I will never recommend something I’ve not personally used.
I’ll give a short description, the pros and cons of each thing, or a short review.
On this page, you’ll find books, apps, websites, products, and other things that have helped me with my mental health, as well as cutting down that chaos in my own life and increasing my organization game.
For the full list of books, courses, resources, and templates, please visit the Inspired Forward Shop.
Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
- Deep Work, by Cal Newport
- The Happiness Equation, by Neil Pasricha
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson
- Organizational Tools
- Journaling with the Bullet Journal
- Journaling Pens
- Rocketbook, the Scannable Notebook
- YNAB (You Need A Budget)
- Weight Loss/Keto Diet
- Keto Chow
- Low Carb Recipe Websites
- Fitness Tracker
- Forest App (Android, iOS)
- Duolingo (Android, iOS)
- Medium (Android, iOS)
Some of these links, but not all, are affiliate links. That means if you click through and buy something, I may get a commission at no extra cost to you.
I love books, and I especially like reading books that have principles and actions I can apply to my own life. In the course of building this blog, I’ve read a bunch of books that I think everyone should read.
When I first identified my struggle with boundaries (namely, not knowing what they were or how to establish them), my therapist recommended this book.
I went from feeling anxious and stressed out all the time about my boundary problems to having set clear lines that people could not cross without triggering a consequence.
People will test your boundaries. Learn more about boundaries in these posts:
- Why Implementing Boundaries is the Key to Sanity
- 9 Rock-Solid Boundaries to Set in Your Life Right Now
This book is definitely a must-read for those of you who are wondering how to say “no” and take back control of your lives.
Have you ever gotten into the flow of work so deep that hours pass and you get a lot of really good work done?
That’s the “flow state” or, as Cal Newport calls it, “deep work.” It’s becoming a rarity in today’s distraction-central world and is a highly valuable tool for producing exceptional work.
In this book, Newport shows the reader the cost of not being able to perform deep work, what we should do to reach it, and reminds us that it is not easy.
But the rewards are very high.
For me, all my creative work comes out of deep work sessions.
I found this book an easy read with a lot of great information. He talks about the real origins of retirement and lays out nine steps, or parts of the equation, to reaching happiness.
It touches on all aspects of life, all the way from your relationship with yourself to the choices you make about pretty much everything. I found it to be a good way to measure if I really love myself and a compass for what I need to focus on in order to be happy.
As it says on the cover: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything.
My fondness for swearing liked this book very much.
It also spoke to the side of me that’s sick of people (and myself) giving too many fucks for things that don’t deserve them.
It’s not about caring less—it’s about caring for the right things and identifying them before you run out of fucks to give.
Manson dishes out a lot of great advice, especially for the people who feel lost in their lives.
Even if you don’t like swearing, I think you should read this. It might make all the difference in your life.
In my work and personal lives, I refer to myself as an organizational nerd. In fact, my the Running Start office at my community college (program for juniors & seniors to take college classes during high school) called me their poster child for organization.
Everything has its place, and the more organized my life, digital, and physical spaces are, the better I feel and the more productive I am. That might be the same for you! These are a few tools and platforms I use that have really upped my organizational game.
Journaling with the Bullet Journal
I’ve been bullet journaling for about a year now, and the only journal I love is the one straight from the Bullet Journal website. It’s technically a Leuchtturm1917 executive-sized notebook, but the ones made by Bullet Journal come with an extra bookmark (for three total), an index, a built-in Future Log, and tips at the back.
They also tend to lay flat when opened, instead of the pages trying to flip when you don’t want them to.
My favorite part about the BuJo is how customizable it is. If I don’t like the way a habit tracker looks then I can change it next month. I can experiment with different weekly & monthly layouts, and put in all sorts of other trackers, like the Marvel movies in chronological order and weight loss logs.
If you ever get stuck there are tons of ideas on Pinterest to get you started, including on my Bullet Journaling board.
Of course, if you don’t want to shell out upwards of $30 for an original Bullet Journal, the generic Leuchtturm1917 is available on Amazon and is just as versatile. I used a navy blue one for work and it performed well.
Now, I’m not an artist—but my mom is. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit any of her artistic abilities, so the most creative I’ve gotten with my journaling is coloring in my habit trackers. I bought a pack of pens from Amazon and they turned out to work really well on the paper.
It turns out I use them so sparingly that one pack lasted about a year. I did find it challenging to use the pens in equal amounts, so when one color ran out I still had plenty left of a different color.
I’ve also found that novice fountain pens are very smooth on the paper of the Bullet Journal. They also come with the novelty factor–coworkers kept asking what kind of pen I was writing with. Apparently using a fountain pen is so rare that people were impressed by it!
I wrote about the “magic” notebook in one of my early Journey to Magnificence posts. This is a notebook that you can scan using the accompanying (free) app and have handwritten notes sent to pretty much any cloud account you want. I have my Rocketbook linked to Evernote, OneNote, and email.
They make a few different versions: the reusable notebook that erases with water, the reusable notebook that erases with microwaving (what???), and single-use notebooks (shown on this page). The two reusable notebooks must be used with a specific (erasable) pen, but the single-use ones can be used with any pen.
I found that I vastly prefer the feel of a pen on real paper, so after testing out the reusable notebook I switched over to the single-use ones and haven’t looked back.
This notebook is for you if you like taking notes by hand but still want to see them in your cloud accounts to keep all relevant notes in the same place.
For organizing your finances and keeping track of where your money goes, consider YNAB. The acronym stands for “You Need A Budget” and is basically the envelope budgeting method online.
You categorize all your purchases and give every dollar a job. In fact, the 4 rules of YNAB go like this:
- Give Every Dollar a Job
- Embrace Your True Expenses
- Roll with the Punches
- Age Your Money
I tried Mint before YNAB and found YNAB to be the winner because it made budgeting forward easy. I have two months fully funded ahead of the current month. For example, at the end of July, I have August and September fully funded. Any leftover money goes into a variety of savings funds, like our emergency and vacation funds.
You can connect your bank accounts or enter everything manually.
YNAB is what let us save up for our cat before we adopted her. We’re able to easily see what we can afford and move money around if we over-spend in a certain category, like dining out.
In addition to the budgeting portion, it also has reporting functionality. We’re able to easily see our net worth, our spending patterns, and averages for income and expenses. YNAB also lets you connect investment accounts.
I had Evernote starting in college, I think, but I had no idea how to effectively and properly use it in order to up my organization game. Evernote is cool because if you tag your notes, you can basically find any note within a few seconds.
I use it for lists, daily to-dos, weekly & quarterly goals, rough drafts of blog posts, body measurement tracking, clipping & bookmarking websites that I don’t want to be lost inside my bookmarks folder, and quick notes for things I don’t want to forget.
The basic version is free forever, but I bought the premium version to take advantage of features like searching for text inside pictures, syncing to more than 2 devices, offline notebooks, PDF annotation, and scanning business cards.
The price tag, at $69.99/year, seemed a little excessive until I realized the math put that at $5.83/month or about the price of 2 cups of basic coffee from Starbucks.
I feel like the time savings I get from it are more than worth the price of the premium version.
This is a more recent discovery of mine, but it’s basically a database tool. I use it to track all my blog metadata, such as post titles, word count, links, categories, and publication status. They have a bunch of different templates to work from or you can build your own “base” from scratch.
Weight Loss/Keto Diet
I follow a low-carb diet, sometimes known as “keto.” Keto is a low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet. On it, I’ve lost 50 pounds and stabilized my blood sugars (I’m a type 1 diabetic). These are a few products and resources I’ve used to keep me on track.
This is a good calculator to determine what your keto macros should be. This just means how much of each macronutrient (carbs, protein, & fat) you should be eating a day in order to meet your weight loss goals.
This is a true meal-replacement shake. It’s designed to be one-third of your daily caloric and nutrient needs. The creator, Chris Bair, has stated that it’s a nutritionally complete product, which means you could have nothing but Keto Chow and be perfectly healthy. To prove this, Bair has completed several six-week challenges where he consumes nothing but Keto Chow and had the blood work to prove his maintained health.
As for me, I have it once a day for breakfast.
It definitely has the potential to be outside of many peoples’ price range. When factored at per-drink cost, it’s around $3.50 depending on the fat source one uses when mixing it. I use heavy whipping cream, which is relatively inexpensive.
It’s made keto easy for me, and it’s also the best tasting shake I’ve ever had.
Low Carb Recipe Websites
I’ve been using a Fitbit for a couple years and absolutely love it! It tracks my steps, activities, sleep, heart rate, and has helped me become more active.
Basically everyone has a smartphone. And what do we use on our smartphones? Apps, of course! I’ve found all of these apps to be a huge help in cutting down my own chaos and making my life easier or more enjoyable.
To eliminate your phone as a distraction when you’re trying to focus, use the Forest App. The gist is that you’re rewarded for not being on your phone with virtual rewards.
For those of you wanting to learn another language, Duolingo makes it easy. It’s free. While you probably won’t become fluent through Duolingo, it’s great for learning the basics for rudimentary conversation.
I’ve been writing on Medium since April 2018 and the mobile app has made it easy to read and write on the go. I can bookmark stories to read later, create and publish story drafts, and check notifications. With this app, I’m able to edit stories while waiting for flights or doctor appointments.