The one piece of advice that is common when coming from successful people is to read more. They dedicate their knowledge about their specific fields to reading.
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
– Frederick Douglas
If you want to learn about anything, read.
If you want to grow, read.
If you want to polish your skills, read.
If you want to sharpen your mind, read.
Reading isn’t limited to only books. With the internet comes a ton of reading material to choose from. You don’t even have to go out to get a newspaper or magazine; everything is online. Why not make the most of it. Reading – books, newspapers, magazines, poems, stories, blogs, articles – anything counts.
With so much to read, one question that I usually come across is how to find time to read. Now, this is one of the questions that you can answer the best because you know your schedule better than anyone else. Like everything else you do, you need to find time to read.
How to find time for reading
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.”
– Roald Dahl
Look at your schedule, find the time that you spend watching TV, shows, YouTube videos, Netflix. Reserve half of that time for reading. Calculate the time it takes to commute (if you use public transport) and reserve it for reading. Find the days you have appointments that have a little waiting time, take a book along.
The point here is to read in the little time gaps you get. If you can’t find out a few hours space to dedicate to reading, sprinkle it in between your commitments.
Better yet, you have to make reading your priority, you need to find time for it. If you really want to do something, saying you don’t have time means you don’t really want to do it. Because when you really want to, you find the time.
Why should you base reading goals on your reading speed?
If you want to set a routine then being realistic about it is the best way to go. Just because Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day, doesn’t mean you have to. Take inspiration from things and tweak it according to your situation, following others down to the T can actually ruin the whole thing for you.
Find out how many pages you can read on an average, or how many words per minute. Staples (the popular office supply chain) has a test you can take to find out how fast you read. They collected reading speed data as part of their advertising campaign for selling e-readers. The speed reading tool used for the campaign is available online to try.
Use the speed reading tool, take the test, and see how fast you can read.
The test also asks questions based on the passage you read to see if you actually comprehend what you read. Just reading fast means nothing if you can’t actually retain the information.
According to the data on how fast other demographics read against yours, which can be seen after you answer the question, the average adult reads 300 words per minute.
Here are the demographics shown on the Staples graph-
- Third-grade students – 150 words per minute
- Eight grade students – 250 words per minute
- Average college student – 450 words per minute
- Average “high-level executives” – 575 words per minute
- Average college professor – 675 words per minute
- Speed readers – 1,500 words per minute
- World speed reading champion – 4,700 words per minute
If you are not a regular reader, chances are you will fall between eight grade students and average college student, that is, 250 to 450. People who never read, easily fall under the eight grade students mark.
This isn’t to judge your reading speed as slow or anything. You just need to know this so that you can make a realistic timetable for your reading.
What kind of reading is best for you?
“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”
– Mortimer J. Adler
There are four types of reading that are used by most of us.
1. Scanning – Scanning means looking for only specific information while reading, like using keywords.
Examples of this are: searching for a name in a phonebook, searching for your favorite soup on the menu.
2. Skimming – Skimming is the opposite of scanning, here you gather the main idea of the text, then you look for information or lines to back up the general idea of the text. This is used to read more in less time.
Examples of this are: reading other people’s reviews while buying products, reviewing your notes before an examination.
3. Intensive Reading – This is one of the most time-consuming reading techniques because it is used to retain information for the long term, so you read every word carefully.
Examples of this are: reading legal documents, reading business proposals, non-fiction works.
4. Extensive Reading – Extensive reading is the technique used when you read for pleasure. You choose your material, your pace, and the way you comprehend. This helps you read for fun while helping you improve your writing, better your vocabulary, and increase your comprehension power.
Examples of this are: Fiction, poetry, fun articles.
Now that you know the main kinds of reading we do depending on different material and different situations, you need to figure out what are you aiming for. If you are looking to read more, then you surely are aiming for intensive or extensive reading.
Intensive Reading works best for non-fiction because you want to actually use the information in real life, make lifestyle changes based on what you read, and apply your knowledge obtained from reading. For this, you need to remember what you read and grasp the concepts entirely.
To get the most out of a book, what you can do is make notes as you go. Use highlighters to highlight the paragraphs that you find important, use sticky notes to write your thoughts, scribble in the margins, use tons of page markers. Writing a review of the book, once you are done, also helps. When you come back to the book in the future, you will be able to recall information based on your takeaways from the book.
Extensive reading works best for fiction is because you aren’t reading to retain information. You are reading for entertainment, for fun, to just enjoy. This is one of the most popular hobbies and the reason why fiction sells.
Fiction has important lessons to teach too, but those are mostly life lessons hidden away in the story. Although this is done for fun, you actually improve your reading, writing, vocabulary, and comprehension skills, which is why you are always suggested to pick up reading as a hobby.
Why do you want to read more?
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
– Mortimer J. Adler
People thinking about reading more boils down to two things: reading faster, and reading lots. A combination of both is every book lover’s dream. When both are incorporated simultaneously, it can boost your reading routine to another level. Both of the things, when done alone on their own, have their benefits too.
Reading more can mean different things for different people:
- Having more time to read
- Reading faster/ Speed reading
- Reading more books
- Finishing all the books started but never finished
- And so on
Tips for reading more
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss
I would suggest taking a speed reading class to pick up some things, but apart from that, here are some techniques you can use.
- Listen to audiobooks – People who have difficulty reading can start by listening to audiobooks. Listening to audiobooks means you do not have to take time out of your routine apart to do it, you can listen to it while doing other things. Many people have started realizing how beneficial it is.
You can listen to audiobooks while cleaning your home, doing laundry, cooking, commuting, taking a walk, going to the gym, etc. Even by incorporating it in your daily routine you actually get to listen to a lot more than having to take time out to read.
- Adopt a new way – If you really have no time to read, say you work two jobs and are thinking of starting your own business. You would obviously want to learn all you can. There’s where you have to think outside the box.
You can listen to reviews by people who have read a particular book you want to read and get the summary. Most of the time, people give their opinion with the review so it sort of takes away the privilege of forming your own opinion. So if that doesn’t bother you then go for it. Listen to 3-4 people whose opinions you value.
If you are really short on time, then use a service like Blinkist, which has summaries of almost all the popular non-fiction books and are adding more daily. I have a premium subscription of Blinkist and make it a point to read at least one summary each day. And this is apart from the reading I do on a daily basis. Blinkist basically helps me decide which books I want to read by reading a 15-minute summary of that book. The best part is that these summaries are available in text as well as audio format. This changes the way we consume books.
- Take up reading challenges – Reading challenges motivate everyone, if you would like accountability for your challenges, then join reading groups. Goodreads and Facebook have reading groups that support each other to reach their reading goals. There are various reading challenges that run on YouTube and Instagram that you can participate in. There are also yearly challenges you can participate in, keeping track of the books you read based on the genre, publication, author, and so on. You can find my yearly challenge on Goodreads here.
- Use a pen as a pointer – Remember how we were always told to read with our fingers pointing at the words when we were kids, it’s the same thing. This technique makes sure to keep your eyes directed at the sentence you are reading and also doesn’t let you lose your place in the paragraph.
- Buy an e-reader – An e-reader like Kindle means you don’t have to carry a bulky book any place you go. If you are not into the book you are reading, you can quickly change the book. There are tons of free books. You can get any book you want, no matter where you are. The books cost you less in terms of money as well as the time required to get a physical book. This gives you no other reason not to read. For the record, I use a Kindle Paperwhite.
- Make time to read – Saying I don’t have time just won’t do if you really want to incorporate reading into your routine. You have to give up some other hobby to fit reading in, or you just would have to find time to do both.
Reading more depends as much on your decision as it does on a mixture of all of these tips. If you decide that no matter what, you are going to find time for reading, then you have half the battle won already.
“Luckily, I always travel with a book, just in case I have to wait on line for Santa, or some such inconvenience.”
– David Levithan
Some classes you can take to learn how to speed read and comprehend what you are reading-
6 Reasons Why Listening To Podcasts Can Benefit Your Life
Podcasting is the latest way of sharing and spreading information. Some people also say podcasts are going to replace blogs as they are easy to consume and also entertaining. Only time will tell that. However, podcasting is an American way of sharing information and it has been there for a long time. In earlier times, people use to broadcast them live on the radio.
They are also more personal than TV talk shows and radios. Some of the podcast hosts really open up about their personal life and share stories that motivate and inspire the listeners. Some podcasts don’t show the speaker; they are audio only. While others show both audio and video. I like the latter format.
Here are 6 reasons how listening to podcasts can benefit your life.
1. Podcasts are a great alternative to books
Not everyone likes to learn in a structured way. In fact, there are some cultures in which it is frowned upon to take a systematic approach to learning and problem-solving. I know it is unlike American culture but there are some pros in learning things by osmosis. A podcast is a talk show where one or more than one people share their personal stories, experiences and knowledge.
For instance, listening to a podcast from someone like Neil Degrasse Tyson is far more entertaining than reading his books. His books don’t create the same dramatic effect that he is able to create in his podcasts. Consequently, listening to a podcast can be more beneficial than reading books. The listener gets to emotionally connect with the podcast host. Therefore, a better learning experience.
2. They provide entertainment
It is very rare that a top podcast on YouTube or Spotify is uninteresting or boring. Entertainment is a huge factor when determining how well a podcast is going to do on these platforms. No matter how much value a podcast creator provides via his/her content, it is not going to blow up unless it is entertaining.
Listening to podcasts is like watching a TV talk show. But the only difference is that podcasts are not scripted and are unfiltered. So, a listener gets to know what their heroes like Elon Musk and Mike Tyson actually think and feel. In my opinion, Joe Rogan Experience and Joey Diaz are the most entertaining podcast on YouTube. They are also packed with knowledge and interesting facts.
3. They are authentic and genuine
Unlike TV talk shows, podcasts are created by people who are doing great things in life and are willing to share their knowledge and experience with us. Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss are the best examples of such people. They both had already achieved so much in their life before they started to share their experience with people.
I accept that scripted TV talk shows can also be entertaining. But spontaneity and authenticity are two values that most successful people live by and also seek in other people. Jocko Willink is another example of a genuine and authentic podcaster. Jocko makes listening to podcasts a pure pleasure as he shares stories from his days in the United States Navy.
4. You get to learn from industry experts
Tom Ferry shares his knowledge on the real estate investments in North America on his YouTube channel. He not only educates people about investment but also teaches them how to become a real estate agent and grow their business in the same field. By listening to podcasts similar to Tom’s, you will not only gain knowledge of your desired industry but also get inner circle insights that are not openly discussed anywhere else.
5. It’s a great companion during the commute
It’s a good habit to listen to audiobooks while commuting to work or just traveling. Audiobooks are great at providing you with precise and step by step knowledge. But they can be flat and boring sometimes. Listening to podcasts while commuting has some additional benefits that the audiobooks don’t.
Podcast are entertaining and keep you in a social mood. Especially, when you are returning home. Audiobooks can put you in work-mode. Moreover, you can also listen to podcasts while working out in the gym, taking a walk in the park, running, etc. I feel like they have a perfect mix of entertainment and learning.
6. Most of the great podcasts are free of cost
Audiobooks cost more than $10. Even if you listen to one audiobook per week, your monthly expense on them goes up to $40. These $40 can be easily saved or used for something else. Most of the great podcasts are absolutely free of charge. You can stream or download them anytime you want. Moreover, listening to podcasts from several different authors may also give you a glimpse of what they are all about. This helps you buy the perfect audiobook for your needs.
I hope these reasons are enough to motivate and inspire you to add this new habit to your daily routine. This is one of those habits where you don’t have to do much. Just search for your favorite topic on YouTube, sit back and relax. You could support these content creator by donating a few bucks if you want but most of them don’t even ask for donations. So, there is nothing to risk or lose.
5 Life Skills Your School Should Have Taught You But Didn’t
There are a lot of memes about how what we learned in school is never useful in our real lives. The skills that we need to survive in the real world are seldom taught by schools or even elders. The most important things that we need to do as adults are something that most of us learn ourselves.
Getting out of colleges and universities, we feel like we are now ready to step into proper adulthood where we earn for ourselves and pay for our own bills. But, that is not how we continue feeling; the first few years pass in figuring out how to exactly to do the adult stuff. Here are a few things that people usually struggle with and why it is important to incorporate them into our lives early on.
1. Personal finance
As we grow up, we realize that money is one of the most significant aspects of life that we need to survive. Proper management of finances is seldom taught to us, it is learned through mistakes and experiences. Learning personal finance is usually expected to be coached by parents but isn’t it an important life skill which schools should be responsible for?
It is no surprise that most of the lottery winners end up getting broke or exhausting the money on addictions. Adequate management of funds and investment of money should be introduced from an early age by the school systems to make the future children more responsible.
2. Importance of mental health
Mental health is something which was not even acknowledged until the 2000s. Anxiety, stress, worry, paranoia, depression, etc. are realities of life, and children should not grow up kicking themselves for feeling these things. The way a person behaves in adversity is usually molded by how that person grew up dealing with problems as a kid.
The notion that not having a good head space is unnatural, uncommon, or not important ends up worsening the situation rather than dealing with the issues at its source. Many schools are starting to introduce psychiatrist and counselors, but they should also make sure students don’t feel worried or taboo to approach them. Respect and awareness for mental health should be introduced right at the beginning of a person’s life to ease things in the future.
3. Friendships and romantic relationships
A significant part of a person’s life is spent on maintaining friendships and romantic relationships, yet little to none is contributed in this direction by the schooling system. This is another important aspect of life, which is expected to be taught and taken care of by elders and parents.
The constant breaking of relationships is proof that people need to be taught how to respect others’ space, learn to trust, overcome bad times, share feelings, and communicate. Dating, romance, and sexual urges are frowned upon and ignored in certain countries, which ironically ends up worsening the situation as children grow up learning from wrong sources.
It is high time this is acknowledged as a fact of life, and schools try to lay down a foundation from the beginning of a person’s life. Some schools have taken that up by introducing sex education into their curriculum.
4. Basic life skills (cooking, repairing, and swimming)
We all come across memes online on “If only I learned this in school.” Cooking, repairing, and swimming, are all life skills which might not necessarily be vital in life, but they are very common and makes a person independent and confident to live alone. Cooking is not learned by someone unless it is necessary or they have an interest in it. When people move out of their parent’s house, this is one of their biggest regrets as food is one of the basics of life.
Repair work and swimming, however, might not seem as important as cooking but they are handy skills to have in the bag in case something goes wrong. It is often the case that people say growing up is a combination of learning and getting a lot of things right, but seldom do we realize very few of them were taught to you in school. This pattern has to change to make the future kids better equipped to deal with the reality of life.
5. Professional etiquette
It is often the case that people have to learn to speak and write formally. Writing a resume, email, or even a letter is a challenge for most; communication is poor in general. Communication and professional work etiquette are vital in life irrespective of the field one intends to go into.
In the past, recruiters have found it difficult to hire a person just because of the lack of common etiquette and communication skills. Respecting diversity and working in harmony with people you do not necessarily connect with is critical. Hostile work environment will always lead to inconvenience and less productivity. Common manners and etiquettes should be introduced by the school system to generate better workers and better work environment.
Where does this leave us?
While we all know this, and we all discuss this. Changes aren’t that easy to come. School systems changing isn’t as easy as just flipping the curriculum. Yes, we would love to have schools teach real-life skills. Many schools are making changes to incorporate various subjects and workshops for better preparing the kids for life.
It is slow, but there is progress. Meanwhile, as elders, we need to teach the children all that they will need to know when they step into adulthood themselves. Don’t shy away from teaching them about personal finances, savings, taxes, housing, anything that can be pegged as boring. Tag them along from time to time so that they get the experience of these things first hand. Take the children with you to the bank, to shopping for groceries, to pay bills – let them see what it takes and how it is done. Remember, we all need to do our part for a better world.
7 Things Not to Say If You Want to be Successful
When we begin our journey, there are a lot of thoughts that plague our minds. Some of them positive, but most of them negative. You must have heard people mention “Law of attraction.” It means you attract what you think. Fear is one of the most prominent emotions that controls us in the starting phase. These thoughts are a result of fear and sometimes, ego.
Knowing what thoughts to hold on to and what ideas to let go is crucial to develop a positive attitude. Most of the things that I am going to talk about end up making us pessimists, egotistical, careless, and cocky.
These are the things we use as an excuse as to why we aren’t doing anything to change our situation that we hate or why we aren’t working on our dreams. These also make excuses for our own shortcomings. To be successful, it is vital to get rid of emotions that do nothing but pull you down or make you feel comfortable in your own incompetence.
1. “I’m just waiting for the right time to start doing things the way I think I should.”
Right time never comes. No time is the right time. You have to take the time and make it right. If this is your excuse for not getting started on building things the way you want them to be, then it is just that- an EXCUSE!
Many people lose precious years because they wait for the perfect moment. The perfect moment to quit their job, the perfect moment to launch a business, the perfect moment to take a risk. Guess what? The perfect moment never comes. There will always be something that will give you a reason to not take the first step. If you are looking for a reason to stay where you are, then you will surely find it. You have to get over it and just start. The start is the tricky part; it then becomes easier emotionally.
2. “I’ll start working from tomorrow.”
Tomorrow never comes for people who use this as an excuse. I used to do this with my workout plans. “I will start exercising from tomorrow.” “I will start eating healthy from tomorrow.” Trust me; there is nothing healthy about this mindset.
It is a way of procrastinating but on a much larger scale. When you procrastinate on a specific task that you will have to do, that you are accountable for, that you will be answerable to someone for, you will eventually end up doing it. But goals that you have for yourself do not necessarily have a deadline, so it is easier for your brain to keep pushing it without feeling guilty. Ask yourself, “Why not today?” If you don’t have a logical answer, then start it today.
3. “I know I need to work hard but ….”
4. “I don’t need to change anything.”
5. “I’m too busy for this.”
When you know you need to work hard, but you still find some excuse not to, just know that the problem is you. We do not like to accept that we are at fault in any situation. We are also creatures of habit. While we want change, we don’t like to go through the process of bringing change.
When we want grand things, we have to make efforts that are bigger than anything we have done before. We want something, but we don’t want to change anything to get it. This is because we get too comfortable where we are. Getting out of your comfort zone is necessary to achieve success.
“Too busy” is an excuse I hear a lot. “Why aren’t you doing something that clearly needs to be done for yourself?” is something that people ask people who keep talking about their dreams but do nothing for them to come true. If being busy is your answer, then you need to realize that you don’t want it as bad as you think you do. When you really want something, you make time for it. That’s how priorities work.
6. “He/she was born to succeed. I don’t have what it takes.”
7. “I was just unlucky this time.”
Making excuses like success depends on luck or on other people being more skilled than you are the laziest ones you can make. If you really think that all it takes to succeed is luck, then you are wrong on so many levels.
“Success comes when preparation meets opportunity.”
If you want “luck” to be in your favor, you have to work hard. When you put all the work out there, you are sure to attract opportunities. Sure some people are more talented than others, but that will be the case in every scenario. Does that mean we should stop aiming for great things? No! Sometimes people with talent fail because they are not willing to put in the work needed. You will see people who are not necessarily naturally-gifted in a field making steady progress because they keep learning and improving themselves. It all boils down to consistency at the end of the day.
A negative mentality can hurt even the best works. This is why people focus so much on cutting negativity out of your life. If you are not a pessimist, surrounding yourself with people like that will make you one. People you hang out regularly with have quite an influence on your thought process. Surround yourself with people who know how to look at the silver lining.
When you are trying to make something of yourself, it is definitely hard. You are scared, you are worried, you want to be the best. You do not need to add the extra obstacle of your own thoughts. Don’t let your thoughts hold you back, if anything, they should help you propel. This is also why meditation is advised for people who have trouble getting their thoughts in order. Try meditating, and you will learn how much of an asset a clear mind truly is.
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