Book Review: Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Book Review: Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin | Project Managing Mama

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How would you feel if the decision to make the bed, wash the dishes, or skip the dessert was as simple to make as brushing your teeth? This is the basic concept in Gretchen Ruben's book titled "Better than Before." The creation of habits can make our lives easier because we no longer have to contemplate daily decisions; we no longer need to exercise self-control. 

Gretchen uses the Four Tendencies (Upholder (this is me!), Obliger, Questioner, and Rebel) to help the reader understand how they can best form habits and keep them. She explains that habit formation is not one-size-fits-all and what works for one person will most likely not work for another. It is extremely important to understand the foundation of your own nature. 

Me: Abstainer. Lark. Marathoner. Underbuyer. Simplicity Lover. Finisher. Familiarity Lover. Promotion-Focused. Big Steps. 

Favorite quotes

1. How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives.

2. ...for Abstainers, having something makes them want it more; for Moderators, having something makes them want it less.

3. I should make one healthy choice, and then stop choosing.

How I rate Books

I rate books on a 1-5 scale using three criteria: Readability, Memorability, and Actionability.

For Readability, I ask myself how easy was this book to read? Did I have to reread certain sections? Did the dialogue flow? Did the author answer all of my questions as I was thinking them?

I base Memorability on if I have an 'AHA' moment while reading and/or whether or not I continue thinking about the book after I'm done reading it. Do I find myself describing the content of the book to my friends? 

Finally, Actionability has to do with me taking the concepts covered in the book and applying them to my everyday life. Not only can I apply them, but can I apply them successfully long-term?

Rating for Better than Before:

Readability = 4

This is definitely an easy read. Gretchen uses anecdotal stories in addition to the scientific research to describe her concepts. The examples she shares from her own life and from the lives of those around her help you gain insight into yourself as well as into those you interact with.

Memorability = 4

I wouldn't say the entire book was memorable, but I did find a few key concepts that resonated. For example, I realized that I am an Abstainer. If faced with a chocolate bar, I cannot simply eat a single square; I will eat the whole thing every time. In other words, if I want to start eating healthier, I first need to eat all of the junk food in my house in one sitting. Who else can relate??

Actionability = 5

The concepts described in this book are very actionable. I have implemented a number of habits since reading the book that have increased my happiness. For example, I now make the bed, workout first thing in the morning before anything else, and tidy up once Emmett goes to bed. What helps is that Jacob has been very supportive of my new habits and helps me out by making the bed and participating in the evening cleaning. 

One thing I would like to do is develop more habits in the workplace. I would like to take 5 minutes at the beginning of each day to write out my top 3-5 priorities. I'd like to block off my calendar for certain activities and not allow myself to check my email during that time. I haven't had as much luck here, but I'll keep working at it! Here's a link to the book and the Four Tendencies Quiz:

Do you have any habits that you've formed recently that make your life both easier and happier at home or at work? Share below!