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.
9 Morning Routines That Can Help You Have a Better Day
Starting mornings the right way is essential to having a productive day – an overall fulfilling day is more like it. I always stress on waking up early, if you don’t already you can look for ways to help you wake up early or if it is not feasible to your schedule then you can still follow a routine that lets you have a wholesome day.
When deciding how to prepare for the day after waking up, the best option is to develop a morning routine. An activity that is constantly repeated on a daily basis, especially, in the mornings can turn out to be pretty effective at helping you be ready to meet the requirements of the day. And if you are unable to come up with any morning routine ideas that can turn out to be effective for you, here are a few suggestions to help you out.
1. Get Some Exercise
One of the most common morning routines is exercise. And if you are facing a pretty busy day ahead, then some exercise will definitely get you ready to see through the day successfully. You don’t need to do any heavy workouts. Instead, some pretty light stretching and jumping should get your muscles and joints relaxed. Else, you might end up feeling stiff all day. Going for a quick run can help you get the much-needed exercise too. Exercising will also make you fully awake and ensure that you don’t feel too sleepy in the office all day long.
Spending a few minutes meditating is also a very good idea for a morning routine. Usually, once a person is awake, the mind remains cloudy for some time. Doing some meditation early in the morning can help a person focus and have clarity of thought right away. Plus, meditation will also calm the mind, help you face the hustle and bustle of the working environment in a composed manner without feeling stressed out.
Ideally, you should learn a few meditation techniques from a personal teacher rather than trying to learn it from the internet. This will ensure that you are able to mediate in a proper manner every morning because there are different types of meditations that focus on different things. I use the Headspace app for meditating daily.
3. Create a Schedule For the Day
If you are someone who has trouble managing your day-to-day tasks, then a good morning routine for you would be to plan out your schedule for the entire day. Just sit down for a few minutes, think about the activities you have to do for the day and the activities you want to do; make lists of the activities that need to be done along with the total time required for completing them. With proper time management, you can even squeeze in some of the activities that you want to do like going to a movie, visiting your friends, and so on.
4. Read the News or Informative Articles
Why not make the morning routine something enlightening? Turn on your laptop or tablet and read the major news of the day. This will get you up-to-date with all the current events that are happening around you. So, the next time someone at work talks about the incident at the football match, you will know what they are talking about and can chime in with your opinions too.
If you are a money-minded person who is very careful about where you spend the money, then budgeting for the day will be a fun way to start off the morning. Think about the expenses you will be incurring for the day and write them down.
Compare it to your monthly budget and make sure that the expense for the day is not too much that it pushes the monthly budget to the higher side. Preparing such a daily budget every morning will allow you to regulate your daily expenditure and ensure that you never spend more than what you earn.
6. View Inspirational Videos
In case you work in an area where you need to constantly keep yourself motivated, then the best way to start the day will be by watching an inspirational video. This is in tune with starting your day with positive affirmations or inspirational thoughts.
Find out some short motivational videos on a weekly basis and assign them to the upcoming days. This way, all you have to do is to watch the video once you wake up. Watching such videos first thing in the morning should pump you up and help you power through your day.
7. Do Something Fun With Your Loved Ones
Just search for some fun activities to do every morning and make sure to do them every day. And, if you haven’t been able to connect with your spouse because of work pressure, then this morning routine will definitely ease things between the two of you. If you have kids, you can also set aside some time in the morning to be with your children.
8. Take a Walk
Taking a walk in the morning is one of the oldest morning routines practiced in the world. Earlier, people used to walk to a nearby shop to get some vegetables and other grocery items for the day. You, too, can do the same and benefit from a morning walk. Or, if you have a park near to your home, then you can walk there and take in the freshness of the morning air. You can also go for a jog instead of a simple walk. This should flex out your muscles and help you get rid of the stiffness you feel when you wake up.
9. Drink Some Water
Finally, did you know that drinking water every morning is also a routine? Yep. Apparently, many people have made this activity their morning routine in a bid to start off their day on a healthy note. After all, your body will be dehydrated from the previous night’s sleep.
So, if you try to do any physical activity without recharging yourself with water, you might feel immediate exhaustion. But, when you do drink a glass of water right after you wake up, you will have rehydrated your body and will be able to do any activity without feeling tired.
Anything that motivates you to go about your day with positivity and a healthy feeling counts. It isn’t necessary to follow all the things that other people do. The important thing is to do things that make the most sense to you as an individual. Your routine can be as simple as not skipping breakfast even when you are running late or starting your day with a cold shower. Anything that helps you have a better day counts!
7 Ways to Overcome Analysis Paralysis
A few days ago, I talked about analysis paralysis and if it is the reason for inaction. I think a lot of people relate to it because it hits home with many. Most of us get tangled in trying to find the perfect solution to our problems. Understanding what stops us from taking action and the reason behind it is the first step in finding ways to overcome the hurdle we create for ourselves.
So, what exactly is analysis paralysis?
“Analysis Paralysis is when we have too many options, and we get so overwhelmed that we fail to choose an option at all. It is a state of over-analyzing a situation or problem, and as a result, a decision or action is never taken; as a result, paralyzing the outcome.”
I am sure you have been in this state some time in your life for one or the other decision. How do you overcome this? How do you not fall prey to analysis paralysis? Here are some logical ways that work because we target the problem area that pulls us into this state.
1. Prioritize your options
When you have a lot of ways to go about something, you will be overwhelmed, and you will be sucked into the decision of which option is the most beneficial. Our goal is to come out of that. Treating all the options as if they are going to have the same impact puts them in the same priority block, and that is what results in analysis paralysis.
What you need to do is detach yourself from the decision. Look at it as if it doesn’t concern you at all. Then categorize each option in different priority levels based on what can help you take immediate action, what is more accessible or needs fewer steps, or even what makes the most sense if you isolate it from other options and if it was your only one.
Although I am telling you to give it some thought while teaching you how to not overthink it – this thinking follows a purpose and once that purpose is fulfilled, you won’t be paying it any more attention. So purposeful thinking is better than just fretting over it as a whole. You will then know what option to go with, and it will still be an informed decision.
2. Write down a mission statement
Sometimes the vision or the goal gets lost when you are trying to figure out what a great way of doing something is. When you do not have a clear view of your goal, then making decisions can be even more difficult. Defining your goals on a piece of paper and then checking every option you come up with against it is a great way to stay on track and not get tangled in too many thoughts.
Eliminate anything that does not make sense with your end goal. Yes, it can be a better fit to get you to the halfway point of whatever you are aiming to achieve in the short term, but if there is an option that can see you the whole way through, then you need to strike out the enticing halfway option.
3. Eliminate the bad options
What are the bad options? The ones that need you to invest more than the other options, may it be money, tools, time, manpower, anything. The ones that might not hold in the long run. Anything that increases stress. Anything that causes a strain on your resources.
Some options, though attractive, might not be the right fit considering your current situation. You can use the priority list and your mission statement to prune out the bad options so that you are left with 3-4 workable options, and the decision becomes easier.
4. Set a deadline to make a decision
When you have an open deadline, chances are you are just going to keep overthinking and overanalyzing everything and watch as the opportunity sails past you because you are stuck in analysis paralysis. This is why you need to set a deadline so that you are forced to make a decision. You need to assign yourself just enough time to go over the options but not enough for you to overanalyze everything.
You can set a day or two for small decisions, a week for moderate ones and as long as you think is workable for something really big. Try to keep it concise enough for you to feel the pressure of the deadline but not so short that it stresses you out and you feel rushed.
5. Break big decisions into small parts
Usually, analysis paralysis is common when the decision has a huge impact. We are wired to choose familiarity and safety over anything challenging that can frighten us, which is also one of the common reasons for hesitation to act. So, instead of choosing one option directly, what you can do is break down the option into all the steps it is going to require.
Once you have all the steps in the options laid out bare next to each other, it becomes easier to eliminate the ones that are going to take a lot of small steps to make them happen. If the small steps are easier but more in number, it can still make more sense. And deciding on the basis of micromanaging can be the key to you finally coming to a decision.
6. Don’t wait for perfection
One of the common factors for inaction is people waiting for that perfect option. You have to realize that perfect decisions don’t always happen. There is a compromise involved, if not in all, then in most of the decisions.
While you wait for your perfect break, someone else will make it with their mediocre decision. A mediocre decision is better than no decision. Sometimes “good enough” is exactly what it needed. It will at least get you started.
7. Trust your guts
If an option feels better in your gut than the others then maybe it is the best you can choose. If you have a plethora of options and you somehow keep coming back to the same one, then you need to actively consider it.
Sometimes, our subconscious mind knows exactly what is going to work, but we ignore under the pretense of being well researched and well informed with over-analyzing every aspect of every option.
Most of the times, the need to be 100 percent sure about the solution you are choosing is nothing but fear of acting disguised as wanting to be perfect. Your mind is just giving you reasons to keep putting the decision making off instead of actually making a decision. In a moment like this, it is better to trust your gut and go with it.
Analysis paralysis is unavoidable when you think about it. You are constantly going to be stuck in it when you are in the stage of building your business or making changes in your life. The main thing is knowing what to do when you feel like you don’t know what to choose. These steps will help you realize when you are entering analysis paralysis and how to treat it.
All it boils down to is differentiating the solutions or options based on priority by breaking them into smaller steps and eliminating bad ones or the least feasible ones, and also setting a deadline on your decision-making process so that it does not go on forever.
Social Media Detox Stories That Were Successful
Social media is not accidentally addictive. Companies behind social platforms have been actually reported to hijack people’s attention. All the design elements you see on your app have been created to cater to marketing agencies.
And it seems the social network founders have hit the jackpot with their business model. If you’ve seen the second episode of the latest season of Black Mirror, Smithereens, you’ve probably resonated with the chief complaint of Andrew Scott’s character. Humans are now hunched and thumping on their devices. They don’t look anymore at the sky, he says.
Enter social media detox.
While social media should not be painted evil, the intention behind its existence remains suspect. But users should not wait until the verdict has been given. Your attention is more important than ever, and guarding it should be one of your goals now.
Social media detox is one of the ways to protect it. This does not mean you should be quitting online platforms cold turkey. But it requires you to be intentional about the time you spend online.
How do you get started? Read on and be inspired by the stories of people who successfully did it. Here’s why I took a break from Facebook.
Keeping A Journal During A 30-Day Social Media Break
For Jason Zook, social media has been a daily part of his life since 2008. He’s been using Facebook and Twitter for personal and business purposes. Zook has experienced successes in terms of getting attention and generating revenue. But one day, he experienced negative emotions and couldn’t get out of them (one of which was jealousy). So he decided to quit social media cold turkey.
What began as a decision to get rid of the unwanted effects of social media became a springboard for new ideas for Zook. By Day 3, he wrote in his journal about feeling happier. By Day 10, his attention seemed to have expanded. He took note of the things that replaced the time he would usually waste on social media. And by Day 21, he recognized he had broken bad habits and gained a new perspective on his digital life.
This was taken from his entry for Day 30:
“It’s been a while since I’ve had so much clarity and focus in my thoughts. The only thing I can equate it to would be ‘getting in the zone’ in sports.”
Curbing Anxiety and FOMO Through Disconnection
While Stephanie Vozza was at a party, she felt a pang of regret common among social media users when she couldn’t post pictures on Facebook. That’s when she realized she needed to take a break. It is when you are anxious about updating your profile or staying connected that you need to disconnect.
In Vozza’s case, Facebook was her means of keeping in touch with fellow writers. But she had to forgo it for the reasons mentioned above. Like Zook, she also fasted for 30 days. In talking to experts, she also learned a few things, like social media addiction is a real phenomenon. And by quitting Facebook for a month, she allowed herself to take on a new ritual instead of checking the app first thing in the morning. In turn, her brain was able to create new neural pathways, a new normal.
Zook and Vozza enlisted tools and tactics to make their social media detox a success.
Social Media Detox Tools & Tactics
- StayFocusd Chrome Extension – An extension for Web Chrome users. You can add social media sites on the Blocked Sites List. And when you try to increase the maximum allowed time to spend on the Blocked Sites, humorous popup messages will appear to confirm that you’re really making that decision (and not regret it).
- Self-Control App – This app is created for MacOS users. You will be able to block your own access to distracting websites within a time frame. It’s similar to StayFocusd in that sense. But it does not only work for websites. It also lets you blacklist mail servers and anything on the internet.
- OurPact – This is an app that enables parents to control their children’s screen time. It also lets them monitor the apps being downloaded on their kids’ device. Of course, you can also use it during your detox. But take note that it is only available for Android users.
- Your Phone’s Settings – Tweaking some of the settings on your phone can already make a world of difference. Turn off the notifications for your social media apps. Activate the Don’t Disturb mode. In some cases, you can also just go offline by turning off the internet connectivity on your device.
- No-Phone Rule – Some people, friends, or families establish variations of the no-phone rule. For instance, it would be considered rude to check Facebook while you’re having dinner with friends or family. Talk about what rules you want to establish at home or wherever you may be.
Social media detox allows people to gain perspective on their relationship with and activities on social networks. It also enables them to deal with the anxiety caused by social media addiction. Whether it’s you or a loved one who’s going through one, the support of the people around you will have a lot of impact. So make sure to seek help or encourage someone during a social media fast.
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