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Holiday Essentials: Best Books, Podcasts and Articles for a More Productive 2024

Discover the best books, podcasts, and articles to help you make 2024 a more productive year with holiday essentials. Learn how to make the most of your time with these expert tips!

By Productivity Lab and Sarah Altemus

Holiday Essentials: Best Books, Podcasts and Articles for a More Productive 2024

‘Tis the season for holiday getaways and staycations — and an opportunity to expand your reading (and listening) lists to include expert commentary on the world of work. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours, hopefully, you find something here that challenges the way you think about individual, team and organizational workplace dynamics. 

Check out our packing list with brief descriptions and read times of a few of our favorite finds: 


How to Create Your Own "Year in Review"

Harvard Business Review (4 min) 

“While the reality of work can feel especially overwhelming at the end of the year, reflection is the key to doing things differently in the year to come. Taking the time to pause and review your year increases your self-awareness and provides insights to improve. The authors present three steps to conduct your own learning year in review.”

Meetings Shouldn’t be More Than Two Hours of Your Workday

Bloomberg Work Shift (8 min)

“Spending more than two hours a day in meetings can hurt productivity, a new survey found, putting a ceiling on an element of the daily grind that many workers have come to dread.” 


Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well

Amy C. Edmondson (10 hours) 

“We used to think of failure as the opposite of success. Now, we’re often torn between two “failure cultures”: one that says to avoid failure at all costs, the other that says fail fast, fail often. The trouble is that both approaches lack the crucial distinctions to help us separate good failure from bad. As a result, we miss the opportunity to fail well.”

How Big Things Get Done

Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner (7 hours) 

Understanding what distinguishes the triumphs from the failures has been the life’s work of Oxford professor Bent Flyvbjerg, dubbed “the world’s leading megaproject expert.” In How Big Things Get Done, he identifies the errors in judgment and decision-making that lead projects, both big and small, to fail, and the research-based principles that will make you succeed with yours.”


How to Think

Deep Questions with Cal Newport (1 hour)

“One of the most important skills for cultivating a satisfying and high impact life is one we rarely discuss: the art of serious thinking. In this episode, Cal makes the case for serious thinking as an ability to specifically cultivate, then describes five specific practices you can put into place to launch a crash course in developing an effective life of the mind.”

Improving Team Habits

Beyond The To-Do List with Charlie Gilkey (50 min)

This episode introduces “fresh perspectives on improving team productivity including the importance of team dynamics to overcome challenges and mistakes addressing the significance of individual and team communication habits in enhancing productivity and performance. ”

We hope you enjoy these recommendations to supplement your road trips, flights and layovers — or a brain break during your workday. At ActivTrak, we’re in the business of enabling organizations to create more supportive, fulfilling and engaging environments, all while achieving business success. Because when the workplace works, so do people.

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