Five Tools Used by Highly Effective People

What does it take to reach peak productivity? Hint: the key is to work smarter, not harder. Highly effective people are always looking for new ways to sharpen old skills, learn new tricks, and streamline processes—without compromising quality. Here are five essential tools to help you get better, faster:

Tool #1: The Ultimate Lifehack

Many people walk through life under the false impression that effort is always equal to reward. But many successful business leaders believe that about 20 percent of their efforts produce 80 percent of their income and happiness. By identifying the 20 percent of your work that matters most and rededicating energy to that vital area, you can optimize your workflow, accomplish more, conserve resources, and put in fewer hours. THE 80/20 PRINCIPLE teaches you how to implement this clever rule of thumb in every area of your life.

Tool #2: Two Magic Words

It’s no secret that organization is one of the pillars of productivity. But if you’re not already a neat and orderly person, the prospect of becoming one might sound like a full-time job. Tidiness guru Marie Kondo’s innovation was to devise a simple mantra to help people cut through the clutter: she advises readers to keep only the items that “spark joy.” With a tidy living area and workspace, Kondo argues, the mind is freed to function more creatively and effectively. Her KonMari method is simple, yet compelling enough to power a hit TV show that has helped millions clean up their act. Kondo’s breakaway bestseller, THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP, will help you free up your jam-packed closets—and liberate your mind.

Tool #3: The Right Habits

Effective people aren’t necessarily born that way. If you feel like you haven’t yet hit your stride, take heart: effectiveness is a set of skills that can be learned by acquiring the right habits. As the title suggests, THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE preaches the power of identifying the routines and priorities that will best serve your personal and professional goals. It’s a game-changer for anyone who’s looking to become more productive, efficient, and satisfied—and our Instaread hits all the highlights.

Tool #4: A Good Game Plan

What if everything you’ve learned about the intrinsic value of hard work is wrong? That’s the idea behind lifestyle guru Tim Ferris’s book, THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK. Ferris’s theory is that too many people put in long hours at work, toiling in service of a theoretical retirement that may never arrive. Effective people, on the other hand, work as little as possible, and spend more time enjoying themselves. They develop streams of passive income: money that requires little effort or oversight to collect. Then they ruthlessly drop or outsource any task that they don’t need to manage personally. Many work tasks can be delegated to employees or, better yet, to a cheap virtual labor force. You may not be able to whittle your workweek down to four hours, at least not right away, but your goal should be to get as close as you can.

Tool #5: A Traveling Library

Effective people recognize that time is a precious resource. Easily accessed from your phone or tablet, the Instaread app helps you take advantage of short bursts of downtime – usually around 15 mins – in transit, between appointments, and waiting in line. Instaread selects the most important insights from each title and adds context and commentary to bring key issues to life with relatable examples. The Instaread app features top-tier analysis on hundreds of bestsellers in business, self-help, psychology, and economics. Learn a new business skill, brush up on history, preview that novel you’ve been meaning to read, or find a topic of conversation for your next cocktail party.

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