10 Productivity Books You Should Read in 2021

Mike Seals
pile of books

While the past year has certainly seen a lot of change, one thing remains the same: we want to find ways to be more productive. After all, increased productivity translates to being more efficient and seemingly gaining more time in your valuable day. For a busy person wanting to fit in as much as possible in their schedule – or just wanting to free up a little more time for relaxing – boosting productivity can pay dividends. With that in mind, here are 10 productivity books you should read in 2021 to enhance your success. 

1. “Calendar Hacking” by Caleb Moran

Minimalism is in! It has helped us redefine our homes, embrace our inner Marie Kondo, and live a more organized life. In this book, Caleb Moran brings us a minimalistic approach to scheduling our time. This book provides easy-to-implement, practical steps towards determining your priorities, recovering lost time, and maximizing those precious daily hours. This book harnesses tips that have been taught for decades, compiling them into five simple steps that will put you well on your way to your most productive work weeks with a focus on efficiently managing your time in order to better enjoy life and feel less stressed. 

2. “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog is based on the common saying of eating a live frog first thing in the morning to know you’ve already accomplished the most unpleasant task of the day. Or at least we hear it’s a common saying. It’s new to us, but we love the metaphor. In these pages, you will focus on three major principles: decision, discipline, and determination. As you hone these, you will learn to minimize distractions and better prioritize the structure of your days. In many ways, this method reminds us more of the old military way of doing more in the morning than most people do all day. Tracy shows us how using a system to prioritize and knock out the important tasks will leave us energized and feeling satisfied. 

3. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink

You may have heard of this book as it has been around for nearly a decade, but it gets its inclusion on this list for an important reason. Here, Daniel Pink breaks down several decades of scientific research on human motivation in easy-to-understand terms and examples, leaving us with a recipe for drive. If you often find yourself missing that critical element of motivation, this is definitely one of the productivity books you should read in 2021. Drive shows you how to embrace autonomy, mastery, and purpose to change how you function. 

4. “The Psychology of Procrastination” by Hayden Finch

Much like Daniel Pink uncovers the details behind motivation, Dr. Hayden Finch uses this book to delve into the other end of the spectrum: procrastination. We all suffer from a little procrastination here and there, but for many people, it can have a major effect on productivity – and not in a good way. This book digs into a number of psychological factors that drive our urge to procrastinate, utilizing evidence-based research to highlight the root causes of these problems. However, it does not stop there as Finch provides concrete steps to overcome these tendencies and eliminate procrastination. Whether your procrastination is due to mental health needs, habits, or something else, you’ll find concrete solutions here. 

5. “The Productivity Project” by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has spent most of his life fascinated by the concept of productivity. This book serves as the culmination of a year’s worth of digging into what makes people truly reach their maximum potential when getting stuff done. In addition to detailing interviews with leading experts on the topic, he also made himself into a guinea pig by constantly undergoing experiments to determine the effects of different things on his productivity. Within these pages, you’ll learn what happened when he cut caffeine, limited smartphone usage to an hour a day, got up extremely early in the morning, and many other things. 

6. “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss

This book was a hit when it first came out in 2009 but has garnered renewed attention in today’s pandemic-centric world with more and more people discovering remote work. Here, Ferriss documents his journey from 80-hour work weeks to a 4-hour work week, all while increasing his income. While Ferriss’ story itself is enthralling, the book also has dozens of tips on how to live your ideal lifestyle by reframing the way you think about work. Particularly great for freelancers or those who endeavor to work remotely while traveling the world, this book is even more applicable in a COVID-19 world. 

7. “The One Minute to Do List” by Michael Linenberger

Are you someone who loves the satisfaction that comes with crossing out an item on your to-do list? Do you often write down an item you initially overlooked just to be able to cross it off? This is the productivity book you should read in 2021! The concept is quite simple in teaching you how to write the perfect to-do list. Understanding how to categorize tasks as critical, opportunities, and over the horizon will help you organize your workflow all in only one minute each day. Once you master this concept, you’ll have an important took in your toolbox to use every morning. 

8. “How to Think More Effectively” by Alain de Botton

When we think about productivity, we often spend a lot of focus on what we do. However, an important aspect of becoming more productive lies in our brains and how we think. This is the concept that de Botton investigates in this insightful read that looks at the most fascinating and misunderstood aspect of humanity: our minds. Learn how to reduce the time your mind spends idle, enhance your creativity, overcome anxiety, and effectively make use of boredom. This is a quick read that will lead to many takeaways that are directly applicable to your life. 

9. “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal

In this book, Stanford’s McGonigal artfully explains how people who are truly in control of their attention, emotions, and actions are far better off in nearly every conceivable way. The book is largely based on her course “The Science of Willpower” and seeks to teach you the physiological connection behind the concept. Whether you want more focus in your life or struggle with giving up control in some situations, this is an excellent book for learning to retrain your mind and comes with exercises that can be applied to your work and home life. 

10. “Zen to Done” by Leo Babauta

If you would rather pass on the detailed science behind productivity and stick instead to simple, applicable steps that can be easily digested, Babauta’s focus on becoming more organized and less stressed may be just the book for you to read in 2021. Zen to Done provides you with ten specific habits that help you apply a Zen philosophy to achieve a simple structure in your life. You’ll learn to take things off your plate and enjoy immersing your time in what is truly important.