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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?

                More by this author

                Sean Kim

                Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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                Last Updated on October 13, 2020

                How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

                How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

                Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

                Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

                • Taking a job for the money
                • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
                • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
                • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
                • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

                There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

                One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

                Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

                1. Be a Mentor

                When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

                “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

                This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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                This can get you stuck.

                Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

                “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

                With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

                From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

                Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

                Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

                Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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                1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
                2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
                3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

                Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

                2. Work on Your Mindset

                Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

                “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

                In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

                Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

                Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

                3. Improve Your Soft Skills

                When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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                Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

                  According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

                  You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

                  Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

                  Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

                  Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

                  The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

                  4. Develop Your Strategy

                  Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

                  Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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                  Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

                  Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

                  The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

                  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

                  • Why do you do what you do?
                  • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
                  • What does a great day look like?
                  • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
                  • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

                  Define success to get promoted

                    These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

                    Final Thoughts

                    After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

                    Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

                    More Tips on How to Get Promoted

                    Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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