A Book for Procrastinators and Perfectionists Alike

If you are paralyzed by inaction or stress, then Gretchen Rubin's book Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives will prove incredibly helpful. The book is a must for self-improvement junkies. It will make you understand not only how habits function but also why they're so imperative. As the author emphasizes throughout the book, "the habit of the habit is even more valuable than the habit itself." She further iterates that having daily rituals, or habits prevents stress by freeing you from decision making. Fewer decisions equals less time wasted. When the focus of your energy is predetermined by the existence of a habit you simply get more done. Habits work when they become automatic. To better understand why they exist for some and less so for others the author offers a classification system that aims to identify different personality traits that affect the formation of habits and how you may be sabotaging your efforts. Ultimately though, what matters most is the preservation of the habit until its ingrained.

"What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while." (Gretchen Rubin)

Tips and Strategies from the book:

1.  Figure out a way to quantify your efforts and what you want to accomplish
2.  Establish and maintain a solid foundation of habits that deals with or nurtures the following: sleep, activity, diet, clutter
3.  Make a habit fixed by committing to do it everyday.
4.  Schedule to reduce pressure
5.  Just get started. Don't wait for the right time. 
6.  Make things more convenient and plan two activities/goals at the same time
7.  Be careful about using rewards as they may sabotage your good behaviour
8.  Distract yourself when necessary, but preferably with a habit that incorporates physical activity 

While skeptics may deem some of the information obvious this is a well-researched book and it's well worth the read, even if you just want to better understand your own behaviour. If you're not convinced by the power of a daily habit consider the quotation Gretchen Rubin cites from novelist Anthony Trollope. It may prove convincing enough:

"A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules." 
Anthony Trollope

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