You’re well aware that reading is an essential aspect of personal growth and development. And if you’re a bookworm like me, you also know that it isn’t always easy to find good reads. If you keep on adding reading as your goal fairly regularly and fail to do it because you can’t find time to read, then you know the disappointment you feel every time.
The path gets even trickier if you’re a fan of non-fiction. Reading something that has zero value in terms of broadening your horizons is a big expense, not so much money-wise but time-wise.
What if there was a way to get the general idea of what a book is all about? Or some software that simplified and spat out the key points from a non-fiction book?
Frankly speaking, all of that seemed like a far-fetched dream until I stumbled upon Blinkist.
Blinkist is a “here’s what you’ll get” book summary app for mobile and desktop where people can listen to or read roughly 15-minute summaries of over 2,000 non-fiction titles across a range of categories.
Text summaries present around 10 screens and you need to click to proceed to the next. The audio version, on the other hand, plays through automatically. Each summary or “blink” is also placed into a category so users breeze through it with ease.
Since I really like the app, I decided to write an in-depth review. Read on to learn how it feels to be a Blinkist user.
Quick Access to Categories and Synopsis
Blinkist takes you to the first blink as soon as you click on a title in your library. You can add books by browsing the app’s categories or by searching for a specific title. The “Discover” button at the top of the homepage presents you with 27 categories, plus “see recently added titles” and “see popular titles” sections for the latest blinks.
The following graphic highlights the names of available categories:
The categories are as follows:
- Entrepreneurship & Small Business
- Corporate Culture
- Money & Investments
- Sex & Relationships
- Nature & Environment
- Career & Success
- Health, Fitness and Nutrition
- Management & Leadership
- Technology & the Future
- Society & Culture
- Marketing & Sales
- Personal Growth & Self-Improvement
- Communication & Skills
- Motivation & Inspiration
- Productivity & Time Management
- Mindfulness & Happiness
- Religion & Spirituality
- Biography & Memoir
Pressing on a category takes you to its individual page with a header visual.
As you scroll down, you come across trending, just added, and featured audio blinks in that category (in the exact same order). A “see all blinks in this category” option is also available.
Your next option is to click on the magnifying glass at the top left corner. Doing so allows you to search for a specific non-fiction title.
As you write the name of the author or book, results get populated in a dropdown window.
Whether you select a book from the search bar or the category view discussed earlier, you’ll arrive on its synopsis page.
The page provides you with all the information you need. A quick summary of the book’s content, an option to add the synopsis to your library, a way to buy the book, as well as advise on who the book is well-suited for along with some background on the author. As a premium user, I also got the option to send the summary to Kindle.
As you can see, Blinkist offers a quick way to know what a book is all about and whether it’ll be worth your attention and time.
Clicking on a title inside your library takes you to the first blink, which is titled “what’s in it for me.” Here, you get to learn about the benefits you’ll realize by reading the blink at hand.
But what stands out for me is the audio player for the web. It’s located in a bar at the bottom of the page.
When you click on the play button, Blinkist presents you with an audio version of the summary. You then hear the next audio automatically, and so forth. This feature used to be available only in the Blinkist mobile app, but it’s now available for web users too, which is fantastic.
As you move through the audios, eventually you will reach the end of the summary. Blinkist will then revisit what you have learned and offer you some actionable advice to follow. Often, there is an advice to read further, and an option to provide feedback, if you have any.
Social Sharing and Friend Invitations
Remember the Discover button at the homepage? Alongside it are a few more options. “Highlights” redirects you to a collection of all the marks and notes you’ve taken. You can filter them by titles or by date; for either option, they’ll pop up in a beautiful format.
Also, you can click on the three dots at the bottom right corner to share your highlight to Twitter, Facebook, or through email. The same process can also be used to delete highlights. I find this handy, as it lets me go through summaries again, but at a quicker pace, and allows me to revisit what I’ve learned when I read them for the first time.
Lastly, the right side of the menu has a “You” option, clicking which opens a sub-menu that gives you access to settings, help & support, gift cards, and more. The standout feature here is “Invite Friends.” It gives Blinkist users a chance to create their referral link, which they can use to invite peers to try out the app.
The best part? You get a commission every time someone signs up to Blinkist’s monthly or annual plan using your referral link. Feel free to copy it and send it to your contacts through iMessage, Viber, WhatsApp, email, or any other methods, or share it directly on LinkedIn or Quora.
It also has a wishlist option, you can type in the book you want. If the book is available then you will be directed directly to the book, if it isn’t then you can either add it if isn’t there or the wishlist and if it is already on the list then you can upvote it. More the upvotes, more the chances of it being the next book to be added to Blinkist.
Apart from sending the Blinks to your Kindle, you can also add it to a notebook in Evernote. I personally love that option because then I will have the main takeaways that I got from the Blinks with me on my phone all the time.
My Final Verdict
With over 2,000+ books in its database, and increasing at an astonishing pace, the decision to save time and enjoy Blinkist is yours. No matter whether you want to read about personal development, entrepreneurship, science, or nomadism, I’m confident that you’ll find a valuable title to read.
Blinklist costs $14.99 a month or $89.99 a year (billed at $7.49 monthly). You get a free 7-day trial if you opt for the annual option. Learn more here.
5 Reasons Why You Need to Start Journaling Immediately
Journaling and writing have been proven to be extremely beneficial to your mental health. It is relaxing and therapeutic. Some people use one journal to jot down everything, and some have different journals dedicated to different areas of their lives. There’s no one way to go about it. The only thing that matters is that you write your thoughts down.
It is a great way to reflect on your day, and these reflections later help you to reflect on your life. You learn a lot and realize what changes you need to make in order to lead a healthy and meaningful life, both mentally and physically. It also tells you how to go about your goals and what exactly is stopping you from achieving them.
There are so many ways to journal. You can follow the traditional pen and paper route. It helps many people feel more connected to their thoughts. If writing is not your thing or you are better with a keyboard, then make digital entries. You can type entries on your notes in your phone or start a blog to log in your daily life. Keeping it public or private, writing in a book or computer, journaling or bullet journaling, it’s all your choice really.
I mostly journal in Day One for Mac and iOS. It’s a wonderful app and worth every penny. Here is a snapshot of what my Day One looks like.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write daily. Write as much as you can and as many days as you can remember to. Slowly it will become a habit. Here are some reasons why journaling can be beneficial for you.
1. Journaling relieves stress
When you write things down, what you are essentially doing is transferring the information from your brain to a physical manifestation. This works the same as freeing up space in your memory card by transferring data to your computer. When there is free space, functioning becomes easier. May it be artificial intelligence or human intelligence, information overload can crash the system.
One of the reasons we feel stressed out is because there is a lot going on in our minds. With journaling, you get an opportunity to write down everything that is bothering you, everything that is distracting you, or anything that just doesn’t need to be taking up space right now. This way, you get to pour everything out and just breathe. This then allows you to look at what has been filling your mind in an objective manner.
2. Journaling helps achieve goals
You don’t have to have a clear idea of all that you want to achieve. Sometimes you don’t want to talk about your goals and dreams with anyone, and that is okay. By journaling, you can talk to yourself about them. Write down all that you want to achieve and why you want those things.
It doesn’t have to be specific, and you do not have to have a strategy. It might not even make sense currently. But, just pen it down. It later allows you to work on a plan to achieve those goals and work on the strategy based on what you have written. It is said that written goals are most likely to come true. This way, you put the idea out in the world, and it is not just a thought fragment in your mind.
3. Journaling helps reduce anxiety
When you want to achieve a lot or even when you are working on achieving them, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and agitated. Feeling anxious in your daily life becomes a routine. Every thought brings anxiety, and it doesn’t matter if it is the worry that accompanies the uncertainty of the future or a simple thing as what to wear.
When you start writing, it gives you an outlet to express yourself. It gives you a way to get rid of those thoughts. You put it on the paper and don’t allow those thoughts to fester in your mind and become bigger than they were and cause you anxiety.
4. Journaling helps you learn more about yourself
When you write every day, you are recording your daily life. When you go over it, it gives you an idea about how you react to a certain situation, what triggers your negative emotions. How you react to external stimuli is an interesting thing that you will find in your own words.
This helps you pinpoint what the problem is, it helps you learn and grow. It sort of gives you a third person’s view over yourself and your reactions to different things. The more you know and understand yourself, the easier it becomes to grow.
5. Journaling is a private escape
If you are someone who doesn’t like sharing your goals or feelings with other people, then this is the best thing you can do. It helps you pour everything out without the fear of being judged. People worry a lot about how people look at them or if what they are sharing will make people judge them, and this stops many from sharing.
Sharing is healthy. If not with others, do it with yourself. Journals are usually for your eyes only. Unless you allow someone to read your journal, they should not be able to. This gives you a safe haven to share your deepest thoughts and helps you and your mind relax.
Journaling might not be everyone’s thing. You might believe that you aren’t good at writing. The main thing to remember is that you are doing this for yourself and not for others. It doesn’t matter if you are good at writing or not. You can literally write your thoughts down as bullet points, and it still counts. Give it a shot; you never know how it ends up being beneficial to you.
5 Tips to Get Out of Bed Early in the Morning
Getting up early is something that everyone aims at, but not everyone is able to do. I see so many posts about how waking up early can change your life and why it’s good for you in the long run, so I wrote one myself, “Why waking up early can help you achieve success.” In that article, I talked about why waking up early was important and what actually made it an integral aspect when it came to achieving success. I touched a bit on how to get up early in the end, but today, I am going to talk about it in detail. Let’s get ready to wake up early and take on the world.
1. Make small changes
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Do not make drastic changes! This is where most people go wrong. If you have been waking up at 8 AM all your life, you can’t suddenly start waking up at 5. Your body needs time to adjust to a new schedule. Making drastic changes sets you up for failure even before you start. Taking small steps towards your goal is always a smart idea.
If your goal is to wake up at 5 am, then start by evaluating how early can you wake up without messing up your body clock. Start out by pushing the waking hour back by half an hour. Set up your alarm for 7:30 am instead of 8 am. Do this for a week or so and then gradually set it to 7 am and so on.
If even an hour is a big change, start with 15-minute increments. You have to slowly ease yourself into the new routine. Let your body clock sync with nature. Some people suggest going camping for a week without any electronics to let your body clock naturally sync with nature.
2. Sleep early
“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
Waking up early won’t make sense if you aren’t getting enough sleep. If you sleep at the same time and start waking up early, you are soon going to be tired enough to be sleepy all day. Saying waking up early isn’t doing anything for you would be a stupid thing in that case, isn’t it?
The goal here is to have a well-rested body. You need to get a full night’s sleep if you want to be productive when you wake up. Dragging a sleepy body through the day isn’t exactly a boss move we are trying to make here.
One of the things that prevent people from going to bed early is scrolling through social media. People get into bed on time but don’t go to sleep well into the night. FOMO (Fear of missing out) keeps many people awake. It is suggested to not use social media or any sort of screen before going to bed. You can instead spend some time planning for the next day and then directly go to bed. It will help you fall asleep quicker than if you use your phone just before bed.
3. Keep your alarm out of your reach
Snoozing is instinctive in the beginning. Getting out of bed isn’t exactly an inviting prospect when you have been in the dreamland. This is why you need to keep the alarm out of your reach. Having to get up to shut the alarm down will wake you up quicker than if it was right next to you.
If you still go back to bed, then set 3-4 alarms at intervals of 10 minutes. How many times are you going to get up to turn the alarm off and then get back in bed? After a point, you are going to be frustrated. So, don’t overdo it because we don’t want to wake up with a foul mood.
Keep your alarm at a distance that needs you to walk at least 10 steps so that when you get up to shut the alarm, you might as well wake up instead of walking back to your bed.
4. Don’t go back to bed
This ties in with keeping your alarm far from you. If you don’t have that luxury, or your phone is your alarm that is always by your side, then you need to stop rationalizing shutting your eyes for 5 more minutes.
When we want to sleep more, we start giving ourselves reasons as to why it is okay to go back to sleep for a little while. This is what stops us from getting up at the time decided. 5 minutes become 10 then 10 becomes 15, and you are late just like that.
Do not listen to any reason that your brain tries to give you. Say NO! and get up immediately. You have to make a quick decision to get out of bed in the start, and then it just becomes routine for your mind.
5. Meditate before going to bed
If you have a really chaotic mind and find it difficult to fall asleep, then meditating is the way to go. Meditating for just 10 minutes before going to bed can be beneficial. Meditation helps you calm your mind and helps you breathe and relax.
When your mind is at ease, it is easier to fall asleep. I usually suggest meditating after getting up to start your day on a positive note. You can do it both the times to give yourself time to just breathe! Just breathing and not doing anything else is a solution to a lot of mental problems. Finding peace of mind is one of the things many people struggle with. Thus, meditating or doing simple breathing exercises before going to bed is advised.
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom”
Waking up early is to help you be productive in your life and also start your day on a positive note. While you are on the path, stop for a few minutes and appreciate the serenity of the early morning. Take a moment to watch the sunrise or appreciate the silence of the dawn or listen to the birds’ chirp. Enjoy your coffee or tea or lemon water in the balcony or by your window. This helps you see the world in a positive light and helps you start your day right!
5 Scientifically Proven Habits To Become Smarter
“Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb about.”
By being a smart person, you can create more time in your schedule for the things that matter. This post gives you a whole new perspective on habits that you can incorporate to become a smarter and wiser person.
There are a lot of skilled people out there, but they never get a chance to use their talents. This is because of the old negative thinking patterns that people carry which come in their way almost every time they try something new. If this sounds like you, read this article word for word.
A lot of people think being smart means having more knowledge or being more resourceful. These things are important. But you also need to consider other things in your life that are weighing you down. Simply stated, being smart also means removing unnecessary habits and people from your life and replacing them with better ones.
Following are 5 scientifically proven habits to become smarter.
1. Meditate everyday
Meditation is one of those self-development habits that everyone raves about. It has helped a lot of people become more relaxed and have a positive approach to life. But it also makes you smarter. Regular practice of meditation can change your brain chemistry and make you more rational and logical.
Meditation makes you smarter by increasing the production of grey matter in your brain. And this happens just after 8 weeks of doing it regularly. It basically increases the grey matter density in the areas responsible for making you smarter. Moreover, it also increases blood flow in anterior cingulate cortex and insula. These regions induce a positive mood and feelings of happiness.
So, there is plenty of research proving meditation to be instrumental in personal growth and development. It is one of the most important habits to become smarter.
There are many different types of meditation that can help you achieve your goal of becoming smarter and wiser. You can choose any one that suits you the best. All types have their own unique benefits. For instance, some people might find mindfulness meditation difficult to perform. It requires you to sit in one place without fidgeting or looking elsewhere. So, for them, other types like pranic breathing or transcendental meditation can be more fruitful.
Socializing can help you become a smart person. You don’t have to go to a high-end nightclub to meet people or approach random strangers on the street. Just having a few good friends who care for you is enough. Research suggests that social people are more likely to succeed in life. In this study, children who went to a mainstream school succeeded in life as opposed to who attended a school with fewer students.
You probably know that socializing helps with mental disorders like depression and anxiety. It makes you feel warm and less needy. But it also strengthens your memory. You become better at things like math, computer science, logic, etc. This is why the popular kids at schools are also better at studies and other recreational activities like sports and arts.
If you are wondering how to make friends, if you don’t have any or if you are an introvert, don’t worry. There are plenty of introverts out there who are in the same situation as you are and are facing the same troubles. You can connect with people by sharing what bothers you and how you deal with your problems as an introvert. Or you could ask people about how they socialize and make friends. This can be a good conversation starter.
3. Read biographies
Successful people love to read biographies of other successful people. They like to connect with and understand other people. It gives them insight into others’ life so they can learn vital lessons that they have to teach. Also, it inspires them to be more successful like them.
Reading a successful person’s biography allows you to get inside their head and look at the world the way they do. It is the only way you can deeply learn about someone’s life. You might never get a chance to meet them or spend quality time with them, so, why not read about what they have to say about their life.
Moreover, becoming smarter is not just being clever or making better decisions. It also means being more aware of yourself and others around you. You can only empathize with others when you will actually know how they are feeling or what they are going through. Reading biographies allow you to do that. And this is why it is one of the best habits to become smarter.
4. Physical exercise
We all know that physical exercise burns body fat and makes you stronger and leaner. But can it make you smarter? Recent research by Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain suggests that exercise can make you smarter, happier and increase the production of neurons in your brain. It is scientifically proven to make your mind strong and is definitely one of the best habits to become smarter.
Hippocampus is a major component of the brains in humans and other vertebrates that is responsible for reproducing neurons in the brain. The amount of physical exercise you do decides how much neurons are going to be produced. So, it directly influences the hippocampus. This is a very important point to keep in mind. It can inspire you to work harder in the gym.
Another study says that exercise increases the length of telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA. The length of a telomere is directly proportional to how long a person will live. Long telomeres also suggest how active the person is. People with short telomeres are found to be passive in nature.
5. Keep a journal
“People who keep journals have life twice.”
The basic idea behind keeping a journal is to jot down your thoughts without filtering them. A personal journal is not to be shared with anyone and is only meant to keep track of the activities in your life. Journaling makes you smarter if you do it consistently for a few months. Some people like to write only when they feel the need to do so, but a daily journaling habit arms you with vital insights into your life.
Also, it’s difficult to retain everything that happens in your life. Both good and bad. By journaling every day, you can jot down everything systematically so that when needed you can just open the relevant page and find the required information.
Moreover, you also learn to express yourself freely. In a journal, you can write about things that you otherwise won’t talk about with anyone. This gets your thoughts streamlined, as you don’t give a second thought before writing anything. This habit gets translated into real life. As a result, you become bold and confident.
Like everything else, going from average to smart will take time as well. It’s a journey, not a destination. Also, it is very easy to complicate things after reading so many benefits and ways to become smarter. Keep in mind that successful people like Elon Musk or Warren Buffet believe in keeping things simple and easy. So, take your time and think about how you can incorporate these habits into your current life-structure.
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