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10 Books That Will Change How You See The World

10 Books That Will Change How You See The World

Henry David Thoreau once said “a book should contain pure discoveries.” Some books can do even more and change how you see the world. Here are 10 eye-opening books that might just do that for you. Many of the themes in these books connect and while reading any one will give you some new insights, reading all of them may just revolutionize how you see the world and your place in it.

The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

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    You don’t see everything you think you see. Through a series of experiments Chabris and Simons show that, due to attention blindness, we often fail to see what is right in front of our eyes. The implications of this are important. We may be missing very useful information and failing to make connections. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our intuitive and observational skills.

    Think Like a Freak Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

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      To solve problems you need to be willing to change how you think. This entails changing how you see the world in several important ways. Among these, they discuss the importance of thinking like a child, saying you don’t know, and learning how incentives work to affect behavior. Their tips often seem counter intuitive because they are based on seeing connections among events in non-obvious ways. As you learn to think like a freak you will learn to see these non-obvious connections everywhere.

      Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions Dan Ariely

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        Everyone assumes they act rationally most of the time, but as Dan Ariely points out there are many cases where we do not.  We base our decisions not on rational considerations but irrational ones.  Often our mistakes are simple and predictable.  That means knowing more about them can actually help us create rules and incentives to improve our lives.  We can learn about how we make decisions and how to improve them by seeing our lives as experiments.

        The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives Leonard Mlodinow

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          We think what happens to us is the result of our education, skills, and deliberate decisions. We often see patterns to events where there are none and we see causes and work when the reality is much more random. It is difficult to see randomness at work not because it is rare but because our minds are biased to see order, correlation, and causation. However the role of chance and randomness in our lives is much greater than we realize.

          How Should We Live? Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life Roman Krznaric

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            We’ve all been taught that we can learn how to live from studying the past but this lesson is rarely taught in concrete ways, which makes it difficult to see the truth in this. With concrete examples of ideas from the past in such areas as love, work, dealing with death, raising children, and travel it becomes clear that the past is a wealth of knowledge that we can use to improve our lives.

            The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine is in Your Hands Eric Topol

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              Major disruption is coming to health care and you will benefit. One of the biggest changes this will bring is that you will collect and control your own medical information using your smartphone. Armed with this information you will have greater control over your health decisions and greater choice about how to improve your health. Doctors will have to adapt or patients will choose other options. The doctor will no longer be in control of your health, you will.

              Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes Mark Penn

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                On an individual level it is almost impossible to see trends as they unfold because we mostly base our ideas about what is going on in the world on our own limited perception. The places we go and the people we know serve as our data set. But, since many large social changes start out as small micro-movements we often miss these trends until they explode on the scene seeming to come out of nowhere. By examining these microtrends up close we can learn more about how societal change happens and how to predict which microtrends will become major social changes.

                Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think Viktor Mayer-Schonberger & Kenneth Cukier

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                  We can now see the world in vastly new ways because we now have the ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data. This data will show us how seemingly unrelated events are connected, help us determine whether those connections are mere correlations or cause and effect relationships, and even allow us to predict future events in ways we’ve never been able to before.

                  How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World Steven Johnson

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                    We have a very linear view of history – especially the history of inventions. But these inventions rarely arise in a completely deliberate fashion as the result of intentional effort. As often as not, they arise as the result of accident or chance connections. Innovations in one area of life can trigger changes that seem entirely unrelated. The most ordinary things in our lives such as glass, the clock, and air conditioning not only arose in surprising ways but led to surprising changes as well.

                    The Knowledge Web James Burke

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                      Schools teach us that academic subjects are discrete entities with no relationships between them but this is untrue. In reality, you can pick any person, place, or event and connect it with virtually any other because they all exist together and connected on the knowledge web. The internet reveals this better than ever but it has always been so. Seeing how the stories of the past relate to each other helps you see that you too are connected to these same people, places, and events. You are part of the knowledge web too. Creativity and problem solving both involve making connections. This takes good examples to draw upon, practice, and an awareness of our cognitive biases and how to address them. Each of these books provides insights and examples to help improve your ability to make connections. The more connections you can make, the more knowledge you have. And, as James Burke once pointed out, when a big enough part of your knowledge changes how you see the world also changes.

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                      Last Updated on September 11, 2019

                      Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

                      Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

                      How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

                      Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

                      To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

                      Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

                      Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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                      • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
                      • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
                      • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
                      • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

                      Benefits of Using a To-Do List

                      However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

                      • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
                      • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
                      • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
                      • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
                      • You feel more organized.
                      • It helps you with planning.

                      4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

                      Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

                      1. Categorize

                      Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

                      It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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                      2. Add Estimations

                      You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

                      Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

                      Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

                      3. Prioritize

                      To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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                      • Important and urgent
                      • Not urgent but important
                      • Not important but urgent
                      • Not important or urgent

                      You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

                      Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

                      4.  Review

                      To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

                      For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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                      Bottom Line

                      So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

                      To your success!

                      More to Help You Achieve More in Less Time

                      Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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