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Reading Hack: Skip to the Punchline of Any Book

Reading Hack: Skip to the Punchline of Any Book

In many books, authors will preface their “lessons” with stories and parables about their lives or others lives in order to solidify a lesson. Learn how to automatically skip to the ending with these reading hacks and still understand the lesson at the end of the day.

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While learning the broad strokes of a specific subject may be in your modus operandi if you’re reading books purely through a hobby or interest point of view, the devil will often be in the details if understanding said subject is imperative to your job or school work.
With that being said, here are several tips that you can use to skip the stories and get straight to the hard lessons that are often the crux of any book:

  1. Read the reviews.

    Background knowledge of the whole book will help filter any non important information, and will even help determine if the book has information that you are seeking out. Several online book stores often leave the option of leaving a review, so be sure to get a wide variety of opinions, reading both the good reviews and bad reviews before making a decision to purchase the book.

    reading books

    • Skip straight to the ending.

      Ruin the ending and find out the theme of the book. This can be found through either the table of contents, the notary side of the book, or by finding a “Cliff Notes” variation of the book. By doing this you can avoid any stories and get straight to the lessons and bulletpoints that will help you understand whole concepts better.

    • Speed reading isn’t necessary, but it is helpful.

      Like training for a sport, practicing technique is useful, even in regards to reading. “The real idea behind speed reading is that you know how and when to speed up and when to slow down. With a few basic techniques you can get a sizable increase on your maximum speed,” says speed reader and productivity hacker Scott H Young.

    • Look up information you don’t understand.

      If you’re reading about themes that are a bit beyond your current knowledge level, read the sources that the book cites. If there is no citation, Google the terms or phrases that are unfamiliar to you.

    • Use a “swarm” strategy and find other venues for information.

      Learn everything about the subject, not just from a book’s point of view. There will be subject experts that write hundreds of pages within [multiple] books that may take hours to read, but at the same time there may be audio that the same expert was interviewed in that covers the main topics within a half hour podcast.

    • Fill “gap time” with reading.

      If you’re truly dedicated to reading a book, you’ll have to make time for reading, not just have it as an afterthought on your bedside counter. Find time during your day such as that 10-15 minute wait at the dentist, that train commute (e-books on your phone make it easier to carry your books with you), or other noticeable gaps of time where you find yourself with a larger than average break in time.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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