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Top 5 Productivity Books You Should Read in 2021

My expertise in Productivity Consulting comes from a combination of first-hand experience and secondary research. The first-hand experience includes everything from fundraising to product innovation, at startups and Fortune 100 firms, across industries from Healthcare to Hospitality. By secondary research, I don’t mean long-term-huge-scale academic studies, but rather the fact that I am an absolutely voracious reader. (My favorite compliment of 2020 was when Brett Harned introduced me at the Digital PM Summit as someone who could quickly recall-and-recommend just about any book that would address an issue!)

Transparency is a core value at The Fiery Feather, and I prefer to give others credit where credit’s due – there’s nothing worse than someone who acts like they came up with all the answers themselves (eyeroll). So below is a countdown and a shoutout to these impressive authors. Each book speaks directly to one or more productivity challenges that I’ve encountered with my clients, and all can serve as an ideal resource for practical solutions.

  1. Why Are We Yelling by Buster Benson

This book is overflowing with critical insights on how to build self-awareness of your own argumentative or avoidant tendencies. I’ve personally been able to relieve tension in my own personal AND professional relationships by applying Benson’s approach, without feeling like I was faking it.

  1. Deep Work by Cal Newport

Newport has published a really solid antidote to the poison of multitasking. He serves as a great example of how to get things done in a strategic and meaningful way. It is such a relief to see a modern-day example of how digital minimalism can actually work.

  1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This classic never goes out of style. I love Duhigg’s examples from toothpaste to social justice movements. By understanding how both individuals and populations break and form habits, we can shape our own routines and rhythms that help achieve our dreams and goals.

  1. How To Have A Good Day by Caroline Webb

Okay here’s a confession. The first half of this book was enjoyable, because it was … validating. Webb summarizes many of the tips and tricks that I have collected and implemented over the years on how to structure an intentional, productive, enjoyable workday. But there were definitely some elements that were new to me towards the end of the book. It’s worth more than a quick glance!

  1. Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

If you’re like me, and really struggle with letting yourself rest, just keep this book nearby. I read it on vacation, and it felt like a much-needed permission slip to be on that vacation. This could be a perfect gift for your overworked friend or colleague!

What I love about each of these books is that they are applicable during any season – pandemic or otherwise. The wisdom they offer takes the long view. These aren’t just trendy tips, these are insights that persist in their effectiveness. At least that’s been my experience, but check them out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Theresa M. Ward

I love leading workshops about everything from time management hacks to mindful goal setting. And I thrive on propelling projects towards a successful finish line with an artillery of cohesive tips & tools. Read more…

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stephen murray

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