The idea of self-help has almost become a parody. With bookstores and bestseller lists overflowing with tomes on everything from diets to deities that can make you a better, happier person, it can be hard to take it all seriously.
We’re not going to start the new year with unrealistic claims—that’s for your new year resolutions. But we do know that when it comes to business, leadership, personal productivity and work-life balance, a slew of seriously helpful self-help books has recently been published that can help you make 2020 your best year yet.
Our team at ProjectManager.com has read thousands of pages so you don’t have to, and have come back with the cream of the crop. If you start your new year by reading just one of these books, you’ll be starting out on the right foot.
Best Self-Help Books About Business
If you need a good book about business, you’re in luck. There are several great self-help books out there to help you take your career to the next level.
The Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser
Fran Hauser is a media executive and startup investor who’s worked for iconic digital magazines such as People, InStyle and Entertainment Weekly. She knows a thing or two about how women are considered weak if they’re nice and nasty if they’re not. But she proves that you can hold onto your ethics and succeed in business. Buy the book.
Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
Jay Baer is president of Convince & Convert, an online consumer service and digital marketing consultancy and media company. He’s uniquely qualified to help companies deal with negative comments, which is going to happen no matter how skillfully you serve your customers. Here’s a hint: be empathetic. Buy the book.
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant are the chief operating officer at Facebook and a psychologist, respectively. When Sandberg’s husband died unexpectedly, it was a shock she feared she wouldn’t recover from, but learned that resilience is like a muscle and it needs exercise. She’s used this experience to apply new employee benefits for bereavement at Facebook. Buy the book.
Measure What Matters by John Doerr
John Doerr is a venture capitalist and a proponent of the goal-setting system of objectives and key results (OKRs). He brought this system to Google and explains its use and importance through mini-case studies from a number of different companies’ perspectives. Buy the book.
The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business by Elaine Pofeldt
Elaine Pofeldt is a writer who has covered the recent entrepreneurial explosion in the pages of Money, Fortune, CNBC.com and more. Through interviews and great advice, she helps outline the many different paths entrepreneurs have taken in moving an idea to a practical, successful business. Buy the book.
Best Self-Help Books About Leadership
Everyone can benefit from the development of leadership skills. Check out these books to mold yourself into an inspiring leader.
Drive by Daniel H. Pink
Daniel H. Pink is a bestselling author of books about work, business and behavioral science. In his latest book, Pink looks at what motivates people. All leaders share an ability to motivate their teams and Pink shows through research and case studies how internal rather than external drivers work better for inspiring people. Buy the book.
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Angela Duckworth is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who writes about achievement not being talent-based as much as fueled by passion and persistence. That’s the “grit” of the title, which gives leaders the stuff they need to lead. From West Point to the National Spelling Bee, Duckworth shows what it takes to excel at leadership. Buy the book.
Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia
Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia are the chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a global capital equipment and engineering consulting company and a professor of global business at Babson College, respectively. Their leadership approach is clear from the subtitle: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family. It’s a radical idea for business leaders that people are more important than profits. Buy the book.
Presence by Amy Cuddy
Amy Cuddy is a Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist who makes scientific research easily digestible for the layman. She explores how to call upon your inner-self-confidence when you need it. Leaders might be self-confident by nature, but when challenged Cuddy shows how to bring out their A-game. Buy the book.
SuperBosses by Sydney Finkelstein
Sydney Finkelstein is a professor of management at the Tuck School of Business who explores how the best leaders lead and what makes them different. There isn’t one thread that ties these leaders together, but there are three types that Finkelstein collects his great leaders under: iconoclasts, glorious bastards or nurturers. Which one are you? Buy the book.
Best Self-Help Books About Personal Productivity
Some believe that being productive is the key to happiness. Find out for yourself and read some of these excellent self-help books on productivity.
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Cal Newport is an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University who helps people and teams work more productively. Newport explores three types of workers: superstars, owners and high skill workers. He notes that now and as we move into the future, being familiar with working in abstractions and with intelligent machines is crucial to getting things done. Buy the book.
Getting Things Done by David Allen
David Allen, who is an expert on personal and organizational productivity, has updated his original book from 2015 with more depth into his theory of productivity. His approach for stress-free productivity has created an industry in itself. Easy to read, with many inspiring personal stories, it’ll get you off the couch and, well, get things done. Buy the book.
Finish by Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff is a popular writer and speaker who knows about completing things. He blames perfectionism for procrastination and leaving things unfinished. His book is funny and accessible. You’ll definitely be able to finish it, and then you can move on to finishing all those tasks you’ve left undone. Buy the book.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg is an investigative reporter for The New York Times. Here he explains what habits are, where they come from and how we’re hardwired that way. Habit is a powerful tool, with both negative and positive aspects, but with control it can help you become productive. Duhigg then takes that knowledge and applies it to organizations and societies. Buy the book.
The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
Chris Bailey spent a year writing on productivity for his blog, where he deeply researched and experimented on what makes for a productive life. In the process, he’s collected some actionable tips. If you take one thing away from reading this book, it’s that being busy is not the same as being productive. Buy the book.
Best Self-Help Books on Work-Life Balance
There are things in life that are more important than money, and one of those things is a work-life balance. Learn how to achieve it by reading these books.
Off Balance by Matthew Kelly
Matthew Kelly is a bestselling author who seeks to shatter the myth of the work-life balance. Life and work are constantly throwing curve balls to keep you off balance, as the title says. Instead, he suggests that being off balance isn’t bad, as long as our priorities and communications are clear. Buy the book.
Greater Balance, Greater Reward by Jeff Kooz
Jeff Kooz is an author, musician and marketing thought-leader who offers five steps to better health, productivity and work-life balance in this popular book. If you don’t believe that’s possible, well, Kooz has recorded albums in three months and written books in three days. He explains his process through an engaging personal story. Buy the book.
Balancing Life by Russell Clayton
Russell Clayton is a college professor, author and speaker, and in this book he outlines seven strategies that can help you achieve that elusive work-life balance. His practical advice and clear writing style, with relatable stories, can win over even the most stressed-out reader. Buy the book.
Make Time by Jake Knapp
Jake Knapp worked at Google and Google Ventures, creating the design sprint process. He’s come back with a book to help add balance to that go-go working life. With short, actionable tactics, Knapp shows you how to avoid distractions and get things done, so you can have the time for that needed recharge. Do your work well, but don’t leave out the personal things that matter to you. Buy the book.
That’s a lot of self-help books to read. Maybe you need a project management software to create a task list and track your progress through these worthy volumes. Then you can share and comment with your team. Can one tool do all that? Yes! ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based software that does all that and more. See what it can do to help you by taking a free 30-day trial today!
(This post was updated January 2020)