Habits. We all know that the good ones are the secret to success and happiness. And the bad ones will lead you to ruin. Or at least to regret (and possibly a hangover). As long as there have been humans there have been habits. Plato wrote that character was simply a habit long continued. Shaq has stated that excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.
One of the books that many readers are turning to lately is Atomic Habits, James Clear's longtime best-seller. I have read and enjoyed Clear's book, and I took its continued success as inspiration to put together a list of books for readers who are interested in applying habits toward being more productive (and hopefully more happy). Read on for some book recommendations.
One of the breakout books of 2018, Atomic Habits is all about introducing simple behaviors that will turn into a lifetime’s worth of habits. It's also the reason this post exists, as Atomic Habits is still enjoying some prime real estate on best-seller lists, including the Amazon Charts Nonfiction list. But if you've read this book and want more, or if you're interested in the topic but want something slightly different, have a look at the books below.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
It's difficult to believe this book was published way back in 2012, but it's the one that really kicked off the recent focus on habits. At least as far as best-selling books go. Duhigg takes the opportunity to explain how habits actually form in the mind, setting out a mental model for how you can apply habit-changing behavior to your own life.
If you want to read a book by the guy who has done much of the actual research, BJ Fogg is the one to read. He's the director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, and his work is cited in most of the books about habit formation. In Tiny Habits, Fogg sets out with the premise that "tiny is mighty," and he shows you small ways to help you make big changes.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Let's say you've got the habit thing down. Now, what's really going to get you to persevere? It turns out the number one characteristic that you, your kid, or the stranger on the street needs to succeed and get things done is grit. Angela Duckworth has done the research, and she presents how, regardless of IQ or circumstances, that particular combination of passion and perseverance can take you a long, long way.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
We live in a time of great distraction. We also live in a time when we're encouraged to take on more and more responsibilities. But by doing so, are we actually accomplishing less? Greg McKeown introduces a disciplined approach to analyzing what is essential, and what isn't, to get things done in your life. Meet The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
We are now entering the more theoretical portion of this book list. But Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow is a standout. Basically, Kahneman argues that you have systems in your brain that dictate the way you think and make decisions. There's System 1, which could be called intuition: it's fast and emotional. Then there's System 2, which is more deliberative. It's slow and logical. There are times to rely on System 1 and times to rely on System 2, and Kahneman is here to help you to make those choices.
Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
Both Willpower and Thinking, Fast and Slow were released within a couple months of each other, all the way back in 2011. I think the runaway success of Kahneman's book overshadowed Baumeister's and Tierney's at the time, and even though Willpower met a relatively large and appreciative audience, it appeared to get a little lost in the shadow of Thinking, Fast and Slow. This book is all about self-control—both its potential and its limits. If you want to reach your goals, you're going to have to master self-control. This is a good one.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Finally, I'll close with one of the all-time best-selling books on productivity, Getting Things Done. This book was published almost twenty years ago, and it's still a beacon to people who are looking for a system that will help them to get organized and get things done. Allen rewrote the book in 2015 to address all the changes in technology that have taken place since the book was first published. When it comes to practical advice on organizing your work and creating work flows, you can't do better than this book.
These books can help you on your journey to improved productivity.