Less…” by Leo Babuta. It’s a short read with lots of impact. After reading this book a few times and putting it’s principles into action has made a huge difference in my overall personal and professional life. Combine this book with the GTD system and you can’t go wrong.

    • Mike Vardy on the 3rd June

      Another great suggestion…that book plus his earlier e-books ( like Zen To Done) are great reads and show how simple is sometimes (if not often) better.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Angus Davison on the 3rd June

    I have found The Speed of Trust to be helpful. It is not necessarily a book on organization or production, but it addresses the whole idea of Trust and how it affects productivity and delegation. Good read.

  3. Martin Sjastad on the 3rd June

    Recently discovered the fantastic works of Seth Godin through Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders site, and bought his audiobook: “Linchpin, make yourself indispensable”. The main point of starting something, be it a creative project, a software project, a blog, anything, is to ship. According to the book, our “Lizard Brain” is preventing us from doing these things. A truly inspiring book and made me want to “ship”, however I have read different books on productivity and tried many different styles, which in turn causes chaos leaving me with too many choices. Always seem to find myself doing everything the night before deadline 🙁

    Also I would recommend “Tim Ferriss: The Four Hour Workweek”, interesting ideas, and seems very difficult too accomplish but indeed a good motivation for getting out of the bureaucracy of todays society.

    Would like to read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit

    • Mike Vardy on the 3rd June

      Both of those books are great. Ferriss’ work is a little tougher to put into practice – but Godin’s advice about making sure you “ship” is something I’ve really been striving to do.

      Speaking of which, I have a Producteev Two article to ship later today…best get cracking!

  4. Robin on the 3rd June

    I’m loving “The War of Art” right now by Steven Pressfield and “Ignore Everybody” by Hugh MacKeod. Both are in the must have category as far as I’m concerned…

    • Mike Vardy on the 3rd June

      I’ve also read “The War of Art” and it is a great, quick read. Great suggestion!

  5. rorschachdesign on the 3rd June

    I’ve found great inspiration in Stefan Sagmeister’s ‘Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far’ and ‘Made You Look’.

    I also gain a fair chunk of knowledge and inspiration from Adrian Shaughnessy’s ‘Graphic Design: A User’s Manual’

  6. Wez on the 3rd June

    I find reading books about successful entrepreneurs helps me be more productive as it gets me fired up and motivated.

  7. Abhin on the 3rd June

    My favorite books are Success Principles by Jack Canfield , frogs into princes and get the life you want by Richard Bandler, his work is awesome…

  8. Jessica on the 3rd June

    I’ve never been particularly drawn to self-help books, but rather inspirational novels either based on fictional accounts or true stories. These gems are a few that have sparked a desire in me to pursue my desires and a kindling fuel to keep my motivations high, and in effect learn to become a better designer and illustrator indirectly: Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’, simplicity with powerful depth following one boy as he follows his dreams; Robert Kurson’s ‘Shadow Divers’, a true story based on two deep sea divers that discover a sub and re-write American history; Jon Krakauer’s ‘Into Thin Air’, an account of the loss and triumph of conquering Mt. Everest; and Michael Crichton’s ‘Travels,’ a well-written auto-biography about going to the ends of the earth to find himself.

  9. Benjamin Benulis on the 3rd June

    I’ve read A LOT of productivity books and articles. Let me tell you, most of them the same stuff repeated over and over again. A book won’t really help you unless you APPLY what’s in it.

    That being said, best book ever for my productivity was “Instant Self Hypnosis” by Forbes Robbins Blair. He has a self-hypnosis script in their for making yourself more productive and focused. I applied it by doing the hypnosis script about 4-5 times over the course of one week. There was no follow up after that. My productivity increased dramatically, and it was all within my subconscious to just prioritize really well, ignore distractions and not procrastinate. Good stuff!

  10. Kyle W. on the 3rd June

    I’d have to say the most recent book that helps me be productive is Rework by the crew over at 37 Signals. It is more of an entrepreneurship type read but there are lots of tips on productivity in there as well.

  11. Miguel Senquiz on the 3rd June

    In the same vein as Kyle W.’s suggestion, ‘Getting Real’ by 37 signals has been tremendously influential. ‘Rework’ is basically a rewrite of ‘Getting Real’ with less app development references, but the message is virtually the same. Short, practical advice on cutting the BS and getting things accomplished. I’ve probably purchased at least 10 copies and given as gifts to colleagues. You can read for free at their site: http://gettingreal.37signals.com/, or order a physical version. Highly suggested.

  12. Rhodes Davis on the 4th June

    Without a doubt, “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker is the most valuable book in my library.

  13. Simon MacDonald on the 4th June

    I really liked the following:

    The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
    The Dip and Linchpin by Seth Godin
    Rework by 37 Signals

    While I agree that the 4HWW is hard to implement completely it did really help me out. I moved from a 60 hour a week job to a 40 hour a week job without taking a salary cut.

  14. Leslie A. Joy on the 2nd September

    Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky has been an absolute godsend for me.

    • Mike Vardy on the 2nd September


      Did you check out our interview with Scott Belsky and a review of the book? Here it is.

      Thanks for reading!

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