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Mastering Productivity: 5 Key Productivity Books for Women on the Rise

For those of us juggling multiple hats, finding time to read can be a truly difficult task. 

But these five books can be game-changers when it comes to productivity (and therefore, give you more time)!

Top tip: if you struggle with finding time to read, try audiobooks - I love listening to them when I’m in the car or exercising. Great way to multitask!

These books are written by amazing authors and offer great insights into overcoming distractions, mastering habits, reclaiming time and stepping up your productivity game.

So let’s dive right in!

"Indistractable" by Nir Eyal

This book is amazing if you’re easily distracted and have a hard time focusing. Eyal has a great system for understanding and overcoming distractions. 

It operates on a simple yet powerful premise: the root cause of distractions is our desire to escape discomfort. 

As Eyal puts it, “distraction is merely a mismanagement of internal triggers.” And these triggers can be anything from stress, anxiety, or even boredom.

What I like the most about Eyal’s approach is that he doesn't advocate for eliminating discomfort altogether - let’s face it, this would be a lost battle. But he suggests a healthier way to deal with it. 

This approach involves a four-step process:

  1. Master Internal Triggers - this step is all about recognizing and understanding the things inside that distract you, aka your internal triggers. It could be anything… discomfort, stress, boredom, or a negative emotion. According to Eyal, distractions are often an escape mechanism from these internal triggers. Once you know what they are, it’ll be easier to reframe your mindset around the trigger, find healthier outlets for negative emotions, or tackle the issue causing the discomfort head-on.
  1. Make Time for Traction - according to Eyal, “Every action can be traction or distraction. It’s only a distraction if you’re doing it on somebody else’s schedule instead of yours.” Eyal suggests scheduling everything on your calendar - responding to emails, scrolling on social media, reading a book etc. 
  1. Hack Back External Triggers - we can't eliminate external triggers entirely, but we can manage how we respond to them. External triggers are, for example, notifications that lead you to distraction. Eyal's suggestion is that you hack back these external triggers, be that by changing notification settings, creating a focused workspace, or setting boundaries with others.
  1. Prevent Distraction with Pacts - make a commitment or a pact to stay focused. This could be a personal commitment, like setting a goal to stay focused on a task for a certain period of time. It could also involve an accountability partner or even a tool that helps you stay on track. The idea is to have a pre-decided plan to follow when you feel yourself getting distracted, making it easier to get back on track.

So you can begin by identifying your internal triggers. 

What are the emotions or situations that typically lead you to become distracted? 

Once you have a list, you can pick one trigger to focus on and develop a strategy for managing it more effectively.

Buy on Amazon

"Indistractable" by Nir Eyal Book

"Start with Why" by Simon Sinek

This book takes you on a journey of discovering your purpose - the very foundation of your actions. 

According to Sinek, the most successful individuals and organizations are the ones that know WHY they do what they do. 

This 'why' is the fuel that keeps the engine running, especially on challenging days when you feel like giving up.

The book popularized the concept of the Golden Circle: Why, How, and What. 

Many people and organizations know 'what' they do and 'how' they do it, but few understand 'why' they do what they do. 

The Golden Circle, ‘Start With Why’ by Simon Sinek

Most organizations work from the outside in. 

They focus on ‘what’ and ‘how’, but very often neglect ‘why’. On the other hand, the most innovative and successful people work with an ‘inside-out’ approach - the core of their business is their ‘why’ and this makes a big difference.

Having clarity on your 'why' can serve as a powerful motivation and direction for both your career and personal life.

So here’s my request for you - start by figuring out your 'why'. Why are you pursuing this career? Is it getting you closer to the life of your dreams?

Once you have your answer, make it visible in your workspace as a constant reminder.

Buy on Amazon

"Start with Why" by Simon Sinek

"Atomic Habits" by James Clear

This book is one of my favorites of all time! It talks about the compound effect of small habits in our lives. 

We often underestimate the power of small, consistent actions because we expect success to happen quickly. 

Go big, or go home! - Isn’t that the saying we keep hearing? Well, that’s just NOT true.

As this book stated: “success is the product of daily habits, not a one-time transformative change.”

James Clear presents a four-step model for habit formation and gives practical advice on how to make good habits appealing and bad habits unattractive. 

Cue, Craving, Response and Reward.

  • Cue - This is the trigger that initiates the habit. For example, a notification on your phone (cue) might trigger you to check your email.
  • Craving - The motivational force behind every habit. In this example, the craving would be the desire to stay connected or updated, which prompts you to check your email after seeing the notification.
  • Response - The actual habit you perform, which can be a thought or an action. Continuing with the example, the response would be checking your email.
  • Reward -  The end goal of every habit. The satisfaction or benefit you get from performing the habit. The reward reinforces the habit, making it more likely you'll repeat it when faced with the same cue. The reward in this example might be the feeling of staying updated or connected.

According to Clear, the key to building good habits is to make the Cue obvious, the Craving attractive, the Response easy, and the Reward satisfying. 

On the other hand, to break bad habits, you can make the Cue invisible, the Craving unattractive, the Response difficult, and the Reward unsatisfying.

His approach to building habits is grounded in science and real-life examples, making it a super interesting read for anyone seeking to start new habits or get rid of bad ones.

Try implementing a small habit related to your productivity for the next week. This could be anything from writing a to-do list each morning or setting aside a specific time each day for focused work.

Buy on Amazon

"Atomic Habits" by James Clear

"The Alter Ego Effect" by Todd Herman

This is a really fascinating idea: create an 'alter ego' to overcome personal limitations. 

According to Herman, successful people, from athletes to entrepreneurs, have often used this concept—whether consciously or notto overcome barriers and achieve their goals.

The book offers a step-by-step process to create your own alter ego, enabling you to step out of your comfort zone and tackle tasks you might find intimidating. 

  1. Understand Your Alter Ego Role - what exactly is it that you want to accomplish with this alter ego? Is it getting new clients? Going to networking events? Maybe your alter ego needs to make more practical decisions? Get clear on what specific action you want to get done.
  2. What Abilities Your Alter Ego Needs - a great time for a brainstorming session! What qualities are you looking for? what abilities is it that you wish you had but struggle with?
  3. Use Physical Elements To Bring Your Alter Ego To Life - this may sound silly but can be incredibly effective. Herman talks about ‘enclothed cognition’ - a psychological phenomenon where we associate clothes to a meaning. For example, if someone walks in wearing a doctor’s coat, you’ll immediately believe they’re successful and competent. You can reproduce this by attaching your alter ego to a piece of clothing you wear.

This might seem like an unusual approach, but Herman's compelling examples and science-backed explanations make a convincing case for the power of secret identities!

Think of a task or area of your work that you find challenging - create an 'alter ego' that excels in this area and try to channel this persona when tackling the task.

Of course, this may not be as simple as it sounds, but it’s a super interesting concept that’ll allow you to step out of your comfort zone and get things done! 

Buy on Amazon

"The Alter Ego Effect" by Todd Herman

"Deep Work" by Cal Newport

THE book to read if you’re looking to reclaim your focus in an increasingly distracted world. 

According to Newport, deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. 

In an era where it’s SO HARD to disconnect and where every notification draws our attention and scatters our focus, this skill becomes increasingly valuable.

The book offers practical advice on scheduling deep work, embracing boredom, and reducing distractions in our digital lives. 

It gives a lot of examples and studies that emphasize the importance and benefits of deep work, making it a really interesting and engaging read. 

And you can start putting this into practice today! Choose a time slot in your day for deep work—no distractions allowed. Start with a small period, like 30 minutes, and gradually increase as you become more comfortable and get better at doing undistracted work.

Buy on Amazon

"Deep Work" by Cal Newport

What’s The Best Book For Productivity?

Short answer, the one that resonates with you the most at the moment.

It’s impossible to choose one book as the absolute best one for productivity as we are all different and work best in different ways.

These five books are all really good, well-written books that offer great insights into productivity, focus, and habit formation. 

You don’t need to read them all at once of course, so just choose one that picks your interest the most and start there!

Reading is a great habit and I’m confident that all of them can add an incredible amount of value and get you the results you want.

By implementing the practical advice from these authors, you can take control of your time, increase your productivity, and move closer to your career and personal goals. 

Remember, it's not about drastic changes, but small, consistent actions that lead to big results. So pick up a book, start with one action step, and let your journey to productivity begin!

Join our strong community of +35,000 women who are making their dreams a reality through empowering skills training.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of them! Or if you’d add any other book to the list. Jump over to our FREE Facebook Community and let us know!

About the Author:
Some people look at the sky and see stars; others see constellations. Some people look at lines of code and see a website; Julia saw a path to empower women in building their dreams. As a (former) military wife, self-taught web developer, and lover of location independence, Julia has taught over 3,600 women to say “YES” to any WordPress request, but not only that, “YES” to themselves, and “YES” to creating life on their own terms. Empowering women and seeing others succeed is the biggest motivator for Julia. And so, she created a program to teach others the skills that allowed her to take back control of her life and start living on her own terms.
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