Five Books To Help You Be More Productive And Organized

Sometimes, you need more guidance than “just get it done.” These five books can help you take more control of your life.

Five Books To Help You Be More Productive And Organized
[Photo: Evan Lawrence Bench/Flickr]

Getting everything done is not always simple. There are only 24 hours in a day, and for those of us who tend to take on more than we can realistically handle, it’s not enough time to do everything well.


I’ve discovered that being organized means managing my energy, health, mind, and daily habits. In the process, I’ve experimented with numerous tips and tricks. Some did nothing to my productivity and stress whatsoever, and others have helped me tremendously. If you’re feeling like you’re in need of some more organization in your life, these books can be a great starting point.

When You Want To Start Small

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More By Managing Your Time, Attention, And Energy by Chris Bailey

When I have a big assignment or hectic day coming up, I know to make a special effort to get my 7-8 hours of sleep, eat my greens, and break some sweat at least two days before. But until I read Bailey’s book, my physical health wasn’t something I paid attention to in my quest to improve productivity. In this book, Bailey tried every productivity experiment you can imagine from lowering his body fat (and how that affected his mental focus) to the very antithesis of productivity–binge watching Netflix for a month. The book chronicled his journey and what he learned, as well as the science behind it. If you’ve ever had the thought that you’re “too busy” to exercise or eat healthy, this book is for you.

When You Want To Take Control Of Your Inbox

Unsubscribe: How To Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, And Get Real Work Done by Jocelyn K. Glei

Former Fast Company contributor Laura Vanderkam called email “the boon and bane of white-collar existence.” On the one hand, it can be a tool that allows you to work without getting interrupted by the phone every fifteen minutes. On the other hand, it can also be an ongoing distraction that stops you from doing focused work because you can’t stand seeing unread emails pile up. Writer and host of Hurry Slowly podcast Jocelyn K. Glei tells you what steps you can take to stop email from ruining your work life. From writing shorter messages to staying away from never-ending threads, this is a great book to read if you want to banish email addiction from your working life.


When You Are Suffering From Information Overload

 Bored And Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive And Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi

In today’s always hustling, rise and grind culture, taking breaks can feel like the antithesis of productivity.  I have fallen into this trap, pushing myself to keep working until I was very close to burnout, at which point a head cold would come along and leave me bedridden for a few days. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that I could have stopped that cycle by allocating time to do nothing every day. Not only would it have been good for my physical health, my work would have probably been so much better because I wasn’t constantly anxious. If you know that you need to take breaks, but you can’t bring yourself to, this book is for you. Not only is it full of informative explanations on the link between being bored and being creative, it’s full of easy and non-intimidating experiments you can try if you’re not ready to break up with your smartphone just yet.

When You’ve Tried All The Productivity Hacks, But Aren’t Seeing Results

Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets Of Being Productive In Life And Business by Charles Duhigg

Productivity hacks can be useful–but if your head isn’t in the right place, they probably won’t deliver the results you hoped for. You can time-block your calendar all you like, but when an unexpected and stressful task lands on your desk, your plan goes out the window and your mental state transforms from zen to panic. In this book, Duhigg explains how you can engineer your mind to be productive, whatever the circumstances. From developing processes to follow during high-pressure situations to training your brain to come up with innovative ideas when you’re stuck on a problem, productivity starts with your head.


When You’re Looking For Reasons To Say No

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg McKeown

Thanks to the internet, the fear of missing out is stronger than ever. Not to mention the uncertainty around job security can make it harder to turn down extra opportunities. After all, what’s a few hours of sleep, right? Unfortunately, this approach will leave you stretched way too thin, meaning you’ll probably find it hard to do anything well. It’s good to work hard, but for long-term success, you need to be strategic about what you say yes to. This book helps you figure out what projects you should take on, depending on what your long-term goals are for your life.


About the author

Anisa is the Editorial Assistant for Fast Company's Leadership section. She covers everything from personal development, entrepreneurship and the future of work.