I will admit that I am a sucker for planners, calendars, and any book that promises to help me organize my life. And yes, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and my sock drawer looks amazing. While I would recommend Marie Kondo’s book if you are looking for inspiration to de-clutter, today I’m recommending a title that will help you with not only clutter, but also with that nebulous thing called work-life balance: The Sweet Spot: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Christine Carter.
While you are welcome to sit down and read the book cover to cover, Carter recommends dipping into the book where you need it most. Included throughout are proven strategies for taking charge of yourself and your life by backing away from busy and overwhelm, figuring out what is most important to you, and focusing there to create a more satisfying and productive life.
Chapters are divided into five parts: Take Recess, Switch Autopilot On, Unshackle Yourself, Cultivate Relationships, and Tolerate Some Discomfort. Each of the ten chapters includes a relatable scenario or story, solid research, ideas for positive change, and at the end “The Easiest Thing” – a suggestion for a tiny activity that can help you get on the right track.
“Take Recess” is about the importance of taking time for yourself, especially when you are have too much going on. A break, even a ten-minute walk around the building, is essential to refresh your brain and allow you to come back and focus on whatever task is at hand. Something I have been practicing at work for the last year is taking a weekly Shultz Hour. This hour to just think has helped me find creative solutions to problems, plan ahead strategically, and even just make a to-do list on those weeks where there is absolutely too much going on.
Part Two “Switch Autopilot On” delves into creating habits, from the easiest (make your bed) to complicated (train for a 5K), Carter lays out a twenty-one step plan for making the change that you need in your life.
The third part “Unshackle Yourself”, focuses on letting go of all the things that hold you back: too many to-dos, too much stuff, too many social media notifications, too much email (!!), and too many choices. Carter suggests creating your personal priorities and then spending 95% of your time on them. As she says herself, she provides an overwhelming number of options for easing the overwhelm, but each suggestion makes sense – stop overthinking things, say no to things you hate doing, put down your device – and can really significantly improve your outlook and productivity.
The last two parts of the book cover cultivating relationships, dealing with disappointment, and finding meaning. In less than 250 pages, Carter tackles an incredible amount of information, if even 2% of it is helpful, you are sure to come out ahead.