I’ve been reading (and loving) self-help books for years!
But it wasn’t until 6 months ago that I finally started to apply what I was learning. Which means it wasn’t until 6 months ago that self-help books actually started to have a HUGE impact on my life (which you can read more about here).
So today, I thought I’d share 10 simple tips to get the most from self-help books in your twenties. I’ve also filmed a Youtube video with all my advice (and so I can show you exactly what I do) – make sure you check it out!
These suggestions are just based on my experience and are in no particular order. I hope you find them helpful!
My favourite tools for personal development
Before we get into it, I just want to let you know that I’ve created a free 10-page guide about my all-time favourite tools for personal development! The guide includes my must-have apps, favourite podcasts and the books that have changed my life.
A couple of the things I talk about in the free guide are included in this blog post, but a lot aren’t! If you really want to make the most of your twenties, download my free guide to get all the tools you need to create the life you want (all of which are free or super inexpensive – woohoo).
Just click the button below to download your copy of my most popular free guide and then let’s get into it!
TIP 1: Keep a short-list
I have nothing against keeping long list of book recommendations (or a beautiful Pinterest board full of them) but in my experience, long lists are completely overwhelming. And they usually stop me from getting things done because I have no idea where to start!
So my suggestion is to keep a short-list of the 2 to 3 books that you want to read next. Or to at least limit the people (and places) you get your book recommendations from!
I have three people that I look to for book recommendations at the moment. The first is Brooke Castillo, who is the host of my favourite podcast The Life Coach School Podcast. Basically, if Brooke recommends a book, I read it. The same with Tom Bilyeu and Tim Ferriss, who host my other favourite podcasts (yep, I LOVE podcasts).
Just as an example – next on my list is The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, which was recommended by Tim Ferriss.
I also get book recommendations from the Smart Twenties Community Facebook group (which is where I found out about You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero and that book literally changed my life). If you’re not already a part of the community, just click here to join!
So I pay closest attention to the people and places I’ve talked about above. And this makes me feel less overwhelmed, which definitely helps me read more!
Tip 2: Make Time
I know this is obvious, but I have to say it – if you want to make the most of self-help books in your twenties, it’s so important to make the time to do it.
In my experience, the best way to make time for reading (and to make it a habit) is to do it at the same time every day. And I’ve found that having reading as part of my morning routine helps me get in the right frame of mind for a productive, organised day!
And yeah, I know you’re busy! But that just makes planning even more important (because let’s be real, you’re never going to ‘feel like it’ after a full day of work). If you struggle to find time to do the things you want to do, make sure you check out my blog post on 5 ways perfectionists can find more time.
Tip 3: Listen to audiobooks
If you still feel like you’re too busy to read, have a look into Audible!
Audible is an app that lets you download audiobooks straight to your phone (you can get your first book free with their free trial – amazing) and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since I discovered it way back in 2013!
Listening to audiobooks is perfect if you struggle to fit reading into your daily life (since all you need is your earphones and phone) and it’s super easy to use!
Tip 4: Stop reading shit books
I know so many people who struggle with this, but if you start reading a book and you’re just not feeling it – stop. Even if it was given to you by your favourite person!
There are too many amazing books to waste your time reading the ones you don’t like (a few of my recent faves? Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, Mindset by Carol Dweck and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks).
So don’t be afraid to move on.
Tip 5: Take notes as you go
This one’s super simple, but a great way to get more from a self-help book is to read with a highlighter in hand!
I don’t know if this is just the student in me coming out, but I pay SO much more attention to what I’m reading if I need to highlight things. Give it a go!
Tip 6: Create a system
When I heard Ryan Holiday talking about his notecard system for remembering, organising and using everything he reads I was inspired to create something similar.
The first book I tried this with was Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, which I read just after Christmas. To keep track of all the things I wanted to remember and apply, I created a system using colour-coded tabs. Blue was for quotes I loved, green was for journaling exercises, orange was for anything ‘to do’ and pink was for book recommendations.
My system is nowhere near full-on as Ryan’s, but it works! And I was amazed at how much more I got from the book simply by using a system like this.
And just so you know, I think the most helpful tab was the one that kept track of journaling exercises. I kept track of all the journaling exercises that resonated with me as well as quotes and ideas that I wanted to reflect on. Not only did this remind me to actually put everything I was learning into practice, but it made it so much easier for me to do it!
I’m sure my system will develop with time, but I’m loving it so far! And I’ve actually filmed a Youtube video on this so I can show you exactly what I do. Make sure you check it out!
Tip 7: Actually do what the book says to do
So obvious, hey? But as you know, self-help books only work if you do!
Most authors of self-help and personal development books include heaps of exercises for further work and reflection in their books. And while reading over these exercises might make you feel inspired, there’s no real benefit unless you actually do them!
So, like I was saying, tab them as you go and then make time to do them. If it’s a journalling exercise – do the journalling exercise. If it’s something to try out in your daily life – try it out in your daily life.
I know it’s so basic but it makes all the difference.
Tip 8: Read less, apply more
This is definitely one of my biggest recommendations – read less and apply more!
If you’re a perfectionist like me, you want to feel productive all the time. And reading a lot of books will give you that feeling.
But it was only when I started reading fewer books (but reading them more thoroughly) that I could process and apply what I was learning. So please, read less and apply more. That’s my biggest advice.
Tip 9: Read it again
If there’s a book that really resonated with you, it might pay to read it again.
I guess this is part of reading less and applying more – in many cases, I think it’s better to spend your time studying and applying one book than quickly devouring five. Just my suggestion, but this has really worked for me!
Tip 10: Don’t use reading to procrastinate
Just be mindful that reading lots of self-help books can actually just be a feel-good way to procrastinate. And I know this because I’ve done it!
So how do you tell if you’re using self-help books to procrastinate? If you don’t actually do what that the books recommend (particularly if you’ve already read a few books on the same topic).
And I just want to say that if you catch yourself doing this, please don’t beat yourself up! Just be conscious of what you’re doing and make an effort to apply what you’re learning using the suggestions I’ve included above.
My favourite tools for personal development
I hope this blog post has helped you!
If you want to make the most of your twenties, don’t forget to download my free 10-page guide about my all-time favourite tools for personal development. The guide includes my must-have apps, life-changing books and my favourite podcasts. Just click the button to download your copy of my most popular free guide!