The Best Time Management Listens to Help You Crush Your To-Do List

These productivity- and habit-boosting audiobooks will help you do what you need to faster—and cut out what you don't.

Guides to better time management and higher productivity were practically made for audio. (Tip: I like to listen to audiobooks on this topic while I'm cleaning the house or organizing, so I already feel extra productive and on the right track.) Additionally, the narrators of these audiobooks are all encouraging and motivational. Give one or two (or all!) of the following titles a listen, and you'll be on your way to a more productive life in record time. 

Tools of Titans

Known for his groundbreaking best seller The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss has interviewed hundreds of highly successful people from all fields for his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. Now, he’s compiled the most useful tips from these interviews into one handy guide. Hear from some of the world’s top performers—superstar celebs, champion athletes, Special Ops commanders, and genius scientists among them—about their daily life, starting with how they spend the first 60 minutes of each morning. Tools of Titans translates their answers into actionable tips and tactics that anyone can apply. Featuring insights from past fan-favorite interviews and surprising new guests alike, this listen is narrated by Ferriss and a cast of standout performers, including prolific, award-winning narrator Ray Porter and decorated Navy SEALs officer and motivational author Jocko Willink.

Atomic Habits

Though often overlooked, day-to-day habits have a significant impact on your life. In Atomic Habits, James Clear explains how to create good habits while banishing bad ones. Habit formation depends on a system of behaviors, the author stresses, and even tiny behavioral shifts can lead to remarkable results. Step by step, Clear shows how to establish a system that makes your habits work for you, not against you. Narrated by the author, this listen combines information from complex fields—psychology, biology, neuroscience—and distills it into an action plan that’s easy to understand and apply. If you’re searching for ways to stick with positive habits, even when it feels impossible, Atomic Habits might work wonders for you.

Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life

If you could change your life for the better simply by changing your schedule, would you? As an advocate of a good schedule, I really love Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar's approach to time management. Drawing on Ayurvedic wisdom and modern medicine, Dr. Kshirsagar investigates how your schedule affects your mood and physical well-being. It's common knowledge that behaviors like skipping meals or skimping on sleep for time’s sake are bad for you. But adjusting your schedule to fit with your natural circadian rhythm can help you feel better and live more fully. Narrated by Lesa Lockford, Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life presents each lesson clearly and levelly, making it easy to absorb the author’s wisdom and apply it to your own life.

Big Magic

In both her novels and works of nonfiction, best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert reinforces the value of making time for creativity and pleasure in the midst of everyday life and its challenges. In Big Magic, Gilbert interweaves personal experience and pragmatic advice with soulful spirituality to encourage listeners to embrace passion and pay attention to their own wild ideas—even if they come at inopportune times. Above all, this listen celebrates the joy in the unexpected opportunity and advocates for finding what makes you truly happy. Narrated by the author, Big Magic captures Gilbert’s playful, engaging style as well as her brilliance.

Failing Up

Now widely celebrated for originating the role of Aaron Burr in the smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton, Leslie Odom, Jr., wasn’t always successful. He spent years struggling as a performer before finding fame and winning a Tony Award. Still, he was always a dreamer with a realistic understanding of the hard work and perseverance required to succeed. In Failing Up, Odom reflects on how you can learn and grow in your own journey towards success—and how failure helps shape us as individuals. This listen is narrated by the author, whose voice is as sonorous and pleasant as ever.

Life's Amazing Secrets

A famous monk and one of the most sought-after life coaches in the world, Gaur Gopal Das thought up the ideas for Life's Amazing Secrets while sitting in Mumbai’s horrendous traffic with a young friend. With that in mind, this is probably the perfect audiobook to queue up when you've got a long car ride ahead. In this listen, Das offers many suggestions for managing challenges familiar to us all. From strengthening relationships to being more productive at work, the celebrated monk has helpful and easy-to-follow solutions for nearly every part of your life. Narrating his own work, the author also includes plenty of personal stories and real-life accounts to help make his ideas immediately relatable to listeners.

The Power of Habit

In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg uses scientific studies to examine how habits are formed, why they exist, and how they can be changed. The author digs deep into habit forming at work in settings from corporate boardrooms to the sidelines of the NFL to the frontlines of the civil rights movement. Through these varied examples, Duhigg reveals how developing the right habits has the power to make you more productive so that you can achieve success. Whether your goals are personal or professional, Duhigg's method could be the key to achieving them. Narrator Mike Chamberlain's reading of this audiobook is enthusiastic and encouraging; just hearing his performance will make you feel more capable of getting anything and everything done.

The Checklist Manifesto

Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He's also a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three three best-selling books. In other words, if anyone’s an expert at getting things right and achieving success, it's him. In this work, Gawande focuses on a simple technique that can prevent needless mistakes, not to mention disasters, and increase efficiency: the checklist. After listening to The Checklist Manifesto, you'll wonder how you everyou'll wonder how you ever got through life without checklists! John Bedford Loyd’s narration captures Gawande's enthusiasm for this humble tool.

The Bullet Journal Method

If you’ve yet to start a Bullet Journal—or struggled to keep one going—you can make 2021 your most organized year yet with this primer from the inventor of the system. A digital product designer diagnosed with learning disabilities, Ryder Carroll had long sought a method to focus his attention and increase productivity; when he didn’t find one, he created his own. Now a global lifestyle and popular Instagram hashtag, “BuJo” has been described as “KonMari for your racing thoughts” by Vogue and an indispensable tool for those who crave structure and freedom from distractions (so, basically all of us). If an audio guide to an analog system sounds strange, fear not: the audiobook comes with a visual PDF. The Bullet Journal Method is read by Carroll himself, whose calm yet clearly invested delivery makes the listening experience easy to follow as well as motivating.

Digital Minimalism

Habit-tracking apps and to-do lists aside, the single best thing you can do to increase your efficiency is to cut out anything you don’t need to spend time on—which may well include technology that’s supposedly making your life easier. Cal Newport, a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of several nonfiction best sellers about optimizing work, helped spark a major shift in how we think about technology and productivity with this guide to minimizing digital distractions. Read by veteran narrator Will Damron, Digital Minimalism will help you thoughtfully reenvision how you engage with your phone, social media, and the endless onslaught of notifications and pings. We expect Newport to further blow our minds with his forthcoming release, A World Without Email.

It's About Damn Time

The title of this memoir comes from the fact that its author, venture capital trailblazer Arlan Hamilton, went from being broke, homeless, and sleeping on the floor of San Francisco’s airport to launching a $36 million fund earmarked exclusively for Black women-owned businesses. In a speech announcing it, Hamilton said, “They like to call it a diversity fund. I call it the ‘It's About Damn Time Fund.’” From the perspective of a Black queer woman unapologetically owning a space that was traditionally the domain of straight white men, Hamilton’s audiobook is a motivational playbook on opening up your ambitions, and going for—and getting—what you want. If you feel limited by the systems or structure in place, or just by the thoughts in your own head, It’s About Damn Time will help guide you, step by step, toward conquering challenges and accomplishing your goals.

Tools of Titans

Known for his groundbreaking best seller The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss has interviewed hundreds of highly successful people from all fields for his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. Now, he’s compiled the most useful tips from these interviews into one handy guide. Hear from some of the world’s top performers—superstar celebs, champion athletes, Special Ops commanders, and genius scientists among them—about their daily life, starting with how they spend the first 60 minutes of each morning. Tools of Titans translates their answers into actionable tips and tactics that anyone can apply. Featuring insights from past fan-favorite interviews and surprising new guests alike, this listen is narrated by Ferriss and a cast of standout performers, including prolific, award-winning narrator Ray Porter and decorated Navy SEALs officer and motivational author Jocko Willink.

Atomic Habits

Though often overlooked, day-to-day habits have a significant impact on your life. In Atomic Habits, James Clear explains how to create good habits while banishing bad ones. Habit formation depends on a system of behaviors, the author stresses, and even tiny behavioral shifts can lead to remarkable results. Step by step, Clear shows how to establish a system that makes your habits work for you, not against you. Narrated by the author, this listen combines information from complex fields—psychology, biology, neuroscience—and distills it into an action plan that’s easy to understand and apply. If you’re searching for ways to stick with positive habits, even when it feels impossible, Atomic Habits might work wonders for you.

Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life

If you could change your life for the better simply by changing your schedule, would you? As an advocate of a good schedule, I really love Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar's approach to time management. Drawing on Ayurvedic wisdom and modern medicine, Dr. Kshirsagar investigates how your schedule affects your mood and physical well-being. It's common knowledge that behaviors like skipping meals or skimping on sleep for time’s sake are bad for you. But adjusting your schedule to fit with your natural circadian rhythm can help you feel better and live more fully. Narrated by Lesa Lockford, Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life presents each lesson clearly and levelly, making it easy to absorb the author’s wisdom and apply it to your own life.

Big Magic

In both her novels and works of nonfiction, best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert reinforces the value of making time for creativity and pleasure in the midst of everyday life and its challenges. In Big Magic, Gilbert interweaves personal experience and pragmatic advice with soulful spirituality to encourage listeners to embrace passion and pay attention to their own wild ideas—even if they come at inopportune times. Above all, this listen celebrates the joy in the unexpected opportunity and advocates for finding what makes you truly happy. Narrated by the author, Big Magic captures Gilbert’s playful, engaging style as well as her brilliance.

Failing Up

Now widely celebrated for originating the role of Aaron Burr in the smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton, Leslie Odom, Jr., wasn’t always successful. He spent years struggling as a performer before finding fame and winning a Tony Award. Still, he was always a dreamer with a realistic understanding of the hard work and perseverance required to succeed. In Failing Up, Odom reflects on how you can learn and grow in your own journey towards success—and how failure helps shape us as individuals. This listen is narrated by the author, whose voice is as sonorous and pleasant as ever.

Life's Amazing Secrets

A famous monk and one of the most sought-after life coaches in the world, Gaur Gopal Das thought up the ideas for Life's Amazing Secrets while sitting in Mumbai’s horrendous traffic with a young friend. With that in mind, this is probably the perfect audiobook to queue up when you've got a long car ride ahead. In this listen, Das offers many suggestions for managing challenges familiar to us all. From strengthening relationships to being more productive at work, the celebrated monk has helpful and easy-to-follow solutions for nearly every part of your life. Narrating his own work, the author also includes plenty of personal stories and real-life accounts to help make his ideas immediately relatable to listeners.

The Power of Habit

In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg uses scientific studies to examine how habits are formed, why they exist, and how they can be changed. The author digs deep into habit forming at work in settings from corporate boardrooms to the sidelines of the NFL to the frontlines of the civil rights movement. Through these varied examples, Duhigg reveals how developing the right habits has the power to make you more productive so that you can achieve success. Whether your goals are personal or professional, Duhigg's method could be the key to achieving them. Narrator Mike Chamberlain's reading of this audiobook is enthusiastic and encouraging; just hearing his performance will make you feel more capable of getting anything and everything done.

The Checklist Manifesto

Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He's also a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three three best-selling books. In other words, if anyone’s an expert at getting things right and achieving success, it's him. In this work, Gawande focuses on a simple technique that can prevent needless mistakes, not to mention disasters, and increase efficiency: the checklist. After listening to The Checklist Manifesto, you'll wonder how you everyou'll wonder how you ever got through life without checklists! John Bedford Loyd’s narration captures Gawande's enthusiasm for this humble tool.

The Bullet Journal Method

If you’ve yet to start a Bullet Journal—or struggled to keep one going—you can make 2021 your most organized year yet with this primer from the inventor of the system. A digital product designer diagnosed with learning disabilities, Ryder Carroll had long sought a method to focus his attention and increase productivity; when he didn’t find one, he created his own. Now a global lifestyle and popular Instagram hashtag, “BuJo” has been described as “KonMari for your racing thoughts” by Vogue and an indispensable tool for those who crave structure and freedom from distractions (so, basically all of us). If an audio guide to an analog system sounds strange, fear not: the audiobook comes with a visual PDF. The Bullet Journal Method is read by Carroll himself, whose calm yet clearly invested delivery makes the listening experience easy to follow as well as motivating.

Digital Minimalism

Habit-tracking apps and to-do lists aside, the single best thing you can do to increase your efficiency is to cut out anything you don’t need to spend time on—which may well include technology that’s supposedly making your life easier. Cal Newport, a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of several nonfiction best sellers about optimizing work, helped spark a major shift in how we think about technology and productivity with this guide to minimizing digital distractions. Read by veteran narrator Will Damron, Digital Minimalism will help you thoughtfully reenvision how you engage with your phone, social media, and the endless onslaught of notifications and pings. We expect Newport to further blow our minds with his forthcoming release, A World Without Email.

It's About Damn Time

The title of this memoir comes from the fact that its author, venture capital trailblazer Arlan Hamilton, went from being broke, homeless, and sleeping on the floor of San Francisco’s airport to launching a $36 million fund earmarked exclusively for Black women-owned businesses. In a speech announcing it, Hamilton said, “They like to call it a diversity fund. I call it the ‘It's About Damn Time Fund.’” From the perspective of a Black queer woman unapologetically owning a space that was traditionally the domain of straight white men, Hamilton’s audiobook is a motivational playbook on opening up your ambitions, and going for—and getting—what you want. If you feel limited by the systems or structure in place, or just by the thoughts in your own head, It’s About Damn Time will help guide you, step by step, toward conquering challenges and accomplishing your goals.


Emily Martin earned her Ph.D. at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also works as a contributor for Book Riot and as a blogger/podcaster at Book Squad Goals.

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