A Clean Slate

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A Clean Slate

Self Help in the New Year

Clear your mind and home, and act on your aspirations in the New Year. Try these bestselling self-help books by lifestyle professionals offering researched and tested methods in orderliness, time management, self-actualization and personal finance.
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

With a husband, two children, an apartment in New York and a career as a full-time writer, Gretchen Rubin had what some would call an enviable life. Family and others questioned why someone who was mostly happy and successful would want to create a process for happiness for herself and others. Rubin's year of delving into resolutions has now become a popular lifestyle. Adherents have a website to keep up with the latest news and advice. A fascinating book with a much written about emotional impact on those who utilize it, the Happiness Project is well worth space on the desk.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

First published in Japan in 2011, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up introduced the KonMari method to a national and, later, international readership eager to learn more about organizing and decluttering. The practice, developed by cleaning consultant Marie Kondo, entails gathering a category of items from wherever they may be and discarding or keeping items based on an emotional response. Similar to The Happiness Project, if there is an emotional connection to the item but keeping it causes sadness because of the clutter it creates, the item should be discarded. Instructions on the order of the clear out and how to organize the kept items are straight forward. In order to discourage backsliding, the author stresses adherence to the instructions. With reportedly no relapses among KonMari clients, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up could be the resource that does what its title says.

Ready for more KonMari? Try Marie Kondo’s follow-up book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. There is also the new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo for those who want to see the practice in action.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

In a storytelling style reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference; Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking; Outliers: The Story of Success), New York Times journalist, Charles Duhigg crafts a narrative on how brain research case studies and organizational/societal changes provide insight as to how habits are formed, why they persist, and how new habits can take over while the old ones are still in place.  At the heart of the book is “The Habit Loop”, illustrated on the book cover. The brain creates a pattern or cue, that leads to an emotional or physical act or routine, that is followed by a reward or proof that the whole process is worth remembering. Try this book and find out more on this emerging theory on how new processes can help with productivity, health and world view.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Success coach, Jen Sincero expounds on the rewards of being a person of action and believer in the serendipitous. Broken into 5 parts and 27 chapters, You Are a Badass uses humorous personal anecdotes to illustrate what lowers a person’s sense of self and therefore their ability to act on the opportunities presented to them.  A to-do list rounds off each chapter lesson. The chapters range from letting go of fears to obtaining financial success for a happier healthier self. Do try some of the classic motivational books Sincero lists at the back.

Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

Author Samuel Clemens once wrote that if you ate a live frog at the beginning of each day you could be assured that would be the worst thing you would have to do. Finance and business writer Brian Tracy developed a productivity method that also encourages people to act and improve their well-being and self-esteem. The method suggests identifying the one thing that is hardest to accomplish or frog and making it the first thing done each day. Tracy explains that many people place barriers to success for themselves by procrastinating, which leads to more apprehensiveness. Breaking the cycle is the assured way of creating a positive mindset. The latest edition (2008) focuses on business productivity, but shares some of the original book’s insight into personal growth and potential.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

While motivating change through action is the focus of the previous books on this list, Essentialism asks the reader to pause and think about what is worthy of their attention, what aligns with their goals and principles and what can best be accomplished by others. Greg McKeown, management consultant and co-author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter explains how an essentialist thinks. Moving beyond time management and productivity, the reader looks at societal pressures to say yes to everything at the risk of personal values. The path to being an essentialist, we learn, is saying no to things that are hard to say no to.
The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll

A trip down the school supplies or stationary aisle often bears witness to the journaling trend, but with so many apps and electronic tools available why should anyone write anything down? For those familiar with the bullet journaling practice through social media, why use the book? The Bullet Journal Method gives step by step instruction on creating a personalized, flexible, all-in-one space that can handle everything from project management to daily water intake. Followers of the practice find it rewarding but challenging and make adjustments to suit their needs. Reserve a copy of the book and find out if it or any of the books listed above works you.