Good time management is key to preventing procrastinating while improving productivity. However, many people struggle to master this art, so it is a great idea to read books by experts on the subject.
Some excellent time management books include Deep Work by Cal Newport, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, and The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch.
To find the best time management books available, join 12 million others and download the Headway app to explore our informative book summaries to propel you on a journey of self-development.
Time management is an art that can help you to stop procrastinating, improve productivity, achieve important tasks, and ultimately become more successful. This article provides a list of our top 25 books on time management to help you remove the procrastination monkey from your back and improve how you spend your valuable time. After all, time is money.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
The term "deep work" was coined by Cal Newport in this book, and it refers to working for focused periods of time without common distractions, such as social media and the phones in our pockets. Newport argues that we often spend our time battling constant distractions, and this book teaches you to stay focused and tune out distractions. Deep Work includes tips and methods for concentrating as well as featuring stories of aspirational people along with their work habits. This book is ideal if you feel busy all the time, but barely anything vital seems to get accomplished.
Key Quote: "If you can't learn, you can't thrive."
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
This book was originally published in 2001 but was revised in 2015 to take into account the changes in information technology. It is essentially a guide to productivity and managing tasks and is one of the best-selling time management books ever written. It provides best practices to help you achieve more and worry less. The book's key concept is that our brains can only store and focus on a limited amount of information at any one time, and by taking on tasks as they come, we can prevent ourselves from feeling overwhelmed. Getting Things Done (GTD) is a productivity system. The book explains how a clear mind, personal organisation, and structure can help us tackle important projects efficiently and stress-free.
Key Quote:"You can fool everyone else, but you can't fool your own mind."
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
This book is one of the oldest and most popular on our list and was first published in 1989. The premise of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is that certain habits differentiate successful, productive people from everyone else. The book considers human psychology and how we are conditioned to behave in a particular way that prevents us from attaining greatness. Essentially, this book is an informative guide on how to embody certain habits to become more successful. The seven habits in the book are:
Begin with the end in mind
Put first things first
Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Sharpen the saw (recharge)
Each habit is considered in detail and is supported by anecdotes. Covey's book is highly recommended if you are looking to improve productivity in both your professional and personal lives.
Key Quote: "To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions."
Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
This book is named after a well-known quote by Mark Twain: "Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day". Another quote from Twain that inspires Eat That Frog! is: "if it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." Essentially, this book uses the frog as a metaphor for your most important and difficult task, and the one you are likely to put off doing. The concept is to prioritise getting the most challenging task done first, and the rest of your day should go smoothly. Tracy argues that the ability to decide the most important tasks could be critical to overall success. He details 21 time-management tactics, such as using the 80/20 rule, practising the Law of Three, and using the ABCDE method.
Key Quote:"Say no to anything that is not a high-value use of your time and your life."
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
This book is called 168 Hours because that is the number of hours that constitute a week. 168 Hours presents a framework for structuring our days so that it leaves time to do things that are important to us. It argues the importance of rearranging our schedules, leaving out unfulfilling tasks, and wasting less time on unpreventable chores. This book is recommended if you want to feel happier and fit more into your days without suffering from high-stress levels. In a nutshell, it gives a guide on how to use our time to live a better and more fulfilling life. 168 Hours also includes real-life anecdotes from happy and successful people and how they find creative ways of making time for essential tasks.
Key Quote:"you can choose how to spend your 168 hours, and you have more time than you think."
The 80/20 Principle: Achieve More with Less by Richard Koch
First published in 1997, The 80/20 Principle recently had a new revised and updated 2022 edition published to maintain its power and relevance. This best seller is essentially a guide for achieving fantastic results with minimal effort involved. The 80/20 rule is the Pareto principle that states that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts. Therefore, the key to success is to invest the majority of our energy and focus on the 20%, also known as the most important tasks. Koch illustrates that there is much difference between doing a lot and achieving a lot. He expresses the need to prioritise activities that offer the most outcome and value. This concept can be applied personally and professionally and can help you be better efficient and reclaim more time.
Key Quote:"Those who seize the day become seriously rich."
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is a manifesto on self-care, minimalism, and smooth working. It is lauded as one of the best time and stress management books on the market today. The author strongly advocates doing what is vital rather than doing more. Each chapter looks at a simplifying behaviour, for instance, getting rid of obstacles, setting boundaries, and decision making. Essentialism involves being highly selective by focusing only on the tasks that matter. You should find out what is vitally important and remove anything else.
Key Quote: "You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything."
Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
Though this book was only published in 2018, it already has the hallmarks of a classic book on time management and organisation. It explains how to take control and say no to things that do not benefit you. Make Time is a guide on honing in on the most critical tasks and offers over 80 tactics that you can experiment with to see which ones work for you. Tips include:
setting one intention at the beginning of each day and ensuring you follow it through,
designing your environment to help you keep focused, and
staying in good physical shape.
Key Quote:"something magic happens when you start the day with one high-priority goal."
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
You will likely have heard of this book as it is one of the most popular books about time management. The 4-Hour Work Week includes more than 50 tactics for improving income without increasing workload. Tips in this guide include:
working in short bursts, and
These alternative strategies are supported by case studies and examples of successful individuals who have adopted this lifestyle. The overall goal of this inspiring book is to help you improve your income, live more, and work less.
Key Quote: "Focus on being productive instead of busy."
The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
As its name suggests, this book is all about checklists. It details the usefulness and ultimate importance of using checklists to manage and organise complex processes, and this concept can be applied to both our personal and work lives. By creating checklists, we can ensure important tasks are not overlooked, have less on our minds, and we can become more focused. Atul Gawande is a best-selling author who explains the concept of the humble checklist and how it can deliver excellent results through engaging stories.
Key Quote: "under conditions of complexity, not only are checklists a help, they are required for success."
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg is an award-winning reporter on business and, in this book, looks at human habits. The Power of Habit considers how habits work, how to change existing ones, and how to establish new ones. Duhigg argues that understanding and examining habits are crucial to changing how we behave, work, and manage our valuable time. This manifesto features scientific research on habits and examples of successful organisations to illustrate how integral habits are to the shaping of us and how we can gain more time by altering them.
Key Quote: "If you believe you can change - if you make it a habit - the change becomes real."
How to Stop Procrastinating: A Simple Guide to Mastering Difficult Tasks by Steve Scott
This book is perfect for you if procrastination is proving to be the bane of your life. This guide has a specific structure to help you become more action-oriented. The author Steve Scott also shares how he personally defeated procrastination and considers why we procrastinate so much as people. How to Stop Procrastinating explains how procrastination can lead to numerous negative issues, such as poor job performance, health issues, and financial strain, and how it limits your success. It is vital to confront this issue to increase the chances of achieving your main goals in life.
Key Quote:"The truth is that procrastination can have a serious effect on your life."
15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse
The author of this book Kevin Kruse is an entrepreneur and best-selling author. Kruse questioned hundreds of different successful students, athletes, and business owners about what their number one secret is to productivity. He then compiled his results into this book and discovered 15 key secrets about time management. These secrets include using a notebook, doing one thing at a time, delegating most tasks, and following the 80/20 rule.
Key Quote: "highly successful people don't think about time much at all. Instead, they think about values, priorities, and consistent habits."
No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy
The best-selling time management book destroys the rumour that successful people are exceptionally talented or lucky. It explains that people can develop self-discipline and harness the power of this. Author Brian Tracy (mentioned earlier as writer of Eat That Frog!) is the perfect example of this, originating from modest beginnings to creating a vast business empire. Tracy illustrates that you do not need a wealthy family to achieve great things, only self-discipline. No Excuses! displays how success can be achieved through self-discipline in your personal goals, business and financial goals, and general happiness.
Key Quote: "Discipline is what you must have to resist the lure of excuses."
The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
It is common knowledge that the first few hours in the morning significantly affect the rest of the day and our lives overall. The 5 AM Club concept was first introduced by Robin Sharma over two decades ago and is based on an innovative morning routine to help people maximise their productivity, health, and peace. The concept is to rise early in the morning and make this a habit, as it assists in helping you accomplish great results whilst improving overall happiness and well-being. This book is clever in that it is written through a story about two struggling strangers that meet a unique tycoon who becomes their mentor. Read this book if you wish to increase control over your life and join the world's early risers.
Key Quote: "The smallest of implementations is always worth more than the grandest of intentions."
Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book offers a proven guideline for improving yourself every day. Author James Clear is a leading expert in habits, and this guide informs the reader how to form good habits, get rid of bad ones, and master the small behaviours that create impressive results. Atomic Habits includes true anecdotes from award-winning artists, life-saving physicians, Olympic gold medallists, and successful comedians who have utilised the science between minor habits to master their craft and climb to the pinnacle of their field. This book will help you make time for new habits and change how you think about success and progress. It offers all the necessary equipment to change your habits, whether you wish to lose weight, stop smoking, or accomplish any other goal or dream.
Key Quote:"Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement."
The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
The key concept behind The One Thing is to just focus on one idea at any time. This is accompanied with theory and examples of the benefits of following this lifestyle. If we narrow our focus, we can create improved outcomes rather than if we try to focus on numerous tasks at once. The One Thing includes countless tips for controlling our lives and removing obstacles to success.
Key Quote: "Multitasking is a lie."
The Pomodoro Technique: The Life-Changing Time-Management System by Francesco Cirillo
Over two million people read the original version of this book! It has since been revised and updated with new information. The Pomodoro Technique explains that working in time-allocated intervals or 'pomodoros' of 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break, can help us to focus our minds and improve productivity. It will help to assist with time management and getting more things done.
Key Quote:"The timetable is protracted, fatigue increases, productivity drops, and the timetable again is protracted."
Download Headway to Explore Books on Time Management
Time management is a struggle for many of us. It is so easy in modern society to get distracted by social media, emails, and non-essential tasks that we end up procrastinating and not making the best use of our time. Therefore, reading books about time management can provide valuable insights into what steps we can take to manage our time better.
Unfortunately, most people simply can’t find enough time to read all the books they want to read. But there’s a simple solution! Headway is a learning app that makes self-growth and development easy. Head on over to the Headway website, where you can find summaries of top time management books to help launch you on your journey of betterment and self-growth. And if you are interested in productivity specifically, read our article on the best books about productivity.