I recently read two books that presented self-help material in the “…in one week” format. I guess this is directed at people who scoff at the “I spent a year doing thus and such” sub-genre. One year? Ha! If you’re really dedicated you can overhaul your life in on WEEK! Realistically it’s probably just a way to organize a book and get people to buy it. I’m OK with that.
Unclutter Your Life in One Week is actually a helpful book about getting your home organized and not taking months to do it. Just so you know, it will not be humanly possible for you to actually accomplish what is outlined in the book in one week. For example, on Monday you are to empty your closet, paint and repair your closet system, sort your clothes, clean and categorize and organize what is left, and then re-populate the closet with your new organizational system. That is a good thing to do . Except then you’re supposed to go to work! So unless you stayed up all night on Sunday accomplishing the closet task, I don’t see how you’re going to get that done before you leave for the office at 8:15 Monday morning. I think it’s probably better to think of the time frame as something to help you keep up your momentum so you can work hard and get your house organized quickly.
Once you make peace with the fact that you aren’t actually going to get this all done in a week, however, the tips in the book are quite helpful. As with many organizational books, the tips are probably things you’ve heard or thought of before, but it’s nice to have them all in one place to remind you of things you ought to be doing or have done and to give you permission to throw things away.
The author of this book has a helpful blog, Unclutterer, which might also provide good insights and inspiration for you if you need to get things in order.
I’m not sure why Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days was organized around the week model other than the fact that the catchy title probably moves books. Again, I’m OK with that. I’m not sure if you will really change your life in five days after reading this book, although I guess it’s possible if you don’t already know anything about personality, birth order, love languages, and things like that, and if that lack of knowledge was holding you back in small ways.
Leman uses a four part breakdown for personality types (the phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic, sanguine distinction) rather than a more nuanced sixteen part framework like the Myers-Briggs set. Personally I don’t find the four part system helpful. Not very many people fit into one of the four types exactly, and so the whole point of personality typing, which is to discover what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to leverage them, is lost. I think the Myers-Briggs framework is much more helpful. To make matters more confusing, Leman assigns dog types to each of the four types he uses so throughout the book you’re not only trying to remember the difference between a phlegmatic and a choleric, but you’re also trying to keep Standard Poodles and Great Danes straight. Whatever.
Where Leman really brings value to the discussion is in his section on birth order. I think I may have read another of his books on the subject, and if you’re really interested in birth order you’d do well to read a longer book. The section in Have a New You by Friday is short and not very deep. That said, it might jog your memory if you’ve read about birth order before or vaguely remember it from Psych 101.
The book also touches on the love languages (better and more helpfully described in The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman), which is good but again I think you’d do better to read about the concept in more depth elsewhere.
I honestly don’t mean to pan this book. I think it has helpful points, and is a good overview of several topics that would be helpful and life changing for many people especially if you don’t have time to read other books. I do think the change might be more lasting and have more impact if you were to really take time to understand and think through how your personality, upbringing, and way of relating to others is helping or hurting you and how you might want to change. Overall, while I don’t disagree with this book, I can’t really recommend it because I think the topics deserve more space and depth and I don’t really believe you could deal with them all in five days unless you’re basically perfect already.
The “change in a week” idea is kind of interesting from a sociological standpoint. I guess people want change fast, but I wonder if it anything you can change in one week would really stick? I’ve always thought that replacing a bad habit with a good habit (which is essentially what we’re talking about here, whether it’s the bad habit of being disorganized or the bad habit of self-defeating thinking) successfully required at least a couple of weeks of concerted effort, with more time required for tougher changes. What do you think?
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