Time is money. This aphorism dates back to Benjamin Franklin writing in the 1700s, but it remains true today. If anything, it’s even harder to control the way we spend time, with so many distractions around us. Fortunately, there are many books with advice on this very issue. But even finding the right time management books takes time, which you want to save. So we’ve made it easier for you. Below, we’ve curated a list of the 20 best time management books.
The best books on time management
1. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy
What does eating a frog have to do with saving time? According to author Brian Tracy, writer Mark Twain said that if you eat a live frog in the morning, it will be the worst thing you will do all day. Hence, the rest of the day will be much more productive. This book helps you save more time by encouraging you to tackle the most important tasks first. It addresses issues many of us face: poor productivity, self-discipline and working practices.
2. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
When we think about saving time, most of us think in terms of days—and this is where we go wrong. Laura Vanderkam urges us to “steal time” from ourselves. She interviewed a wide range of successful people to discover that they all put the important stuff first. By doing this and thinking about your hours instead of days, you can save time too.
3. Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Zeratsky and John Knapp
If you want more free time and to become more productive, you have to make the time, rather than waiting for something to happen on its own. The authors propose four-step system for making this happen. Instead of focusing on making radical changes, they suggest small changes that anyone can implement.
4. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
I’ve read a lot of interviews with startup founders and this is the book which many of them list as a favorite. For those who want to escape the rat race and accomplish more by doing less, this book is all about getting the most out of your work. You may not go from $40k per year to $40k per month like Tim Ferriss did, but his book will definitely change the way you think about work and time.
5. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
One of the major reasons we seem to lack time is because we struggle with distractions. Cal Newport argues that the solution is in deep work, a state where we focus on a single demanding task. He presents a set of four principles for changing your approach to work, as well as a variety of examples to illustrate his point.
6. The Pomodoro Technique: The Life-Changing Time-Management System by Francesco Cirillo
The Pomodoro Technique is about working in intervals, typically 25-minute intervals followed by 5-minute breaks. It’s one of the most popular contemporary methods for managing time and increasing productivity and this book is arguably the granddaddy of time management books.
We also suggest checking out the free Toggl Pomodoro timer so you can get started immediately.
7. Time Management Ninja: 21 Tips for More Time and Less Stress in Your Life by Craig Jarrow
This book has little to do with being a ninja, but it will do you one better. It provides a simple framework of 21 rules on how to manage your personal and work time. Craig Jarrow felt that the time management books and systems already out there were overly complex. So he set out to create something that everyone could easily follow.
8. Pressed For Time: The Acceleration Of Life In Digital Capitalism by Judy Wajcman
One of the major advantages of smartphones and other digital devices is that they can save a tremendous amount of time. But we can also feel like they are making our lives increasingly faster. The author shows us that this quickened pace does not equal a productive use of our time and suggests that we might be able to use the power of tech for good—to win back our time.
Time does not just mean freedom—it’s also a tool that companies like Honda, Ford and Wal-Mart use to remain leaders in their industries. The author discusses how we can use time as a key component of competitiveness to become more productive and innovative, and to create better products and services.
10. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
One of the main conditions for increased productivity (and more free time) is the ability to relax. This book shows you how to easily manage your to-do lists, plan ahead and keep your cool in stressful situations. Perhaps most importantly, it teaches you not to stress about things that you are not doing.
11. 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch
You may have heard about the Pareto principle, which suggests that 80% of our results come from 20% of work. That forms the basis of this book, which was written more than a decade ago, but remains relevant in 2020. It teaches you how to focus on that 20% to get the most out of your work and win back control of your time. Focus on what really matters to get the best results.
12. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
The most complex problems sometimes require very simple solutions. Atul Gawande argues that having a lot of knowledge or expertise doesn’t guarantee good work. Gawande champions something we’ve all used at some point—a simple checklist. Through several stories, he explains the power of checklists in various scenarios.
13. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland
Even if you don’t work in the world of software, you might have heard of scrum, an agile approach to work invented by Jeff Sutherland. In this authoritative guide from Sutherland himself, you can learn more about it, including how scrum draws on insights from various aspects of our lives to improve the efficiency of major organizations like the FBI and revolutionize the work of many professionals today, ultimately saving them time and money. Even without the time management aspect, this is a fascinating read.
14. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
If we want to change the way we work, behave and manage our time, we need to examine our habits. At least that’s what Charles Duhigg argues, in his account of the scientific research of habits. Through examples of successful companies and organizations, he shows us how habits shape us and what we do, and ultimately, how we can free up more time by changing them.
15. 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs by Kevin Kruse
This book delivers exactly what it promises: stories of numerous successful people and the habits that enabled them to achieve their successes. Among other things, you will learn how to manage your time better, leave work at 5 p.m. without feeling guilty, get to inbox zero without spending decades on reading your emails, and more.
16. The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll
Ryder Carroll created the Bullet Journal approach after he realized that no existing approach to productivity actually helped him get rid of stress and win back free time. This method is now used by thousands all over the globe. If simple lists are not your thing and you feel like your work and time need more structure, this is the book to get and the approach to try.
17. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
According to Gary Keller, the secret to getting more things done, freeing up more time and increasing your income lies in focusing on less. More specifically, if you want to become truly productive, you need to focus on only one thing at a time. Learn why the benefits of multitasking are a myth, why top performers have a clear sense of priority and why focus is the key to success.
18. Zen To Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System by Leo Babauta
Unsatisfied with the productivity systems that already existed, Leo Babauta decided to combine a few of them into one, for an approach more efficient and straightforward than everything else out there. In this book, you’ll find out how to form habits that keep your work simple, how to stick to those habits and win back control of your free time.
19. The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey
The word “project” in the title of the book is appropriate. Chris Bailey went on a year-long journey to try out all the productivity methods, tips and hacks—on himself. From getting up early to getting no sleep, working long and short hours and restricting phone use, the author tried it all to find the answer we all seek: how to manage our time better.
20. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
To get the most out of an experience, claims the author of this book, we need to attain a state of consciousness he calls “flow.” In this book, Csikszentmihalyi shows us that we can take advantage of flow to get more enjoyment out of our lives. While this book veers more towards psychology than self-help, it will help you control your time better.
As you can see, there are quite a few time management books out there; productivity and time tracking inspired many authors. We hope that by going through this list of the best time management books we could find, you’ll learn how to win back your time, get more things done and become a happier and more productive person.
If you need some more help to get you there, try Toggl Track to see how you actually spend your time so you can become more mindful about your time today!