Book Comparison: ESWR & Do Nothing

46178719Title: Eat Sleep Work Repeat
Author: Bruce Daisley
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Harper One
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Pages: 320
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: June 14, 2020

Goodreads Description: How does a lunch break spark a burst of productivity? Can a team’s performance be improved simply by moving the location of the coffee maker? Why are meetings so often a waste of time, and how can a walking meeting actually get decisions made?

As an executive with decades of management experience at top Silicon Valley companies including YouTube, Google, and Twitter, Bruce Daisley has given a lot of thought to what makes a workforce productive and what factors can improve the workplace to benefit a company’s employees, customers, and bottom line. In his debut book, he shares what he’s discovered, offering practical, often counterintuitive, insights and solutions for reinvigorating work to give us more meaning, productivity, and joy at the office.

A Gallup survey of global workers revealed shocking news: only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs. This means that burn out and unhappiness at work are a reality for the vast majority of workers. Managers—and employees themselves—can make work better. Eat Sleep Work Repeat shows them how, offering more than two dozen research-backed, user-friendly strategies, including:

Go to Lunch (it makes you less tired over the weekend)
Suggest a Tea Break (it increases team cohesiveness and productivity)
Conduct a Pre-Mortem (foreseeing possible issues can prevent problems and creates a spirit of curiosity and inquisitiveness)

“Let’s start enjoying our jobs again,” Daisley insists. “It’s time to rediscover the joy of work.”

9781984824738_p0_v1_s550x406Title: Do Nothing
Author: Celeste Headlee
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Harmony
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: June 16, 2020

Goodreads Description: We work feverishly to make ourselves happy. So why are we so miserable? This manifesto helps us break free of our unhealthy devotion to efficiency and shows us how to reclaim our time and humanity with a little more leisure.

Despite our constant search for new ways to “hack” our bodies and minds for peak performance, human beings are working more instead of less, living harder not smarter, and becoming more lonely and anxious. We strive for the absolute best in every aspect of our lives, ignoring what we do well naturally and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning? Why can’t we just take a break?

In Do Nothing, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee illuminates a new path ahead, seeking to institute a global shift in our thinking so we can stop sabotaging our well-being, put work aside, and start living instead of doing. As it turns out, we’re searching for external solutions to an internal problem. We won’t find what we’re searching for in punishing diets or productivity apps. Celeste’s strategies will allow you to regain control over your life and break your addiction to false efficiency. You’ll learn how to increase your time perception to determine how your hours are being spent, invest in quality idle time, and focus on end goals instead of mean goals. It’s time to reverse the trend that’s making us all sadder, sicker, and less productive, and return to a way of life that allows us to thrive.

My Review: Eat Sleep Work Repeat is basically the story of my present life. I was curious as to what recommendations Bruce Daisley would provide to help me enjoy my ESWR life. Unfortunately, there was no new concepts that I hadn’t heard before and/or tried to utilize in my own work life. However, here are the concepts I found most useful from Eat Sleep Work Repeat:

  • Monk Hour or Morning: Beginning your day by working on your task list or a specific project instead of checking/responding to emails and phone calls and doing anything that distracts you from accomplishing these tasks (attending meetings, etc).
  • Recharging: Mr. Daisley gives many tips about recharging at work. For an example, a tip provided is to take breaks – like go for a walk – away from your work or desk.
  • Open workspaces do not promote efficiency and productivity: Offices that have cubicles or open work concepts may lead to collaborations but more likely lead to too many distractions and not enough work being accomplished.
  • Having a community at work of people who care about each other can lead to a happy and productive work experience. Laughter at work is also a positive activity that can lead to a more enjoyable work life.

I do feel like the suggestions that Bruce Daisley throughout Eat Sleep Work Repeat are great in theory but sometimes not possible for a worker to actualize. For example, most employees do not have a choice what kind of workspace they have. When I started my current job, I was placed in an office space with 20 other people. There was no privacy and constant distractions, but that was the spot I was given. It took years of discussions with the department manager to finally get a coveted inclosed workspace. I do like the idea of taking time to laugh. I think that would definitely make a work day more enjoyable.

Eat Sleep Work Repeat allowed me to focus on improving my work life, and there was a nice overlap going into reading Do Nothing. At the beginning of Do Nothing, Celeste Headlee mentions being more focused and productive during our work hours, that sometimes we feel like we work longer hours than we actually do. I know that distractions are easy with social media and email notifications. However, there are plenty of people who do work long hours. Burnout is a real thing. American society promotes working hard and long hours. Employees’ fear of falling behind at work or being overlooked for a promotion is real.

I actually am currently having a bit of a work dilemma. My employer is trying to convince all employees to utilize their paid time off hours. I am sure many people need this time right now with everything going on in the world. I would love to take some time, even though I don’t feel comfortable traveling right now, with the pandemic and all. However, my department is continuously adding more deadlines to my already intense work load. It is getting harder to do all my work tasks, recharge like Bruce Daisley states in Eat Sleep Work Repeat, and actually live a more leisure life like Celeste Headlee recommends.

What I most liked about Do Nothing, is that the author selects tangible steps to achieve a more desirable work/life balance. Here are her recommendations:

  1. Increase time perception.
  2. Create your ideal schedule.
  3. Stop comparing at a distance.
  4. Work fewer hours.
  5. Schedule leisure.
  6. Schedule social time.
  7. Work in teams.
  8. Commit small selfless acts.
  9. Focus ends not means.

While I already discussed perceived work hours (step one), I don’t know if I agree with step nine either. I understand the author’s suggestion to focus on the end, but I think that have more luck with smaller tangible goals. I do agree that all goals though should be flexible. This is something I only just realized the importance of.

I overall enjoyed Do Nothing a bit better than Eat Sleep Work Repeat. This may be just because the idea of less work and more doing nothing sounds very appealing to me at this particular moment. How do you balance work and life?

My Rating of Eat Sleep Work Repeat: ♦ ♦ ♦
My Rating of Do Nothing: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


Book Review: The Happiness Equation

The Happiness Equation
Author: Neil Pasricha
Genre: Self-help
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Pages: 320
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: May 30, 2020

Goodreads Description: What’s the formula for a happy life?

Neil Pasricha is a Harvard MBA, a Walmart executive, a New York Times–bestselling author, and a husband and dad. After selling more than a million copies of his Book of Awesome series, he now shifts his focus from observation to application.

In The Happiness Equation, Pasricha illustrates how to want nothing, do anything, and have everything. If that sounds like a contradiction, you simply haven’t unlocked the 9 Secrets to Happiness.

Each secret takes a common ideal, flips it on its head, and casts it in a completely new light. Pasricha then goes a step further by providing step-by-step guidelines and hand-drawn scribbles that illustrate exactly how to apply each secret to live a happier life today.

Controversial? Maybe. Counterintuitive? Definitely.

The Happiness Equation will teach you such principles as:
· Why success doesn’t lead to happiness
· How to make more money than a Harvard MBA
· Why multitasking is a myth
· How eliminating options leads to more choice

The Happiness Equation is a book that will change how you think about everything—your time, your career, your relationships, your family, and, ultimately, of course, your happiness.

My Review: A guide to happiness using math equations – heck yeah! Sign me up!

I do think the author does mention that he went to Harvard a bit too much, but I guess if I had been fortunate enough to have been educated at Harvard, I would probably mention it as much as I could.

Here are the nine secrets to happiness according to Neil Pasricha:

  1. Be happy first.
  2. Do it for you.
  3. Remember the lottery.
  4. Never retire.
  5. Overvalue you.
  6. Create space.
  7. Just do it.
  8. Be you.
  9. Don’t take advice.

I thought there were a lot of great points made throughout this book. Happiness is a choice. Do not be afraid of change, as that could lead to further happiness. Value yourself first. Be the self you want to be. Don’t try to be what others want you to be.

This book provided great actionable methods to achieve the author’s nine secrets to happiness, which is helpful. These methods truly make achieving happiness visible not just a theory.

The only one of the author’s nine secrets to happiness that I disagree with is number four – never retire. I know that retirement is a scary time in one’s life, and people who have spent a lifetime creating a career that they love tend to dread. However, it does not have to be this way and it shouldn’t. There comes a time when it will be very difficult for a person to physically or mentally do their job. My career in a  high-paced finance position is not going to last forever, because I know that I will mentally not be able to keep up. At that time though, my life does not have to be over. Work should not be your only sense of happiness. As I have spent more time at home during this pandemic period and less time at the office, I am quickly realizing how much I have missed spending time with my husband and other loved ones. That is one way I can spend retirement, but there is also travel, volunteer work, creative projects and so many other things that a full-time worker often does not have time to do.

To the author’s credit, he is definitely a fun and entertaining writer. This book may not have blown me away but I did enjoy it enough to want to pick up his first book – The Book of Awesome – soon.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

40 Days of Social Distancing


This gallery contains 9 photos.

We have been practicing social distancing for 40 days now. Today we are also celebrating our wedding anniversary quietly at home. It is a very different world we live in, and it might last longer than we had all hoped … Continue reading

Book Review: Happiness Hacks

9781615194421Title: Happiness Hacks: 100% Scientific! Curiously Effective!
Author: Alex Palmer
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages: 176
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: Could you be happier at work . . . in love . . . in life? You may not need a total overhaul—just a few good Happiness Hacks! Here are hundreds of shortcuts to brighten your day and boost your mood—and the science behind how they work. Discover why . . .
57°F (13.9°C) is the happiest temperature
Selfies give you a jolt of joy
Renters have a surprising edge over homeowners
17-minute breaks are the most productive
Intimacy is better than sex
It’s more satisfying to work a full 40-hour week
Date night is the key to a happy marriage
Just 10 minutes of exercise can cheer you up!
Whether you’re seeking better health, stronger friendships, or that elusive “happy place,” these stunningly simple tips are proven to help. You can hack your way to happiness!

My Review: I’m currently going through that little funk you experience when you get back from an amazing vacation and have to go back to real life. I thought reading a book about grabbing some happiness in your every day life would help me move passed this funk. For the most part, this book is states a lot of the same key points you learn reading other happiness-related books – exercise more, drink more water, volunteer, go outside more (clearly the author doesn’t live in the hot hell that is Texas), take breaks from technology, and watch less television. This book does give you a bit more as far as everyday tasks that can help on your way to living a happier life and provides the scientific research to back up these ideas.

This book talks about the ways to be happier at work, at home, in relationship, and with yourself. It dives into the topics of technology, health and finances. I really don’t feel that this book left out any component. I think it covered all the happiness highlights, which is why I think it felt a bit more repetitious to me.

I did appreciate a few happiness hacks that I am going to try to incorporate into my life:

  1. Personalize my work space. I have a sort of cubicle style desk space. While I don’t have a private office space, I could put up some personal pictures or other things personal items that might make my space more comfortable.
  2. Take more work breaks to induce more productivity. During the work day, I do have a few burnout moments, and I think getting up and away from my computer would be a helpful thing to clear my mind for a minute.
  3. Cut down on my television watching. There has been so many wonderful things to binge this summer on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime, etc., that I have spent much more time in front of the television than I should. I think I would be more productive at home and get more sleep if I don’t spend so much time in front of the television.
  4. Financial plan with spouse. Finances can be a stressful on a personal relationship. Having a present and future plan when it comes to money might be helpful.
  5. Exercise with others. Exercising with others holds you accountable to someone else. You can’t talk yourself out of doing it. A few years back, my husband and I would take nightly walks. It was a great way to connect, while moving at the same time. I would like to get back to that.

While I actually don’t spend that much time on my phone anymore – scrolling through different social media sights – I know plenty of people who do. This book addresses limiting the time you are on your phone or other tech gadgets. That technology does not necessarily make us happy and can lead to addiction, anxiety and possible harm to relationships.

If you are new to self-help and looking at ways to bring more happiness to your life, Happiness Hacks is a good baseline with plenty of helpful suggestions.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The Little Book of Lykke

34879265Title: The Little Book of Lykke
Author: Meik Wiking
Genre: Nonfiction, Life-style
Publisher: Penguin Life
Publication Date: September 7, 2017
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: June 1, 2019

Goodreads Description: Lykke (Luu-kah) (n): Happiness

It’s easy to see why Denmark is often called the world’s happiest country. Not only do they have equal parental leave for men and women, free higher education and trains that run on time, but they burn more candles per household than anywhere else.

So nobody knows more about happiness – what the Danes call lykke – than Meik WikingCEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the bestselling sensation The Little Book of Hygge . But he believes that, whilst we can certainly learn a lot from the Danes about finding fulfilment, the keys to happiness are actually buried all around the globe.

In this captivating book, he takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to inner fulfilment. From how we spend our precious time, to how we relate to our neighbours and cook dinner, he gathers evidence, stories and tips from the very happiest corners of the planet. This is the ultimate guide to how we can all find a little more lykke in our lives.

My Review: I really enjoyed Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge. It was an interesting take on finding little things to make you happy, like the feeling of being cozy, wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire. There are many studies that point to the Nordic countries, including Denmark, as being the happiest places on earth. In The Little Book of Lykke, the author discussed bigger issues of happiness, ones that are more societal.  Here are some examples:

  • Higher Taxes – that doesn’t seem like a thing that would bring happiness (especially for most Americans), however, in other places in the world higher taxes mean education and health expenses are paid for, so it lends a level of financial security.
  • Meals with family and friends
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Less time with technology and on social media
  • Spending money on experiences/memories not things
  • Bike and/or enjoy the outdoors
  • A work and life balance
  • Inspire collaboration and cooperation not competition
  • Do random acts of kindness
  • Write down things that you are grateful for

I enjoyed learning about the co-habitating housing in Copenhagen. This type of housing is a building with multiple apartments. However, the people in these apartments get together for joined meals. This builds a stronger community.

So much of this book reminded me of all the things I loved about my years of living in Italy. This book actually mentioned Italy as an example of a place that focuses on families first. I loved how so many dinners were times I got to spend conversing with my husband and friends instead of just meals to be consumed while binging Netflix. Families spent meals together, including leaving work during the day to have lunch at home. I always felt that there was a good balance of work and life there – a need to work to live not live to work. I also used to bike, run and walk everywhere. If I got sick, I went in to see my doctor. I didn’t have to make an appointment, fill out paperwork, or worry about having insurance or a co-pay.

It is amazing how one adapts to the society that they exist in. Now that I live in Houston, I drive everywhere instead of biking or walking. I spend a good amount of my day in the car. My work day with commuting time ranges from 11-14 hours. This leaves very little time for family, friends, or myself. Also, everyone seems glued to their phones here, even when they are driving. Workers get excited if they are fortunate enough to have two weeks of paid vacation. Don’t even get me started on healthcare, and the struggle I have had just to find a doctor that is in my insurance plan.

I felt this book was helpful in understanding how society can actually control one’s happiness, but also helped me realize more little things I can do to bring moments of happiness into my life.

The biggest, and maybe the only, issue I have with Meik Wiking’s books about happiness is the concept that being social leads to happiness. This is part of what makes co-housing (mentioned above) so appealing. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized more and more that I am very much an introvert. Social gatherings actually cause me stress and anxiety, unless it is small groups of friends or family. I have had jobs where I need to constantly collaborate with others, but I actually enjoy my current job much more, where I spend most of my time alone crunching numbers. Happiness may not always come from social experiences.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

What things do you do that add happiness to your life? What would you change if you could?

Book Review: Happier At Home

Rubi_9780307886781_jkt_all_r11.inddTitle: Happier at Home
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Nonfiction/Self-Help
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Pages: 320
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Book 2 of The Happiness Project series
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: March 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: In the spirit of her blockbuster #1 New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin embarks on a new project to make home a happier place.

One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.

And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.

So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.

In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.

Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.

With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.

My Review: It would be an understatement to say that I enjoy making resolutions. I look forward to setting goals for myself in the New Year. I even use a bullet journal to list monthly tasks to help me achieve my overall yearly goals. Gretchen Rubin is one of those authors who does not criticize resolution making. I appreciate that making resolutions is not for everyone. I know plenty of people who actually get stressed out by resolutions and give up on them immediately. However, I am one of those individuals that looks at resolutions as setting goals for living the best life that I can live. I see them as achievable dreams, probably because I am an upholder like Gretchen Rubin (see The Four Tendancies). Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home is about setting resolutions to fill your home life with happiness. This is a continuation of her The Happiness Project.

She gives some interesting out-of-the-box suggestions of ways that we can improve our home life, like creating memory boxes, indulging in your sense of smell, nurturing your relationships with family, exploring your own city and many more. I appreciate that she came up with these ideas, lived by them and shared her experiences with us – the good and the bad. I will say that while I have no intention of imposing some of those ideas on my own life – I am not one for indulging in scents and can see my husband not caring for that either – I did learn a few tips even in regards to some of her ideas that I have already implemented.

There were a couple points that I really gravitated to. The first point was that we should not try to impose our resolutions on others. As you can tell from this blog, my husband and I love traveling. Occasionally my yearly resolutions may include travel destinations I want to explore that year and assume my husband will come with me. Over the years, I have learned that his time investment may not be the same as mine, so I can’t just expect him to go along with it just because it is part of my resolution list. I suggest if you want to incorporate someone else into your resolutions, you should discuss that with them. At the beginning of each year, I propose to him travel, house projects, suggestions that could lead to relationship growth, and anything else that may involve a time investment on my husband’s part and allow him to decline or add to the list. This way, we are on the same page. The second thing that I appreciated Gretchen Rubin stressing is the living in the moment. While I may not want to embrace smells per se, I can take time to embrace the home and life I share with my spouse.

Overall, I would recommend this book and other Gretchen Rubin books for those looking to add more happiness in their lives.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Do you make resolutions? If so, what are some resolutions that you have made in the past that are beyond the norm (norm = lose weight, quit smoking, drink more water etc.)? What do you think will help you attain a happier life at home?

Goals for 2016


Now that the holidays are over, I actually have a moment to reflect on 2015, and how blessed I am. I am also taking this moment to think of all the things I want to accomplish in 2016 to make it the best year ever. I know that New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap. Everyone wants to lose weight, exercise more, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, etc. etc. For many, they start the year with a good push toward these resolutions, and then by February the ambition/motivation fails. However, I am not that type of person. Sometimes I do set too many goals, but as long as I complete half of my goals, I feel that my life is on track. What is wrong with having goals in your life that help you live up to your potential?

2016 is going to be a year of uncertainty as there are many changes that may occur. My husband and I may decide to move based on job opportunities. We don’t at this time know if that will happen or if we decide to move, where we will be moving. With such an undetermined future, it is hard to make certain goals. For instance, I would like to run a marathon and volunteer more, but my time and location may not permit such achievements. I find it is important to set reasonable goals, so you don’t become disappointed in yourself.

Here is my list of reasonable goals for 2016:

  1. Read more non-fiction books. I tend to read a lot of classics, bestsellers, and mysteries. It would be nice to expand my reading list a bit. If you want to see my must-read book list, click here.
  2. Travel to Sicily. Since moving to Italy, so many people have told my husband and I that we have to explore Sicily.
  3. Renew my driver’s license. This is a ridiculous one, but when you are an expat, it is a bit more complicated than just going online and hitting a renew button.
  4. Continue studying Italian – even if I end up moving away from Italy.
  5. Go ice skating. This was a goal of mine a couple years ago that I failed to do. Can you believe that a girl who grew up in Wisconsin has still never been ice skating???
  6. Continue making a few extra dollars on Swagbucks. Every year I use the extra money to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts. More often than not I use the extra money to satisfy my book addiction. If you are interested in learning more about Swagbucks, click here.
  7. Vote. As we all have heard, no matter where you are in the world, the U.S. is having elections in 2016. Even though I am not currently living in the United States, I am still a U.S. citizen and want to exercise my right to vote. It is a privilege that many people in the United States take for granted, and one that I am very proud to have.
  8. Spend one day a month internet-free. I find myself constantly needing to go on the internet, whether I am at home on the computer or outside of my house on my phone. What did we all do before the internet? Anyway, I find that I am too reliant on it, and so I would like to take a break once a month from the addiction of Facebook, kitty & puppy videos, email, etc.
  9. Keep a Thankful Journal. In 2015, my spirit was sometimes pretty low. Every day this year I want to write down something that I am thankful for. That way, if my spirit gets low again, I can turn to my journal and read all the positive things in my life.

I think I can definitely accomplish these goals. It makes heading into the new year very exciting. Feel free to share with me some of your goals for 2016.

2016 is gonna rock!