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5 Powerful Mind Hacks to Read 10X More Books This Year

5 Powerful Mind Hacks to Read 10X More Books This Year

Unlike articles that can be written in a matter of hours, well-written books take several years of research, writing, and editing. And because there’s more thought that goes into publishing a book, it’s that much more valuable.

While the value of books haven’t changed, studies show that the number of people reading books have been decreasing.

You’re probably not too surprised by these findings because of the information era we live in today. It’s just not as easy to sit down and read a book when you’re being distracted by your smartphone every five minutes.

Fortunately, there are powerful hacks to trick our own brain to form positive habits, such as reading more often.

Here are 5 powerful mind hacks that you can use to read more books.

1. Start with small steps

Starting a book from the beginning can feel intimidating, especially if it’s been a while since we read a book.

Taking small steps is applicable to achieving just about any goal, because it allows us to gain momentum without overwhelming ourselves. Scott H. Young has a great article you can check out here about taking small steps.

Let’s put two people side by side:

  • Person A: Reads 10 minutes every single morning consistently without ever missing a day
  • Person B: Read for 3 hours straight every few weeks

Who do you think will still be reading a year from now?

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    Jack Cheng says that 30 Minutes A Day is enough to form a new habit. He shares in this post:

    “When mastery is the goal, spending an exorbitant number of hours in one sitting will likely lead to burnout. We don’t go to the gym expecting to put on 20 pounds of muscle in a single, day-long workout. Instead, we do several short workouts a week, spread out over months.

    Our bodies need time to heal; our muscles time to grow. And the same goes for that muscle inside your skull. When trying to develop a new skill, the important thing isn’t how much you do; it’s how often you do it.”

    Developing the “muscle inside your skull” requires diligent action every single day, no matter how small the progress.

    Small steps add up fast, and small pages add up to many books.
    Don’t wait until tomorrow. Get started now. Then do it again tomorrow.

    2. Do It Early

    According to Kathleen Vohs, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, “people still have the same self-control as a decade ago, but we are bombarded more and more with temptations”

    “Our psychological system is not set up to deal with all the potential immediate gratification.”

    We need to exert our limited willpower more than ever today, if we want to avoid distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. Since willpower is finite, we need to identify the times of the day when it’s at its highest.

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    Studies show that early in the morning, just after waking, is the time of the day when the prefrontal cortex is most active (a key element to the creative process).

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      What can we take away from this?

      If reading is a task that requires some form of willpower, then doing it early in the morning gives you the best chance of reading more books. Because you’ll be the most creative at this hour, you may also be able to generate more ideas during your reading.

      3. Stop before you’re finished

      Have you ever been interrupted when you were in the middle of something important? Not the best feeling in the world, is it?

      According to the Zeigarnik Effect, you are much more likely to recall uncompleted tasks than one you completed. In a 1927 study, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik asked subjects to complete a set of tasks. During some of the tasks, the subjects were interrupted before they could finish. When asked later about the tasks, they recalled the tasks during which they were interrupted at a much higher rate than those they were able to complete.

      Hollywood was one of the first industries to take advantage of the Zeignarik Effect in humans, by introducing cliff hangers to TV shows and movies.
      There’s just something about our brain that needs the story to be completed.

      2015-10-21-1445410698-8403632-futurecontinued

        Knowing this pattern of our brains, we can try to trick it by forcing cliffhangers when we’re reading books. This is something I’ve personally been experimenting myself.

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          I personally read a lot of books using an app called Scribd, and I try to finish a few pages before the chapter or large section ends. The bigger the climax, the more I try to force myself to stop reading. It kills me every single time, but it also forces my brain to continue where I left off, and it’s been an effective strategy to be more consistent with my reading habit.

          Try it for yourself!

          4. Use Triggers to Your Advantage

          If you’re like me, then you’ve probably started a habit only to forget about it a few days later. I’ve done this several times with books, even after a great reading session.

          To combat this, you can use triggers to your advantage. A trigger (or cue) is what Charles Duhigg, author of Power of Habits, calls the event that starts the habit.

          habit-three-r-1024x560

            We’ve already shared one trigger you can use to your advantage —  time.

            After a few weeks of reading consistently each morning, your brain will be automatically triggered the following mornings to begin reading.

            Another powerful trigger is a visual trigger. You may have heard about the positive benefits of laying out your clothes the night before, if you want an easier time waking up. You could apply the same strategy for books.

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            If you enjoy reading physical books, you can leave your books in places where you’ll be able to visually spot it everyday, such as your desk.
            If you enjoy reading books digitally like I do, you could pin your tab so it’s always in your visual perspective.

            Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.11.04 AM
              Notice the Scribd tab on the 3rd tab.

              Since over 90% of the work I do involves using my browser, it makes it hard to forget that I have to continue where I left off in the book.

              5. Read for Immediate Rewards

              There’s no shortage of studies that show the correlation between human behavior change and immediate rewards. One study was done by researchers at Harvard University, where many people who were offered the choice of $10 today or $11 tomorrow chose to receive the lesser amount immediately.

              Receiving immediate rewards releases dopamine in our brains, which compels us to seek more of the activity at hand.

              dopamine

                Countless studies have shown that a cue and a reward, on their own, aren’t enough for a new habit to last. Only when your brain starts expecting the reward — craving the endorphins or sense of accomplishment- — will it become automatic to lace up your jogging shoes each morning. The cue, in addition to triggering a routine, must also trigger a craving for the reward to come.

                Applying this mind hack to books, we want to be reading about topics that we can immediately apply to improve our lives. For example, if you’re facing some financial problems, you’ll receive immediate rewards by reading a personal finance book. Or if you’ve just started a new company, then reading books like The Lean Startup or The Business Model Generation may give you immediate benefits.

                Over to you

                Which of these mind hacks do you think will benefit you the most to read more books?
                Is there anything that we missed that you can share with us?

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                Published on March 20, 2019

                How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

                How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

                Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

                As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

                While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

                What is a Mission Statement?

                Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

                In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

                “Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

                In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

                Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

                While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

                First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

                While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

                While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

                “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

                This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

                What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

                When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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                Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

                When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

                • What we do?
                • How we do it?
                • Whom do we do it for?
                • What value are we bringing?

                Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

                After all, that did check off all the boxes:

                What we do? Provide widgets.

                How we do it? Online.

                Who do we do it for? The consumer.

                What value we bring? The best widgets.

                The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

                Compare that mission statement to this one:

                “We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

                What’s the difference?

                Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

                Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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                You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

                A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

                Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

                1. Keep It Brief

                Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

                You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

                2. Have a Purpose

                A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

                Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

                3. Include a “How”

                Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

                How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

                4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

                This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

                Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

                5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

                It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

                Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

                6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

                Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

                7. Think Long Term

                A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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                8. Get Feedback

                This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

                Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

                9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

                You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

                First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

                And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

                For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

                The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

                It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

                First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

                If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

                Strategic Planning

                A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

                Measuring Performance

                By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

                Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

                Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

                Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

                As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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                Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

                To Hold Management Accountable

                By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

                So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

                If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

                To Serve as an Example

                This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

                After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

                Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

                Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

                Final Thoughts

                Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

                Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

                That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

                By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

                More Resources About Achieving Business Success

                Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
                [2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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