I hate reading self-improvement books because the theory is clear to me and most of us, most of the time. It’s usually a combination of regular advices: change, work hard, focus, dream. I have been getting these advices since school days. Who has not been told these?

“Do your homework daily. Give importance to big things.”

I did homework, not daily, though. I gave importance to big things, however, the smaller things also got in the way too often. Hours of watching cricket and crap TV programs I don’t remember now, while I should have trained to be more disciplined and done other significant things.

Self-Improvement Woes

While reading self-improvement books, the voice in my head says, “Stop nagging me. Let me get on with living my life. The theory is all good. It is always the practice, the actions, I struggle with. Actions speak louder than words.”

Analysis for Fun and Profit

I use self-help books and articles for entertainment and profit now. I try figuring out how the same advice can be repackaged and sold. How do they make this kind of content interesting? How do these famous self-help gurus package advice any grown up can give to others, into a book, and sell million copies of it?

The Catchy Phrase Formula

I am catching on to one trick. Dole out advice in catchy chunks and phrases. Here is how one book I read, goes.

Modern life is tough. Our work is complex now compared to earlier times. Our timings is not well defined like it was for the factory workers or office goers of the industrial age. Our work bleeds into the evenings and nights of our lives. How can we manage this?

That, is a statement of an obvious problem of the human condition. This is the best way to start a self-help book.

The Gyaan

Now, comes the gyaan after twenty pages. Use the BBBB principle. What is BBBB, you ask? Boundaries, Blocks, Batching and Breaks.

What’s that? Ah! I now have your attention. Here are the Big Bs.

Boundaries: Lock the door. Don’t let anyone or anything disturb you for a chunk of time. Daily. Switch off the phone. Turn off the net. Work.

Blocks: How do you set the boundaries? Set up blocks of time. Look at your calendar and mark chunks for time for doing focused work.

Batching: Collect simple tasks till they become a small list or till a certain time of day. Like shopping for groceries. No one goes to shop without a list of items in their mind. A trip for every item would be ridiculous.

Breaks: The mind and body cannot pursue something with focus for long. Try standing on one leg. With frequent breaks and rest, they can go on working for a long time.

Sounds good?

This is the secret of self-help gurus. They present known things in a compelling way. Sell their million copies and leave us to face the inner demons of implementing the ideas.

Now You Know

That is why I hate this kind of stuff. Maybe, I should embrace the change and apply more of these Big BBBBs to life. What is your favorite mantra? One thing you know is true, yet, bringing it into action has been not been easy.