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Summer 2024 Productivity Essentials: Best Books, Podcasts and Articles

Looking to become more productive? Check out our summer list of essential productivity resources including podcasts, books and articles.

Sarah Altemus

By Sarah Altemus

Summer Productivity Essentials: Person reading on the beach

‘Tis the season for road trips, flights, layovers and other relaxing activities. Whether you’re enjoying longer days on the go or closer to home, we encourage you to expand your reading (and listening) lists to include expert commentary on the world of work. We compiled a list of essentials with brief descriptors to get you started. 

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.

Poolside Podcasts

Feeling Unmotivated? Here’s How to Get Out of the Rut. HBR IdeaCast (30 minutes) 

“Worker disengagement is on the rise around the world. Even those of us who generally like our jobs sometimes find it hard to muster energy and focus. So what’s the key to regaining motivation?

How to be Productive Without Burning Out Re-thinking with Adam Grant (42 minutes)

Learn how to “trade current standards of rapid output for slower, higher-quality, and sustainable ways of working.”

The Current Pulse of the Productivity Landscape Beyond the To-Do List (50 minutes)

Hosts discuss “current trends and themes within the vast productivity space, the value of intentional engagement with information and tasks, and the importance of slowing down to process data meaningfully.”

Airplane Articles 

Building a Data-Driven Culture: Three Mistakes to Avoid Ganes Kesari (9 minutes) 

“When people resist changing the way they make decisions, well-intentioned data science projects are doomed. Here’s how to overcome the key challenges.”

The Art of Asking Smarter Questions Arnaud Chevallier, Frédéric Dalsace, and Jean-Louis Barsoux (15 minutes) 

“With organizations of all sorts facing increased urgency and unpredictability, being able to ask smart questions has become key. But unlike lawyers, doctors, and psychologists, business professionals are not formally trained on what kinds of questions to ask when approaching a problem.”

Beach Books 

Supercommunicators Charles Duhigg (9 hours)  

“Communication is a superpower and the best communicators understand that whenever we speak, we’re actually participating in one of three conversations: practical (What’s this really about?), emotional (How do we feel?), and social (Who are we?). If you don’t know what kind of conversation you’re having, you’re unlikely to connect.  Supercommunicators know the importance of recognizing—and then matching—each kind of conversation, and how to hear the complex emotions, subtle negotiations, and deeply held beliefs that color so much of what we say and how we listen.”

Slow Productivity Cal Newport (7 hours) 

“Our current definition of “productivity” is broken. It pushes us to treat busyness as a proxy for useful effort, leading to impossibly lengthy task lists and ceaseless meetings. We’re overwhelmed by all we have to do and on the edge of burnout, left to decide between giving into soul-sapping hustle culture or rejecting ambition altogether. But are these really our only choices? Long before the arrival of pinging inboxes and clogged schedules, history’s most creative and impactful philosophers, scientists, artists, and writers mastered the art of producing valuable work with staying power. In this timely and provocative book, Cal Newport harnesses the wisdom of these traditional knowledge workers to radically transform our modern jobs.”

At ActivTrak, we genuinely care about improving the workplace experience. 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.

This summer and always, continue to be a student of your own productivity. Reflect on what makes you more or less productive. Consider what focus means, how you cultivate it and what you need to reach and maintain it. Through this, we can not only be more productive and get more done during our workdays, but we can be happier and healthier before, during and after.

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