A quick Amazon search for “productivity” brings back over 30,000 books. Trying to wade through that list is neither efficient nor productive, and online reviews for books can be tricky. How do you know the person writing the review is someone you should be listening to?
How do you know which books will help you level up your productivity, and which books have a great cover and not much else?
We (and by “we”, I mean the AE team and our community) have curated a list of the productivity books that have been helping us take action towards our goals.
Why we talk about books so much
A core value at Asian Efficiency is “Glow Green”. Here’s what that means to us:
Glowing Green means becoming the best version of ourselves. It means becoming the very best that we can and excelling at everything that we do. It also describes the journey that we all go through from where we are now to being the successful version of ourselves that we want to be. As we succeed in and light up each area of our lives, we “glow green” in that area.
It is no accident that Glow Green is our number one core value. Improving yourself will lead to improving all other areas of your life or business, and books are one of the best ways to improve yourself mentally.
Most of us understand that the food we put in our body can profoundly influence our physical well-being, and it is the same with our minds – we want to make sure that we consume things that will impact our mental well-being positively.
The right books are like “mind food,” and in fact we recorded a podcast on this exact topic:
When you read a book, you are gaining the benefit of the author’s experience without having to spend the time the author did to gain that experience. It’s a highly efficient way to learn.
(Side note: don’t like to read? Try audiobooks. Don’t want to or aren’t able to spend a lot of money buying books? Chances are, your local library can get in any of these books for you. It’s amazing the learning resources that libraries have waiting to be used.)
Anyone you talk to from Asian Efficiency is a huge reader, and every week we have a meeting item where we share what books or courses we have completed and what our big takeaways are. Even though we have a team with different backgrounds, strengths, and interests, we share a common love of learning from books.
This spirit of glowing green and sharing awesome productivity books carries over to The Dojo, our private productivity community.
Dojo members discuss their favorite books and how they’re implementing them. We even have a #books channel in our Dojo Slack.
My favorite Dojo thread
I am not even going to pretend to be objective about which thread in the Dojo Forum is my favorite. Partially this extreme bias is because I started the thread (what can I say), but mostly it is due to the great resources that our awesome Dojo members share.
In the early days of The Productivity Show (our multi-million downloaded podcast – check it out if you haven’t already), we featured a segment called “What’s Your Book, Tool, and Frog?”.
In it, the guest would share:
- A Book (either a favorite of theirs or one they had read recently)
- A Tool (not necessarily a technology tool – just something that makes them more productive)
- A “Frog” (hat tip Brian Tracy) (something that they were working on that they need to "swallow" to move towards their goals).
While it was great to hear the resources that our esteemed guests shared, I wanted to hear from the people. I created this thread in the Forum:
It has turned into a fantastic focal point for high-achieving productivity enthusiasts to share the books that have helped them.
(Side note: this is a great benefit of having a community that is exclusively centered around productivity. Everyone is there to learn and share ways to be more efficient and effective.)
An example of one of those high-achieving productivity enthusiasts is Neeldhara, a Dojo member.
When she’s not achieving her work and personal goals, she’s an invaluable member of the productivity community, sharing apps, tools, and automation tips.
She’s a master at connecting tools together to make super-efficient workflows, and she’s an Airtable wizard.
The Most Popular Books In The Dojo
As an example of her Airtable wizardry (and her helpful nature), she created an Airtable base that features the books that have been shared in the “What’s Your Book, Tool, and Frog?” Dojo thread. It’s helpful to see them all in one place, and is an easy prompt for the “what should I read next?” question.
Here are some of the most popular books shared in the Dojo:
The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington – Sample comment from Katie in the Dojo: “I love the 12 Week Year. I don't feel paralysed into inaction when I am only focusing on a few months at a time. It's a great concept.“
We also have an extremely popular 12 Week Year training course in The Dojo that is worth checking out.
The ONE Thing by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan – Sample comment from Nate in the Dojo: “The ONE Thing at its core is a methodology for putting your dreams and long-term aspirations front and center and giving you a methodology for systematically making progress toward that goal.”
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – Sample comment from Gary in the Dojo: “I have only a morning ritual, and I use the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod to drive it. It includes 6 steps: Silence, Affirmations, Visualizations, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing. I created a nice tracking and journal page in Evernote so that I can easily check off items completed each day and have the space to journal as much as I want to for each day.”
How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. – Sample comment from the Dojo: “This book explains why I failed to read (to listen to via Audible) ’The 12 Week Year’. It is not a book about speed reading.”
168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam – Sample comment from Paul in the Dojo: “I started re-reading 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam again today and thought about how Laura has been tracking her time now for over two years and the insights she has gained from that. “
2 Second Lean by Paul Akers – Sample comment from Philip in the Dojo: “ I really like the 2-second lean approach -in fact I have started implementing a 2-second improvement lean in my daily life. Every day I implement a 2 second lean improvement – 1 in my personal life and 1 in my business life. I have been doing it for a week now I have found it has made a huge difference. My apartment is more organised and I am finding I am happier as a result. I have also started implementing some of the ideas into my clients.”
Some other books that are mentioned:
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown (you can listen to our podcast with the author)
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Another List You’ll Like
Speaking of Tim Ferriss, Neeldhara shared another great Airtable base: Top Recommended Books by Tim Ferriss’ Guests, which was created by David Peterson from Airtable. It consists of book recommendations from the Tim Ferriss Show podcast. You can even filter it by guest.
Don’t Forget To Implement What You Read
Have you ever experienced this? You read a book, you come to the end, and right after you close the book for the final time, you can’t remember anything you read.
Or perhaps you take notes, and a year later you come across those notes and realize you didn’t implement any of the tips that seemed brilliant at the time.
Reading productivity books is great, but it is only productive use of your time if you retain and implement what you read.
Here is our guide for how to effectively read and implement books. You don’t have to go that detailed, but make sure you are doing something to make use of all the knowledge you’re reading.
What are Your Favorite Productivity Books?
Do you have a favorite productivity book not mentioned here, or do you agree or disagree with any of the entries? Leave a comment below, hit us up at @asianefficiency on Twitter, or even better share your favorites in The Dojo. We’re looking forward to reading (and implementing) your top picks.
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