I’m a productivity geek. I’m on a lifelong mission to tweak and improve how I do things. Each day is an experiment, mostly one that fails.
This used to be a secret practice, then I took part in a panel discussion on work-life balance. Alongside four of my colleagues I was quizzed on how to fit it all in. Suddenly my obsessive approaches were exposed company wide.
I’d hadn’t prepared for the panel specifically — instead, it felt like my whole life was getting ready for it. I get my ideas from podcasts, blogs and books. So to continue oversharing here’s my top 10 titles to help you experiment, refine and enjoy finding your own personal balance.
1) Getting Things Done — How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity by David Allen
The classic guide on how to be productive, manage an overwhelming amount to do whilst functioning with a clear head and positive sense of relaxed control. Quite a promise but the founding father of modern productivity delivers practical tips in his GTD system.
2) Manage Your Day-to-Day — Build your routine, find your focus & sharpen your creative mind, Edited by Jocelyn K Glei
In a sentence: use your time wisely to create your best work. With a foreword by Scott Belsky, founder of Behance, and published by the mighty 99U, this book helps you to make better decisions so you can focus on what matters most to you.
3) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey
The blurb says this is one of the most influential books ever written. This is not hubris. Nearly 20 million people have had their lives changed by Covey’s wise advice. Don’t have time for the book? Check out this brilliant video on YouTube.
4) Better Than Before — Mastering the habits of our everyday lives by Gretchen Rubin
Written by the bestselling author of The Happiness Project Rubin uses homespun tales to explain rigorous research. This book shows you how to how make good habits and break bad ones. Her four tendencies questionnaire has been so helpful to me — take it and know yourself.
5) Smarter, Faster, Better — The Secrets of Being Productive by Charles Duhig
Duhig is the author of The Power of Habit — my go-to bible on the science of habits. This book is a brilliant companion that focusses not just on doing things, but doing them better. As a Pulitzer Prize winner he effortlessly melds science, reporting and storytelling to explore productivity.
6) Deep Work — Rules for focused success in a distracted world by Cal Newport
This is an essential read for knowledge workers ie pretty much everyone who works in an office. Newport makes a compelling case for ‘deep work’ — the ability to focus without distraction. So switch off your alerts, leave Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and instead concentrate deeply. Who knows what you’ll achieve if you go deep?
7) Essentialism — The Discipline and Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Helping us to apply decision-making criteria for what is essential so we can gain control of our choices and make the best possible contribution in life. Stop the ‘trivial many’ and make time for the’ vital few’ activities.
8) Thrive by Ariana Huffington
Redefining what it means to be successful in today’s world. This deeply personal book combines memoir and research to describe the transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving. Huffington outlines her ‘Third Metric’ to help us understand what success really means. Top takeaway — get some sleep.
9) Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Learn from the greats because frankly it’s all been done before. Currey distills the downright weird and wonderful habits of writers, thinkers and creatives to share how they create (and avoid creating). You’ll find delight on every page.
10) The 4-Hour Work Week — Escape the 9–5, live anywhere and join the new rich by Timothy Ferriss
Don’t wait for retirement! Read this step-by-step guide to living the life of your dreams NOW by the master of mindful productivity. Become a Ferriss groupie like me and check out his podcast, blog and Twitter. The man is a God.
Bonus title: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight
Underneath all the swearing (and there is a lot of swearing) there’s a deep truth: you need to understand what matters to you, and most importantly what doesn’t matter — and stop bloody doing it. Only by saying no will you find time to the stuff that makes you go yes, Yes, YES!
Bec Evans is a co-founder of Prolifiko a digital productivity coach which uses a research-backed productivity system to encourage writers to start and stick at their writing projects. She writes, works in publishing innovation, and was highly commended digital achiever in the Bookseller’s Futurebook 2016 awards.