Book Review: Gretchen Rubin, Better than before

Book Review: Gretchen Rubin, Better than before

I loooove to read books about productivity and habit changes. And I have read a lot of habit formatting books in this topic already. Maybe that was the reason, why I had big expectations about Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than before, because it has been recommended a lot of times before. To be honest, Better than before is not the one, which I will read over again, although, I recommend you to read it, if you are interested in everyday routine formation, and you have not read any book regarding this topic.

The books start with an interesting uptake. She states a statement, what I really like to emphasize (especially when I read blogposts about why successful people wake up at 5 a.m., etc.). It is no golden rule, what to do or how to do things, when it comes to productivity/success/habits. Every people is different, so it is not obvious, what works for me will work for you.

As she states, habits “are the invisible architecture of daily life,” she begins. “If we change our habits, we change our lives.” And it is so interesting, how she explain the types of the personalities (Obligers, Upholders, Questioners, and Rebels), and how these tendencies can impact our habit formation.

She even has a quiz to figure out, what kind of personality is dominant for you.

The first part of the book is not just interesting, but has some good advice, how to handle motivation, habit formation regarding the personalities. Also has some good advice, how you can pick up habit formation techniques.

Writing down the first habits, which you may need to focus immediately is not just brave, but in my point of view, quite helpful from Gretchen Rubin.

She calls it the Essential Seven:

  1. Eat and drink more healthfully (give up sugar, eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol)
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Save, spend, and earn wisely (save regularly, pay down debt, donate to worthy causes, stick to a budget)
  4. Rest, relax, and enjoy (stop watching TV in bed, turn off a cell phone, spend time in nature, cultivate silence, get enough sleep, spend less time in the car)
  5. Accomplish more, stop procrastinating (practice an instrument, work without interruption, learn a language, maintain a blog)
  6. Simplify, clear, clean, and organize (make the bed, file regularly, put keys away in the same place, recycle)
  7. Engage more deeply in relationships—with other people, with God, with the world (call friends, volunteer, have more sex, spend more time with family, attend religious services)

And after these statements, she lost me as a reader. Gretchen starts to convince the reader, me, how we can apply these essentials into our life, how she did it, why her method was successful, and we should follow these footsteps.

My problem was, that these techniques what she recommends are not new or unique. If you read the fourth or fifth book regarding habit formation/productivity, you will meet the same methods 90% times. In the other side, she falls into the same trap, what she mentions at the beginning of the book. It is no golden rule, what and how you should do things to form a habit and be successful/productive/happy, etc. Accountability, monitoring, pairing, etc. are the same habit changing methods, which you will find here, and most like in other books in this topic.

These things are true:

  1. “Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life”.
  2. “It takes self-control to establish good habits”.
  3. “A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided”.
  4. “When we change our habits, we change our lives”.

But it would be better to read more theory and real practices about habits and habit formatting, as it was in a good balance at the beginning of the book, rather than reading personal stories and good practices, as it happened at the second half of the book.

Overall, it is not a bad book, if you read it as your first book in this topic.

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