The best time management books for entrepreneurs offer far more than advice on how to cram more into your day. These books will help you be effective and accomplish the important things, not just efficient.
In an attempt to get a handle on my work, family and personal life and feel more successful in accomplishing my goals, I've spent a lot of time reading time management books. If there's a time management method, I've likely tried it. If you're a productivity guru, I've probably read your advice.
Unfortunately, most of the books I read on the subject were huge disappointments. The irony of the time wasted reading unhelpful time management books is not lost on me.
The root of the problem, in my opinion, is most time management advice assumes you are in full control of your time, that you can simply close a door, put your phone on do not disturb, and be the master of how you'll spend your hours. Many of us don't have that luxury, particularly when you're juggling working from home with raising a young family.
Happily, in the midst of a pile of time management books that didn't help, I have read a few absolutely brilliant books that have fundamentally changed the way I work, prioritize, and set goals.
These favourite books are not time management in the strictest, traditional sense. They are not going to tell you to get up a 5:00 in the morning and work uninterrupted for several hours until you complete you most important task. They won't make you create a complex planning tool that's confusing and tough to manage. Most importantly, they don't assume your life, your priorities, and your best ways of working are the same as everyone else's.
These books have my favourite advice on how to best use your time because they begin with the premise that we are all individuals with different priorities and work preferences. From there, they show you how to make choices to make the most of the time you do spend working, so you can really achieve what you want, master tough things, reach dream goals, and have time for play.
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Save yourself from wasting time on unhelpful advice. These are the best time management books I've read.
If I could only read one book on time management, I'd choose Busy by Tony Crabbe. This book shows you how to get a handle on being too busy. It starts from the premise that for most of us, there's just too much to do in a day.
Rather than trying to do it all, we should determine those things that are most important and valuable and put our best efforts towards those things. Do less better is the mantra of this book. That means we also need to be willing to let go of a few things.
Busy has had a big impact on my goals and priorities for the coming year.
If you think you have to be born with special talent to build creative skills, you need to read Grit.
If you think you can't master a new, complex skill because you're too old, this book might help you change your mind.
Grit looks at the most recent research on learning and skill development and shows us that it's hard work, not special talent that's behind fabulous creative skills.
Why would I include a book about talent vs. skill in a list of my favourite time management books? Because part of managing your time includes deciding how to spend your time and choosing which goals you want to work toward. Grit shows us that goals you may have thought were out of reach are actually within your grasp if you're wiling and able to commit the time to build complex skills.
Where Grit tells us we can learn complex skills we may have thought were out of reach, Peak teaches us how to do the work to make it happen.
In Peak, you'll discover the latest research on learning, and discover how to best develop a complex skill. You'll learn the smartest ways to practice to get results and more past plateaus in your development.
I've put Peak on my list of best time management books because, if you're going to spend time developing a new skill, you should use that practice time in the most effective way. If you use the techniques in Peak, you'll be making the best use of your practice time.
Better Than Before
Creating constructive habits is at the core of using your time wisely so you can accomplish goals. The more you rely on habits, the less you need to rely on willpower to work consistently on tough tasks. Better Than Before teaches how to develop positive habits. It doesn't tell you what habits you should build, instead it offers loads of practical advice to help you consciously develop more helpful habits.
What I like best about this book is that it doesn't offer a one-size fits all solution. The author recognizes we all have different work preferences and tendencies and presents different ways to reinforce positive habits to fit different personalities.
I haven't read these books yet, but they are on my wish list to read. Both are very well reviewed and appear to take an interesting perspective on thriving and being more productive.
Deep Work teaches how to work in a more focused way without letting distractions creep in. It appears to support a lot of the ideas presented in the other books on this list, but with a focus on how to really work without distraction.
There are some distractions I'm good at avoiding, but others I still let creep into my work day. I used to be great at doing focused work, but over the years, I've slipped into the lure of mindless surfing a little more than I'd like. I'm sure I'd accomplish more if I was better at staying focused for longer periods of time, and I hope I'll learn how to strengthen that skill with Deep Work.
Essentialism, like Busy, is about doing less better. It's about gaining more control of our time and letting go of things that are less productive to focus on doing things that really matter better.
I loved the ideas in Busy so much, that I'd like to read another author's ideas and advice on the topic of doing less better.