Advertising
Advertising

7 Free Books That Should Be On Your Shelves

7 Free Books That Should Be On Your Shelves

Bookshelf

    Who doesn’t like free stuff? And if we’re talking about stuff that will actually help you out in the long run, it’s hard to find a reason to turn it down. Free books, for example, are more than worth their price, especially if they are good reference materials. But sometimes it can be hard to find free books — it’s not necessarily something that’s advertised.

    Advertising

    There are plenty of places to get free materials, though, if you know to ask. Brand new books, as well — not the free used books that you can find just about anywhere. This goes beyond the many websites that offer free ebooks of fictional work, though. The publications on this list are mostly reference materials. While they aren’t something you might consider for an afternoon of light reading, though, they can be very useful in planning your finances, doing home projects and other tasks that may require reference materials. Most of this information is available online, as well, but sometimes a hard copy can come in handy.

    Advertising

    1. How to Really Start Your Own Business: SCORE offers this workbook, along with others, that provide an immense amount of information on how to plan your business. If you’re considering entrepreneurship — or have already started — consider requesting these books. The easiest way is to request them through your local SCORE chapter. You don’t need to be a member and you can find the contact information for each chapter on the SCORE website. Other available materials include booklets on specific business structures and other small business information. If you complete How to Really Start Your Own Business, including all the questions, you’ll essentially have a business plan ready to go.
    2. The Consumer Action Handbook: A new edition of this book is published yearly by the U.S. government. It offers practical advice for consumers, from buying a car to writing a will. The handbook contains an immense amount of information and isn’t exactly light reading, but it is an excellent reference guide. To order a copy, you’ll need to visit the order form on ConsumerAction.gov and provide a mailing address.
    3. Investing Basics: This is another government publication. It’s actually a set of several publications to help readers create financial plans and begin investing. If you’re hazy on the details of investing, this kit is a great starter set. And its price tag is much less than investing programs costing hundreds of dollars for essentially the same information. You can order Investing Basics online through the GSA’s order form.
    4. Easy Weekend Projects: Interested in do-it-yourself projects? Minwax, the makers of wood stain and various related products, offer a free guide to projects you can do yourself. It’s a little heavy on the wood-based projects, but there is plenty of useful information. You can order Easy Weekend Projects through Minwax’s online order form. They also offer up a variety of other publications, including Wood Beautiful Magazine and the Guide to Hardwood Floor Care.
    5. Genealogy Publications: If you’re interested in researching your family tree, the National Archives have made a whole list of publications, from booklets like Using Records in the National Archives for Genealogical Research to reference materials like Chinese Immigration and Chinese in the United States. A full list of the free publications available through the National Archives is available on their website. Unfortunately, you can’t place a request online — you’ll need to call the National Archives by telephone or through the mail.
    6. IRS Publications: The IRS will provide the majority of both their forms and their publications in print, as well as in PDF. To order copies of any of their publications, you will need the publication number. A few key publications are 334 (Tax Guide for Small Business), 505 (Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax), 5 (Your Appeal Rights and How to Prepare a Protest) and 910 (Guide to Free Tax Services). There are literally thousands of IRS publications, and as long as you know the number, you can order up to 10 publications to have mailed to you through the IRS’ online order form.
    7. Tourism materials: Every state, as well as quite a few countries, will mail you books, brochures and other publications about their location and the tourism opportunities. There’s no need to buy guidebooks or maps — just look up the local tourism board and request the materials. Many have online request forms, although a few will ask you to call to place a request. Some cities offer the same service. If you’re requesting books from overseas, be aware that you may be asked to pay shipping.

    Most of these organizations make their publications available as PDFs, as well. They also have an even wider selection of free publications available for download, as do hundreds of other websites. The FDA, for instance, makes many internal publications available as free downloads. While their Industry Guidance documents may not appeal to everyone, their consumer publications, which range from recommendations for dietary supplements to fact sheets on precautions to take when applying eye cosmetcis, can be excellent reference materials. And if you’re willing to pay for shipping, you can get many more free hard copies.

    Advertising

    One thing to keep in mind about free publications, though, is that you may get what you pay for. While I personally trust the U.S. government’s recommendations about consumer protection, I’m a little more leary of Minwax’s recommendations of their own product over all others. That doesn’t make Minwax’s publications unrealible — they just should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Advertising

    More by this author

    50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time 8 Replacements for Google Notebook 5 Sites Where You Can Sell Your Photos 7 Tools to Find Someone Online 19 Entrepreneurship Websites Worth Checking Out

    Trending in Featured

    1 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 2 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 3 40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2020 Updated) 4 How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone 5 How to Find Time for Yourself

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

    Advertising

    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

    Advertising

    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

    Advertising

    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

    Advertising

    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next