Originally Published: 11 June 2018. Last Updated: 24 Sept 2021. A compilation of free personal development eBooks for your personal growth and self-improvement.
Many of the authors we narrate on the Optimal Living Daily podcasts not only write blogs & books, but short, free eBooks.
And while listeners of our shows have free access to hear hundreds of personal development blogs covering productivity & minimalism, personal finance, health & fitness, business, relationships, and more, I want to share an organized list of free eBooks that are worth checking out.
Do note, however, that nearly every eBook on this list requires you to subscribe to the blogger’s newsletter with your email — of course, you can always opt out later if you don't find value in it. I trust that these authors won't do anything shady with your email address and will unsubscribe you properly if you request to be removed from their list.
I’ve written a summary underneath each book on this list so that you can get an idea of the contents of the eBook before you download it.
To help you quickly find what you’re looking for, I’ve organized the free eBooks into the following categories: Productivity & Efficiency, Happiness & Relationships, Habits & Rituals, General Personal Development, and Mindfulness.
Productivity and Efficiency
1. “The One Life Hack of Highly Successful People” by Asian Efficiency
Link: asianefficiency.com (first banner button on home page)
This 10-page document covers six steps that you can use for your morning ritual. This eBook also looks at the specific morning rituals of Benjamin Franklin, Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, and Arianna Huffington.
2. “Inbox Zero” by Asian Efficiency
Although this free resource is a 5-minute-long video, it will still help you with your productivity and efficiency. “Inbox Zero” by Asian Efficiency covers the steps you can take to obtain an organized email inbox. Thanh Pham of Asian Efficiency covers the inbox categories that you should create and talks about the simple question that you should ask yourself to decide if you should respond to an email right away or save it for later.
Thanh also provides free PDFs that summarize the video and give his preferences on which email client to use (depending on whether you use Mac or PC) and the folder structure that you should create.
3. “How to Stop Procrastination” by Celestine Chua
In Celestine’s 29-page eBook, she dispels three perceived benefits of procrastination and gives three excellent counterpoints. She also talks about the two factors that cause procrastination (a lack of desire and fear). Towards the end, she talks about how to cure procrastination by using a pen and paper (or computer) and some honest self-reflection.
4. “21 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School” by The Positivity Blog
In this guide, Henrik shares the top self-improvement lessons he wish he had learned as a student. Tips include understanding value, charisma, being proactive instead of reactive, and how mistakes can be a great thing. Although the guide doesn’t go in depth into one area of personal development, it’s a useful “checklist” for seeing what self-improvement tips you can implement into your life.
BONUS: In his blog post, How to Stop Being So Lazy: 10 Simple Habits, Henrik talks about how to improve your productivity but still be able to enjoy your “lazy time” without feeling guilty. The steps he gives are practical and easy to implement. Available in a handy PDF checklist through a download link on the post.
5. “How to Use a Journal” by Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn's legacy lives on in his work on business and personal development. Learn about clarity, problem-solving, and better communication from Jim's free eBook, where he shares insights on how journaling is a major tool in achieving your goals.
A couple of years ago, Jim Rohn's site offered a free eBook (The Jim Rohn Guide to Goal Setting) which is now available to purchase for $2.99. Although this eBook is 52 pages, each page is quite short. This read will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Jim discusses why goal-setting is essential and how to set up SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive) to ensure success. He talks about practical steps one can take to make sure their goals meet the SMART criteria.
6. “The Free Productivity Guide eBook” by Azendoo
This was a free eBook sent to Azendoo users, and the team decided to generously share it with the public as well!
Azendoo is a team collaboration platform that helps users to easily integrate applications and migrate project tasks. The guide consists of articles published on the Azendoo blog. It's a collection of great pieces to provide productivity tips and tricks to anyone seeking to maximize their usage of time.
7. “The Top 3 Productivity Mistakes People Make (And How to Fix Them!)” by Craig Jarrow
In 2018, Jarrow offered a free 19-page eBook titled The Top 3 Productivity Mistakes People Make, where he gives solutions for each of the top three productivity mistakes that people are guilty of. The first two mistakes are related to people’s dependencies on technology (email and phones). The last one is a personal factor–your attitude.
As of 2020, the best of Time Management Ninja's posts have been compiled in two eBooks on Amazon. The posts are available in a Kindle formatted eBook for $4.99 each. The two eBook titles are: You are Stronger Than You Think and Crush Your Procrastination.
For free reading material, Time Management Ninja's popular productivity posts include:
- 29 Ways You're Wasting Time Today (check the list to see how many frivolous activities you may be committing)
- 8 Reasons to Push Yourself Today (on avoiding a life that's too comfortable)
BONUS: Free Resources by Brian Tracy
Motivational speaker Brian Tracy doesn't offer free eBooks at the moment. He does offer free video training, blog posts, and audio trainings via his website. Check them out to level up your approach towards achieving your goals!
You can also listen to a selection of Brian Tracy's blog posts narrated here on OLD Podcast.
Happiness and Relationships
8. “Emotional Needs in Relationships” by Mark Manson
In Mark’s 35-page eBook, he talks about how emotional needs predict how we act in relationships. His take on relationships is unique, as he proposes a model for getting what you want by understanding why people behave the way they do in response to your actions. He talks about the three fundamental emotional needs your partner has and how to meet them. The methods he suggests for improving your emotional well-being are rooted in practicality and involve concepts such as taking on a persona and writing letters. It's a great resource for men in particular who are struggling with their dating life.
9. “The Explorer’s Guide to Manifesting” by Steve Pavlina
Link: stevepavlina.com (sign-up form is at the bottom)
In this 19-page eBook, Steve discusses sixteen ways to attract more of what you want in your life. He discusses key subtleties in the process of “imagining” what you desire, such as pretending that your desire has been fulfilled for many years now.
10. “The One Skill” by Leo Babauta
The founder of Zen Habits offered this free eBook to mark 41 years of the wonderful life he's lived. He shares insights on learning how to let go and how this can help you with many troubles in your life.
Another free eBook he's written is The Little Book of Contentment.
11. “Power of Gratitude” by Wes Hopper
In Wes's 18-page eBook, you'll learn about the importance of being grateful. You may already know that it helps you stay in a positive mood, focus on the present, and helps you manifest what you'd like to see in your life. This short guide highlights five common blocks people often experience to being grateful. It will you create more abundance in your life.
12. “Top 100 List of Positive Affirmations ” by Start of Happiness
The Start of Happiness provides you with strategies and tools to do what you love, more often. This collection of positive affirmations will help you develop self-esteem and belief in yourself. Have you ever noticed how a negative mindset can seep into your thoughts and behaviors throughout the day? When used correctly, positive affirmations have the power to change your life by reinforcing your self-beliefs to accomplish what you want.
Habits and Rituals
13. First 50 Pages of Tim Ferriss's Books
Link: tim.blog (access via newsletter)
Download the first 50 pages of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. An audiobook of The 4-Hour Chef is available for download too.
A few years ago, Tim offered an eBook titled “5 Morning Rituals that Help Me Win the Day.” He wrote about the five morning rituals that he uses to gain a sense of control in the early hours of his day. Each ritual comes with his personalized way of doing it and the approximate length of time to do each one (less than 3 minutes, less than 1 minute, and so on). You may listen to this content through Episode 105 of his podcast or read the transcript.
14. Chapter 1 of “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
Atomic Habits is full of evidence-based strategies to help you transform your habits. James teaches the science behind the creation of habits, how to overcome personal struggles such as lack of willpower and motivation, and how to make your environment more conducive to forming lasting habits.
15. “All About Habits: A Guide to Changing Your Life One Step at a Time” by Mark Manson
In Mark’s 21-page eBook, he begins by talking about a psychological study on instant and delayed gratification and then ties it into the process of creating habits. The science on the creation of habits and willpower isn’t revolutionary, but his guide is practical and is well suited for the interested productivity novice. He also talks about how long it takes to form a habit.
16. “Habit Stacking: The Morning Routine” by S. J. Scott
Link: developgoodhabits.com/my-books/ (scroll down to sign up)
Morning routines are key to living a successful life. How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it. Instead of impulse activities like checking your phone, you can focus on completing a morning ritual that has an intentional and positive impact. This PDF reviews 11 habits for a routine that you can do in an hour or less.
General Personal Development
17. “Self-Knowledge: How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?” by Mark Manson
In this 22-page eBook, Mark discusses three ideas that will hopefully make you more comfortable in questioning yourself. One of the ideas touches upon Buddhism. Mark emphasizes mindfulness and how it can help us avoid falling prey to negative emotions.
18. “Getting the Most out of Meditation” by Mindworks
Mindworks is a non-profit created by five long-time meditators whose lives were transformed by practice. This eBook has tips on how to optimize your meditation practice. You'll get an introduction to different forms and what to explore depending on the type of results you're seeking.
19. “Personal Development Worksheets” by Personal Development Insights
These free personal growth worksheets are therapeutic and reminiscent of the worksheets and homework assignments you might get assigned in a counseling session. The worksheets guide you like a mentor in the direction of general self-improvement. They cover a wide range of topics (self-awareness, life satisfaction, your values, and thoughts for success).
20. “Reignite Your Dreams” by Jack Canfield
This is a 3-day “Mental Reset” guide to help you break free from distractions and create a success-focused mindset. Jack Canfield is one of the world's leading human-potential experts, and this eBook will help you remember your true self and what you're capable of doing.
21. “7 Must-Know Strategies to Learn Anything Faster” by Scott H. Young
In this 27-page eBook, Scott coins a term called “ultralearning.” He discusses the importance of learning and details his ultralearning case studies (namely the MIT Challenge, The Year Without English, and the 30-Day Portrait Drawing). He introduces the seven best practices for learning effectively and introduces a concept called “active learning.”
22. “92 Life Lessons” by Tiny Buddha
From the website Tiny Buddha comes a slim eBook with 92 all important quotes on life lessons. Learn about love, mindfulness, struggle through growth, and possibilities in this little eBook.
23. “What Matters Now” by Seth Godin
This eBook was compiled by marketing expert Seth Godin. More than seventy big thinkers share an idea for you to ponder over. These thinkers include Elizabeth Gilbert, Dave Ramsey, and Kevin Kelly. Topics include dignity, fear, re-capitalism, and more.
The opening lines by Seth are:
“When the economy tanks, it’s natural to think of yourself first. You have a family to feed a mortgage to pay. Getting more appears to be the order of business. It turns out that the connected economy doesn’t respect this natural instinct. . .”
24. “Mastering Creativity: A Brief Guide on How to Overcome Creative Blocks” by James Clear
A 34-page eBook by James Clear where he talks about how anyone can learn to be creative. He also discusses ideas such as the Equal-Odds Rule, which can help you determine what you’re good at.
25. “How to Create Empowering Beliefs” by Tony Robbins
Are you constantly stressed and overwhelmed from struggling with many limiting beliefs? This free eBook will show you how to change your mindset. Robbins shares tips on combating negative thoughts, building a strong identity, and how to overcome obstacles.
26. “The Consummate Leader” by Patricia Thompson
In this eBook, Patricia examines the key ingredients to being a strong leader. Leadership is not just about getting things done, but accomplishing goals which enables a team to flourish with a contagious sense of excitement and energy. Learn how to build self-awareness, influential skills, and positive work relationships for greater productivity.
BONUS: “The 4 Necessary Emotions to Make an Amazing First Impression” by Charisma on Command
Although this isn’t an eBook, this free 9-minute-long video is nonetheless useful for people who want to become more charismatic. The four emotions covered are fun, trust, respect, and interest. Charlie (the instructor in the video) also discusses the importance of the sequence of these four emotions and how that can make or break your impression on people.
27. “What is Mindfulness?” by Therapist Aid
This one-page handout gives a comprehensive overview of what mindfulness is all about. This website is a treasure trove of essential tools for mental health professionals, with worksheets and guides covering a huge range of topics that include relationships, anger management, self-esteem, and goal setting.
28. “In the Flow of Mindfulness” by Growing Mindfulness
This free 50-page guide has been downloaded more than 120,000 times. It shows you how to lower your stress levels and rebalance your life, no matter how busy your schedule is. Author Marisa Garau talks about how to respond mindfully to things that happen in life and how to anchor mindfulness in your daily life.
29. “Mindfulness Made Easy” by Happiness Academy
This eBook contains 90 short and simple exercises for a more mindful life. The exercises are based on research. It's beginner-friendly if you're thinking about cultivating more mindfulness in your life, and it also has tips if you're seeking new tools to broaden your mindfulness or meditation approach.
30. “Mindfulness In 7 Steps | Little Guide For Beginners” by Happiness Project
Link: happyproject.in/mindfulness-7-steps/#Final_Words (in blue highlighted text box)
You can read this eBook online or download a PDF via the link above. It starts with breathing as the first step in your mindfulness meditation, and shares scientific proof of the effects of keeping to a regular mindfulness practice. A handy infographic lays out the 7 mindfulness steps for reference.
We've moved this list of eBooks onto their own post here: Best Free Personal Finance eBooks.
Bonus: Optimal Living Daily (Podcast)
Link: Show Page
If you're new to Optimal Living Daily, you should know that we narrate the best personal development blogs for you, so you can listen in the car, while exercising or doing chores, before going to bed, as part of your morning routine, or any other time you like. We've had millions of listens over the years and would love for you to check it out. Best of all, it's free!
You can listen in pretty much any podcast app (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, etc.) or on YouTube, through Amazon Alexa (just tell Alexa “Enable Optimal Living Daily”), and right here on the website.
Let me know if you come across any other free eBooks that are worth sharing in the personal development niche, or if there are any other authors (besides the authors we already narrate) that we should look into!