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12 Productivity and Time-Management Books to Read this Summer


10 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


You may have already devoured timeless productivity books like Getting Things Done, Eat That Frog!, The 4-Hour Workweek and Deep Work. If you’ve read these books and you’re still hungry for more, you can satisfy your craving this summer with the following 12 productivity and time management books. After all, they’re perfect to dive into during your summer slump, summer reading surge or an upcoming vacation. Here are 12 productivity and time-management books to read this summer.

1. The Mental Toughness Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Facing Life’s Challenges, Managing Negative Emotions, and Overcoming Adversity with Courage and Poise by Damon Zahariades

Published in April 2020, The Mental Toughness Handbook was written by productivity expert Damon Zahariades, who is also the owner of Artofproductivity.com. You couldn’t ask for a more timely productivity book.

In it, Zahariades defines mental toughness, its importance and the traits that mentally tough people possess. He also provides actionable strategies and exercises for building your mental strength and keeping impulses at bay. 

Quote: “Entrepreneurs and business owners face countless obstacles and setbacks. The only way they succeed in the long run is to endure and overcome them.”

2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Originally published in October 2018, Atomic Habits is authored by writer and speaker James Clear. This book provides practical advice on how to build a system for getting 1 percent better daily and replacing bad habits with better ones. It also has advice on overcoming obstacles like a lack of motivation and getting back on track.

Quote: “Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.”

Related: 9 Bad Habits You Must Break To Be More Productive

3. The Upbeat, Organized Home Office: Five Simple Steps to SORT and SUCCEED for an Organized Mind, Better Time Management Skills & an Office that Makes You Smile by Darla DeMorrow

Just like Mental Toughness, this was released in early 2020. Authored by Darla DeMorrow, this title emphasizes the importance of organizing and decluttering your workspace. While you may have come across some of the information before, it’s worth reading thanks to the way DeMorrow combines her sense of humor with practical advice she’s relied on, such as the SORT and Succeed! System.

Quote: “Regardless of your personal preferences, an organized home office helps you get more done. The objective is to create an upbeat office that minimizes distractions while your taste and style.”

4. The Idiot Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains What Your Head is Really Up To by Dean Burnett

You’ve gone ahead and developed new healthy habits — for example, resisting the urge to browse the internet or check notifications immediately when they arrive. However, now you’ve totally forgotten about a priority on your to-do-list. What’s up with that?

In The Idiot Brain, neuroscientist Dean Burnett explains the bizarre and out-of-date way our brains work. In this witty and entertaining book, Burnett covers how gray matter works and how you can prevent it from sabotaging your productivity.

Quote: “Procrastination is motivation to do the wrong thing.”

5. Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction by Chris Baily

If you’re looking to jumpstart your productivity, then check out the work of Chris Baily. He’s a productivity expert and author of The Productivity Project (2016) — he also runs an excellent site appropriately called A Life of Productivity.

In Hyperfocus (2018), Baily provides practical strategies for helping you finally get things done by scheduling “hyperfocus” sessions. To achieve this, Bailey suggests that you be aware of potential distractions, becoming more mindful of your energy and setting intentions. Although, I think a key takeaway from the book should be only consuming information that is either helpful or that you’re interested in.

Quote: “We are what we pay attention to, and almost nothing influences our productivity and creativity as much as the information we’ve consumed in the past.”

Related: 13 Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus

6. The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton

Tonya Dalton, the founder and CEO of Inkwell Press Productivity Co., has been often described as a mixture between Brené Brown and Stephen Covey. And, if you read The Joy of Missing Out (2019), I think you would agree on that assessment.

The gist of the book is pretty straightforward: Doing less will actually make you productive. That may sound counterintuitive and impossible, but if you let go of what’s not important, you can focus on your priorities and enjoy where you’re at right now.

Quote: “We have to stop the glorification of busy. We need to change our mindset and redefine what it means to be productive. Productivity is not about doing more, it’s doing what’s most important. We need to stop trying to get more done and instead reset our focus on our own priorities. When we do that, our ideal lives can become our real, everyday lives.”

7. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

When is the 2018 follow-up to Daniel Pink’s Drive and To Sell is Human. In this title, Pink describes how we move through three stages throughout the day: peak, trough and recovery. Knowing this pattern, you can schedule your time more effectively: For example, during your peak, you would devote that time to tasks like analytic work.

The late afternoon is usually when energy declines, which is why it’s called a trough. During this period, it’s ideal to do administrative work or “routine garbage.” Recovery occurs in the early evening and your mood improves, which makes it perfect for creative work.

Quote: “I used to believe that timing is everything. Now I believe that everything is timing.”

8. 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week by Tiffany Shlain

We’re all addicted to our screens. And, that can severely harm your productivity, health, and wellbeing.

In “24/6,” Shlain makes the case for going on a tech detox one day a week, which she has dubbed a “Technology Shabbat.” If this sounds like too much of stretch, Shlain provides a blueprint on how to make to achieve this using humor, wisdom, and research-backed techniques.

Quote: “If you feel like screens rule too much of your life, living 24/6 offers a way to reclaim your attention, time, perspective, and — if more people do it, I hope — will help our collective humanity.

9. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“Benjamin Franklin managed to be not only one of the Founding Fathers, but also to start a public library, discover electricity, negotiate with France, invent bifocals, and write an American classic,” says writer and podcast host Gretchen Rubin. “He’s a productivity model for all of us.”

In fact, even though Franklin wrote his autobiography centuries ago, the lessons that he learned are just as relevant today. Also, Franklin has a gnarly sense of humor that shines throughout this book. Overall, it’s a refreshing and fascinating change of pace among your other summer reading materials.

Quote: “I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.”

10. Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz

Most entrepreneurs and business owners believe their businesses will fall to pieces if they’re not around. But at what expense? Despite what Elon Musk champions, working non-stop isn’t just sabotaging your productivity, it’s also jeoparding your health, freedom, and relationships.

Mike Michalowicz, who has previously released helpful books like Profit First and The Toliet Paper Entrepreneur, describes how you can make your business run itself in 2018’s Clockwork. In turn, you’ll achieve the independence you always dreamed of when initially starting your own business. Spoiler alert: It’s all about hiring the right team and knowing whom to delegate tasks to.

Quote: “The goal is not to find more hours in your day. That is the brute force approach to business operations, and even when you pull it off, you’ll just fill that time with more work, anyway. The goal is organizational efficiency.”

11. Juliet’s School of Possibilities: A Little Story About the Power of Priorities by Laura Vanderkam

I think it’s safe to say that for many of us seeking productivity and time management advice, Laura Vanderkam is a go-to-source. In fact, if you haven’t already, I strongly suggest that you also read her other books 168 HoursOff the Clock, and I Know How She Does It.

The reason I’m recommending this business fable is that it highlights the importance of priorities. Why’s that important? Well, as Angela Ruth wrote, “Priorities are the things that give life meaning and a purpose.” And since “these goals are so important, you’re willing to put in the extra effort and time into them.” As a consequence, “you’ll be more effective at time management” since you aren’t “wasting time on areas that don’t matter.”

Because it’s such a quick read, this is a perfect option to sink your teeth into during the dog days of summer.

Quote: “’I don’t have time’ means ‘It’s not a priority.’ We always have time for what matters to us.”

12. Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best by Alan Stein Jr.

Alan Stein Jr. is a speaker and author who spent years working with some of the most elite NBA players in the world as a performance coach. So, yeah. I would think that he knows a little something about becoming a high achiever.

In 2019’s Raise Your Game, Stein shares habits that successful athletes and business leaders rely on to get into a positive and productive mindset.

Quote: Well-rounded is overrated. Use your self-awareness to double down on what you do best. Find the one thing you do better than anyone else and continue to pour into that.

Related: Revealing the Secrets to Peak Professional and Personal Performance

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