Me-time reading: The Book of You

Square-book-pic-from-Penguin[1]It’s that time of year, isn’t? When all good intentions are readily abandoned in favour of all those more comfortable habits, which quite frankly make you you.

The wine is opened. The granola is substituted for the instant gratification of toast and jam. And as for those morning runs. . . Well it’s been a bit chilly, and surely that power walk to buy booze counts? Ok, so maybe that’s just me.

It’s understandable that we feel the need to reassess some of our habits after the over-consumption of Christmas but maybe we’re demanding too much of ourselves to expect a date on a calendar to serve as a catalyst for any extreme change in our habits. After all, we don’t all wake up on New Year’s Day suddenly free of all the emotional baggage or behaviours that have, over a lifetime, become entrenched in our psyche. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The Book of You is recommended reading for anyone who sets themselves lofty life goals on January the first only to beat themselves up for failing several weeks later.
Based on an app on the same name, the pocket-sized book is packed full of daily micro-actions designed to build positive habits without undertaking anything too overwhelming.

It’s a simple philosophy, and certainly makes me feel better about being a bit lazy when it comes to goals like losing weight, getting fitter, or staying on top of the clutter. But is it transformative?

Contributor Jamie Oliver certainly believes so, quoted as saying “small easy steps for big life-changing results,” on the front cover. But then he would. He’s probably getting paid for his words of wisdom.

Life-changing, I’m less certain of but I do think there is something in this concept of focusing on a small positive step daily. Achieving any goal boosts our self worth, so it makes sense to make our goals more manageable to help us feel better about ourselves, if for no other reason.

Offering 365 tips, the book does become a bit repetitive reading the book cover to cover, so I suspect this works a lot better as an app – although the book does look pretty enough to lie about the living room for dipping into during an ad break.

Split into the four categories of mind, move, food and love, all these micro-action are essentially different ways of encouraging us to exercise, eat better, de-stress, and de-clutter. Reading through them, they are perfectly designed for modern life, countering all the universal challenges we share – particularly busy families. All seem achievable, some are perhaps a bit pointless, others reflect how over-indulged we are as a society and many resonated.

Here are some of the micro-actions listed that I’ll be incorporating into my daily life:

  • Two-minute plank
    I definitely don’t get enough exercise, and I was once a person who enjoyed excercising. I’m forever using the excuses that I don’t have enough time and I need a babysitter to get fit, and while these are barriers there really is nothing stopping me from exercising at home. Lots of these micro action cover two-minute workout ideas, so I’m starting with planking.
  • Fill your fruit bowl
    Many of Jamie Oliver’s food micro-actions involve fruit and I have to say eating fruit is already something we’re quite good at in our house. But I really liked this micro-action. A full fruit bowl really brightens up a room, and if you have an abundance of fruit in the house, it’s easier to dole out healthier snacks when the kids start complaining they’re hungry (when they really mean they want chocolate, want attention or want to stay up a bit later!).
  • A quick fix
    This micro-action suggests selecting one small task to fix immediately. It sounds trivial but these are the sort of silly jobs that can really build up and get on top of you when life becomes too busy. I eventually changed the bulbs in my oven hood over the Christmas holidays (oh the glamour) and it felt so satisfying to tick it off the list. It took no time at all but it was a task that had been sitting waiting to be done for months. Plus, living with broken stuff makes a home seem less loved.
  • Unsubscribe
    I remember when friends used to email me. Now my inbox is inundated with companies trying to sell me stuff. Sure, they can be friendly and witty and creative and sometimes even generous but really I don’t care. It’s just more stuff to delete. More deadwood to take up space in your inbox, your head, your life. Sometimes it’s tempting to scream “no more, I’m full!”. So I like this micro-action to unsubscribe from as many mailing lists as you can in five minutes. Set yourself free!
  • Assign a surface a purpose
    I am guilty of letting things pile up on our desk, kitchen table and even our microwave. I’d love to give everything a place but organising that just overwhelms me. But I feel I can cope with this micro action to tackle just one surface. And it would be nice to use the kitchen table for eating on, once again.

The Book of You (Penguin) was sent to me for review by Mumsnet. While I don’t think it will change my life, it does motivate me to be more productive. Making goals achievable is motivating so I salute this philosophy, and think it’s one that can work for me.

Anyway, I’m off to clear some Nerf gun bullets from a kitchen table. And when you’re inspired to do your email subscription cull please be kind to me!

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