It’s simple math: If you get more done in less time, suddenly you have more opportunities to do, well, whatever you want. So if your goal is to perform at work and enjoy leisure time with friends and family, this list of the year’s best productivity books is for you.
Our curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Adam Grant pick two exciting books per season to share with Next Big Idea Club members. The rankings below, however, are based on the most popular “Book Bite” audio summaries in the Next Big Idea App. In other words, they are 2023’s best productivity books, according to our thousands of app users. So if you’re ready to explore the science-backed secrets of getting more done, check out the 23 remarkable titles below.
23. Soul Shift: The Weary Human’s Guide to Getting Unstuck and Reclaiming Your Path to Joy
By Rachel Macy Stafford
An acclaimed blogger and special education teacher offers a practical, inclusive guide to navigating a culture of distraction and depletion to find our way back to what delights our heart, makes us feel alive, and brings us peace. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Rachel Macy Stafford, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
22. A Healthy State of Panic: Follow Your Fears to Build Wealth, Crush Your Career and Win at Life
By Farnoosh Torabi
Discover how you can become more self-reliant and financially resilient, invite calm and control into your daily routine, and use fear as a helpful tool with this guide to building your best life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Rachel Farnoosh Torabi, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
21. Flip Thinking: The Life-Changing Art of Turning Problems into Opportunities
By Berthold Gunster
Change your mindset from problem-focused (“yes, but”) to opportunistic (“yes, and”) using omdenken, the Dutch art of flip thinking—from the bestselling author and founder of the omdenken philosophy. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Berthold Gunster, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
20. How Work Works: The Subtle Science of Getting Ahead Without Losing Yourself
By Michelle King
A unique and revelatory guide to understanding and navigating the unwritten rules of the workplace—the key to achieving success, finding meaning, and staying true to your authentic self in today’s business world—from the organizational expert and celebrated author of The Fix. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Michelle King, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
19. The First Rule of Mastery: Stop Worrying About What People Think of You
By Michael Gervais, with Kevin Lake
Filled with fascinating stories from the worlds of sports and business, leading-edge science, and insights from the frontier of human performance, The First Rule of Mastery is a much-needed wake-up call that when we give more value to other people’s opinions than we do our own, we live life on their terms, not ours. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Michael Gervais, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
18. Fast Forward: 5 Power Principles to Create the Life You Want in Just One Year
By Wendy Leshgold and Lisa McCarthy
Backed by psychological research and brain science, Fast Forward’s 5 Power Principles have helped more than 100,000 professionals achieve extraordinary success and happiness. And as they have excelled, so have their businesses and teams. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Wendy Leshgold, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
17. The Performance Paradox: Turning the Power of Mindset into Action
By Eduardo Briceño
Discover how to balance learning and performing to bolster personal and team success with this revolutionary guide from a world-renowned expert on growth mindset. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Eduardo Briceño, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
16. The Art of Clear Thinking: A Stealth Fighter Pilot’s Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions
By Hasard Lee
Based on a career of making high-stakes, split-second decisions as a U.S. fighter pilot, The Art of Clear Thinking teaches readers to apply the author’s combat-tested techniques in everyday life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Hasard Lee, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
15. Brainhacker: Master Memory, Focus, Emotions, and More to Unleash the Genius Within
By Dave Farrow
A world-champion memorizer pairs his unique, tried-and-true methods with his own story, following his path to success as he searched for solutions to overcome his struggles with focus, memory, sleep, anxiety, self-esteem, and more. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Dave Farrow, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
14. Buy Back Your Time: Get Unstuck, Reclaim Your Freedom, and Build Your Empire
By Dan Martell
Buy Back Your Time is the definitive guide for entrepreneurs at every level on how to succeed in business while enjoying more freedom than you ever imagined. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Dan Martell, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
13. Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Outcomes
By Shane Parrish
Through stories, mental models, and more, Clear Thinking offers the missing link between behavioral science and real-life outcomes. The result is a must-have manual for optimizing decision-making, gaining competitive advantage, and living a more intentional life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Shane Parrish, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
12. Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well
By Amy Edmondson
A revolutionary guide that will transform your relationship with failure, from a pioneering researcher of psychological safety and award-winning Harvard Business School professor. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Amy Edmondson, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
11. The Power of Saying No: The New Science of How to Say No that Puts You in Charge of Your Life
By Vanessa Patrick
An award-winning professor and researcher delves into the new science of saying no. She introduces the groundbreaking concept of “empowered refusal” and reveals surprising secrets about the power of the word no. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Vanessa Patrick, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
10. Awaken Your Genius: Escape Conformity, Ignite Creativity, and Become Extraordinary
By Ozan Varol
Extraordinary people carve their own paths as leaders and creators. They stand out from the crowd because they embody their own shape and color. We call these people geniuses—as if they’re another breed. But genius isn’t for a special few. It can be cultivated. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Ozan Varol, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
9. The Choice Point: The Scientifically Proven Method to Push Past Mental Walls and Achieve Your Goals
By Joanna Grover and Jonathan Rhodes
Merging mindfulness, motivational interviewing, and cognitive behavioral therapy into a user-friendly model—the first non-academic book of its kind—The Choice Point grants us control of the decisions that define us. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Jonathan Rhodes, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
8. The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems—and What to Do About It
By Rob Cross and Karen Dillon
There’s a hidden epidemic of small moments of stress, which has insidiously infiltrated both our work and our personal lives. But The Microstress Effect shares best practices on building resilience against microstress and finding greater purpose in life. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-authors Rob Cross and Karen Dillon, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
7. Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything Is Changing—Including You
By Brad Stulberg
A revelatory book on rethinking change and creating a rugged and flexible mindset amidst life’s intensifying flux, from expert on sustainable excellence, coach, and bestselling author of The Practice of Groundedness. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Brad Stulberg, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
6. Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier
By Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey
With insight, compassion, and hope, a Harvard professor and a global icon reveal how the tools of emotional self-management can change your life―immediately. They recommend practical, research-based practices to build the four pillars of happiness: family, friendship, work, and faith. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Arthur C. Brooks, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
5. Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today
By Hal Hershfield
Many of us view the future as incredibly distant, making us more likely to opt for immediate gratification that disregards our health and well-being in the years to come. People who are able to connect with their future selves, however, are better able to balance living for today and planning for tomorrow. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Hal Hershfield, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
4. Rise and Shine: How to Transform Your Life, Morning by Morning
By Kate Oliver and Toby Oliver
Based on the latest scientific research, as well as ancient traditions and insights gathered from decades of personal and professional experience, Rise and Shine offers thirty different practices that will encourage you to curate a morning routine that blends seamlessly with your lifestyle. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by co-author Toby Oliver, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
3. The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction
By Jamie Kreiner
A revelatory account of how Christian monks identified distraction as a fundamental challenge―and how their efforts to defeat it can inform ours, more than a millennium later. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Jamie Kreiner, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
2. Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to Get Unstuck When It Matters Most
By Adam Alter
Whether you’re muddling through a midlife crisis, wrestling writer’s block, trapped in a thankless job, or trying to remedy a fraying friendship, Anatomy of a Breakthrough is the roadmap we all need to escape our inertia and flourish in the face of friction. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Adam Alter, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
1. Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity
By Gloria Mark
It takes 25 minutes to bring our attention back to a task after an interruption—and we interrupt ourselves more than we’re interrupted by others. In Attention Span, a renowned psychologist reveals these and more surprising results from her decades of research into how technology affects our attention. Listen to our Book Bite summary, read by author Gloria Mark, in the Next Big Idea App or view on Amazon.
The Key Ideas in 15 Minutes
“If you are going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books,” Roald Dahl once famously said. The only trouble is, reading even one book from cover to cover takes hours—and you may not have many hours to spare.
But imagine for a moment: What if you could read a groundbreaking new book every day? Or even better, what if you could invite a world-renowned thinker into your earbuds, where they personally describe the 5 key takeaways from their work in just 15 minutes?
With the Next Big Idea App, we’ve turned this fantasy into a reality. We partnered with hundreds of acclaimed authors to create “Book Bites,” short audio summaries of the latest nonfiction that are prepared and read aloud by the authors themselves. Discover cutting-edge leadership skills, productivity hacks, the science of happiness and well-being, and much more—all in the time it takes to drive to work or walk the dog.
Go Deeper with a Next Big Idea Club Membership
The Next Big Idea App is free for anyone to try—and if you love it, we invite you to become an official member of the Next Big Idea Club. Membership grants you unlimited access to Book Bites and unlocks early-release, ad-free episodes of our LinkedIn-partnered podcast. You also gain entry to our private online discussion group, where you can talk big ideas with fellow club members and join exclusive live Q&A sessions with featured authors.
For a more focused learning experience, we recommend a Hardcover or eBook Membership. Every few months, legendary authors and club curators Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, Adam Grant, and Daniel Pink select two new nonfiction books as the must-reads of the season. We then send hardcover copies straight to your doorstep, or eBook versions to your favorite digital device. We also collaborate with the authors of selected books to produce original reading guides and premium video e-courses, 50-minute master classes that take you step by step through their most life-changing ideas. And yes, it’s all available through the Next Big Idea App.
Learn Faster, from the World’s Leading Thinkers
Whether you prefer to read, listen, or watch, the Next Big Idea is here to help you work smarter and live better. Wake up with an always-fresh Idea of the Day, the perfect shot of inspiration to go with your morning coffee. Then dive into one of our Challenges, hand-picked collections of Book Bites that form crash courses in subjects like communication, motivation, and career acceleration. Later, watch the playback of an interview with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Stanford psychologist Jennifer Eberhardt, or philosopher John Kaag. And be sure to check the “Events” tab in the app, so that you can join an upcoming live Q&A and personally chat with the next featured thought leader.
If you’re hoping to grow as a person or as a professional, we hope you’ll join us and tens of thousands of others who enjoy the Next Big Idea. Get started by downloading the app today!
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