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7 Hacks To Mastering Reading As The Ultimate Secret To Success

7 Hacks To Mastering Reading As The Ultimate Secret To Success

My secret to success is reading. Our mind is an amazing gift and the beauty of this secret weapon is similar to the accumulation of wealth. I read over 100 books a year and grow significantly from every one of them. Through reading we experience exponential growth through the accumulation of knowledge. The more we know, the more we are capable of knowing.

Successful people develop a hunger for growth and make reading a secret weapon towards success. Here are seven ways to hack reading and make it your secret weapon.

1. Read when your mind is at its peak.

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

What time of the day are you at your best? When is your mind alert and at its peak? Reading breeds creativity. It’s as if ideas are transported to our minds when we read. I am up early and some of my best reading takes place first thing in the morning. However, the best time for me to read is right after a long run.

Figure out when your mind is at its peak. Find that time of the day and do everything humanly possible to read at that exact time.

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2. Plug-in and listen to audiobooks.

“Never wish life were easier, wish that you were better.” – Jim Rohn

I am always plugged in. Just ask my wife, I am always listening to an audiobook. One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is during a long run while I’m listening to audiobooks. With audiobooks, you can speed up the recording and complete books even faster. I am able to listen to audiobooks at 2x the speed. This is extremely beneficial when completing long runs, such as a marathon.

You can maximize your time through audiobooks. Think about all the time we spend moving from one location to another. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise, while driving, while stuck in traffic, while in the shower, and while doing household and outdoor chores.

3. Start reading as young as possible.

“Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” – St. Francis Xaiver

One of my most cherished moments in life is the first time I read to my beautiful little girl. Our family color is purple and we are from Kansas, so naturally we are huge Kansas State University Wildcat fans (and graduates). The first book I read to my daughter was Bill Snyder: They Said It Couldn’t Be Done by Mark Jansen and legendary KSU coach Bill Snyder.

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The earlier you start reading to your child, the better. In fact, read to your child while he or she is still in the womb. The best time to teach your child to read is from zero to three years of age. Glenn Doman, author of How to Teach Your Baby to Read declared, “Not only is it possible to teach your babies to read; it’s a great deal easier to teach babies to read than it is to teach six-year-olds.”

4. Find the right book when applying for a job.

“The only thing that hurts harder than a failure is not trying.” – Apoorve Dubey

The best way to prepare for a job interview is to find a book related to the profession. Or better yet, find a book penned by the CEO of that same organization. For example, if you are applying for a job in process improvement or manufacturing, find the audiobook version of The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. Listen to the audiobook during every available opportunity. Before you realize it, you will be discussing principles in the book and will appear as an expert.

This will also put you ahead in your profession. You will be amazed just how little people read, especially books in their profession.

5. Read books that expand your creative mind.

“It is only through a human’s effort that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

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It is amazing how ideas pop in and out of our mind. One of the best ways to get your mind in its creative peak, other than trying something illegal, is to read completely mind-blowing and strange books. I purposely go to the weirdest areas of a bookstore and find books that are exceptionally crazy. You do not have to believe everything you read in these books, however, they will get your creative juices flowing.

“Ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners. When an idea thinks it has found somebody who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen. You will start to notice all sorts of signs pointing you toward the idea. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea. The idea will wake you up in the middle of the night and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Some crazy books include: The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin, Brave New World and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, Entangled: The Eater of Souls by Graham Hancock, and DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman.

6. Read books that establish your philosophy.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon

Books will not only transport you to the world of crazy creativity, they will also assist you in establishing your philosophy. It was not until recently that I had a clear vision of my political and social philosophy. I wouldn’t have formulated my philosophy without books. They helped me discover and put words into how I see life.

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Two powerful books that helped me establish my philosophy were both by author Ayn Rand. They were Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

7. Read books before, during, and after you exercise.

“Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.”

When we exercise, our brain produces a nerve growth factor called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This is a protein that stimulates neurogenesis, which is the growth of brain cells and synapses in the brain. Think of how you conduct an exercise routine. For example, I run for one hour every morning. I stretch prior to the run, perform the run, then cool down. Think of your brain. Prior to the run, I am preparing my mind and body. During the run, I am stimulating the production of BDNF, leading to neurogenesis. After the run, my brain is firing on all cylinders and is at its peak and ready to grow. I listen to audiobooks this entire time. I do this in order to keep my neuronal wiring strong.

Your brain is like a muscle and it needs to be used and exercised. Visualize improving your bicep muscle. Your tool is the weight, you stretch the bicep prior to the exercise, you conduct the exercise, then you cool down and the muscle becomes stronger. Now visualize your brain. Your tool in this instance is an audiobook. You prep your brain, you perform the exercise while listening to your tool, then you cool down, and the brain grows and becomes stronger.

Featured photo credit: IMDB via imdb.com

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways

How to Improve Your Memory: 7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

More Resources About Boost Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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