Most of the time I feel like a productive person. I write three columns a week, am getting a master's degree, manage a small number of clients, and happily still have time to travel and enjoy time with my family. Still, I can always improve.

Part of the challenge with being naturally efficient is that you often settle for the comfort of your routine. Creating new habits requires work, and it can take a little while before you see the results of your efforts and change. This is not a good reason to stay stagnant. The more you improve your productivity skills, the bigger the reward of free time to share with friends and family. Or perhaps you can use the extra time and energy to pursue even better opportunities.

For those of you looking to improve, I created this list of super helpful books on productivity. There are classics mixed with a surprise or two. Try reading and implementing the teachings of just one a month, and then you can measure your improvement by the end of the year, when having extra time means the most.

When I saw David Allen speak, I realized the satisfaction that comes from checking off lists; I have been a list checker ever since. Getting Things Done is one of the all-time top-rated books on productivity and it's easy to see why. Allen focuses on relaxation: the more you can relax, the more productive you can be. He handily puts all of his methods in a one-page flow chart that you can pin above your desk. Allen encourages you to have more fun getting things done, and does a great job of showing you how to do just that.

Crowded by all the superfluous stuff eating at you? Try this book for the minimalist approach. Tynan is an outlier in the tech world. A developer and engineer, he lives simply in an RV, travels the world almost constantly, and is incredibly focused on his goals. His new book is a peek into not only how you can get more accomplished, but also how you can align yourself more closely with your goals with minimal everyday effort.

3. The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte

Being productive can seem like a chore, but LaPorte's book asks the question, "Why?" If your productivity is stalling, maybe it's because you're not living your ideal life. LaPorte encourages you to get very clear about how you want your life to feel, and then act from that place rather than trying to push upstream. Though it may seem a little too New Age, try out her "Desire Map" system and see how your life changes.

4. The Power of Less, by Leo Babuata

With the incredible amount of distractions and input today's society has created, Babuata's book is a breath of fresh air. The Power of Less teaches you how to cut down the unnecessary and streamline your everyday actions into simplicity. With less chaos clogging the works, you're free to get the things done that really matter.

5. Eat That Frog!, by Brian Tracy

For those of you who like the simple approach, Brian Tracy wrote this book just for you. Eat That Frog! is a no-nonsense list of 21 habits that will make you accomplish more in your life. Tracy's book is a continual bestseller because his book is a fast read and has comprehensive steps that you can follow daily to improve your productivity.

6. Your Best Just Got Better, by Jason Womack

The problem for many high achievers is that they settle on good performance when they are capable of great. High performers who want to raise their game should check out this book. I met Womack at a writer's conference and was amazed by his ability to crank things up and crank things out. A direct disciple of David Allen, Womack created specific "workplace performance" strategies that help people build better personal habits sure to take productivity up a notch from any standard. With these tools, people can accomplish much more in fewer hours.

Published on: Apr 24, 2015
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