Declutter Your Life! (5 best books on productivity)

5 best books on productivity and organization | declutter your life
At the end of last year, I made a very firm commitment to read. After passing on a very expensive online course promising to teach “how to maximize your performance,” I went on a year long quest to educate myself in similar strategies by reading books in management, personal self-development and marketing. 

miriam schulman shares 5 best books on productivity and organization | declutter your life
Reading in my studio….

Book Review Series

This blog post is actually going to be part of a series of blog posts that looks back over the last year as I share with you the books I have read and some of the key takeaways. 

Reverse Resolutions

This looking back is sort of a form of reverse New Year’s resolutions. I recognize that this book review has little to do with my art making and honestly I am not sure who this series is for. 

I know that you may be reading my blog because you want to learn art techniques– so if this is you, perhaps learning a bit about how I run my art business may be of interest. 

If on the other hand, you do not paint but follow this blog because you like my art then perhaps you will like this series as you want to understand a bit behind the scenes of how my mind works. Either way, I assume that you follow me because you like to expand your universe and a good book recommendation is always appreciated.

Let’s Declutter First

Since I covered about a book a week last year, I decided to break the list into categories of decluttering, marketing, management and personal self-development. For the first in this series, I am going with all the books I read on productivity as I am willing to bet that get organized is something you have on the top of your to-do list for 2016. (You can let me know in the comments!)



The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:
 The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Marie Kondo


Declutter Your Stuff.

key takeaway:  Marie Kondo’s philosophy is about letting go of the things in your life that is taking up room, causing guilt or stress. You leave space in your life only for the items that give you pleasure.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
― Marie Kondō (tweet this)

Getting Things Done: 
The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen



Declutter Your Mind

key takeaway: Not writing down tasks clutters your mind and causes stress.  After this book, I embraced using digital task management and better physical file keeping in order to organize ideas and information.

“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”―David Allen (tweet this)

“Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it’s not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I just suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly.” ―David Allen

The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Greg Mckeown



Declutter Your Time

key takeaway: Essentialism reiterates many of the themes in the prior two books but talks mostly about philosophy. Coming from a more business management perspective, there is still a lot in here that falls into the personal self-development world. Are you spending your time with people and on projects that matter most?

“Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” ― Greg McKeown (tweet this)

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”― Greg McKeown

The 4-Hour Workweek
Timothy Ferriss


Doing less is not being lazy

key takeaway: I wasn’t sure at first which category to put this book under…is it personal development? Management? Or productivity? In the end, since the title is about only working 4 hours a week, I decided the author’s intent is to declutter your life and live more productively.

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” ―Timothy Ferriss (tweet this)

“Doing less is not being lazy. Don’t give in to a culture that values personal sacrifice over personal productivity.”― Timothy Ferriss

“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”― Timothy Ferriss

If you never heard of Tim Ferriss before, he has a bit of a cult following and a hugely entertaining and popular podcast which I suggest you check out.

Denise Duffield-Thomas


Declutter to manifest your desires

key takeaway: Are you surprised that this book is here? If you read this book or anything by this author you will learn she believes the first step in manifesting your desires is to declutter both your physical and your psychological spaces.

“Can a good declutter change your life? When you get rid of everything in your life that’s not working for you, you’re free to completely shift your life from the inside out.”― Denise Duffield-Thomas


Old Fashioned Page Turners

By the way, all of the above books I read in the old fashioned way- not on audio- not on a kindle either. I really enjoy the pleasures of owning books and getting to mark them up with my comments and doodles. In the next series, there will be many books that I listened to but the best ones I went ahead and bought  physical copies so I could deface them in the same manner.

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In Case We Haven’t Met Yet…

artist Miriam Schulman in her art studio www.schulmanart.comHello! I’m Miriam Schulman and I create mixed media art to tell stories. I also teach other people how to craft their stories with art. I give them the techniques they need to get the results they desire which brings more joy to their lives. 

My art has been published by Somerset StudioArt of Man and the New York Times among others and collected by an international audience. When I’m not working on art in my studio, you’ll find me in a museum spending time with friends or family. Explore my art at or join the fun at


Now I want to hear from you… have you read any of these books? Which would you love to read next?

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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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