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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 August 14, 2018

                17 Versatile Work Skills Employers Want to See in Potential Employees

                17 Versatile Work Skills Employers Want to See in Potential Employees

                When we look at a job advertisement, it can seem as though employers want an exhaustive list of experience and technical skills from their new hire.

                They list desirable qualities such as ‘initiative’, ‘team player’ and ‘strong work ethic’. Those words can mean a variety of things to different people and it can be quite hard for employers to illustrate fully the combination of technical and soft skills they want their potential employees to have.

                What they often want is a mix of versatile skills that make it easy for them (and you) to adapt to the changing needs and demands which occur in businesses today.

                After all, adaptability and innovation are what make businesses thrive.

                In today’s ever-changing environment, versatility is a mandatory attitude every working person needs to have. With the following seventeen work skills, you will not only make your employer extremely happy and confident that hiring you was their best decision, you will experience greater personal satisfaction and results.

                1. Know what you want but more so why you want it.

                Employers need to sense you have a solid idea as to why you are a fit for their role and their organization. They need to sense you have your own sense of purpose.

                However, it can be a double-edged sword to say you know exactly what you want to achieve and gain if you are successful in your application and interview.

                Some employers can perceive this as arrogance; your needs first, theirs second. What employers are really looking for is your internal sense of knowing that potential to join their organization is a winning combination for both of you.

                2. Diplomacy and conflict resolution skills save money, lost productivity and efficiency.

                Can you agree to disagree? Can you evaluate without passing judgment or at least be self-aware of your own biases? Can you put these aside to find solutions for the betterment of the team?

                Employers look for versatility in soft work skills that bring peace, lower stress and contribute to creating harmony. If you have ways with words to help heated arguments reduce to a simmer so there is space for compromises, negotiations and reasoning to take place your employers’ respect for you will jump at least tenfold.

                Peace-making skills are invaluable in changing workplace culture, particularly toxic ones. Any good employer knows a strong in-house negotiator will save them thousands of dollars in engaging an external mediator.

                3. Know how to set and reframe your own goals.

                Much research has documented that when employees have a clear purpose, mission and goals, they are more likely to be highly productive. They are less likely to flounder around in many directions nor be busy and not produce results that matter.

                Employers know well that employees who develop their own goals and can align these with those of the company are more self-driven, self-sufficient and take greater ownership for performing their role.

                And the benefit is not only to the employers. You personally will find greater personal satisfaction from achieving targets you have chosen to set yourself. Everyone wins!

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                4. Great time management and organization skills make you highly productive.

                Being able to exercise versatility with these work skills needs no explanation. Great time management does not mean multi-tasking. It actually uses more brain power and reduces effectiveness.

                Having great skills to prioritize your activities and demands, being able to assess how long things might take you to address are planning skills which greatly aid effective and better execution.

                Working in harmony with your colleagues’ timetables makes for better teamwork and workflow plus a less stressed environment.

                In today’s working world, any strategies for reducing stress-invoking opportunities are like finding golden nuggets. Your employer will want to hold on to those for dear life!

                5. Be a flexible team player by being able to change roles when required.

                Employers will be looking to see how flexible a team player, a potential employee could be.

                If you are a natural leader, being a better team player might, in fact, mean you stepping down from the helm and encouraging someone else to exercise and step into their leadership potential.

                It might be more beneficial to your employer to play the role of Indian as opposed to the Chief in certain situations. Stepping into different positions on your team not only helps you grow but also the rest of your team.

                Employers relish having a versatile work team which can adapt and is ready and willing to play different roles, even if uncomfortable when crises happen.

                6. Initiative, self-motivated and driven.

                When you have your own internal reasons for looking to undertake a role your motivation is driven by something sizzling inside of you.

                There is a personal drive and desire for the satisfaction you will experience when you meet a certain target that no other person will be able to give to you.

                When you can genuinely identify and demonstrate your own personal connection to the role’s objectives and the greater goals of your employer’s business, they will see you have an internal drive that they don’t need to whip and flog to keep the momentum going.

                Any employer will be grateful they just need to help navigate you and support you with the right tools and network and off you go.

                7. Be confident but not arrogant.

                Imagine if you were conducting initial telephone interviews with shortlisted candidates and one of the questions they asked was:

                “How long would it be until I’ll be eligible for a pay rise or promotion?”

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                There is a significant difference between being confident and arrogant. Employers are not looking for confidence purely in you being able to perform every aspect of your role at gold star level.

                It comes with being comfortable to say you don’t understand, you have made a mistake, you need support, further training, acknowledging what your limits are and being willing to risk stepping outside your comfort zone.

                When you’re a new kid on the block, respecting that you may need to learn to walk before you can run is essential. Unless it is your job to start making significant changes from day one, chances are you’re going to create enemies if you’re so confident your new methods and ideas should replace existing processes.

                8. A positive attitude.

                Demonstrating positivity as a work skill that will truly win over your new employer is about being genuine and actively applying strategies which look for the glass half full.

                Recruiters and employers are not dumb. They can easily see through short-term bright smiles, nervous giggling and general ‘you just need to think positive’ statements.

                In the face of grueling challenges, employers are going to look much more favorably on that candidate who can acknowledge the negative features of a situation but still encourage another solution-focused perspective to be adopted.

                Even better, if you can use language effectively to demonstrate how you have adopted a positive perspective and helped turned around a tough situation.

                It is one thing to have a positive attitude but your potential employer will see you as a superhero if you can show them how you have successfully applied it.

                9. You are resourceful but know the value of asking for help.

                There is nothing more unproductive (let alone frustrating) than that person who simply asks out loud a question to their team when they could simply have Googled the answer.

                Or worse still, they have a manual at their fingertips which has the answer to their question…they were simply too lazy to look for themselves.

                Be that person with Sherlock Holmes as their middle name who sleuths like a dog after a buried bone. You can research and turn over stones to discover and learn what you need but you also are able to ask for help and assistance when you need to.

                Any employer will relish that person who looks to discover the answers to their own questions first before reaching out and asking for help.

                10. Emotional intelligence creates a harmonious workflow.

                Despite the level of seniority of your role having a strong ability to handle emotions is fast becoming an essential work skill (and also life skill).

                It is even more desirable for any employer when your work skill set includes the ability to detect, adapt to and have skills in managing certain emotional patterns of others you need to work with, manage or report to.

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                So much time, energy and productivity is lost due to individuals’ lack of skills in this area. Any manager who can see you possess and can demonstrate such versatile work skills will think they’ve won the managerial lottery!

                11. Be able to adapt your learning style.

                There is no real evidence that using preferred learning styles actually increase the rate at which we learn nor the effectiveness of certain styles.

                However, being able to make changes to what we are given to learn and adapting it to suit our needs and preferences does help us settle into a new work transition sooner.

                We also need to recognize that even though we feel uncomfortable learning a new skill a certain way, it might actually be the way we need to receive it to cement the learning. It is also likely that our new employer only knows or has a budget to deliver training in a certain way.

                Either we can choose to adapt or resist but we know for sure the latter is not going to benefit to anyone.

                12. Flexible leadership style.

                Dan Goleman has conducted extensive research on different leadership styles, emphasizing that being versatile to switch between different styles (e.g. authoritative, coaching, affiliate, coercive, pace-setting) and knowing when to do is a fundamental skill for any leader.

                Being able to change your style to lead other people is as important as how you lead your own role responsibilities.

                13. Incredible communication skills that actively listen and give clear messages.

                Strong and effective communication across all mediums takes time, life experience and highly developed intuition.

                Knowing when to use email, a face to face conversation or telephone discussion is one thing. Another is to use words which emotionally connect and influence the receiver to accept, hear and heed your message.

                Great communicators know that it is their responsibility as much as the receiver for good communication to take place. However, they also know that the receiver may not feel this is the case.

                When you can listen equally, be sensitive to read between the lines to hear the message of ineffective communicators and can respond kindly with inspiring, equalizing and encouraging words, your influence and general likeability as a new addition to your employer’s team will develop in leaps and bounds.

                14. Accountability, responsible and dependable.

                We’ve all worked with people or managers at some point who lay external blame the instance something goes wrong.

                Contrary to popular belief, making mistakes and owning up to it is a highly desirable and versatile work skill that gains loyalty and understanding particularly when mistakes occur.

                Owning up to errors early allows both yourself and the business to recover quickly and shows you’re willing to take responsibility to continue forward on when you have stumbled.

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                When you illustrate you can do this, you build your employer’s trust and faith in you.

                15. Exercise proactive self-awareness.

                Self-reflection is a highly empowering work skill that contributes greatly to becoming better and performing better.

                When you actively look for the achievement, celebrate your success and look for pockets of where mistakes you have made can be corrected you improve faster, become more effective and make your work easier.

                When you start to look at your own errors, receiving feedback from your employer about the same errors can feel far less confronting and having corrective conversations is easier, transparent and far less stressful and emotional.

                You naturally increase your resilience and make life easier for yourself and your employer if you conduct regular self-check-ins and keep your employer updated.

                16. Apply a problem-solving growth mindset.

                When faced with a problem or challenge, your ability to activate a growth mindset is a highly versatile work skill employers love. Not only are you able to reduce the pain and anguish that a fixed mindset can sustain but your ability to remain open to possibilities to find different pathways or ideas is refreshing and helpful.

                If your thought patterns automatically ask: “How can we?” or you often think “there must be a way”, you will only contribute to creating growth opportunities for your organization and inspire others to think the same way.

                17. Be teachable.

                If you have ever tried to teach someone a new skill or technique and they keep reverting back to traditional ways that are familiar to them, you might have become frustrated to the point of giving up.

                Don’t be that person who’s stuck in tradition which no longer serves the business. Whether you are entering a new environment, learning new software or negotiation skills, know that all employers need people who are open to being taught.

                Innovation is a core concern of every business. Innovation means change and change means doing something different.

                Stay versatile and keep learning

                Technical skills can often be taught. Ray Croc illustrated how well a systemized franchise can dominate the planet. Over 36,000 McDonald’s establishments around the world are run by managers barely in their twenties!

                Soft work skills, however, take time to develop, learn and confidently apply.

                There is a key combination of work skills that would make any candidate employer’s dream. However, the essential factor underlying all of these work skills is versatility.

                Equip yourself with these 17 work skills, stay curious and keep learning; and you’ll always nail the job you want.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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