Sometimes we find inspiration in books on the first page, others seem to take an age to get through. And funnily enough, as we’re talking productivity here it should be simple to find the tips, tricks and hacks we’re all looking for! Books on personal development and the business success are big sellers but where do you start?

At a recent Lunch and Learn webinar on productivity with Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones, I was asked which books and podcasts I’d recommend. So I took a browse through my bookcase and Audible library and have summarised a few of my favourites here.

Getting started

The 5-Second Rule by Mel Robbins – she’s got some great YouTube interviews and clips too. I’d say this is one of the most accessible methods out there and will spur you into action. If you’re struggling to get started, form a new habit and get on the road to productivity then you could do far worse than starting with the straight-talking Mel.


The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan is very digestible as is the unpleasant sounding “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. They both address how to focus on the main tasks at hand, which ones are going to help your business or goals and how to get the nasty stuff done first.

The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy and his daily short videos are good. He’s pretty driven when it comes to being productive, holding yourself accountable and measuring the impact of your actions.

The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran is great for really accelerating 12 months’ progress and planning. But be warned, it takes a lot of commitment but the payoffs can be great. I’d say it’s like a hard productivity bootcamp so I’ve distilled elements of this for clients which are manageable but still impactful.

Habit forming

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg covers how the science of habits can be used to increase willpower. It’s worth reading into how we build habits in order to address productivity.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson deals with how we can make simple daily decisions and consistent choices for success. It’s not a ‘self-help’ book so don’t be put off by my choice of the word ‘success’ here but in terms of understanding habit-forming principles, it’s great.

If you’re desperate to get up early then Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod will kick you into action as will anything by the Big Man Tony Robbins (no relation to 5-second Mel). Or perhaps just buy a mini trampoline and bounce on that, it seems to get him going.


Mindset by Dr Carol Dweck will cover off any doubts you might have about the stories we tell ourselves about our talents and abilities being fixed. The power of mindset is huge and impacts our endeavours which can be influenced by our attitude to growth and developing our abilities.

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey is a bookshelf stalwart but not always read cover to cover. His methods are wide reaching so you can thank Mr Covey for many leadership and coaching tools and tricks out there as in the right hands, they’ve very effective.

Playing Big by Tara Mohr is also a good one for considering what your inner mentor might have to say to counter your inner critic. It’s a good book for women wanting to take bold action and manage fear and self-doubt.


Everyone will find inspiration in different places but the two most impactful books I’ve read are by John O’Leary and Viktor Frankl. Michaela Haas with Bouncing Forward is also a great read on the power of post traumatic growth.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is a enlightening read on the areas of finding purpose and focus even during the bleakest of times. It’s not an easy read but offers fascinating insight into our ability to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances and to find significance in the art of living.

John O’Leary’s On Fire remains one of my favourite books and it helped me to make sense of a decision point I was trying to fathom out. Also his Live Inspired podcast series which never fails to inspire with his guests who often see beyond great challenge to do things we can aspire to learn from.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek is also worth diving into and he’s got loads of YouTube clips too on how to differentiate in leadership and business by understanding your ‘why’.

I work with business owners on making sense of all this and putting pragmatic and sensible plans in place to work more efficiently and productively. There’s no point in consuming all this information and not doing anything meaningful with it.

It’s worth noting that there’s a myriad of fabulous independent book sellers out there so all the links here are just for reference. Some are quoted from US sources but all are available in the UK.