book review: How To Get Sh*t Done

book review: How To Get Sh*t Done

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I fell hard and fast for How To Get Sh*t Done by Erin Falconer. If you haven’t heard about this book, I’m not too surprised – I found it for the first time myself on Audible, and I haven’t seen anyone else talking about it.

However, if you consider yourself an incredibly busy woman with big goals, you should be talking about it and you should be listening to it or reading it.

The tagline of How To Get Sh*t Done sums it up quite well: Why women need to stop doing everything so they can achieve anything.

Yes, and yes.

Seriously, buy a copy. Borrow it from a friend. Get it from your library. Do it.

By the way… I have no problems with the word shit. I swear frequently, and freely. But the author censors it on the cover, so I’m sticking with it.

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My Thoughts on How To Get Sh*t Done

I listened to How To Get Sh*t Done on Audible, which is my preferred method of listening to self-help and personal development books (my favorite non-fiction subgenre, if you were curious).

The narrator is unfortunately not Erin Falconer, but after listening to the book, it makes perfect sense why she wouldn’t take the time to narrate her book.

Narrating her book after it was already written and published would not help her further her goals, therefore, it was not a productive use of her time.

But Lauren Fortgang, who was the narrator, did such a great job that I didn’t know it wasn’t the author of the book until the end. I mean, she narrated it like she wrote it – like she lived it. I was totally impressed.

And of course… the content of the book.

I have so many thoughts and takeaways from How To Get Sh*t Done that I will share below, but I will sum it up for you in one sentence:

This book might change the game for me.

Who is Erin Falconer?

The author, Erin Falconer, is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pick The Brain, a popular self-improvement website, and also the co-founder of lifestyle video company, LEAFtv.

She is also a highly productive, high achieving woman, and she is all of us at one time or another.

Takeaways from How To Get Sh*t Done

1. Set your goals.

The best advice from Erin Falconer is this:

You need to set three goals, every year. They can be in one of three categories – career, personal or relationships. You can’t have more than two max in each category, and ideally, you’d have one in each.

Erin emphasizes this: If you sit down and set your goals, and all three of your goals for the year ahead are career goals, you should reevaluate. Are you putting too much focus on your career, and not enough focus on yourself?

Then, once you’ve figured out your three goals, you can determine what actual tasks have to be completed to meet those goals and you can evaluate your time to make sure it’s going towards achieving those goals.

2. Respect your home. 

When I first started listening to Falconer, I was skeptical.

“Wait a minute – I love working at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night when I have nothing else to do. What does she mean, I need to work less?”

But as I drank the Koolaid, so to speak, I took more of what she said to heart. If you work a 9-to-5 outside of your home, write your to do list for the next day down before you leave the office and then leave your thoughts of work at your desk. 

Don’t let yourself get caught up in emails, Slack messages or Gchats at 8 p.m. (I’m guilty, OK? I will forever be guilty.)

Most of all, respect your home. Don’t consider your home as “the place where more stuff gets done.”

3. Productivity doesn’t have to be 24 hours a day.

Over and over again, Falconer mentions that the most productive people go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.

In fact, she says the first step to being a functioning, successful, productive adult is setting a bedtime for yourself.

In this 24-hour world we live in, it feels counterproductive to make a commitment to sleeping more in order to get more done, but Falconer recommends that you completely change your outlook on sleep.

Don’t let it just be the thing you do when everything else is done – make it a priority, too.

4. Say no.

Of course, I know the importance of saying no. I hear it all the time – but that doesn’t make it easier.

However, now that I have my three goals in front of me, I can say no without guilt when someone asks me to dedicate time to something. Of course, I want to help people when I can, but I also want to respect myself and give myself some grace. Saying no when things aren’t in line with your priorities = giving yourself some grace.

5. You do not have to be the person that the male-dominated workforce expects you to be.

I realized that I loved this book when Falconer talked extensively about the expectations for women in the workplace.

A woman who brings in birthday cakes, orients the interns, and helps arrange an office lunch? She’s just doing her job, and is rarely considered going above and beyond when it comes time to discuss a bonus or a raise.

A man who does the same work? Lord, help us all, because we may have to buy him a pony and give him a raise.

It was so important to hear that I don’t have to offer to take notes in a room full of men, just because I’m “so good at it” and I don’t have to focus on things that are not in line with my goals just because it is what is expected of me as a woman.

6. Use your mornings well.

Productive people go to bed early and wake up early.

They take advantage of their mornings and fill that time with tasks that require focus and attentiveness – not meetings. Schedule meetings in the afternoons, and take advantage of your first few hours to get the most important work done of your day.

This goes against everything I want to believe about the world, because I hate the mornings, but I know it’s true. I went into work a little earlier on Monday and spent my first two hours working on tasks. I got 35 tasks done in one day. (Thanks, ToDoIst, for making it easy for me to track myself so thoroughly.)

7. Stop apologizing.

How many times in a day do you apologize?

I apologize for speaking up, I apologize for not speaking up. I apologize for early emails, late emails, forgotten emails, delayed emails. I apologize for things I did, things I didn’t do and things that I have nothing to do with and aren’t even in my control.

Essentially, women apologize a lot. The words “I’m sorry” are a go-to for us.

Falconer wants every woman to keep track of the number of times they say “I’m sorry” or “Sorry” in a day. What made you say it? Was it a legitimate apology?

It’s OK to apologize for keeping a friend waiting or for accidentally stepping on someone’s foot, right? But do you really need to apologize for speaking up before you share an opinion, or for emailing someone to remind them something they forgot to do?

We all do it, and we need to empower ourselves and stop. I stopped myself in my tracks this week so far multiple times. It’s a crutch.

8. Schedule time for you. 

My favorite thing about the author of How To Get Sh*t Done is that we could definitely, most certainly be friends. I mean, if anyone loves their Google Calendar as much as Falconer does, it’s me.

And Falconer pushes us to do something that I often hesitate to do:

Schedule time for ourselves.

We are way less likely to skip a workout or dinner with a friend if we put it on our calendar. Our calendars are law in 2018. So schedule the things that are important to you.

The things I’ve added to my schedule include time to read, time to walk Theo and time to work on my novel – all things I love, that help me decompress. The things I skip in order to get more shit done. 


Have you read How To Get Sh*t Done? If yes, what did you like about it? If no, what is your favorite personal development book?

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