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The 8 Best Productivity Books to Read to Achieve What Matters to You Even When You Have Low Energy

The 8 best productivity books to read for motivation and time management to achieve what matters even when you have low energy so you can be more productive in life.

8 best productivity books to read to achieve what matters even when you have low energy. great for overwhelmed moms or moms with rheumatoid arthritis and students. pictured is a stack of 7 books with the page side facing the camera. the books are lying on a light wood background and have lots of page flags sticking out of the books to mark all the notes and highlights to remember. these books will help you maximize your productivity even if you have no energy.

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Do you ever find yourself struggling to stay productive and motivated, especially when you’re feeling low on energy? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I have struggled for 20+ years with my energy since being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (an incurable chronic autoimmune illness that attacks my joints).

In fact, as I was reading one of these books, I realized, like the author, that it’s because of my Rheumatoid Arthritis that I became obsessed with planning and productivity so I could get more done on my good, high energy days and take the time to rest on my bad, low or no energy days.

Staying productive and keeping motivated when you’re a mom can be a challenge to say the least, no matter what stage of life or health you’re in. But I’m here to help and encourage you with this list of the 8 best productivity books to read for motivation and time management, to help you stay on track, prioritize and achieve what matters to you so you can be more productive in life.

Must Read Productivity Books

I’m going to put these in order of the ease of reading. When you’re an overwhelmed mom or don’t have energy, reading shouldn’t be a chore. It should be encouraging, motivating and uplifting. While all these books can totally transform your view on productivity, motivation and time management, some are easier to read than others. We’ll start with the easy, quick wins and move on to the more complex and pivotal to your personal productivity.

Tip: check them out on audio first and then if you like it, then buy the productivity books to read for your personal library so you can go slower, mark it up, and take notes. That’s what I did with all of these so that my bookshelves only hold the books I read and LOVE!

1. Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi

Productivity isn’t just about getting more done in less time. It’s also about finding joy and fulfillment in your work, and making time for the things that matter most. If you are a mom and haven’t read The Lazy Genius Way, you must check it out now.

The whole book is based on this brilliantly simple principle,

“be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t…to you.”

The Lazy Genius Way, Kendra Adachi

So often we moms are caught up with keeping up with other moms, society’s pressures, social media or our own unrealistic expectations of what kind of mom we need to be. That leads to an incredible amount of overwhelm and burnout.

Author Kendra Adachi and The Lazy Genius Way give moms (and especially moms with low energy) the framework to help you decide what you want to be a genius about and what you can be lazy about. The Lazy Genius Way is a perfect combination of relatable mom humor, encouragement and simple productivity hacks to help moms prioritize what’s truly important to you and get it done. I’m already thinking for 2024, I’d love for my word of the year to be “Lazy” or “lazy genius.”

Buy The Lazy Genius Way from an independent bookstore

Buy The Lazy Genius Way from Amazon

2. The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington

The 12 Week Year is a productivity book to read dedicated to the importance of why giving yourself a 12 Week Year is so effective as a motivator to achieving your goals. The premise is that despite having a whole year to achieve a goal, most people typically wait until the last minute to take action and then rush to get it done. But it gets done. The urgency of the approaching deadline is what kicks our motivation into action.

In order to achieve your goals in 12 weeks, Moran covers:

  • redefining your year and why it works
  • establishing your vision
  • accountability
  • execution,
  • scoring, and
  • strategy

At less than 200 pages, the 12 Week Year is the shortest book on this list and covers the basics of goalsetting, productivity and time management. I highly recommend the 12 Week Year even if you have low energy or if you need short, actionable productivity books to read that will move the needle forward on goals that matter to you.

Buy the 12 Week Year from an independent bookstore

Buy the 12 Week Year on Amazon


When you subscribe to my weekly newsletter, you can download my free 12 Week Year tracker in Google sheets from my Free Printables Library.

3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Essentialism by Greg McKeown is geared towards working professionals but it is just as applicable to moms no matter your work status. This book offers a fresh perspective on how to approach work and life. It teaches you how to prioritize and focus on what really matters, so that you can simplify your life and find more joy and fulfillment in your day-to-day activities.

Essentialism is read by the author on audio and is an enjoyable listen. It’s also a fairly easy read on Kindle or paperback because the diagrams split up the text and there are some full pages dedicated to quotes. I listened to it first and then bought it on paperback so I could reread more carefully, take notes and flag the important quotes that resonate with me. The paperback version also comes with an Essentialism 21 Day Challenge…I love good challenges!

Essentialism is great productivity book for people with low energy who need to learn how to say no and cut out the inessential. It’s like minimalism for productivity.

Buy Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less from an independent bookstore

Buy Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less from Amazon

4. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

If you’re overwhelmed by a big project or the sheer magnitude of things on your to do list, you’ll appreciate the fact that Atomic Habits is based on a 4 step habit loop that emphasizes that tiny changes can bring remarkable results. Whether you are trying to build a good habit or breaking a bad one, developing and sticking to one simple habit can change your life for the better.

In other words, those small victories add up!

Buy Atomic Habits from an independent bookstore

Buy Atomic Habits from Amazon

5. Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

Are you surprised by this one?

We all have heard that Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey is a remarkable book. It is life-changing for many, including my husband and I. While the examples are relevant, it can be very long, dense and heavy. It can be overwhelming. As a result, many people start but don’t finish and it won’t do you any good if you don’t finish.

The advantage of Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens is it’s shorter, has lots of pictures and still covers the basics of the 7 habits in a more fun and engaging way. I feel like it’s the Cliff Notes version of the classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book for adults. The relationship bank account is highly applicable and relevant in any relationship and it’s the one that got us through some difficult conversations with our teens and even with some toxic relationships.

I do recommend this book if you’re an adult who is short on time or an older teen (content warning: it does talk about sex). The examples relate to teens lives but I think they are still just as applicable for adults. Adults can be just as sad, frustrated, and moody as teens, am I right? 🙂

Buy the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens from an independent bookstore

Buy the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens from Amazon

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

If you have the time, dedication and energy, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is totally worth reading as it has relevant examples for adult relationships, marriage and work scenarios. Because my husband and I both read it, I do feel like it positively impacted our relationship and helped us grow closer when we were both overwhelmed from our work and home life demands. It helped us identify our core values, how to build our goals, what drives us, how to have an effective relationship and what a win-win solution really means.

We even have no problem telling others about our core values as it explains how we react to different situations (mine are empathy and compassion, again largely because of Rheumatoid Arthritis, it opened my eyes to the fact that everyone is battling something whether you can see it or not).

Buy the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People from an independent bookstore

Buy the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People from Amazon


If you’re a fan of the 7 habits or want to learn how to set value-based goals, I highly recommend the Franklin Covey Planner and their free training to help you identify your core values, roles and personal mission statement. They have the goals starter pack that includes the values, roles and goals worksheets and the 7 habits planning inserts to help you incorporate the 7 habits into your daily life.

6. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt was the first book I read in 2021 and as a result, I chose the word “FREEDOM” and it was very impactful in my life and the way I approach my planning and productivity system.

It’s very similar to book #8 on this list which I had read first, but Free to Focus is an easier read. In a nutshell, Free to Focus is focused on the idea that:

“Productivity should free you to pursue what’s most important to you.”

Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

Isn’t that right? Overwhelm is so often created because you try to do too much.

Free to Focus is about intentionally choosing what you put on your to do list. I really loved the worksheets that came with the book and to this day, no matter which planner I use, I still use the Free to Focus system for:

  • setting my 4 daily routines to have the best start and end to my day
  • create my ideal week quarterly since our schedules, weather and activities change
  • review my week
  • plan for the week ahead including 6 different rejuvenation (self care) activities

Free to Focus is very impactful because it helps you cut out the things you don’t really need to do so you can make more time for what matters.

Buy Free to Focus from an independent bookstore

Buy Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less from Amazon


The Full Focus Planner is an excellent planner to incorporate everything you learn from the book. It is the best daily planner for pursuing the goals that are important to you and one of the best planners for working moms.

7. Building a Second Brain: a Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life

If you’re overwhelmed by all the digital information at you or if you’re an adult, blogger, content or course creator or student with a zillion ideas trying to manage everything digitally, then Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte is a game-changer.

This book provides a comprehensive system for organizing and retaining information that is important to you in your “second brain” so you can use your first brain for thinking, analyzing, creating and achieving your potential.

Really your second brain is a tool to manage your personal knowledge so you can find and best use it when you need it. Your second brain can remember and document anything you need. It’s like having a super reliable personal assistant that knows all the answers (I’m using Notion right now and it’s free!) I use mine for daily planning, journaling, book notes, awesome ideas and articles I see and just about everything I need to get organized and run my house and blog.

When your second brain is built, it can 10x your productivity. Having a second brain is also amazingly helpful for people with low energy or who battle brain fog like me. Like I said it’s a game-changer, more like life-changer that’s how much love it (it’s the one with the zillion flags on the bottom of the stack in the photo).

Building a Second Brain is also a great productivity book to read for students (especially high school and college), it would make a great gift. I will have my older sons read this. I’ve explained the concept to them and I think it could be life changing for teens who have tons of class notes and schedules to juggle and as they start reaching the demands of adulthood.

Buy Building a Second Brain from an independent bookstore

Buy Building a Second Brain from Amazon


I can’t wait to show you how I’m creating Notion templates to manage my second brain in case it helps you too! Leave me a comment if that’s something you’d be interested in!

8. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Last but certainly not least is Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book provides a comprehensive system for managing tasks and projects, which can help you stay organized and reduce stress. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to streamline their workflow and get more done in less time.

And while Getting Things Done is a best productivity book to read for a reason, it’s also very detailed, thorough and dry.

Getting Things Done is the best for helping you get all the information out of your head and into a comprehensive productivity system that you review each week. The key elements of the GTD system are:

  • capture
  • clarify
  • organize
  • reflect, and
  • engage

I highly recommend reading Getting Things Done at least once. This is not one I recommend on audio. I tried it the first time back in the day of CD’s and physical file folders and I zoned out a lot. You’ll get more out of reading a physical or Kindle updated copy so you can take notes and highlight key info that you find helpful.

Buy Getting Things Done from an independent bookstore

Buy Getting Things Done on Amazon

How Do You Maximize Productivity in Books?

Ok, here’s how I combined the knowledge I gained from these books to maximize my productivity and time management. This will help you know where to start if you need help in one area in particular.

More Productivity Tips for Moms

So what are you waiting for? These 8 must read productivity books to read will help you stay on track and achieve your goals, even when you’re overwhelmed or feeling low on energy. Pick up one of these books and start boosting your productivity today. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you have the right tools and mindset at your disposal. Which of these will you read first? Tell me in the comments!

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8 Must Read Productivity books for moms battling overwhelm or low energy. Image shows the title and a small circle with a photo of a stack of books inside

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