First on the list is Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. While Girl, Wash Your Face is not specifically a productivity book, per say, I felt it deserved to make the top of the list. Rachel Hollis explains in this book we can tend to allow the lies and limitations thrust upon us by society to prevent us from having the courage to pursue our own dreams, ambitions, and goals. And, that is counterproductive. Rachel is so charming, and adorable. She is so raw and authentic in telling her own story as she progresses through the book, that she immediately becomes your friend. In fact, she is the one friend you want there when you suffer a bad break up or you do not get into nursing school. She will comfort you, much like a half-melted pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia and she will cry tears with you, real tears. Then she will wipe your messy misty hair away from your face and bring you back into the reality that those people and those things do not get to define who you are. It is impossible to be productive in the pursuit of your dreams and ambitions and the achievement of your goals, let alone just getting through your daily to-do lists when you are weighted down with the ideology that you are not good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough, or even, lucky enough to accomplish them. Let Rachel hold your hand through the journey of peeling off the layers of self-doubt, insecurity, and blaming and shaming yourself, so that you can have a clean slate to being the foundation of gaining confidence to productively build the life you want- the life you deserve.
Second on the list is Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight . Sarah is witty and funny in her straight-forward approach to becoming more productive. She uses the concept of mental decluttering. Whereby, you will purge from your mind all the unnecessary things that take up too much of your time and energy and hinder you from getting the real important stuff done. Unlike “Girl, Wash Your Face,” which focuses on a form of mental decluttering the negative thoughts that pervade our beliefs and our faith in ourselves, this book is more about a mental decluttering of the things that can rob us of our productivity by sucking up so much of our time. Things like constantly checking emails, or stopping whatever you are doing far too many times throughout the day to scroll on social media, or with a nervous half-smile reluctantly agreeing to volunteer to help with the company bake sale this Saturday, even though you know you have a paper to write for school or you had planned to go THIS Saturday to get those tires changed that are wearing thin. The focus of this book emphasizes the need to learn how to prioritize. By taking an accurate inventory of everything you have on your plate, aka schedule, and weeding out the things that are not a high priority and concentrating on the ones that have the highest priority, you set yourself up to be more productive throughout the day and week. Her principle is based on the notion that if you have something come up that you feel obligated to do, but you have to give up something that you really wanted to do or something you really need to do, then this new thing is a low priority and you should not feel obligated. Just because you are asked by a dear friend, coworker, or family member, does not mean that yes should always be the answer.
Next, we find The 5 Second Rule written by Mel Robbins. Mel uses wit and logic to delve into the story of how the 5 Second Rule came to be. It started out as a tool to help “launch” her out of bed in the mornings and stop hitting the snooze button until she had wasted the better part of every morning avoiding getting up and facing her life. The principle of this book is how we can reset our thoughts and actions by triggering our prefrontal cortex simply by counting down from 5. The key to the rule is that you have to count down from 5, 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Liftoff! Mel uses the science backed idea that if you count forward from 1, your brain will, by nature keep counting with no stopping point. The 5 Second Rule is based on the idea that within as little as five seconds, we can allow fear and doubt to take over our thoughts and prevent us from taking action to do the things we very much want to do. Some of the examples used in the book include a man sitting at a bar and wanting to speak to a woman he sees across the room or a woman who decides to take her sister’s children to raise following her untimely death, or anyone sitting in a work meeting with a great idea but afraid to speak up for fear of no one else in the meeting agreeing that it is a good idea. Within as little as five crucial seconds, either of them could have made the decision to act on their choices, or have allowed fear and doubt hinder their judgement and cause them to miss out on some pretty incredible opportunities. Opportunities can be lost forever, in as little as five seconds. This book is about switching those negative thoughts of fear and doubt before they have a chance to take a hold and change the outcome from what you initially intended. This book is about restructuring the way you think in a way to give you more confidence and courage to act on the things you want to. To become fearless and believe in yourself. The book also has an accompanying journal and workbook, although neither are necessary to read the book or gain an invaluable plan from it, they are, in essence, additional tools to help reinforce the concept of the 5 Second Rule.
Once we break the habit of hitting our snooze button, we then find The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. The importance of a good morning routine is paramount to having a productive day. You can pick up any of one dozen or more books about productivity or success and they will all tell you that the most productive and successful people all practice the ritual of a regular morning routine. The size of the Miracle Morning community is phenomenal; all you have to do is search miracle morning on YouTube and you will find hundreds of videos by people who have adopted this morning ritual and swear by the positive impact that is has had on their lives. The Miracle Morning is about building an enriching morning routine around what Hal has termed the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. Each of the letters of the savers acronym represents a specific area for self growth and life enrichment. S- represents silence. Whether it is meditation, prayer, reflection, or just simply sitting in silence, Hal stresses the importance of beginning your morning ritual by clearing out the lingering thoughts. To get your head clear and focused to tackle the day without a myriad of things running around through your mind all day. A- represents affirmations. Hal points out that chanting in the mirror, “I am pretty.” “I am smart.” will not really have any lasting benefit if you are just mindlessly repeating words for the sake of repeating words. He emphasizes getting real and personal with the affirmations. Speaking to yourself positively about something personal and important to you will stand a greater chance of having lasting effects. V- represents visualization. Creating a vision board is the top suggestion. By placing the things you want to achieve onto something tangible that you can physically look at will help you gain the needed momentum for working toward those goals. Hal suggest sitting and actually visioning yourself not only once achieving the goal, but also, to visualize yourself working toward that goal, such as driving yourself to the gym every morning. E- represents exercise. It is no guarded secret of the benefits exercise has on us, both physically and mentally. One would be hard pressed to be productive throughout their day if they are suffering from ailments or just generally in physical pain from simply moving. Whether it is ten minutes or an hour, exercise is one part of morning routine that is bound to have the most immediate effects on how you feel. R- represents reading. Hal encourages daily reading, but puts more emphasis on reading for personal development. There are countless online options for courses or classes in personal growth and development. S- represents scribing. Journaling is suggested as one of the best means for your daily scribe. After meditating to purge all those thoughts out of your head and then reading for personal development, journaling would be a great way to write down how you feel about the things your learned that morning. Also, taking notes and writing out a plan for the things that your read about in your personal development reading would be a great means for daily scribing. Hal encourages his reader to begin with a 30-day challenge for trying the Miracle Morning, and then decide for yourself if you see a noticeable difference or not.
And, finally, last but certainly not least on the list is How To Make Sh*t Happen written by Sean Whalen. Sean takes a no-nonsense in-your-face approach to keeping yourself on track with the things that are most important in life. This book is not for the faint of heart. However, the reality is often times we need a gentle nudge and sometimes we need a swift kick in the rear to snap us back in line. Sean delivers on that swift kick of justice for us when we need it. He uses his principle of the “Core 4” to guide a plan for structuring every day around doing one thing, purposefully, to work on the four core areas of our lives that should be regarded in the highest. The core four areas are: Passion (relationships), Power (body), Purpose (mind), and Production (business). The idea is that every day you set one timed task to work on each of these four areas, and that by working on each of these each and every day, it will move you closer toward your end goal of relationship, health, financial and personal development success. The action steps planned are to be daily, they are better executed when they are timed and scheduled, and they are non-negotiable. Being that almost everyone nowadays has a smart phone within arms reach at any given moment, he stresses that the phone is the perfect planner to set about planning your Core 4 tasks. Some examples he gives is setting a timer on your phone to text a flirty message to your significant other, or find a trainer or workout partner to keep you accountable in your fitness goals. He also stresses the importance of having a morning routine. All too often, we tend to pick up self-help or personal development books and get all fired up over them because they are saturated with great ideas, and resources, and in our hearts, we know they are filled up with truth. Yet, somehow, when we finish reading the book, we put it down and move on to another book without ever looking back. Sean knows this, and he is continually giving commands throughout the book to “do this now.” As he is going through each of the four principles, he asks you to put the book down and take purposeful and deliberate action to work on the things that are important enough to work on every. Single. Day.
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