One of the critiques of my reading is the question around how much information could possibly stick if I’m reading more than 52 self-help, business books in a year. The truth is that many of them don’t stick. A bunch of the books feel like repeat information and have a single chapter that stands out as better than others I’ve read.
Some books I read stand out as good for a certain time in a business, which I’m not at. Others are terrible. Today we’re going to walk through six books that stood out to me in 2018. These are in no particular order, and I didn’t choose six for any reason other than these are the ones that stuck out in my mind as I looked back through my year of reading on Goodreads.
The Bullet Journal Method
I love me a good notebook, which should be obvious because I wrote a book called Analogue Productivity all about how paper and a pen helps you bring more value to work. While I have been using the Bullet Journal method for a while and thought I understood it well, I realized that I was missing a few pieces as I read The Bullet Journal Method.
The Bullet Journal Method helped me refine my process. It gave me ideas to track my projects more effectively. It sits beside my desk as a reference book now and I find myself picking it up almost weekly to flip to some section and remind myself of the advice in it.
Even if you’re not a paper planner person, the advice around how to think about your tasks and projects will be invaluable.
I read Profit First in 2017, and it changed my business. Clockwork is set to do the same thing heading into 2019. Just like Profit First wanted us to put constraints on our finances to help us run a strong business, Clockwork asks us to limit our time.
In Clockwork you’re given percentages that you can use to spend on activities like actually doing the work. If it’s taking you more than 80% of your time to do the work in your business, then something is broken. You should be out spending time planning your business, delegating tasks to others, and deciding big things for your business.
One of the key thrusts of this book is refining your customer acquisition pipeline and how you serve the thing your customer purchases from you. If you’re looking to have a strong 2019, then you should read Clockwork and do the work to define where you’re spending your time and how you’re serving your customers.
We all have habits we want, and habits we’d rather not have. James Clear’s, Atomic Habits is here to give us a framework to build the habits we want. Then, reverse the framework to stop habits we don’t want to continue.
After reading this I started tracking some of the habits I’ve been struggling with, like sleep. Sure I have a Fitbit that tracks my time in bed, but that’s not in my face where I have to record it like my daily habit tracker in my bullet journal. Simply adding this little box to colour in has made me more aware of the sleep I’m not getting. This awareness has me taking steps to build a routine at night to help ensure that I do get the sleep I need.
The Five Love Languages
I’ve been married for 15 years and while many of them have been happy, some have been less than ideal. Actually, some have been downright terrible as my wife and I both sought our own agenda without really digging into what each other wanted.
I read The Five Love Languages early in our marriage, and it was a book that I recommended regularly to others looking to improve their relationships. I read this again in 2018 and it forced me to make more changes in how I interact with my wife.
The Five Love Languages teaches us to consider our relationships and the language that these important people need to hear to feel loved. It’s not even just language as in verbal, because that is a love language in the book. Giving your spouse a gift is the love language of gifts. Cuddling is the love language of touch.
If you don’t know the love language of your spouse, then this is a must read. In fact, even if you’re happily married or in a strong relationship right now, this is still a must read.
By understanding how to make the people around you feel valued, you can keep these relationships strong so that when tough times happen, you can weather the storm together.
Real Artists Don’t Starve
I’ve enjoyed Jeff Goins writing before, and that continued with Real Artists Don’t Starve. This books is Goins breaking the myth of the starving artist. He covers lots of ground as he talks about the value that artists of all stripes provide and that they should be charging for their work.
The only critique I’ve got on the book is that Goins doesn’t do a great job about drawing a division between when we should be seeding patrons with our art and when we should be charging for it. Artists seed patrons with work to get their name out there, but it’s far too easy to get caught in this seeding mindset and then never charge for anything.
It’s because of this book you’ll see Patreon options to support my work in 2019.
- My full review of Real Artists Don’t Starve, also available in audio format
- Purchase Real Artists Don’t Starve
I admit that as I write this, I haven’t finished the book but it’s in this list because I’ve added 10 things to my 2019 planning collection that deal specifically with content in the book. Everything from the five questions Woodruff wants us to ask ourselves to get clarity around our message, to investigating what type of coaching Steve offers.
Clarity Wins is about standing out in the noise of the world around us. It’s about having a niche and sticking to it with clear messaging so that we can stick in the heads of the people we are trying to serve. Woodruff elegantly defines the problem of the noise in marketing, and then provides us with great questions and a path to define our own clear messaging.
Ideas from this will certainly make it into my book on marketing planned for 2019.
My review of Clarity Wins will be out in 2019 so subscribe to Should I Read it to make sure you don’t miss a book that matters.
One Book of 2018 NOT to Read
The final book I’m going to mention is Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life but this is not a good mention. While I feel that the rules were good, the entire book was plagued by 3 useful pages in a chapter and then 20 that meandered through topics loosely sort of related to the rule. I say loosely, because Peterson almost never connected the philosophical meandering back to the rule for the chapter.
In some instances you could assume a connection, but for some chapters I read it twice and still had no idea how 90% of the content for the chapter had anything to do with the rule. While there is some straight talk in this book that doesn’t polish the ego of the reader, it’s buried so deeply in other wasted words I couldn’t recommend this book at all.
If you’re looking for straight talk and getting called up short on your beliefs of your own superiority I’d recommend The Obstacle is the Way or Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Both of these are about 1000% better than 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson.
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