12 Best Focus Books to Read in 2021

Home » Books » Focus BooksUpdated: October 06, 2021

You found our list of bestselling focus books

Focus books are guides that teach readers how to concentrate and tune out distractions. These self-help books cover topics such as limiting technology, disciplining the mind, and building healthy habits. The purpose of these books is to increase attention and productivity.

These guides are similar to books on time management and habit books.

This list includes:

  • focus self help books
  • books on focus and concentration
  • books on focus and productivity
  • focus improvement books

Here we go!

List of focus books

From contemporary hits to classic bestsellers here is a list of focus book recommendations to improve concentration and boost productivity.

1. Hyperfocus: How to Be More Productive in a World of Distraction by Chris Bailey

hyper focus book cover

Hyperfocus is one of the most useful focus improvement books. Using neuroscientific principles and scientific studies, the book shows readers how to hone their attention and be more productive. The halves of the book outline the two different forms of focus: hyperfocus, which is the more single-minded, maximum output mode, and scatterfocus, which is a more creative, idea-conducive mindset. Chris Bailey suggests best practices for each type of focus, and shows readers how to turn off autopilot, act with intention, and adopt a mindset that supercharges problem-solving and imagination.

Notable Quote: “We are what we pay attention to, and almost nothing influences our productivity and creativity as much as the information we’ve consumed in the past.”

Read Hyperfocus.

2. Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

indistractable book cover

Indistractable is one of the best books on focus and concentration. Nir Eyal is the author of Hooked, a guide to creating habit-forming products. In this book, Eyal studies obsession from the opposite angle by compelling readers to resist attention-grabbing temptations. The book analyzes the elements that make us succumb to distraction and lays out a four-part framework to resisting interruptions. Indistractable recommends ways to focus at work and at home and makes a compelling case for the ways mindfully managing attention can improve your life. The book dives deep into what triggers distraction and what does or does not prevent it, and even includes tools like distraction trackers to help readers put these ideas into practice.

Notable Quote: “Dissatisfaction and discomfort dominate our brain’s default state, but we can use them to motivate us instead of defeat us.”

Read Indistractable.

3. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Deep work book cover

Deep Work is one of the best selling focus self help books of all time. The first part of the book defines the concept of “deep work,” an ultra-focused state of peak concentration, and distinguishes it from “shallow work,” which is easy and mindless. The second half of the book lays out rules for achieving deep work and mental discipline, such as “embrace boredom,” and “quit social media.” Throughout, the book contains entertaining anecdotes and scientific facts to support these practices. Cal Newport lays out a step-by-step system for tuning out outside elements and routing all attention to a single pursuit. Deep Work is an instruction manual for blocking out distractions, heightening focus, and investing energy into priorities.

Notable Quote: “Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”

Read Deep Work.

4. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

flow book cover

Flow is a bestseller by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The author explores the concept of flow states, defined as “the feeling of complete engagement in a creative or playful activity.
” Flow is not merely absorption in an activity, but an active enjoyment of the process. The state is a sort of easy, automatic focus, yet requires practice and mindfulness to achieve. The book explains the conditions that can prevent or contribute to flow, and provides a wealth of scientific data and stories to support the outlined principles. Sections cover subjects such as consciousness, solitude, flow at work, and the ways flow manifests physically and mentally. Flow is a guide to focus in its purest form, which is a happy immersion in the task at hand.

Notable Quote: “Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”

Read Flow.

5. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

digital minimalism book cover

Digital Minimalism is a guide to unplugging and limiting your online time. Deep Work author Cal Newport shows readers how to pare down technology to essential use, disconnect from social media, and reconnect with their inner selves. To illustrate this philosophy, Newport uses examples of digital minimalists running the gamut from members of the Amish community to Silicon Valley executives. Wherever they fall on this spectrum, readers can redefine their relationship with technology and reclaim control over their time by following the principles Newport outlines. Digital Minimalism offers an antidote to the attention economy and a set of steps to use technology meaningfully instead of mindlessly.

Notable Quote: “To reestablish control, we need to move beyond tweaks and instead rebuild our relationship with technology from scratch, using our deeply held values as a foundation.”

Read Digital Minimalism.

6. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

Focus the hidden driver of excellence book cover

Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence is one of the more popular books on focus. The book identifies and outlines three types of focus, and asserts that knowing when and how to use each form is a key to achieving success. This work presents focus as a prerequisite for high achievement, and suggests ways to discipline the mind and reach peak performance. This guide presents case studies and scientific studies that suggest ways to cultivate awareness, strengthen self-control, and become more organized and attentive leaders. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence offers a recipe to train the brain for optimal attention in any endeavor, and align actions with ambitions.

Notable Quote: “Directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership.”

Read Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.

7. The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey

the productivity project book cover

The Productivity Project is one of the best focus improvement books. Chris Bailey spent a year embarking on experiments to measure his productivity in different situations. The result is a collection of insights and observations about which behaviors and environments lead to the best output, and by extension, the highest levels of focus. The book covers topics such as identifying time-wasters, eliminating unimportant activities, attempting one task at a time, and recharging when depleted of energy and motivation. Bailey suggests actionable steps and hacks to optimize your attention and efficiency. The Productivity Project does the hands-on research on focus so that readers can skip the trial and error and arrive sooner at results.

Notable Quote: “The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.”

Read The Productivity Project.

8. Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock

Your brain at work book cover

Your Brain at Work is a deep dive into the mind of modern multitaskers. The narrative follows two parent professionals, Emily and Paul, while they try to balance hectic home and work life. While relaying anecdotes about the couple, David Rock explains the reasoning behind their habits and reactions, and connects these interactions to the instincts of human beings in general. The book unravels the mysteries of why focusing can be such a challenge, how to control your emotions and make decisions calmly, and how to best protect and use your mental resources. Your Brain at Work explores neurology and nature’s role in focus, and shows readers how to set themselves up for success.

Notable Quote: “Mindfulness is a habit, it’s something the more one does, the more likely one is to be in that mode with less and less effort…it’s a skill that can be learned. It’s accessing something we already have. Mindfulness isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is to remember to be mindful.”

Read Your Brain at Work.

9. Master Your Focus: A Practical Guide to Stop Chasing the Next Thing and Focus on What Matters Until It’s Done by Thibaut Meurisse

master your focus book cover

Master Your Focus is a playbook for anchoring attention. Thibaut Meurisse lays out strategies for increasing concentration and productivity. For instance, finishing critical tasks in entirety before starting new pursuits, and zeroing in on the most essential information while learning. This book shows readers how to beat procrastination, stop being scattered, and achieve greatness. The author also provides readers with a link to download a step-by-step action guide to help structure the focus improvement journey. Master Your Focus provides a set of rules and guidelines that help readers spend attention more effectively.

Notable Quote: “Focus acts like an ax. If you try to cut down a tree by hitting it in thousands of different spots, you’ll never succeed. But when you focus and hit the same spot over and over, you can cut down even the biggest tree. With laser-sharp focus you can achieve almost anything you desire.”

Read Master Your Focus.

10. Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

free to focus book cover

Free to Focus is one of the most useful books on focus and productivity. The author asserts that the key to productivity is not mastering multitasking or increasing willpower, but rather, limiting the number of tasks and turning attention towards priorities. Michael Hyatt teaches readers how to say “no” to unnecessary engagements, delegate, simplify schedules, and plan and prioritize tasks. The mantra of this book is that to concentrate, one must eliminate. Free to Focus is a roadmap to fine-tuning attention, lessening stress, and finishing more frequently.

Notable Quote: “In a world where information is freely available, focus becomes one of the most valuable commodities in the workplace.”

Read Free to Focus.

11. Untethered: Overcome Distraction, Build Healthy Digital Habits, and Use Tech to Create a Life You Love by Sini Ninkovic

untethered book cover

Untethered is one of the best focus books for the digital age. Few folks would deny that the internet and mobile devices are significant distractions and challenges to deep focus. However, while many self-help gurus advise swearing off technology, Sini Ninkovic acknowledges that is not a sustainable or realistic solution in our tech-dependent society. The book urges readers to overcome over-reliance on tech and use devices and platforms in a more healthy and productive manner. Drawing on his own experience and observations, Ninkovic coaches readers on how to resist the temptations and manipulations of online advertising and social media, embrace tools that automate actions and decrease online time, manage notifications and compulsions to check devices, and rediscover the deeper self that technology dulls. Untethered is a non-preachy, practical guide to unplugging in a world that demands we stay connected constantly.

Notable Quote: “And I know that you can do the same– create more awareness, more fulfillment, and a better understanding of yourself– with your devices by your side instead of believing that pushing them away will create the life that you desire.”

Read Untethered.

12. Focus (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) by The Harvard Business Review

Emotional intelligence focus book cover

HBR Emotional Intelligence Series’ Focus is an anthology on concentration. Drawing on past publications of The Harvard Business Review, the collection curates thought provoking essays on the topic of attention and focus. The book spans a variety of subjects like leadership, teamwork, and self-motivation, and includes works like “To Improve Your Focus, Notice How You Lose It,” and “5 Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch.” HBR’s Emotional Intelligence Series sets out to coach readers in soft skills, and this installment is a masterclass in the art of attention.

Notable Quote: “Cognitive control” is the scientific term for putting one’s attention where one wants it and keeping it there in the face of temptation to wander. This focus is one aspect of the brain’s executive function, which is located in the prefrontal cortex. A colloquial term for it is “willpower.”

Read Focus (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series).

Final Thoughts

According to some studies, the average attention span of modern man is as short as eight seconds. The internet and mobile devices provide individuals with a constant stream of information, and produce a siren song to keep checking and stay updated. Add in the demands of modern society and the juggling act that a balanced life requires, and it can be a challenge to focus for short periods of time, never mind long-term.

Luckily, focus books can help readers cut down on distractions and pare down nonessentials, build up willpower and mental self-discipline, and achieve more while panicking less. Focus is an essential trait to master not only for the sake of career, but also because mindfulness and the ability to concentrate contribute to an overall sense of peace and wellbeing. Being able to control your own mind makes you more confident in your ability to control tough situations, and these books show you how to quiet your thoughts and act with intention.

For more book suggestions, check out this list of business biographies and this list of career books.

FAQ: Focus books

Here are answers to common questions about books on focus.

What are focus books?

Focus books are self-help guides about concentration and attention. These books often identify the triggers and causes of distraction and lay out strategies to block out interruptions and work more mindfully. The purpose of these books is to boost concentration and productivity.

What are some good books on focus and concentration?

Some good books on focus and concentration include Deep Work by Cal Newport, Indistractable by Nir Eyal, Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey, and Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman.

Why should you read books about focus?

Reading books about focus can help you pinpoint the source of your distraction and build more productive and attentive habits. Many of these books include steps and tools that make it easier to concentrate in your professional or personal life.

P.S: Press "CTRL + D" or "Command + D" to bookmark this page - we update it often.

Share this article:

avatar
Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

LinkedIn icon
Young woman with headphones, doing activities with colleagues on a Zoom call.

100% Online Team Building Activities

We run world class online team building events that remote teams love. Rated 5 Stars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Best Virtual Team Building

To be a little obvious, teambuilding.com is a team building company.

And a darn good one... we hire brilliant people, provide extensive training, and develop one of a kind experiences.

In 2021, we are running virtual events for teams all over the world.

And when there isn't a global pandemic, we do local activities too.