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Feel Less Busy With These Great Books on Time Management

Master your most precious resource with the best books on time management, as suggested by bestselling author, Laura Vanderkam.
by Carrie M. King | Jun 22 2018

We work too much, watch too much Netflix, scroll through our social feeds too often, sleep too little, and have too little time for the things we actually enjoy. Is it even possible to Goldilocks time management and get it just right? Well, according to time management expert Laura Vanderkam — or “sorceress of the time/space continuum” as Emily “#notabot” Phillips recently described her — it absolutely is.

Her new book Off The Clock explores how you can feel less busy and achieve more without missing out on anything that matters. You can listen to her discussing her key ideas on Blinkist’s latest Simplify podcast adventure, Spotlight.

If time management is something you really want to master — and you should because let’s face it, stress is no fun — Vanderkam’s book is a great place to start. It’s less about ticking things off your to-do list and more about focusing on the importance of your free time and the people in your life.


Want to read more on this topic? Well then, you’re in luck! We asked Vanderkam to suggest some other great books on time management that’ll see your schedule working for you in no time. Ready? Let’s go.

1. Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam

Where better to start than with a book (or two) by Vanderkam herself? Learn how to free up your schedule, feel less busy, and somehow achieve more. No time/space sorcery required.

2. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam

Women are constantly being told that they either can or can’t have it all. In I Know How She Does It, Vanderkam talks to women who are managing to balance life, work, family, kids, and — crucially — time for themselves. Y’know, “it all”. It’s based on reams of research and anecdotal interviews with women who are rocking it. It also includes practical advice for how you can get on top of things, too.

3. Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time by Marc Wittmann

If you’re going to learn how to manage something, you should probably know what it is first. So, what even is time anyway? According to Doctor Who, it’s “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff”, but if you’d like a more in-depth — and less fictional — explanation, Marc Wittman’s book is a great starting point. It examines how our brains perceive time, how it affects our bodies, and how we can slow down our moments in order to properly enjoy them.

4. The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd

We can spend a lot of our time feeling like we’re slaves to it. We’re constantly either racing against, or watching the clock and neither of these approaches make the best use of our most finite resource. The Time Paradox helps us think about time differently so instead of feeling like we’re constantly ticking things off a neverending to-do list, we feel like we’re really living.

5. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

Constantly receiving new information but not having any time to process it can leave us in shock. Present Shock isn’t a book about time management per se, but it does examine how our brains react when everything seems to happen at once. So, next time you feel overwhelmed by the news, or by the catastrophe that is your overflowing inbox, you can understand why you feel the way you do.

6. The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

Another Simplify alumna, Gretchen Rubin, investigates the four personality types that dictate how we react to expectations and commitments. By learning to understand your own tendency, you can learn to better manage your time — and your expectations.

7. The One Minute Manager: Increase Productivity, Profits and your own Prosperity by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

When you’re in a management position at work, you’re not only responsible for how you spend your time, but how your team spends it, too. Talk about pressure! The One Minute Manager is an essential read if you want to get the most out of the people you work with, making sure that you optimize everyone’s time without having to micro-manage.

8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Where you live affects how you live. If you treat your home with joy and care, it’ll make for a much more meaningful life. Instead of putting up with clutter, set aside a little time to assess the objects in your home, from your most sentimental curios to your humble sock drawer. By making sure that everything you own has a sense of significance, you’ll open the door to a much richer life. Decluttering and downsizing can help clear your head and remind you of your priorities which will help you get in the right mindset for decluttering your calendar, too!

9. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

In a similar vein to Kondo’s book, The Paradox of Choice promotes the idea of paring back. One of the main purported benefits of a capitalist society is the abundance of choice we’re faced with daily. However, according to Barry Schwartz, too much choice can have a detrimental effect on our emotional wellbeing. By learning to live with less, we’ll end up feeling like we have a lot more.

10. The Productivity Project: Proven Ways to Become More Awesome by Chris Bailey

There’s something incredibly satisfying about the practical nature of The Productivity Project. Instead of general ideas about how to be productive, this book provides easy-to-follow techniques for those who find themselves struggling to get things done.

11. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Modern life is one of chronic distraction. Technology means we can focus on fun when we’re working and worry about work when we’re meant to be having fun. One of the most-read books on time management, Cal Newport’s Deep Work shows how we can regain our focus and achieve more in the midst of all that neural noise.

12. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

Nothing like a fresh start, eh? Well, actually, finishing things is also fun! Many great ideas have been abandoned by the wayside before completion and the world is missing out because of that. Jon Acuff shares the best ways to silence your inner perfectionist, take a little pressure off yourself, and see better results.

So, there you have it: some of our favorite books on time management that can get you started on first, understanding how you spend your time, and second, how to make yours matter. Time well spent, if you ask me.

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