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-001
Title: 
The Happiness Equation
Author: Neil Pasricha
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: 
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: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese

4894Title: Who Moved My Cheese?
Author: Dr. Spencer Johnson
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Vermilion
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 96
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: April 26, 2020

Goodreads Description: Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple parable that reveals profound truths. It is an amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a “Maze” and look for “Cheese” to nourish them and make them happy.

Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry. And two are “Littlepeople”—beings the size of mice who look and act a lot like people. Their names are Hem and Haw.

“Cheese” is a metaphor for what you want to have in life—whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, health, or spiritual peace of mind.

And the “Maze” is where you look for what you want—the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in.

In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change. Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully, and writes what he has learned from his experience on the Maze walls.

When you come to see “The Handwriting on the Wall,” you can discover for yourself how to deal with change, so that you can enjoy less stress and more success (however you define it) in your work and in your life.

Written for all ages, the story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights can last a lifetime.

My Review: What an appropriate book to read right now! This book is about change and how one deals with change. The story of Who Moved My Cheese? is about 4 mice who encounter change and deal with it in different ways. Sniff anticipates the change and adapts early. Scurry sees the change and embraces it immediately. Hem sees the change but finds change difficult and is reluctant to adapt. Hem finally does embrace change. Haw refuses to accept the change and stays with what is familiar.

When reading this, you immediately try to figure out which mouse you are. I admittedly share Hem’s qualities. I don’t like change very much. I do tend to eventually go with the change, but it takes me a while to adjust to it. I feel like many around the world might be having the same feelings now. The Who Moved My Cheese? story really focused on Hem’s learning to embrace change process, and so the reader can learn from this.

  • Anticipate change.
  • Get ready for change.
  • Monitor change.
  • Be aware when it is time for change.
  • Let go of the old and embrace the new.

I really feel that this book helped me understand my own feelings of change and the process it takes for someone like me to embrace change. The one thing that bothered me about this book is that in the discussion about Who Moved My Cheese? no one mentioned the negative side to change. In the discussion, change is always positive. In the Who Moved My Cheese? story, the location of the food supply for the mice changed, so if they chose not to embrace change they would not be able to eat. Change, in this situation, is a necessity, but what if change is not a necessity and could potentially be more harmful than good?

Overall, this book was thought-provoking and interesting. Plus, it is a nice short read. 🙂 Which mouse are you? What are your tips to dealing with change?

“Change happens to all of us.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

My Top 20 Favorite Podcasts

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When I moved back to the United States, I realized that I had missed the beginning of a big podcast movement. However, I quickly rectified that situation. At first it was a way to entertain myself during my commute to and from work, and now it is a great distraction during this time of social distancing.

Books:

1. What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel
2. The Bookstore by Awkwardly Social Media
3. Reading Women by Reading Women
4. Book Riot – The Podcast by Book Riot
5. All the Books! by Book Riot

Comedy:

6. Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend by Team Coco & Earwolf
7. Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! by NPR
8. My Dad Wrote a Porno by My Dad Wrote a Porno

News:

9. Up First by NPR

Self-Help:

10. Happier with Gretchen Rubin by Gretchen Rubin/The Onward Project
11. Productivity Podcast by Tonya Dalton of InkWELL Press
12. By The Book by Stitcher & Jolenta Greenberg, Kristen Meinzer

True Crime:

13. My Favorite Murder by Exactly Right
14. Murder Minute by Murder Minute
15. This Podcast Will Kill You by Exactly Right
16. Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad by Exactly Right
17. And That’s Why We Drink by And That’s Why We Drink & AudioBoom

Travel:

18. Extra Pack of Peanuts Travel Podcast by Travis Sherry
19. Women Who Travel by Condé Nast Traveler
20. Zero to Travel Podcast by Jason Moore

Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorite podcasts? Please share the podcasts you listen to in the comments below.

Book Review: The Joy of Missing Out

9781400214334Title: The Joy of Missing Out
Author: Tonya Dalton
Genre: Self-Help
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Pages: 240
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: March 21, 2020

Goodreads Description: Overwhelmed. Do you wake up in the morning already feeling behind? Does the pressure of keeping it all together make you feel anxious and irritable?

Tonya Dalton, CEO and productivity expert, offers you a liberating shift in perspective: feeling overwhelmed isn’t the result of having too much to do — it’s from not knowing where to start.

Doing less might seem counterintuitive, but doing less is more productive, because you’re concentrating on the work you actually want to be doing. Through this book, you can learn how to:

Identify what is important to you and clarify your priorities.
Develop ways to streamline your specific workflow.
Discover your purpose.

Named Top 10 Business Book of the Year by Fortune magazine, The Joy of Missing Out is chock-full of resources and printables. This is a legitimate action plan for change. Once you reject the pressure to do more, something amazing happens: you discover you can finally live a guilt-free, abundant life.

My Review: I am a big fan of self-help nonfiction that gives you actual tasks to achieve the points made in the book. The Joy of Missing Out is a book that gives tips to increase daily productivity while also achieving happiness. It focuses on making the reader understand how to truly be in charge of your time.

Here are some great steps mentioned that will help you achieve this life of productivity and happiness:

  1. Create a Mission Statement – a short statement that represents who you are.
  2. Create a Vision Statement (aka North Star) – a representation of what you want to be and achieve in the future.
  3. Make a priority list – don’t try to do too much, delete tasks that are not necessary or that you can delegate. Here are questions to ask to help you create this list:
    1. Is it connected to my North Star?
    2. Is it linked to a goal?
    3. Is it essential?
    4. Is it adventageous?
    5. Is it reality based?
  4. Create habits to minimize brain power. “Habits free up our mental space so we can focus.”
  5. Make plan for bigger priorities.
  6. Set boundaries – your time is your time don’t allow someone else to take it away from you.
  7. Take a technology break – live in the moment.
  8. Get plenty of rest.
  9. Do a daily download. Spend no more than a minute on each of the following:
    1. Reflecting on daily accomplishments.
    2. Evaluate the day – was there too much to do or not enough.
    3. Assess if you closer to your North Star.
    4. List 3 things you are grateful for that day.
    5. Write down important tasks for next day.

This is a great time to read this book as many of us are finding ourselves homebound with some extra time to reevaluate our lives (both personal and work lives). I almost can’t wait to start writing down my statements and priorities – yes, the author stresses the importance of writing these things down instead of using technology – finally maybe some validation for my list writing. I listened to the audiobook version and found that it included a bonus episode of the author’s podcast Productivity Paradox. I am so thrilled to have been introduced to this podcast and have already started listening to it and finding more helpful tips.

For additional tools to help you with living this better and more productive life, see Inkwell Press Productivity Co by Tonya Dalton.

“Getting control of our time will lead to less stress.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Atomic Habits

atomic-habits-2Title: Atomic Habits
Author: James Clear
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Avery
Publication Date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 319
Format Read: Audiobook
Where I got the book: Libby
Date finished reading: 2/9/2020

Goodreads Description: No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:
*  make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
*  overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
*  design your environment to make success easier;
*  get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

My Review: I continue to listen to self-help books that help me live my best life. Last year I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Many people believe this book is the ultimate guide to habit-building and success. Even James Clear speaks highly of it in Atomic Habits. However, I believe Atomic Habits spoke to me personally much more than The Power of Habit did. It gives reasons why we should habit build; evaluates good and bad habits; and provides multiple methods to build habits. I found useful realizations and tips in every chapter.

Here is the 4-step loop that James Clear suggests we follow to build habits:

  1. Cue. A piece of information that suggests there’s a reward to be found, like the smell of a cookie or a dark room waiting to light up.
  2. Craving. The motivation to change something to get the reward, like tasting the delicious cookie or being able to see.
  3. Response. Whatever thought or action you need to take to get to the reward.
  4. Reward. The satisfying feeling you get from the change, along with the lesson whether to do it again or not.

To assist with achieving these steps, he suggests the following:

  1. Cue = Make it Obvious
  2. Craving = Make it Attractive
  3. Response = Make it Easy
  4. Reward = Make it Satisfying

I think the biggest impact this book had on me was how I view habits, both the habits I currently have and the habits I want to have. I am a huge believer in goals. I look at yearly resolutions as goals that I set for myself of things I want to accomplish during that year. James Clear points out that goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. Goals can have a negative impact that I never thought about before. They can add stress as you realize that you either successfully achieve a goal or you don’t.

As well as viewing goal-making differently, Atomic Habits discusses how habits directly correlate to one’s identity. It is about identifying your desired outcomes, creating a process to achieve those outcomes, and embracing those outcomes as part of your identity.

Here are some useful tips to habit building mentioned in the book:

  • Pair your habits with a time and place.
  • Stack your habits.
  • Acquire an accountability partner.
  • Vocalize your habits.
  • Track your habits.
  • Exist in an environment that encourages your desired habits.

I really appreciate how this book really expanded on the concepts in The Power of Habit. I found James Clear’s ideas easy to implement and his examples relatable. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get rid of bad habits and/or build better habits.

“This is the meaning of the phrase atomic habits: a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but also the source of incredible power, a component of the system of compound growth.”

Find additional resources from James Clear at https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits/resources.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: Time Management Ninja

timeTitle: Time Managment Ninja
Author: Craig Jarrow
Genre: Nonfiction/Self-help
Publisher: Mango
Publication Date: September 15, 2019
Pages: 236
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Hoopla app
Date finished reading: January 30, 2020

Goodreads Description: Time management made simple and easy

Fans of The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, and 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington will love Time Management Shouldn’t Take Time.

More time, stress relief, and relaxation: You want more time in your life. Time to spend with family, to achieve big goals, and to simply enjoy life. Yet, the world we live in is busier and changing faster than ever before. More things competing for your time, and more distractions interrupting your day.

Simple and practical time management: You have tried to manage your time better but have found that most time management systems and tools are too complex. Or they are too unwieldy to be effective or sustainable. Time management shouldn’t be difficult, and it shouldn’t take up more of your precious time than it gives back!

Easy tools, rules, and tactics: Craig Jarrow has been there, too. However, after spending many years testing time management tactics, tools, and systems and having written hundreds of articles on productivity, goals, and organization, Jarrow discovered a simple truth. Time management should be easy.

More productivity and less stress: It is only when you simplify your approach that you can rise above the busyness and chaos of our fast-paced society. Time Management Shouldn’t Take Time offers “21 Rules” that will show you an easier and more effective way to take control of your time and manage your busy life. If you follow these simple principles, you will get more done with less effort. You will have less stress and more time to do the things you want to do.

No-stress, uncomplicated time management that works

My Review: At the start of every year, I love bingeing on self-help audiobooks, especially ones that discuss organization and time management. I feel it puts me in a good frame of mind to tackle my yearly goals and have a successful year. I’ve already listened to The 5 Love Languages and Spark Joy this year.

Here are the 21 Tips that the author suggests for better time management:

  • Tip 1: Take time to make time. Take the time to create a schedule. This will help you manage your time and prioritize.
  • Tip 2: Have these four items. These items can be physical or digital versions. You can combine these items but don’t have more than one of each.
    • To-do list
    • Notebook
    • Calendar
    • Address book
  • Tip 3: To-do list = best friend. Take it everywhere.
  • Tip 4: Make appointments with yourself and your work.
  • Tip 5: Write things down now so you don’t forget about it later.
  • Tip 6: Have a plan then prepare.
  • Tip 7: Get up earlier.
  • Tip 8: Complete tasks fully and don’t put off tasks. 
  • Tip 9: Put things away right away, so you always know where items are.
  • Tip 10: ABC method of cleaning. Clean regularly to avoid big time-consuming messes.
  • Tip 11: Complete one task a day that you keep putting off.
  • Tip 12: Never confuse busy with productive. Stay focused on your prioritized tasks.
  • Tip 13: You can’t finish if you don’t start.
  • Tip 14: You are stronger than you think. Believe that you can accomplish what you want to accomplish.
  • Tip 15: You are what you do today and everyday.
  • Tip 16: Use your tech for good not for evil. The average person checks their phone over 150 times a day.
  • Tip 17: Make choices or life will make them for you. Make timely decisions.
  • Tip 18: Passion makes you more productive.
  • Tip 19: Let it be. You can’t do it all.
  • Tip 20: Don’t create your own life friction. This can happen through forgetfulness or procrastination.
  • Tip 21: Live your life or you won’t have one. Your time is yours. Make sure you use time to do what you want to do.

This is a great beginner’s guideline to time management. I try very hard to utilize time management skills in both my work life and my home life. I don’t know how I would exist without my notebook/daily to-do list. I have a different method in relation to the to-do list than the author discusses. The author stresses that one should just have a single to-do list. I disagree with that. I feel very strongly about keeping my work and home life separate. I have a work to-do list that I leave at the office, and a personal/home life to-do list that I have with me everywhere (Tip 3). The author also is highly against disposing of the previous day’s to-do list, but I am not. I believe each day should start fresh. I don’t want a written reminder of the things I did not accomplish the day before. I normally just move those tasks to a day in the future.

Realistically, I never accomplish everything I want to accomplish. Sometimes I realize that my daily expectations are just too high – like the author mentioned. However, for the most part, to-do lists and time management do not allow for the flexibility of life when things just come up – and they often do. The author talks about it being okay to just say “no” when people ask things of you that you just don’t have time for, but that is not necessarily how life works or relationships for that matter. I am fortunate to be married to a man who loves to cook. This opens up time in my evenings for me to accomplish other tasks, but if he calls me and says that a work meeting popped up so he won’t be home in time to prepare dinner, I need to arrange my time to take care of that task, whether I planned for it or not. Sometimes things just pop up.

Here is my own personal helpful tip that goes along with the author’s Tips 1, 6 & 9. At the end of every night, I allow myself 5-10 minutes to put things away that may have been left out (Tip 9) and to prepare for the next day (Tips 1 & 6). This preparation is making sure that my work bag is packed with everything I need and my to do list is ready for the next day. This makes the beginning of my day start strong with a clear vision of what needs to happen, because as much as Tip 7 sounds good in theory, I doubt I will ever accomplish that, nor am I sure I want to. I really like my sleep time.

One area that the author stresses a lot throughout the book that I personally struggle with is using technology to solely help accomplish daily tasks and goals. I still spend more time browsing news topics or looking at Facebook, etc. than I would like. These are hard habits to kick.

How do you feel about time management? Do you have any time management tips of your own that you would like to share?

One idea that I am personally struggling with lately is that if I live by my lists and plan out all my time, is that truly living life? When does having this kind of structure become too confining? What do you think?

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

“Live in the present. Note the past. Plan for the future.”

Book Review: Spark Joy

spark joyTitle: Spark Joy
Author: Marie Kondo
Genre: Nonfiction; Self-Help
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Pages: 291
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Series (Companion)
Where I got the book: Library Libby App
Date finished reading: January 21, 2020

Goodreads Description: Spark Joy is an in-depth, line illustrated, room-by-room guide to decluttering and organising your home. It covers every room in the house from bedrooms and kitchens to bathrooms and living rooms as well as a wide range of items in different categories, including clothes, photographs, paperwork, books, cutlery, cosmetics, shoes, bags, wallets and valuables. Charming line drawings explain how to properly organise drawers, wardrobes, cupboards and cabinets. The illustrations also show Ms Kondo’s unique folding method, clearly showing how to fold anything from shirts, trousers and jackets to skirts, socks and bras.

The secret to Marie Kondo’s unique and simple KonMari tidying method is to focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Ask yourself if something ‘sparks joy’ and suddenly it becomes so much easier to understand if you really need it in your home and your life. When you surround yourself with things you love you will find that your whole life begins to change.

Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, presents her unique tidying philosophy and introduces readers to the basics of her KonMari method. It has already transformed the homes and lives of millions of people around the world. Spark Joy is Marie Kondo’s in-depth tidying masterclass, focusing on the detail of how to declutter and organise your home.

My Review: Two years ago I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I think it was right at the beginning of the Marie Kondo movement. Since that time, many online debates have occurred regarding Marie Kondo’s methods of organizing and “tidying up”, and she has her own show that aired on Netflix.

While I am one of those people that did not agree with some of the statements made in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (especially regarding books and wall artwork), I cannot deny that Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of organizing has become a movement that speaks to many individuals, especially of my generation. My mom always said that I’m part of the “throw-away” generation. That statement always seemed negative to me, and I would always defend myself by saying that moments and experiences mean more to me than stuff. Marie Kondo has created this atmosphere of organizing that makes it so I do not have to justify not surrounding myself with a lot of stuff.

Spark Joy is a follow-up to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It provides the readers with more detailed instructions on how to actually accomplish some of her organizational techniques that she previously discussed.

She first discusses the psychology of organizing by explaining the difference between cleaning and tidying. “With cleaning we can let our minds empty, while our hands keep moving, but tidying requires us to think about what to discard, what to keep and where to put it.” She also states that, “tidying orders the mind while cleaning purifies it.” I 100% agree with these statements. When I am cleaning, I am on auto-pilot, doing my thing while listening to an audiobook. The task of tidying/organizing definitely takes more attention and concentration.

For those that do not know, the KonMari method contains these three main steps:

  1. Gather all items in that category in one place
  2. Choose only those items that spark joy
  3. Store by category

What I enjoyed about Spark Joy is the details she provided on how to accomplish the 3rd step. She gives very specific instructions on folding clothes and storing items in drawers. I especially got a lot out of the section where she discusses organizing stationery supplies, as those are items in my house that really tend to get messy and disorganized.

I still want to say that I do have hundreds of books on my shelves that I have not read, and that I fully intend on keeping at least until I have read them. That may not spark joy for Marie Kondo, but that sparks joy for me. There are also a lot of items in my house that do not spark joy for me, but I still keep them. I have a whole filing cabinet of paperwork related to my tax filings and other household documents that do not necessarily spark joy, but I still have to keep them. All that being said, I understand what Marie Kondo is trying to help people accomplish with her KonMari method. While I choose to interpret her method a bit differently (especially step 2), I still find a lot of value in the KonMari method and understand why this has become an organizing movement.

“Success depends 90% on your mindset.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: The 5 Love Languages

123456Title: The 5 Love Languages
Author: Gary Chapman
Genre: Nonfiction Self-Help
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Publication Date: January 1, 1990
Pages: 204 pages
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: January 9, 2020

Goodreads Description: Couples who understand each other’s love language hold a priceless advantage in the quest for love that lasts a lifetime — they know how to effectively and consistently make each other feel truly and deeply loved. That gift never fades away.

My Review: After years of counseling couples and talking with people about their relationships (both good relationships and bad relationships), the author, Gary Chapman, derived a concept on how to build strong relationships and marriages. This concept is the understanding of what he deems the five love languages. The five love languages are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

I was curious about this book, because even though it is 30 years old, I still keep hearing about it on a regular basis. Plus, I am always looking for books that can help me strengthen my personal relationships.

The first step in utilizing this concept is understanding your own love languages. I admit that the more examples I read of each of the love languages the more I believed my love language was a bit of everything, so taking the free online quiz was really helpful. Apparently “Words of Affirmation” is my love language and then all the rest are pretty closely tied. A big tip I got out of this book is that we often treat others through our own love language and not their love language. Since I like to feel appreciated through complimentary words, I may speak those positive words and compliment my partner all the time and be frustrated when I don’t receive those words. Turns out my partner’s love language may not be the same as mine, so those words hold a different meaning for my partner than they do for me.

The second step and one that isn’t really addressed too much in the book is convincing your partner to also take the quiz. Yes, I could guess what my partner’s love language is, but I could be wrong. Taking the quiz prevents that error and will give further insight. It just may not be that easy to convince your partner to take the time to do that.

The third step is realizing what you want in a relationship based on your love language(s), and then also treating your partner the way that he/she wants to be treated based on his/her love language(s). Gary Chapman covers many case studies related to all the different love languages that can help those wanting to do things based on their partner’s love language(s). He helps us think a bit outside the box, when our partner may not be helpful in providing examples or expectations. However, if this is a concept that you really want to work on, it should be a team effort – you and your partner should both be investing time to meet each other needs. If you are finding it difficult to do that even once you know each other’s love language(s), that is when it might be useful to accept some outside help. Marriage/relationship counseling can be very useful.

Gary Chapman made a comment in the book that really moved me into action with this concept when he stated that there are “tremendous benefits to meeting the emotional needs of your spouse”.  If you listen to podcasts, the podcast By the Book discussed this book. They decided to live by this book for two weeks with their spouses and discovered many realizations regarding their own behavior and their own needs as well as their spouses. Jolenta made a comment on this podcast episode that this book was about getting over insecurities and putting focus on each other. I like that this book generates revelations, such as this one, to its readers and am not surprised that it continues to be a well-respected book and a well-used method in strengthening relationships.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: Love Big

LoveBig_CoverFinal_3bTitle: Love Big
Author: Rozella Haydee White
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Publisher: Fortress Press
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Pages: 178
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: From a friend of the author
Date finished reading: October 14, 2019

Goodreads Description: In the words of Mother Teresa, “We have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This lapse in memory has caused deep fractures and allowed fear, hatred, and division to infect our lives together. We’ve become disconnected from each other and from our very selves.

In Love Big, leadership coach Rozella Hayd’e White introduces readers to the power of revolutionary relationships. Modeled after the image of God as a lover, these relationships can heal the brokenness of our lives by crossing over the dividing lines of race, gender, religion, orientation, ability, identity, and class to provide relief and inspiration.

Revolutionary relationships will usher us into a reality marked by love, connection, and a belief in abundance.

Revolutionary relationships lead us to love big–to love despite hardships and fear; to love in the face of despair; to love ourselves and others deeply and passionately; to love in ways that change us all.

My Review: I received a copy of this book from a friend of the author. I always enjoy reading local authors’ works. Some readers might be turned off by the religious foundation of this book, but this book is more about relationships, love and faith. You don’t have to share the same religious beliefs as the author to appreciate her ideals and her guidance. If you are doing a self-evaluation and wanting to love a bit bigger and better, this is a great book for you.

“To love big is to have faith, even when you don’t understand how faith works and especially when you don’t believe that faith even matters.”

If you currently feel or have felt the following, this book is a great guide to possible ways to change your life. “Fear and hatred lead to an inevitable conclusion: that there isn’t enough. Enough time. Enough resources. Enough jobs. Enough money. Enough joy. Enough love.” Here are some key points that I took from this book:

  • You can’t truly love others unless you love yourself. This is hard for many people. This may involve a healing process from some tragic event in your life. This may involve having a better self-image, including being happy with your abilities and your body. “Restoring my soul is probably the hardest work I’ve ever done because it requires me to be excruciatingly honest with myself and to listen deeply and well.”
  • Discover your own dreams, desires, and who you are. It is important for us take time to acknowledge our likes and dislikes; to think about our strengths and weaknesses; and even establish goals or wishes for the future – what you want to get out of life. “The goal is to name your hopes, values, and dreams, claim the ways that you want to show up in the world, and have a partner that helps you do the good and hard work of staying focused on the fact that what you say matters most.”
  • Live the life you want to live. When you love yourself, you want you to be happy. If a relationship or job or responsibility is not making you happy, it may be time to reevaluate and/or make a change.
  • Live outside your own bubble. “The bubbles that we live in keep us separate from one another. This leads to an isolation so deep that we don’t even recognize how disconnected we truly are.” It is a growing experience to not only engage with your community and the people/issues within your community, but also open yourself up to know more about the world. Don’t be afraid to explore the world and other cultures. “There’s something to be said for waking up, for the moments in our life when we realize we have been asleep. … And we all have a choice, either to hit the snooze button or to wake up.”
  • Show love. Showing love may be trying to understand or relate to others, empathizing with someone else or a situation. Sometimes love can be showing some gratitude and mercy. (I just finished a great book by Bryan Stevenson called Just Mercy.)
  • Establish revolutionary relationships. The author describes the steps and qualities of revolutionary relationships. See below. You love yourself and are ready to love others. These relationships are established to not only help you love but strengthen you as a person and help you achieve the goals and desires you have for the future. “Revolutionary relationships lead me to action. I must nurture these relationships and the people I love. I can’t be selfish because these relationships continually pull me out of myself and into the world.”

Revolutionary Relationships Defined:
1. God in Relationship with God
2. Lessons from Trinity
3. Covenant, Not Commitment
4. Life-giving
5. Risk-taking
6. Vulnerable
7. Forgiveness
8. Gracious
9. Diverse
10. The Foundation – “Revolutionary relationships create the foundation for building lives of meaning, joy, connection, and love.”

I personally have spent a lot of time digging deep within myself to understand myself more and appreciate the person I am. I enjoyed learning about the author’s idea of revolutionary relationships – relationships that will help you grow not hold you back. I think the hardest part with this idea is how family fits in. There is that common phrase “I may have to love you but I don’t have to like you.” I have found that I can choose my friendships, but I can’t choose my family. The author shared some of her difficult family relationships, but every family is different. I just wonder what is the best way to handle difficult family relationships. If anyone has any input on this or reading materials they would recommend, please share in the comment section below. In the meantime, I hope to do better at loving big!

“We love big when we fall in love with ourselves, rouse our minds, reform our bodies, and restore our hearts. We love big when we engage in revolutionary relationships and seek holistic healing, as individuals and as a community.”

“When we are healed, we create new, life-giving realities; liberate ourselves and others from systems, ideologies, and structures that are oppressive; and sustain one another to live lives of peace marked by justice. This is how we love big, and this leads us to love despite differences, to love in the face of hardships and despair, to love ourselves and others deeply and passionately, to love in ways that change us all.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦