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Books Read in January: 168 Hours, Calm My Anxious Heart, Today Matters

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is definitely one of the best time management books I’ve read. And that’s saying something, because I’ve read a lot of books on time management. It was right up there with Tell Your Time.

The principles and real-life examples very much resonated with me. I often get emails from people asking, “How on earth do you do all you do?” This book basically lines out how I do it: I choose not to do many things so that I can do a few things well (or, at least, attempt to do a few things well!).

We all have 168 hours in every week. When you think of it, that’s really a great deal of time. So why are so many people completely overworked and out of time? Well, 168 Hours would argue that not only are you trying to cram too much into your life, but you’re probably also not wisely using the hours you already have.

If we prioritized our life (i.e. sat down and really determined what we want our main priorities to be) and then we lived life according to those priorities, we’d be less tempted to get so distracted with non-essentials. Priorities give you freedom to say “no” more often.

One of the biggest takeaways from this book for me was to focus on my core competencies. It’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up if we’re not doing everything (or most everything) that we see others doing.

For instance, I could feel guilty that I don’t make homemade tortillas. I could beat myself up for this, constantly feeling like a failure if I feed my family storebought tortillas and wasting hours of time trying to perfect the art of tortilla-making when it’s just not a skill I possess. Or, I could guiltlessly buy tortillas at Aldi for $0.99 deciding that making homemade tortillas is not something I’m gifted at and is something which takes much more time than it’s worth.

All of life involves choices. When we say “yes” to one thing, it means we say “no” to something else. Using our time wisely doesn’t mean that we never have margin in our life and run around like chickens with our heads cut off so that we can get 331 different things done every hour. No, it means that we are choosing to use our 168 hours every week in a way that gets us closer to our goals and priorities.

This book gave lots of practical outside-the-box ideas. It is written more for those who work at least 30 hours each week, but even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, I think you will find it encouraging and applicable.

Also read in January:

Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment — Loved this book and would whole-heartedly recommend it to any Christian woman who is struggling with anxiety, fear or worry. Very thought-provoking.

Little House on the Prairie — Finished reading this aloud to the children. We’ve already read Farmer Boy, so we’re jumping ahead to On the Banks of Plum Creek. I’m so excited because they are really getting into chapter books these days and will sit and keep begging me to read another chapter and another chapter. I love the questions and discussions that books spark, too!

Today Matters — This was my first audiobook ever to listen to and it was excellent. I’ll likely be using some of the things I picked up from it in later posts, but I loved it and would highly recommend it for anyone who could use some inspiration in their life.

24 Books I Plan to Read in 2011

Business and Financial Books I Plan to Read and Review This Year:

January — 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think
February — Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living
March — Becoming a Person of Influence
April — Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
May — Life on the Wire: Avoid Burnout and Succeed in Work and Life
June — Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents
July — Have a New You by Friday: How to Accept Yourself, Boost Your Confidence & Change Your Life in 5 Days
August — Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
September — America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
October — Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
November — Shift Your Habit: Easy Ways to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Save the Planet
December – Personal Investing: The Missing Manual

Other Books I Plan to Read This Year:
January — Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
February — Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time
March — The Possibilities of Prayer
April — The Blessing of Boundaries
May — Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time
June — Honey for a Child’s Heart
July — One With Christ
August — A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning
September — Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit
October — The Rose Conspiracy
November — Disciplines of a Godly Woman
December –Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence

What books have you read recently? Any you’d highly recommend?

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  • saree says:

    Plum Creek is probably my favorite in the Little House series! I love where the girls finally go to school, meet Nellie Oleson, etc. Fun times.

  • Melissa says:

    I have been reading Working Writer, Happy Writer in hopes of finding more work to do from home. I am also rereading Your Money or Your Life, and it is making me painfully aware of the ways we are leaking money.

  • shawn'l says:

    Ohh, I remember reading the Little House series with my mom. We would beg for her to keep reading until she would start to fall asleep and then we’d elbow her a little and she’d wake up and read some more. Even more funny is that we only had a little 4 inch portable black and white TV when I was late elementry through junior high – hence we did not watch a lot of TV – BUT, I would sneak that little TV out of my parents closet into my room so I could watch Little House on the Prairie on TV! Such a rebel I was! lol

  • Rhi says:

    It’s so funny that you mention a Little House book, as I JUST received my copy of the Little House Cookbook in the mail! I’m planning on putting up a post on my blog about it tomorrow morning. Whenever I read any of the Little House books my stomach was usually growling after reading the descriptions of the Ingalls’ hearty meals!

  • My all time favorite……”An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Faith” by Patrica St.John
    Love, love it!

  • My all time favorite book and the one I give to everyone for a special gift…..”An Ordinary Woman’s Extraordinary Faith” by Patrica St. John.
    Love it!

  • Vikk Simmons says:

    Enjoyed reading your list of books. It’s a great idea. I’m going to pass it on to a few friends. Thanks.

  • Karen says:

    I was just wondering if you buy most of the books you read or get them at the library. Some of the ones I would like to read from your list our library doesn’t have and I hate to spend the money to buy them.

    • Becky in KY says:

      This isn’t quite free but is still a great deal: lets you ship books you have but don’t want in exchange for credits to receive books you want but don’t have. It only costs $2-$3 to ship a book, and you don’t pay anything for the books that are shipped to you.

  • I read all of the Little House books to my daughter when she was a baby. I have to admit though that I more read them for me then for her- I love those books and bedtime reading was the perfect excuse for me to get to read them again (my husband would always ask if it really took an hour to get her to go to sleep). My daughter is in a phase now (she is 18 months old) that she won’t sit still unless I’m reading picture books but I can’t wait until she is a little older and we can read the Little House books again!

  • Sarah says:

    My daughter (7) and I are reading Little House in the Big Woods right now. I love that even though she can read the book by herself, she still loves snuggling and having me read it out loud to her. I am also currently reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan and am really enjoying it. It has really opened my eyes big time. I’m glad you enjoyed Calm my Anxious Heart; it is a favorite of mine!

    • Crystal says:

      Crazy Love is on my list to try and fit in this year. I’ve heard excellent things about it!

      • Heather says:

        A woman at church bought this book for me and I read it in one night. Stayed up all night to read it. It will challenge you and inspire you. He also has a website if you search crazy love.

  • I’m reading “Stones into Schools” which is the sequel to “Three Cups of Tea.” I can’t put it down; the dishes will have to wait. 🙂

  • I just want to say thank you…the Little House Books have been sitting on the top of the closet and after I saw your post a few months back, I finally dug them out. Even though I don’t read them every day to our girls, we enjoy reading them as our bedtime stories about five nights a week. It is so nice to be able to unwind with the girls each night reading something we all love!

  • Melanie says:

    I really liked the 168 hour book too. I kept one of those time logs like she suggests for a few days and realized I spent waaaaay too much time on the internet/watching TV/messing around doing dumb things. It helped to re-prioritize the sorts of things that matter most (time with kids/husband, reading, cooking, exercising, etc) and figure out what can go or be minimized or outsourced (HOUSEWORK).

  • Becky in KY says:

    God’s Greatest Passion is a really inspirational, challenging, and encouraging book on personal evangelism — the whys and hows of sharing your faith with people, all in a very practical and applicable format. It’s a great one to read and reread.

  • Catherine says:

    FYI on the artisan bread book. I love it but when you get your copy of the book, go to their website/blog and look for the book edits section and make sure your version has the correct numbers for some of the recipes. There were a surprising number of changes I had to make in my copy that would have made a difference had I not noted the changes.

  • Cassie says:

    Does anyone have any ideas for great read alludes for boys? My oldest is 4, so I don’t want anything too violent. We read pinnochio and he loved it!

    I’m reading ” lies women believe and the truth that sets them free”. It’s by Nancy Leigh demoss. I know its not the latest release, but I love it! It’s also good to have around as a reference because she lists truths from God’s word to combat every lie.

    Thanks for your inspiration crystal! And everyone else! I love reading the comments of these posts!

    • Anna J says:

      When my son was that age we read Beverly Cleary’s Ralph the Mouse books (Mouse & the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse). Charlotte’s Web was also a hit with him. My son’s 6 now, and I want to go through the Narnia series with him soon – I’ll have to review them to make sure they’re going to work for him.

  • Niki says:

    Yea, forget tortillas. Total waste of time unless you’ve got a taste for gourmet.
    I got over my store bought tortilla guilt by switching to corn tortillas from the family owned tortilleria in town. They are hot and fresh, and have no preservatives- they actually grow mold! It is amazing. Plus, because they are fresh and haven’t been refrigerated they hold up as well as flour tortillas.

    Did I mention they are cheaper than the store? Oh yes.

  • Sherri says:

    I’d recommend God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. An amazing true story of how he carried Bibles into eastern Europe.

    A later book by Brother Andrew is Light Force, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how he worked to minister to the church in that difficult part of the world.

  • Jess says:

    I have read part of Organized Simplicity! I L-O-V-E it!!!! I have felt compelled to walk through the steps as I read them though! I think it would be really good if I could read it all the way through and then go back and fine tooth comb it! I love your list because I have a goal to read 100 books this year and I am ALWAYS looking for a good read!!!

  • I just read Tithing: Test Me In This by Douglas LeBlanc. I got the book for free from the Blogger BookSneeze program. I was able to complete a book review here:

    I plan to read one every month. My book that is coming soon is “What He Really Thinks!” 🙂 This is my February read!

  • B says:

    My daughter read every one of the Little House books last year in Kindergarten and this year for first grade she’s researching Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life to portray her in a wax museum next month. She was so surprised to learn that Nellie Oleson wasn’t a real person, but instead a character derived from 3 girls that Laura knew (one of whom was named Nellie Owens…I never knew that!). I’ve never actually read any of these so I don’t know much about them…though, since researching Laura lately, my daughter did ask me to read them so we could talk about them together. They do sound wonderful! I wish I knew something like this to share with my boys when they are able to read chapter books.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I have really found myself reading more since I’ve been following your blog and it’s made such a positive impact as it’s always been something I’ve really enjoyed, but haven’t made time for until recently. I’m still learning how to prioritize things that really matter!

  • Melanie says:

    I read and tried the Artisan Bread in 5 Min. a Day and while the bread was good and very easy to make the crusts were just too hard/chewy for our toddlers (2 1/2 and 4). They ended up not eating it at all or eating everything but the crust. I was excited at how easy it was but for our family we’ll go back to making Tammy’s bread recipe as our children gobble it up!

    • Crystal says:

      Good to know one person in the universe didn’t think the Artisan Bread in Five was the best thing ever invented! I was beginning to wonder if there was anyone who *didn’t* like it, since there have been hundreds of commentors raving about it the last few weeks. 🙂

  • Cher says:

    Oh an organized list like this is a great idea! I usually end up reading a bunch of books at one time and then I have time in between while I am waiting for the next book!

  • I am reading America’s Cheapest family by Steve and Annette Economides. I love it! They have a website too. I am also reading. “She’s gonna blow” by Julie Barnhart about Mom’s with anger. Love it too so far.

  • Beth says:

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson — movie coming out in December!

    • brookeb says:

      Not sure if that’s up the alley of many other posters here, but my husband and I have that one on our list too. He’s seen the foreign version of the movie, so is waiting to see how things compare.

      • Beth says:

        Yeah, I know, but sometimes a good mystery is just what you need… : ) The book starts out slow, but then is awesome! I’m just disappointed that he died so young & after writing only 4 books (3 published).

  • Vanessa says:

    I would recommend Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them free if you are a Christan Women, this answered some things for me that I would have never connected two and two together.

  • Carrie says:

    I read “Calm my Anxious Heart” as well, and I totally loved it! I often pass on books that I’ve read because I seldom read the same book twice, but that one was totally a keeper and earned a place of lodging on my bookshelf. I struggle with anxiety and it’s definitely a go-to!

    I think my favorite fiction book last year was “Still Alice”. It’s about a woman struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s. It was written beautifully, factually, and it was amazingly heartbreaking, but in a comforting type of way. I’ve always wondered how my Grandma felt, what she thought, etc. As strange as it sounds, it was like a peek into her mind (even though the character was polar opposite, life-wise, to my Grandma). Not many people are willing to delve into such a delicate subject and write novels about them, so I really appreciated it.

  • sandy fontes says:

    I just wanted to say, I’ve met Linda Dillow. Awesome woman! And so kind.
    Love her 🙂

    I’m reading ‘The Out of Sync Child’. My son has SPD.

  • Carrie says:

    The Little House books are such a pleasure for Mom as well. I’ve been reading ahead of the girls (looking out for things I wanted to skip, like the “darkies” minstrel show in “Little Town on the Prairie,”) and when I got to the end of “These Happy Golden Years,” I went right on to “The First Four Years” although I won’t be reading that one to the kids. (Way to sad.) I identify so strongly with her as a young mother of a toddler that I forget the time that separates us.

    • Crystal says:

      I agree! I’ve been so inspired as well as feeling like I can never complain about anything. I cannot imagine what it’d be like to raise children and keep house in those times without all the modern conveniences or things like air-conditioning!

  • I’m almost finished with Jeannie Chaunceys, “Passionate Housewives Desperate for God”. It is one of the most encouraging books I’ve ever read! When I’m done with it, I’m hoping to finish “Crazy Love.”

  • Lisa says:

    I just finished Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren. Great book it challenges you. I am reading Crazy love. It is great. I love Calm my Anxious Heart. I never read a book 2 times but I have read this 3 times and have gave as gift to other women that have been blessed by this book.

  • Becky in KY says:

    Crystal, when your girls are just a bit older, the Chronicles of Narnia would be a great read-together series. My husband and I didn’t read them when we were children, but we read the series a few years ago and just loved the whole thing. We really got a lot out of the books, even though they are fiction. Now we can’t wait for our son (same age as Silas) to be old enough for us to read them to him!
    On that note, it was SO encouraging to me to read your blog when I was pregnant and right after my son was born. He’s our only child, so my world was quite a bit different than yours, but I found your blog in the middle of my pregnancy, and our boys were born just a couple weeks apart, and it has been really great reading your blog. You are a huge encouragement to me. Thank you for all you do on here.

  • flutemom says:

    i just read mary beth chapman’s book ‘choosing to see’, about her journey through grief after the death of their 5 yr old maria in 2008. the book is a real tear-jerker for most people, so read it at home, not in public…. it was very encouraging to me, as she kept drawing the reader back to God’s promises and presence.

  • Stephanie says:

    We have been enjoying A Pioneer Sampler, it’s similar to the Little House books but has lots of activities and educational things to do as well.

    I just finished reading Startling Beauty and I Will Carry You, both excellent books!

  • I had never read the Little House books as a child, so I read them as a homeschooling mom. Farmer Boy was my personal favorite! I just couldn’t get over those food descriptions!!
    More recently, I have LOVED Large Family Logistics. I was a reader of Kim Brenneman’s blog way back when! This book is so helpful in setting up and learning exactly how to keep a house, homeschool, etc. For families of young children, or those with a couple of olders, this book is a must read in my opinion.
    I am currently reading Instructing a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp. If you read Shepherding a Child’s Heart and found it helpful, this book goes the next step. I have learned SO much from it!! Highly recommended.
    And since this comment is so long already, can I add one more book? Have any of you read The Food Nanny Saves Dinner? I love this book. Part recipe book, part practical help…it is great!

  • Heather says:

    I know this book is totally off subject but it is one that I have been reading once a year since it came out. It is Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I love the hope and different perspective of heaven that he gives. If anyone has a good series that is encouraging for a 13 yr old girl I would love a suggestion. They are hard to find for me. Love the Little House books. My 10 yr old is reading them for the 4th time.

  • Jessica says:

    I think my comment ended up in your spam folder again… let me try this again…

    What?! Your FIRST audio book?! You’re the queen of efficiency and this is your first audio book?! 🙂
    My husband told me that he finds audio books to be more inspiring than music when he works out… I tried it simply because I didn’t believe it could be possible and found it was TRUE! I workout longer because I want to hear more of the book and get lost in the book and enjoy my work out.

    I am a chapter away from finishing Ordering Your Private World. It is brilliant and speaks to the core of my being – he talks about the importance of ordering your inward, spiritual being over the outward organization and gives suggestions on journaling, prayer, the importance of solitude, etc.

    I found an author that is passionate about animals and have read my boys {2 and 4} his book on hippos and we’re in the middle of his bear book – seriously, I have never been so excited about hippos before in my life! It’s a FASCINATING book. I have never been a huge animal-book lover, but this man spent time in Africa studying hippos and his passion comes through in the book. My boys loved it. The bear seems just as promising, though we’re only a few chapters in right now.

    • Crystal says:

      My husband has gotten into audiobooks over the last year and kept trying to get me to try and listen to some of those he has downloaded. I kept saying that I didn’t think I’d like audiobooks since I’m such a visual learner. But he decided to up and download some to my phone for me, just in case I changed my mind.

      Well, he was right, I truly *love* audiobooks! It’s a different experience than reading a book and I have to keep turning it off so I can write down quotes (!), but I’m loving how it allows me to use my mind and be inspired while in the middle of washing dishes or cleaning bathrooms! And yes, I should have jumped on the audiobook bandwagon a long time ago. Oh well!

  • Carrie says:

    I recently read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges. It’s a book that truly changed my life! What he shared helped me realize some areas of bitterness I was holding onto and release them. I now have more joy in the Lord in my life and I’m loving the freedom I feel. 🙂

    I’m also in the middle of Finding Your Purpose as a Mom by Donna Otto…a great book!

  • Jen says:

    My January book was Choosing To SEE by Mary Beth Chapman. It’s a great story of her journey with Christ and his grace that is simply miraculous!

  • CJ says:

    I just did Calm my anxious Heart as a Bible study at church last semester and it was great! I had the priveledge of meeting Linda Dillow at an intimate issues conference this weekend! She is very sweet kind and funny. I asked her if she still is a bargain hunter with her “Dillow deals” and she smiled a big smile and said YES!
    I just finished up Pour your heart into it last month. It was good, and it opened my eyes to the price of coffee!

  • Christina says:


    Have you heard of “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp? Came across it today on a blog and then found raving reviews. Think that might be my next read.

  • Bethany says:

    Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl is wonderful. It goes in depth on the biblical commands God gives to women on their role as a wife and mother and how it brings so much glory to God. I love it and have read it four times now. It really helped me understand all those scriptues on womanhood.

  • Megan says:

    I haven’t seen “Satisfy My Thirsty Soul” by Linda Dillow mentioned. But it is fantastic! It’s about our attitudes of worship and has transformed my daily walk with my Heavenly Father. It’s a must read, especially if you’ve already read Calm My Anxious Heart.

  • samantha says:

    I read the Victoria Osteen book recently and have been reading it on and off again… it makes me feel empowered as a woman and as someone with a lot of faith.

  • Amanda says:

    I love this idea, I mostly read my daughter stories 🙂 but would love to start my own challenge to read a new book each month!

  • amy moen says:

    The Gospel Primer for Christians is an excellent and quick read. If you have read C. J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life and liked it, you will enjoy The Gospel Primer.

  • Ginger says:

    I’m reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Totally changing the way I look at my life, my relationships to people, and God. Love it! And… it’s an easy read!:)

  • I recently read, “Radical: Taking your faith back from the American Dream” by David Platt. I highly recommend it for anyone who is active in the American church. It’s a *tough* read but very worth it.

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