10 Must-read Productivity Books to Supercharge Your Career

To assist you in your journey of self-improvement, I’ve listed 10 productivity books centered mainly on personal development and productivity. 

The research, tips and case studies found in these books are simply mind-blowing and I have summarized those in one or two paragraphs.

Explore more books in my library.

Books Focusing On Habits

The Power of Habit — Why We Do What We Do and How to Change

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Books Focusing On Mindset

Mindset — Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Books Focusing On People’s Skills

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The Definitive Book of Body Language

Books Focusing On Work Output

Smarter Faster Better — The Secrets of Being Productive

Deep Work — Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

The 80/20 Principle — The Secret of Achieving More with Less

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Read: October 2020

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The Power of Habit — Why We Do What We Do and How to Change

by Charles Duhigg

Cue –> Routine –> Reward. This is the 3 step loop that governs the formation of habits. And it’s perfectly illustrated in the book.

You’ll find fascinating research-backed case-studies, from MIT research labs to how Starbucks fosters the habit of success.

This book also has a section called the reader’s guide, dedicated to helping you better understand the science of habits.

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

by Stephen R. Covey

You’re a highly effective person when:

  1. You’re proactive
  2. You envision the future with the end in mind
  3. You maintain priority, i.e., you put first things first
  4. You prefer mutual relationships with win-win scenarios
  5. You’re genuinely empathetic to others
  6. You achieve difficult goals through teamwork instead of going solo.
  7. You take care of yourself physically (health), spiritually (prayer, meditation) and mentally ( reading books)

It’s not too late to become an effective person. Get the book and start practicing those 7 habits.

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Mindset — Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential

by Carol S. Dweck

As its name suggests, this book is all about mindset. Carol presents us with two mindsets:

  • The growth mindset, and
  • The fixed mindset

Growth mindset: You know you can improve your productivity with time so there’s no pressure to be always perfect.

Fixed mindset: If you’re not productive, that’s the way you are. Productivity isn’t your cup of tea. It’s better to stick to your strengths.

Which mindset do you resonate with?

This book will show you which mindset to nurture in your self-improvement journey.

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13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

by Amy Morin

Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success

We all know how difficult life is. Some things go according to plan. Some go horribly wrong. And worse, some unforeseen events occur that change your life completely.

When these things happen, mental strength is of foremost importance. You need to continue with life. You need to soldier on.

Well, Amy Morin presents you with 13 things you shouldn’t do if you want to move on with your life.

It’s all about mindset.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

This book presents you with a handful of timeless techniques to win people into your way of thinking.

When dealing with people, it’s best to see things from their perspective.

How do you do that?

By practising Dale’s teachings and advice from the many years he spent influencing people.

I can assure you that it’s a marvelous book to read.

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The Definitive Book of Body Language

by Allan and Barbara Pease

How to Read Others’ Attitudes by their Gestures

Your body language speaks louder than your words.

It’s a fact that is clearly elaborated in the book. Your facial expressions, arm gestures and even leg postures can reveal the emotions that you’re desperately trying to hide.

On the issue of productivity, the book reveals how an office set up impacts the relationship between clients, employees and employers.

And if you’re a public speaker, you’ll find tips and hacks that’ll help you spread your message coherently.

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Smarter Faster Better — The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg

Would an increase in your overall productivity improve your business, life or your skill set?

That’s the question author Charles Duhigg asks you. He highlights 8 key topics in the book, namely:

  • Motivation – You’ll learn how to motivate yourself to do anything by simply transforming your task into a choice.
  • Teams – You’ll discover, as a team leader (aka entrepreneur), the importance to give your staff control and why you need to give it to them. He uses Google to illustrate his point.
  • Focus – This chapter focuses on the power of mental models. Basically, you need to tell yourself stories in order to anticipate what’ll happen next. You do this to take charge of your attention, which as we all know, is limited in nature.
  • Goal Setting – Importance of coming up with Stretch goals and Smart goals
  • Managing Others – How to create a culture of trust within your organization.
  • Decision making – How to foresee the future through Bayesian Psychology.
  • Innovation – Why creativity is simply problem-solving and why you need to trust yourself to let your inner creativity flow freely.
  • Absorbing Data – Why you should be proactive to any new information you get and not just engage with it passively.

The book also comes with an appendix that shows you how to use the knowledge from the 8 chapters.

A handy book indeed.

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Deep Work — Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

by Cal Newport

This book introduces the concept of deep work. This is the definition from the book:

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

To get to this state, there are 4 rules you should abide by:

a) You should work deeply

b) You should embrace freedom

c) No more social media for you

d) You have to drain the shallows

Wondering what the 4th point is all about?

Grab yourself a copy of the book to find out.

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The Productivity Project

by Chris Bailey

Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention and Energy

Chris Bailey reveals 25 nifty hacks that will have the most profound effect on your work output on a daily basis.

As an extreme productivity enthusiast, he hand-picked those 25 tactics from the thousands he encountered as a researcher of productivity.

He also challenged himself for a year by conducting productivity experiments on himself.

He discloses his discoveries through 8 chapters in a thoroughly entertaining way.

You’ll admire the power of being productive after reading / listening to this book.

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The 80/20 Principle — The Secret of Achieving More with Less

by Richard Koch

80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.

More often than not, 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.

In a business, for example, some 20% of clients account for 80% of a company’s revenue.

This book, with its fascinating case studies, will assist you to prioritize on the 20 percent of efforts that generate 80 percent or more of the results.

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