#8. The Bullet Journal Method (by Ryder Carroll)

This is what I learned from this book:

  1. The two of the most important resources we have at our disposal are our time and our energy. Productivity comes when we are able to focus our energy at a given time. Often times, however, we use our time and energy without intention and mindfulness resulting in low productivity.
  2. If you don’t live with intentionality, you will be living in the intentions of others. Don’t let their intentions govern your life. Carroll defines intentionality as finding what you really want and acting to get it.
  3. Try this! Get a piece of paper. Divide the paper into three sections. On the first section, write down everything that you are currently working on. On the second section, write down everything that you should be working on. And on the last section, write down everything that you want to be working on. Give yourself about 15 minutes to finish the list. Now, ask yourself why each item matters to you and/or your loved ones. Is it necessary? What happens if you don’t do this? Start crossing off items and your list will contain what you need to do and what you want to do.
  4. Pros of writing things down on a physical notebook:
    1. Writing with a pen or a pencil on a notebook can give you a visceral experience that no digital tool can generate. This experience of analog itself is worth a try!
    2. Writing on a notebook takes more time than simply typing on a laptop. However, as you take time to process information, writing gives you time and space to think deeply.
    3. Handwriting forces us to engage with the information we are to take note of. It helps us to be intentional and mindful.
  5. Don’t obsess over the mistakes you made or may make. Aim for progress, not perfection. Practice imperfection.

#7. Everything Is Figureoutable (Marie Forleo)

Here’s what I learned from this book.

  1. Train your brain for growth by asking yourself these two questions: What can I learn from this? & How can it work for me? Never say, “I already know this,” or “This won’t work for me.” Why limit your options even before making an attempt?
  2. Everything in the world that exists has once existed in someone’s mind as an idea. And it is your beliefs that influence your mind the most. So where do your beliefs come from? Although there are many external factors that shape your belief system, one powerful element that shapes your belief is an internal factor known as your choice. You may not be able to change what’s happening outside your control. However, you are absolutely in control of changing how you react/respond to it. And it’s your freedom to accept what you believe to be true. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
  3. When you say, “I Can’t,” what you really meant to say is, “I won’t” or “I don’t wanna.” You are 100% responsible for your life because you can always choose how you respond to what’s happening to you. Don’t blame anyone else. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Everything you do in life is your choosing and there is no “have to”s.
  4. Don’t be afraid of the feeling of fear. Everyone feels fear, but some become paralyzed by it and others overcome it. The emotion of fear doesn’t have to be dreaded when you know how to use it. Let fear inspire you to act. Interpret the feeling of fear as a sign that you are about to do something great, something that’s going to make you stronger. When you define your fear clearly, fear loses its ominous side effects. And most importantly, don’t associate failure to your character flaw. A failure is just an event that you can learn from.
  5. People say we need to act and do something about our dreams. But why is it so difficult to take an action toward it? It’s because we lack clarity. Thinking can only get you so far in gaining clarity. At some point, you need to engage. Writing down your dreams and goals is a great way to engage and gain clarity. There’s a 42% increase in chance of making one’s dream when you write it down.
  6. Ask your 10 year-old future self a question: Would I regret 10 years from now if I don’t _______? If the answer is yes, then you need to start before you’re ready. Don’t buy into thinking that you are not ready yet or timing isn’t just right. Action gets momentum going. You will never be ready. At some point, sooner rather than later, you must make a move. Put yourself in the uncomfortable position. Bear your vulnerability. Pain of discipline yields sweet fruit. Pain of regret only sour fruit.
  7. Don’t hide behind perfectionism which covers your insecurity. No one gets right from the get go. Even Michael Jordan had to learn to be a noob basketball player at one point. So give yourself a break and allow yourself to fail and suck. Learn from your mistakes and do better. Seek progress, not perfection!
  8. Refuse to be refused. Never waste time caring about other people’s opinions. When you care about what others think and say about you, you give them the power over you.
  9. You are a unique individual. You may think that what you are about to do has been done before and there’s nothing special about your work. You are wrong. There may have been many before you who have done it. But, the world has never heard it with your voice. There are so many Pizza joints in the world right now. And yet, people still open up Pizza joints and are successful.

#6. Smarter, Faster, Better (Charles Duhigg)

Here’s what I learned from this book.

  1. The secret of being productive in life and also in business is to make a wise choice. We don’t have to be busy. We can do less but still be productive when we make wise choices. Duhigg suggests eight different ideas of productivity that can help you make the wisest choice.
  2. When the locus of control is you, you get more motivation to do the work. A sense of choice gives you a sense of control, and a sense of control gives you motivation. When it is YOU who makes the decision, you tend to be more responsible, more engaged, and more empowered to push through! Use it to your advantage.
  3. Every group has a set of group norms, “unwritten rules.” When your team has a healthy group norm, you will thrive.
    1. A healthy group is a group that people feel safe to speak up. If you are a leader (even if you are not), encourage people to speak up (and really listen to them when they do!) and allow them to make mistakes. Make them feel that they will be accepted for who they are. They’ll never be judged for their mistakes. A good and healthy group treat each other well. How your group interacts is way more important than who’s in your group.
  4. The ability to focus comes when you don’t multi-task. Don’t multi-task. Ever. You will lose focus, your energy will be drained, and attention will be divided.
  5. Develop a habit of imagining what is going to happen for the day. Imagine it as detailed as possible. Visualize what you set out to do! Tell the story of the future. It will help you focus immensely.
  6. When you set your goal, make it big and make it SMART.
    1. Make your dream big. Make it audacious. Stretch out your goals. Challenge yourself. Big goals will transform the way you think about possibility.
    2. Then, break down your big goal into concrete steps. Choose one aim and then use the SMART grid to come up with an executable plan.
      1. S: Specific
      2. M: Measurable
      3. A: Achievable
      4. R: Realistic/Reasonable
      5. T: Timeline
  7. When managing workers, don’t just micromanage them. Don’t just give them an instruction. Give them autonomy by allowing them to have authority and responsibility. Give them a chance to make critical decisions as you guide them. Empower them to solve problems on their own. The point here is to lead them to grow and never to use them to grow yourself or your company. Grow together!
  8. Learn the skills of decision-making. Envision what will happen in the future by learning to be comfortable with unpredictability and doubt. Not all possibilities are probable. So embrace the fact that the future isn’t just one thing. Be okay with holding multiple probable futures and make decisions based on the most likely future. In the game of poker, losers look for certainty but winners are okay with uncertainty. To make a good prediction, you have to pay attention to both good and bad news. One side and the other side. Learn from failures and successes. Learning can help you calculate the odds.
  9. Innovation is the result of combining various conventional ideas. Think of innovators as idea brokers. Take a concept from one discipline and apply it to a different discipline. Think polymaths. Be sensitive to your own experiences. Recognize the panic you may feel is the very ingredient you may need to create something innovative. Critique your own ideas and “innovations” in order to diversify and be more innovative.
  10. Be aware of information blindness. Too much data stunts you from making a decision. Combat the flood of information with scaffolding. Put similar/related information together into a manageable number of categories. When the information is put into chunks, look for patterns. When you have enough information, certain patterns will emerge.
  11. Learn to reframe your problem. For example, when you are given a binary option, always look for a way to reframe. There must be a third or a fourth option.
  12. Create disfluency with your data. In other words, you need to “play” with the information you are given. For example, take a note with a pen and paper rather than using a laptop. Writing with your pen on a piece of paper or a notebook requires you to process information more than just typing the lecture word for word. Another great way to create disfluency is to teach others. When you force yourself to produce something with what you have learned, it forces you to engage with the input and you learn better.

#5. StoryBrand (Donald Miller)

Actionable Insights from the Book:

  1. The key to make your message seen, heard, and understood is to make it about something that can help your readers (customers) survive and thrive. Position yourself to be the guide, not the hero. The one you’re writing to is the hero!
  2. Get to the point! People don’t want to burn too many calories to figure out what your point is. Be clear and succinct.
  3. Who do your readers want? What’s stopping them from getting it? What will their life look like once they get what they desire? Sync these questions to 1) What do you offer? 2) How will it make my life better? 3) What do I need to do to get it?
  4. When address the problems of your readers, recognize that their external problems are linked to the internal and philosophical problems. For example, their external problem might be lack of time management. Now, the internal problem to this is that they feel loss of control. And the philosophical problem pertaining to this is that they want to be happy and be productive in life.
  5. When you are positioning yourself as a guide, make sure you offer empathy as well as authority. You need to demonstrate that you empathize with your readers. You should also demonstrate that you are competent and trustworthy to provide solution to their problem.
  6. Every good guide has a plan for the hero. Give your readers explicit steps to take in order to solve their problem. Make sure you challenge them to take action.
  7. Every reader seeks to find an identity. Every customer is not just seeking a product. They’re looking for a transformation: A chance to change their life. 🙂

Don’t make it about you. Make it about the readers. You are not the hero. They are. Serve them with your product or service. That’s how you grow your business.

#3. Principles (Ray Dalio)

Actionable Insights from the Book:

1. Whether people realize it or not, everyone operates under his or her own principles. It’s important to understand that people are not irrational animals or creatures of instinct. They behave under their principles. What are your principles? 

Also, your principles are related to your values. And your values are basically what you have chosen in the past. You become what you value. And your choices not only reflect but become your values. The principles don’t just appear out of thin air. They are the products of your values and your values are the offsprings of your choices you make every day. 

2. Dalio’s Life Principles: 

1) Identify a problem by being a hyper-realist. 

2) Embrace the reality by being radically open-minded and honest. 

3) Deal with the problem by failing, learning from it, and doing better next time. This principle is probably one of the better known principles that we see on the Internet. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34536488-principles

We can google Dalio’s Principles and this image will pop up. 

3. No pain, no gain. Seriously. In order to gain strength, you need to push yourself to the limit, which is painful. Pain + Reflection = Improvement/Progression. So don’t avoid pain. Go to it and learn from it. Even the worst situation can be good when you own them and take responsibility. Don’t seek comfort. Choose pain and find out where the gain is. This is the only way to grow and mature!

What is one thing I’m deliberately avoiding? What is one thing that I’m afraid of taking risks of?

4. Have a clear goal. Having a goal is the result of prioritizing. Choosing a goal means making a choice. And in order to make a choice, one must disregard the rest of the possible options. You can’t have a goal unless you are able to focus. 

When you have a clear goal, you will inevitably have problems that hinder you from reaching that goal. What are they? Identify the problems and diagnose them. It’s very important that you clearly figure out what exactly are the problems. Be hyper-realistic about your situation and your problems. Knowing your enemy well is the first step of a winning strategy. 

When you have clearly identified and diagnosed your problems, then design a plan to solve them. There can be more than one way to solve your problems. Be creative. 

Push through your plan. Persevere. Fail. Learn. And do better!

Repeat. 

5. Being open-minded is the same thing as being humble. To be humble means you sincerely believe that you might not know the answer and that you might be wrong. This open-minded humility is so helpful in decision making. When you make a decision, you first need to take in information, which requires learning. And then, you make up your mind. Suspend judgment first. Take in information from various sources and opinions and views. Triangulate your views with other expert opinions. Be curious. Accept mistakes. Ask a lot of questions and listen. Focus on understanding, rather than being understood. And meditate to be humble. 

Being humble needs a lot of work. But it can be learned. 

6. Choose your habits well. They control you and make you. Here’s the 3 step habit loop: cue-routine-reward. Don’t allow bad habits to grow. Weed them out. Plant good habits and see your life bear fruit. Your life depends on habits. 

7. Be imperfect. Don’t waste your time on being (trying to be) perfect. Perfect is overrated! Taking an action and initiating is the key to success. Don’t try to be perfect. Try to be the first to do it, instead. Learn from the experience. And try again.

8. Always ask, what’s the essential thing? Simplify the matter. 

9. Possibility does not equal to probability. 🙂

10. Be passionate about your mission. Make your passion your mission in life. 

11. You get stronger when doing difficult things. 

#2. Digital Minimalism (Cal Newport)

Actionable Insights from the Book

1. For the next week or two, log in the time and frequency of your technology use. What social media apps do you use the most? How long and how often in a day? Carefully log how long and how often you spend time on using technology. Just checking this for a week can surprise you. 

2. Try the 30-day digital de-clutter as Newport suggested in the book. In fact, there are many awesome practices Newport gives in the book. Try them! The one that really resonated with me was taking a walk without a phone. 🙂 Being alone with our own thoughts while limiting any inputs coming from others can help us create something truly original. 

3. Amish people are NOT anti-technological. They are truly pro-technological! As they begin with their value and philosophy, they can be intentional about the use of technology. We don’t have to be amish but we need to learn how to be selective with our use of technology. Find out what you value first. Choose technology that can help you live out your values and beliefs. 

4. Focus on doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. We just keep changing our focus from one to another as we multi-task. This fatigues our brain and our attention very quickly. Do one thing at a time. 

5. Digital minimalism isn’t about anti-use of social media or digital technology. Digital minimalism about being set free from our technology-slave masters. Be autonomous!

What this book is about:

Social media companies are investing millions of dollars to create an app to make sure we spend our precious time on scrolling down their feed. Newport begins the book by asking us if we are really in control of our time use. 

To take back the control of our time from these social media platforms, we need more than just a few tricks and tips. In fact, we need a whole new philosophy and value in our digital consumption. Newport’s suggestion: Digital Minimalism.

In digital minimalism, the user takes control of what to consume and what not to. A digital minimalist would curate his or her own digital life so that digital technologies and social media are used for the well-being of the consumers and not for the benefits of the digital companies. A digital minimalist is intentional about the use of technology. Find out what you value. And deliberately use the technology that helps you pursue your values.

Here’s how one goes about the way of Digital Minimalism.

Before you take a technology fasting, make sure you know which technology to keep and which to abandon for the next 30 days. Next, you abstain from using them for 30 days. During the detox, note what you enjoy doing and value. After the digital de-clutter, define your own technology rules. Choose carefully what technology should you employ so your professional life and personal values are supplemented. Make sure you devise a schedule of when to use the technology and how to use it. Enjoy your digital minimalistic life.

Here are a few things a digital minimalist practices.

The “bliss of solitude,” in the age of FOMO. Being alone with your own thoughts and forbidding the inputs from outside cultivate your mind for deep work. Solitude is a solution to your mental and emotional health in the world of constant distractions and attention-seeking industries. Leave your phones and go for a long walk. Just you and your thoughts. Nothing else. Write letters to yourself and refine your thinking. 

Conversation-centric communication. Instead of social media connections and emojis, have a “real” conversation in person! It’s true that a real-time conversation takes more energy. But, humans crave real interactions, not the imitations. 

Have “hands-on” leisure activities. Don’t use your free time on staring at the screen. Do something active that requires you to use your whole body. How about engaging in woodwork? How about calligraphy? Make something constructive. Learn new skills.

Your time and your attention is a zero-sum game. Claim yours! Be mindful about how to use technology. Use it wisely and it will immensely add value to your life: personal and professional. 

#1. Spiritual Direction (Henri Nouwen)

Insights from the book:

1. In a journey to spiritual growth, your questions are more important than answers. Having the questions of your identity, your purpose in life, meaning in life, and so on is the indicator that you are on the right path. What questions are you asking about yourself and life? Helping others in their spiritual journey can begin as you start paying attention to the questions they are asking. 

2. Spiritual journey begins from within. We need to learn to listen to our own voice in the midst of stillness and quiet. We need to learn to be alone. Solitude is indeed a bliss. Find it. Schedule it. Cherish it. Ground yourself in it. Trust that God is already speaking to you in your solitude. Be patient and be brave and be consistent with your time of solitude. 

3. Who you think you are goes a long way. You are who God says you are. Your identity is given to you by God. You can deny that truth and believe that you begin with a blank slate. You can believe that you can be whatever you want to be. But the unshakable truth is that your identity is already determined by your Maker. You are the beloved child of the Father who is in heaven. Period. It’s up to you to accept this identity and ground yourself in it. 

4. The purpose of life is to deepen the relationships you have. We are created to be in relationship with God and with others. We contribute to the network of humans in the world one way or another. They don’t exist for me. I don’t exist to be consumed by them either. We exist for each other. Knowing our place in the world is part of this spiritual journey.

5. Another big portion of spiritual growth is cultivating relationship with Jesus by listening to him and following him. Jesus is the Living Word and we can’t talk about spiritual journey without knowing him personally.  

Actionable Items:

1. What are the questions you ask about yourself? About life? What’s the meaning of life? 

2. Have a regular daily time of solitude. Start listening to your inner voice. 

3. You are the beloved child of God the Father who loves you unconditionally. He forgives you, accepts you, and values you.

4. Forgive people in your life. They are not the God you seek. Be grateful for their presence and the joy they bring to your life. Love them for who they are. And forgive them when they disappoint you. They were not meant to bring you the true happiness. Only God can make you truly happy and fulfilled. 

#4. Unplug (by Suze Yalof Schwartz)

What I learned from the book.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1. Doing less doesn’t necessarily mean being lazy or being unproductive. Doing less may be an evidence of your focusing on what’s important. Thus, accomplishing more!

2. One of the benefits of meditation is to finding strength to face the reality with a heightened sense. By learning to direct your attention consciously, you can put your energy and focus on where you want and what is important to you. You don’t have to be wandering from one task to another mindlessly. 

3. As you meditate, distractions and negative thoughts and emotions may enter into your mind. However, you have to recognize that distractions are also part of the meditation. You need to allow them to have their presence in your mind and gently let them pass through. You can even experience negative emotions, such as anger or anxiety. But, the key is that you never not experience the negative emotions. Rather, you experience them but recognize that they too shall pass. You recognize that they are simply emotions you have. And they are allowed. Once you accept them as such, you can let them pass. 

4. Meditate for about 30 minutes a day for the maximum effect.

5. “Lock the locker.” Imagine all your worries and concerns be put in the locker. Now, start meditating. 

6. Simple Meditation Method

1) Focus on breathing. 

2) Let your focus go. Let your mind wander.

3) Drift in the gap, “the sweet spot.” This is the moment in your meditation where you are aware of the present but you are not distracted by any thought of your own. You are just there and you know that you simply are. 🙂

4) Notice your thoughts re-emerge. Now you become aware of your thoughts. 

5) Just bring your focus back to breathing. 

6) Repeat. 

7. This book was very easy to read and she didn’t try to complicate meditation. It was very practical. As a Christian, I can use the applications I learned from this book when I pray and meditate.