I’m often asked about what my favorite organizing and productivity tools are, and while the list includes some physical items like paper planners and digital items like task management apps, my favorite tool is probably my brain! There are lots of great resources out there to help simplify and make our work and home lives more efficient, but the most important key to improving your productivity and getting organized is your mindset. Sometimes, a good book can be the catalyst for change, provide the information and motivation you need to just get started, or urge you along when you’re stuck. There are several books on organizing and productivity that I recommend to clients and in my presentations that I’ve found to run the gamut from practical content to inspiration for change, and any one of them might be helpful in your journey to living a more productive and simplified life. These are five of my favorites:
GETTING THINGS DONE: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
This is a perennial classic book on productivity, and is the go-to source for realistic, practical advice on how to manage your time and tasks. Allen’s book spawned an entire GTD empire of programs and products, but his book remains one of the keystones of the productivity world. From the first step of getting everything out of your head in a “brain dump,” to organizing both your physical and digital spaces, to keeping track of what really needs to be done and what can be let go, Allen gives a roadmap to better time management.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” David Allen
S.H.E.D. YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck, by Julie Morgenstern
Morgenstern is probably best known for her first book, Organizing from the Inside Out, which is one of the first, and still one of the best books offering advice and guidance for organizing your stuff. In S.H.E.D. Your Stuff, she goes deeper to examine the root causes of how we get stuck in the mire of not just our physical clutter, but the emotional and time clutter that keep us from moving forward. She offers her SHED formula for breaking free – Separate the Treasures, Heave the Trash, Embrace your identity, and Drive yourself forward. If you’re looking for some great soul-searching about why there is ANY kind of clutter getting in your way, this book will fit the bill.
THE SWEET SPOT: How to Accomplish More By Doing Less, by Christine Carter
Carter wrote this book as an outgrowth of her own struggle with productivity and trying to do too much. It’s chock-full of great research on productivity, happiness, and high-level performance, broken down into language we can all understand. From a fascinating examination of the origins of the concept of “flow,” to improving decision-making capabilities, to learning how to strategically say “no,” she offers solid guidance on how to conquer overwhelm and find that just-right work/life balance.
THE 5 CHOICES: THE PATH TO EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTIVITY, by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill & Leena Rinne
Written and published by the folks at the FranklinCovey organization, this book offers both high-level concepts and practical advice for better time management. From exploring the concept of “swordlessness,” to guidance on establishing priorities (what Stephen Covey calls your “big rocks,”) the authors break down the path to increased productivity into making five choices about how you use your time and energy. The section on using technology and on how to manage e-mail in particular found a fan in me!
GETTING ORGANIZED IN THE ERA OF ENDLESS, by Judith Kolberg
Probably the least known of the books I’ve mentioned, this short book is a real treasure on how to maneuver in today’s highly technological and intrusive world. The subtitle is, “What to Do when Information, Interruption, Work and Stuff are Endless, but Time Is Not!” Kolberg addresses the issue of digital distractions and how to manage the constant flow of information into our home and work lives. Her acronym, POP, describes the allure of all of that information and how difficult it can be to resist the pull of Potential, Opportunity, and Possibility, in everything that comes across our digital devices. Offering very down-to-earth and practical techniques for managing it all, it’s a quick read and a great resource.
So – go, do, read!!!