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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
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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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        Screen-Shot-2016-02-29-at-9.11.22-AM-1024x576

          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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                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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                Published on July 27, 2021

                15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

                15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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                During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

                But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

                Put the Pro in Professional

                After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

                1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

                The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

                Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

                2. Dress the Part

                While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

                Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

                For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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                Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

                3. Stage Your Workspace

                Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

                Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

                4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

                Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

                Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

                Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

                Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

                5. Arrive on Time

                In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

                Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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                6. Turn on Your Video

                Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

                If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

                Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

                7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

                Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

                Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

                Attend to the Pesky Details

                8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

                With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

                Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

                9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

                Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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                Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

                10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

                As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

                Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

                Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

                Talking Has a Time and a Place

                11. Chat Appropriately

                Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

                At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

                12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

                The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

                Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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                13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

                In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

                Manage Yourself

                14. Minimize Distractions

                While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

                Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

                15. Save Snacking for Later

                Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

                However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

                Final Thoughts

                Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

                Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

                Reference

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