Eight Life-Changing Productivity Books For Authors

As an author, you know that productivity is key to your success.

But sometimes it’s tough to know where to start and easy to get bogged down in unnecessary details and distractions.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of 8 productivity books that changed the way I work and live my life, and I think they can do the same for you.

Whether you’re struggling with time management, getting started on your next project, or simply overwhelmed, these books have techniques, and tips, and offer perspectives and insights that will radically alter the way you manage your work and life.

So let’s stop wasting time and get into it!

1. Hyperfocus By Chris Bailey

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This book is a constant ‘go to’ for me. I have it in both audio and paperback format.

There is a reason that this book has found its way onto dozens of other ‘productivity book lists’ since it was first published.

Not only is Chris Bailey an authority on the subject of productivity, but the strategies and insight he offers opened me up to a radically new way of working.

The first half of the book is dedicated to the strategy Bailey has dubbed ‘hyperfocus’. This is a session of undistracted time in which you can comfortably pay full attention to the task at hand.

Bailey talks you through what hyperfocus is, strategies to achieve this state consistently, and how to manage the distractions which inevitably get in the way.

The second half of the book is dedicated to what Bailey calls ‘scatterfocus’. This is almost an absolute opposite mode to hyperfocus but offers its own benefits, including boosting creativity and offering your frazzled brain a chance to rest and recover.

Hyperfocus is an essential read for anyone who gets distracted or feels that they don’t focus on their work as much as they could.

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2. At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof

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This is another book I listen to almost on repeat and still feel as though I get something new from it each time.

Nieuwhof’s book dovetails perfectly with Hyperfocus, as Bailey’s book is a guide to achieving blocks of focused time, Nieuwhof’s work explored priorities and energy management in a way I have seen nowhere else.

Burnout is a constant plague, not only for me but for hundreds of workers, business executives, and self-published authors. It is always easy to feel as though things will calm down ‘once the next book is published’ or ‘once the website is up and running’.

There always seems to be one enormous obstacle in the way of me living the ideal life that we imagine is within arm’s reach.

Nieuwhof teaches some hard lessons from his own bitter experience with managing burnout.

This is a brilliant book to get you thinking about your priorities, your values, and the way you want to spend each day to achieve the life you want to live.

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3. 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris

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Time Ferris is a controversial character, and just a cursory glance at the reviews will prove that not everyone approves of the techniques that he recommends in this book.

There are certainly some grey hat ideas, including outsourcing your job abroad while taking credit for the work.

However, if you have tried cutting down on your busy work and essential tasks, and still find yourself overwhelmed, Ferris offers some outside-of-the-box and ruthless thinking, as well as simple and practical advice on hiring a VA.

This is an ideal read for anyone who wants to consider a radical shift in their thinking and wants to expand or scale up their digital business.

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4. Burnout by Gabriela Tavella et al.

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This is not directly a productivity book, but as the books above mention or talk about solutions for burnout, this is an ideal read to complement those books and to look at yourself and the way you work.

If you don’t have burnout or have had no symptoms of burnout, you are in a minority. And possibly a psychopath (no joke, read the book!).

I constantly suffer from burnout symptoms, then give myself a little time to recover and as soon as I feel well again, I rush to get everything done I’ve been missing out on and… crash. Straight into burnout.

This is not a light read, this helps support clinical psychologists identify burnout and understand the differences between burnout, depression, and anxiety, which are all closely linked but not the same.

But I think that if you are a self-published author, working in the fast-paced, digital world and setting your deadlines, and managing your work, then you would do well to understand burnout, how easily you can fall into that trap, and how burnout can be avoided long term.

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5. 5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox

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The claim on the front cover of this book might sound absurd, but Chris Fox now regularly writes up to 7,000 words an hour and more.

But don’t get too excited. This will not turn you into a machine that can knock out 40,000 words on a typical working day.

Instead, Chris Fox uses writing sprints (ten to thirty minutes each) to dash through well prepared and thought out scenes from a well-outlined novel.

He usually completes about sixty minutes’ worth of writing sprints each day and spends a lot of time on plotting and world-building.

Nevertheless, this is the perfect book to compliment Hyperfocus, as Chris Fox provides a step-by-step program for getting from zero words to 5k a day (or more) by using focused writing sessions.

Fox also provides a google sheet to help you monitor your writing speed and increase it with time.

This technique is not for everyone but is certainly worth trying out if you want to increase your writing speed or just set up a consistent writing habit.

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6. Getting Things Done by David Allen

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This is the ultimate guide on goal setting, prioritising, and organising tasks.

Where the other books in this list go into detail on managing time, energy, and attention, this book steps back and takes a long view, then teaches you how to turn that into day-to-day activities.

There is so much in this book that I still haven’t got around to implementing, but that is only because what I have implemented so far has worked out so well and I just haven’t prioritised doing the rest.

But if you feel as though there are always a thousand things on your mind, if you forget birthdays or almost miss appointments, whilst also feeling as though you never get close to your life goal, then this is the book for you.

I’d like to simplify and say this book is about creating the ultimate to-do list, but it is so much more than that.

This book can help you take the weight of overwhelm off your mind, and if you combine it with some of the other books on this list, you will find yourself achieving your goals without even thinking about it.

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7. The 80/20 Individual by Richard Koch

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Richard Koch’s The 80/20 PrincipleOpens in a new tab. is a global bestseller and a classic book in the productivity world. The book discusses how Pareto’s law of 80/20 can be applied to the modern world and lead to success.

In The 80/20 Individual, Koch takes these principles and shows how they can apply to both your personal and work life.

At its core, this book talks you through how to identify your goals, and examine the actions you are taking (or not taking) to get you there, then how to identify the key 20% of all your tasks and actions that will take you 80% of the way.

If you are suffering from overwhelm and burnout, or need help in identifying the priorities you should focus on, then this book is the ideal one to get.

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8. Before Happiness Shawn Achor

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Many of the books on this list touch on happiness and finding joy. They all examine life goals and discuss how to work toward them.

This book uses science and research-backed techniques to teach you how to create a plan to achieve happiness, boost motivation, and increase engagement with your work.

Even when you have all the practical tools in place, and you have a map of where you want to go and how you want to achieve it, you can often feel as though motivation and the enjoyment of your work are elusive.

This is not a ‘positive mindset’ book. On the contrary, there is a section which explores the dangers of blind positivity.

This book uses groundbreaking research to explore proven techniques you can use to reach your full potential.

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Niamh Murphy is a bestselling author of YA adventure fiction, proudly publishing independently since 2013.

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