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10 Books Successful People Are Reading, And Why You Should Be Too

10 Books Successful People Are Reading, And Why You Should Be Too

Reading is essential for knowledge and continued learning outside of a formal education. A person that reads once a day about his profession will become an expert in their field 5 times faster than someone who doesn’t. In no time at all (or half a decade) you can become far more knowledgeable and thus more able to perform your duties than a person who has not been reading.

1. Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged will be on almost every list of this type. It’s iconic, in depth, and the defining masterpiece that Ayn Rand built. As an individualist Rand displays the prowess of a leading women in literature of the time. Some people say that as a writer you have to be an expert on everything you write about. Ayn Rand did the research with every novel she wrote and this book is no exception. ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says that this is his favorite book, and the library of Congress named it the most influential book in America after, you guess it, the Bible. Rand is able to capture the spirit of America in such an important period in our history that many Americans regard it as the best secular book out there.

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2. The Great Gatsby

Thematically directly in contrast to the previous title, this one has been immortalized by a recent film, staring Leonardo DiCaprio, that closely follows the plot of this book. Your sixth grade English class probably also required that you read this. After showing up on so many lists as being influential you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t do that book report on it.

3. The Aeneid by Virgil

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that this was one of his favorite books, and if you know the story you might deduce why. The book is the story of Aeneas, a Trojan warrior who travels to Italy after the Trojan war and becomes the ruler of area after defeating the Italians. This effectively makes him the ancestor of the current Roman empire, which was in full swing by the time this book was written around 20 B.C. The lesson that it teaches is one of revenge, but a righteous one.

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4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

This is a book written by the pupil of Shunryū Suzuki that details speeches that he made in the Untied Stated in the 70s. Shunryū was a Buddhist monk and brought the teachings of Zen to America. Of the books on this list this is the only religious one.

5. The Honourable Schoolboy

Former mayor of New York, Micheal Bloomberg, notes this book about a British spy in Hong Kong as his favorite novel. The book is about a spy that sets out to save the service that the government plans to eliminate. Sounds very bureaucratic and dry just as you would expect as being the favorite book of a politician.

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6. The $100 Start Up: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

This one makes really makes you think. With a small investment you could start a company that earns millions of dollars. The book looks at several examples of these types of successes, including some of the author’s. Chris Guillebeau is a young entrepreneur that travels the world and has come up with some great ideas for companies that have earned him more than enough money, one idea being to write this book.

7. Outliers: The Story of Success

This novel by Malcolm Gladwell is about the success of some notable characters. It’s non-fiction and takes a look at why people become more successful than others and enjoy a sort of super success.

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8. Catcher in The Rye

J.D. Salinger wrote this coming of age story at a time when the country was recovering from the great depression. The protagonist, Holden Caulfield runs away to find a New York City that isn’t very inviting to a teenage boy. Holden must navigate the urban jungle and find his way in a scary world. Bill Gates, being a boy wonder himself, notes this as one of his favorite books.

9. The Brothers Karamazov

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson’s favorite book is the last novel written by famed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky’s books are best read in his native language of Russian, but you can find English translations.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird

O Network creator Oprah Winfrey has said that To Kill a Mockingbird is her favorite influential novel. The novel deals with the racial injustice of a time when it was widespread and institutional. Written in 1960 this novel immediately won a Pulitzer prize after it’s debut.

Which Books have You read on the List?

I’ve personally read 5 out of 10 on this list. This doesn’t mean I will become super successful like an outlier, but maybe I should read that one as well. Many of the books that will help you with your profession are indeed non-fiction.

Featured photo credit: Sam Greenhalgh via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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