Break Your Rut: 7 Helpful Books on Building Better Habits and Routines

Having a little trouble settling into new habits or routines? You’re not the only one. These books can help you get started.
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We’ve all been there. You’re not quite in a rut, but you feel like you could be getting more done than you are. This is the perfect time to reexamine the big picture and build some new habits, ideally good ones.

Everyone goes about this differently, but sometimes it’s better to get some outside input. You could ask friends and family, but you could also just reach for a book for an idea as to how to reinvigorate your day.

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

As the name implies, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones focuses not on which habits you should build, but how to build habits you’ll keep. It’s about building small, easily repeatable habits instead of ones you’ll never actually get around to.

Buy Atomic Habits on Amazon

2. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Author Mason Currey has a few different books in the Daily Rituals series, but this is a good one if you’re looking for creative inspiration. This book details the morning routines of writers, poets, artists, and other creative minds including Thomas Wolfe, Jean-Paul Sartre, Franz Kafka, and Charles Darwin. Not all of the routines are a good idea (see Sartre), but they’re interesting nonetheless.

Buy Daily Rituals: How Artists Work on Amazon

3. Manage Your Day to Day by Jocelyn K. Glei

If you’re looking for more concrete ideas on how to organize your day, this is an excellent option. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind features contributions from several people who have made it their mission to help others manage their time, so you’re bound to find some advice that makes sense to you.

Buy Manage Your Day to Day on Amazon

4. Ultralearning by Scott H. Young

Somewhat out of place on this list, but still worthwhile, Ultralearning focuses on a key idea: learning how to learn better. By improving this skill, you enable yourself to get better at other things, including managing your time, your habits, and your schedule. This book is worth it for the stories of some of the “ultra-learners” covered in it alone.

Buy Ultralearning on Amazon

5. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

While Atomic Habits tends to focus on the how of building good habits, this book focuses on why they do or don’t work. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business quickly became a best-seller thanks to its examinations how our habits are formed, so if you’re wondering why you just can’t get started on something, this could help you figure out why.

Buy The Power of Habit on Amazon

6. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Sometimes to understand the present we need to look to the past, and that is what Meditations is perfect for. Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD, Marcus Aurelius is widely considered one of the most notable of the Stoic philosophers, and his thoughts on on how we sometimes sabotage ourselves with our own thoughts and assumptions are still worth reading even now.

Buy Meditations on Amazon

7. My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall and Micheal Xander

Like Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired focuses on the morning routines of others to help you build your own. While that book focuses on artists, this focuses on successful people who are still in the middle of their working lives.

Buy My Morning Routine on Amazon

Start With Your Mornings

Now that you’ve got some ideas for how you might want to shake up your day, it’s time to get started. As you may have gathered from looking at a few of these books, there is a sizable contingent of people who think that the best way to set yourself up for success is to focus on your morning.

Little habits can make big changes, so if you’re looking for somewhere to start, take a look at our nerd’s guide to daily hygiene. This 15-minute routine may just get your off to the perfect start.

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