Are you busier than ever? Does your home look like your head feels? Well, fear not. In the list below, we’ve collected the best books on organization and productivity for beginners, so that you can be more effective, healthier, and happier.
The key is learning to get out of our own way. Pick up one of these books and you’ll learn ways to strategize your goals so that you can actually enjoy life. You’ll also learn that when you create the right set of priorities and checklists, you can avoid conflict and fix messes without getting wound up in your emotions.
1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
Marie Kondō's approach tackles the clutter that can result from nostalgia. If you’re familiar with Shintoism, then you'll understand the respect Marie finds necessary to grant inanimate objects. In Shintoism, everything has a purpose.
Everything has an energy. So, if you are the kind of person who grips at the memories behind your belongings, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is for you. Otherwise, her method for getting rid of stuff may seem out of place in your life.
2. The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay
In The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide, you'll learn how to downsize and make your life simpler. Francine Jay's four steps are sometimes repetitive, but repetition helps you become mindful of the process.
Not only that but removing clutter from your life becomes a kind of philosophy. When you have less to clean, you have more time to yourself. When you consume less, you also take better care of the environment.
3. Real Life Organizing: Clean and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day by Cassandra Aarssen
Cassandra Aarssen tackles the solutions to your clutter, not the reasons for it. This means that although you might be the messiest person in the world, you can live like you aren't. Real Life Organizing is an excellent approach to fixing the mess enough so that you can move fluidly about your life.
You can be busy, but neat. It's a great approach to tackling the hassle without spending a lot of time doing so. You’ll only need 15 minutes a day.
4. The Complete Book of Home Organization: 200+ Tips and Projects by Toni Hammersley
If the clutter in your home is out of control, then you need to read The Complete Book of Home Organization. Over 15 months, you will visit and assess every corner, nook, and cranny of your home.
By the time you’re halfway into a new season, you'll have organized the 30 main spaces in your home. Plus, you'll be able to get on top of that weekly menu planning you've been meaning to put together.
5. The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management: Proven Strategies for Increased Productivity and Inner Peace by Hyrum W. Smith
The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management is part case study, part self-help. On the case study side, you may find you're not as dedicated or disciplined as the author, but you can pluck out some good, useful advice from his life experiences.
On the flip side, he lays down the necessary foundation from which to start. His main lesson is that if you can align your schedules to suit your values and goals, then you'll be much happier in life.
6. The Power of Focus: How to Hit Your Business, Personal, and Financial Targets with Absolute Certainty by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt
If you're not familiar with the process of visualizing goals, then The Power of Focus is the perfect starter book. There are three main takeaways that you'll learn from reading.
First, your success is inevitable—if you can get out of your own way. Second, bad habits can become good, profitable habits. And third, it is possible to achieve a happy work-life balance.
Canfield and company’s book is full of tips and strategies, as well as a healthy dose of encouragement for whatever stage of life you’re in.
7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
Stephen R. Covey has written the most popular and influential reads on productivity habits. In this book, he lays down seven steps to get your life on track. The first of the seven steps is to let you know that you are in charge of your own life.
Within each step that follows, you'll be given a set of tasks to do so you can analyze what’s working and what's not in your life. Whether you are young or mature, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is an extremely effective way to organize and improve your situation.
8. Zen to Done: The Ultimate Simple Productivity System by Leo Babauta
Reading about every different productivity method would chew up some major time. So, Zen to Done (ZTD) has compiled the best parts of them in one book, including the Stephen Covey method. ZTD offers a quick, easy way to get your tasks done.
For instance, you might find some helpful information if you and your siblings are about to clean out an elderly parent's house. So, if you're crunched for time, and you need some immediate, useful advice, read this book.
9. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is better known as the Mindset Warrior. But Flow, a 303-page book, can be an intense read. So, if you don't have a lot of time, there is an optional summary version.
However, if you are looking for a book to give you some deep insight into the art of flow—the mindful presence in an activity (or life)—then opt for the full text. Either way, Csikszentmihalyi's work will help you achieve a more productive, better quality of life.
10. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Read The One Thing if you need help getting your goals in focus. Keller writes that distractions are everywhere, especially with technology so readily accessible. He says that you need to block time for yourself, set your goals, and then prioritize your life.
This sounds like an easy task, but many struggle to execute it. Keller will give you tips on how to make focus your mantra. That's the start. Then, you've got to figure out that one thing that makes you tick.
11. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
If your parents are about to move or downsize, then you and your siblings might find this book a practical read. In stressful times, checklists are going to help you with accuracy and error prevention. When those checklists come from the whole sibling team, less room exists for emotional decisions.
This can be enormously helpful because you’ve all had different life experiences. As a result, you’re all bound to see things differently, especially when it comes to the care of your parents. With The Checklist Manifesto as your aid, your different perspectives won’t get in the way of getting things done.
12. Time Warrior: How to Defeat Procrastination, People-Pleasing, Self-Doubt, Over-Commitment, Broken Promises, and Chaos by Steve Chandler
Time Warrior will ask you to posit yourself into your life, rather than tell you how to manage your life. The chapters are short—just a few pages each, so you can read one (or three) even if you only have a few spare minutes each day.
The book isn't conclusive. Instead, it fills in the gap that some other books neglect: you. If Steve Chandler's approach speaks to you, there are some webinars and other online resources for you to find out more.
13. The One-Minute To-Do List: Quickly Get Your Chaos Under Control by Michael Linenberger
The One-Minute To-Do List is the perfect read if you find yourself on the cusp of a significant change in life.
Moving or downsizing is already hectic, so why add things that are going to demotivate you? You can tackle the enormous tasks in front of you with the right goals and the right mindset. If Linenberger's time management system works for you, then you will become more productive in a very short period.
14. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
One hurdle to Vanderkam's practice in 168 Hours is the gobs of money you'll need so that you can outsource the tasks you don't want to do. But you won't have to do your laundry, make dinner, or mow your lawn. Still, the concept of outsourcing has value.
As it turns out, setting time for things that matter the most allows you to have a happier life. Being retired and "busier than ever" doesn't have to mean that you’re also too busy to enjoy your own life.
15. The Mindset of Organization: Take Back Your House One Phase at a Time by Lisa K. Woodruff
The Mindset of Organization tackles organization based on your stage in life. It's reasonable that if you're in your 60s, you will have different priorities than someone who's in their 20s. Woodruff even gets a little cheeky about the books that are out there that help you find your joy or develop minimalism.
From her perspective, you can have the things that matter to you, and you can also be organized. Not all self-help books work for everyone, but it's a great read if you enjoy some humor with your organizing.
16. Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter & Organize to Make More Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin
In contrast to some of the books mentioned above, this is a short 200-page read. But it's chock-full of strategies to get control of your home so you can have greater control elsewhere in your life.
Essentially, if your home is in order, so is your head. If you need some humor to go with your organization, then Outer Order, Inner Calm will also tickle your fancy.
Strategies to Enjoy More of Life
Keeping things in constant need of cleaning or management does nothing but keep you busy, so why not find a way to fix the mess or let it go? With one of these books at your side, you should have your home under control in no time at all.