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How to Be Productive in Your {Money} Life

Wondering how to be productive in your {money} life? These 3 productivity books will change your mindset around the whole subject (which is key, of course, in changing your life).

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I’ve been gobbling down productivity books since becoming a mother.

Whereas before becoming a mother I was only slightly aware of my ability to create a 2-year research project out of anything, post-mommyhood? It’s become abundantly clear.

Like, baby-pee-hitting-my-face clear.

Simplification is the name of my new game.

I want to simplify all areas of my life – my business, my household, my obligations, my communications, etc. Because doing so helps me to maintain my sanity (as much as one can with a toddler), as well as opens up time for me to be engaged in my baby’s life + my husband’s life + my own life.

My quest for maximizing my time + simplifying my life didn’t start just because I became a mother; I’ve been on it for years. But it ramped up to a whole new level with results I never thought I’d see even one year ago.

And you know what? Each of these amazing books I’m suggesting you read (more like telling you to rundown to your local bookstore and pick up a copy now) are super-relevant to your money life as well.

Let me show you what I mean.

Productivity Book #1: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

Reading this book made me realize that I have the Essentialist quality of trying many different things to figure out what does and does not work. However, the missing link for me becoming a true Essentialist (or someone who does cool things like exercises the power of choice, creates space to explore life, and knows how to gracefully say “no” so that they can say “yes” to their really big thing)? Is to then cut off what doesn’t work and hone in on what is showing promise.

That’s a rather large missing link, sort of like the missing link between, say, a lizard and your cousin Ned.

Money Management Takeaways: How to be productive with money (i.e. see your money actually get you somewhere)? Time to declutter the spending! Yes, you can take these concepts and use them in your money life as well. Where are you spending that is out of alignment with what you find to be essential? Can you whittle down all your savings goals to what is the essential one versus what are the nice-to-have’s so that you can be more effective in getting there?

Actions I took Directly as a Result from this Info: I sat down to make a list of my business “Vital Few” tasks versus my “Trivial Many”. Only issue? My “Vital Few” column is three times the length of my “Trivial Many”. *womp, womp*. Still, I was surprised to see what I was able to put into my “Trivial Many” column and experiment with letting go of without any bad results as an outcome. That felt immensely good!

Productivity Book #2: The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, Gary Keller

Oooooohhhh this one was juicy. In a nutshell (and, really, this is glossing over beautiful nuggets you need to read yourself): you need to dial down to the one thing that you want to be focusing on right now, and make it front and center in your daily life.

It’s amazing how if you do this, the other things start falling by the wayside (in an okay way, not in a scary, guilty way). Things become so much easier. Overwhelm goes away. Messes sort themselves out.

Money Management Takeaways: If you can figure out what your “one thing” is, then you’ll know where to funnel any extra money you have to (even if that money comes in small dollar denominations – try a service like digit.co out to automatically funnel that money in small increments you’ll never miss from your checking to a savings account. That’s how we paid for Christmas last year!). Not only that, but you’ll know what to stop spending your money on because it’s not worth it to you.

Actions I Took Directly as Result from this Info: I’ve been able to trim several services I’m paying for in my biz life so that I can now use that money to pay for services that best support where I am now + where I want to be. No extra cost to me because I was able to get rid of the other ones that just weren’t part of my “one thing.” Now that's a win.

Productivity Book #3: 12-Week Work Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, Brian P. Moran

I chose to list this book as #3 because I very much believe you’ll get the most out of it after having gone through the first two books and really focusing down on your big thing(s) + give up what is not essential.

I’ve been employing this technique with the help of Amber McCue’s programs for a few years now (her free 90-Day Plan template plus free annual Planathons are super helpful). However, reading the “why” behind it plus delving deeper has added much to my understanding and implementing.

Money Management Takeaways: This book does a really great job of asking you to visualize what the heck you want your life to look like in varying time increments (1, 3, and 5 years). And you know what? For me it was a little scary to think about it because I just didn’t know. Then I came back to this exercise later, and got a little clearer – in the way that Lost Season 3 is a little clearer than, say, Lost Season 1 – and then I honed in on it a bit more. This took me a few months, to be honest. But now I have a clearer picture of what I actually want in my life, and the money it’s going to take to get there.

Actions I Took Directly as a Result from this Info: Up until reading this book, I was getting down on myself that it always seems to take two weeks to do my weekly to-do list instead of just one. Then I thought about it, and really, as long as I’m meeting the majority of my 90-day goals, I’m still getting way ahead of the pack! Also, it turns out that I just seem to work best with two-week lists (or at least am the best at creating two-week) rather than one-week lists. Kudos on me for finding a rhythm that works + flipping that guilt around and seeing what’s really going on!

One thing I hope you'll gather from reading these books, or even just reading my summaries and takeaways from them is this (other than how to be productive): it's not about working more.

Not in the least.

I've been at this game called life for 34 years and I've had moments of sheer working-myself-into-the-ground. I'm over that.

These books are all about honing in on what the vital few things are in your life so that you can just let the other stuff go. Which, unsurprisingly, when you start doing that you open up lots more space + time to devote to the areas of your life that matter.

And if you can sink your money spending + saving up to that system? Well…that would be life-changing, for realz.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.