Reading as a Tool for Boosting Your Productivity & Health
There's nothing more comforting than sitting on a cozy soft chair, drinking hot coffee (or lemonade, depending on the weather), and reading an exciting book. In the process, you're exploring other worlds or points of view and learning more about the human soul. Though, it's more than just a relaxing and inspiring hobby. Actually, reading is one of the best "workouts" for your brain to help you be more productive at work.
Still, many people don't reach for books or articles because they "don't have time for it." Okay, but most of us manage to find time for social media, watching TV series, or meeting friends. Then, is it so hard to spend 20-30 minutes on a book? Plus, bear in mind that the most successful and wealthiest people in the world consider reading as one of their main habits. Then, how can reading help you flourish in your career and become a better version of yourself? Dive in to discover all the benefits of reading for your productivity, and learn how you can start to read more often.
Successful people and reading: how are they doing it?
With the insane popularity of Netflix and TikTok, it can be hard to get back to good old books. However, the world's most famous entrepreneurs and achievers may change your mindset towards books with their real-life examples. For example, Warren Buffet spends more than half of his day reading. He assumes that the key to success is to read nearly 500 pages per day — it will make you smarter and less impulsive.
At the same time, Bill Gates is also a well-known ambassador of reading. When going on a vacation, he takes a whole bag of books and spends three hours a day reading. Meanwhile, Bill Gates also takes notes in the process, which, he says, is the "key to his learning." Overall, he reads more than 50 books per year, most of which are non-fiction books. So it's clear that reading isn't just fun for him — it's an instrument that helps grow his knowledge.
Another game-changer, Elon Musk, in his interview for Rolling Stone, stated that he grew up on books and that they helped him grasp what exactly he should change in our world. Musk's first mentor at SpaceX says that Elon learned rocket science by reading books and communicating with industry leaders. Who knows, maybe reading could also lead you to unprecedented career highs? You'll never get to know unless you give it a shot!
David Rubenstein, millionaire, and philanthropist from Baltimore, claims that he read eight newspapers a day and up to six books in seven days. Most likely, he just has 27 hours a day, but you've got the point — for achievers, reading is like brain weight training.
Benefits of reading for your productivity
Now it's time to uncover the exact perks of reading to your productivity and brain function. Let's see how this simple habit can alter your work performance and change the way you think.
Reading reduces your stress levels
Wrike's survey shows that more than 90% of people are experiencing stress at their workplace. Workplace stress, in turn, may lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, and overall job dissatisfaction. Neither of these states will contribute to your productivity — they can only disrupt you and worsen your performance. However, reading may help you take your mind off the stress around you.
Seton Hall University study has found that half an hour of reading decreases your sympathetic neuron activity, which calms anxiety and relieves stress. At the same time, scientists have also found that reading lowers blood pressure and heart rate, protecting your heart from excessive tension. It will allow you to accomplish more in a particular time, help you communicate with your coworkers and contribute more to your work.
Reading can help you fall asleep faster and sleep tighter
Does anyone struggle with trouble sleeping? For those busy individuals who involve in multiple responsibilities, finding time to sleep can be tricky. However, this is where reading in bed comes into play. How is it that reading a book can help someone sleep more deeply? Scientists suppose that the brain releases neurotransmitters during reading that are linked with falling asleep.
If you struggle with insomnia, reading a soothing book in bed can help you sleep more deeply and get back to your healthy sleep routine. Studies claim that reading before bedtime can help people sleep better because it changes their brain waves which helps them fall asleep faster.
Studies have also shown that reading before bed can help slow down your heart rate and decrease the risk of insomnia. For stress relief, consider reading an adventure or novel book right before bed that might help you feel more relaxed.
Another study has uncovered the effects of reading on your sleep quality. The participants were split into two, half to read a book before sleeping and the other half not to. The next morning, participants reported their sleep quality. Those who had read the book before falling asleep claimed less stress and fatigue, plus a better sleep quality than their counterparts who had not. After a week, more than 40% of pre-bed readers experienced improvements in sleep. In contrast, only about 25% percent of the non-readers said they faced an improved sleep quality.
Reading helps you develop your soft-skills
Communicating and soft-skills development are cornerstones of successful career growth. LinkedIn's survey showed that for 92% of employers, soft skills are as necessary or even more essential than hard skills. In addition, 89% of respondents claimed that most bad hires often lack soft skills. Meanwhile, reading is a great activity to become more sociable and form strong interpersonal bonds.
World Economic Forum research says that people who read frequently feel closer to society. More than 70% of respondents, who read just 30 minutes a week, report having greater community spirit and a more satisfying social life than non-readers.
Readers also have a stronger ability to empathize and are more engaged in cultural diversity. While you read the story, for your brain, it's the same as if you were experiencing it yourself. Thus, reading allows you to understand people better and walk in their shoes, boosting your compassion and tolerance.
Reading improves your memory and learning skills
Is it complex for you to keep every single task in mind while rushing between work meetings? In that case, you're not alone — according to the research, people tend to forget half of the information within one hour after getting it. What's more, you'll forget 90% of the information within one week. So if you have multiple deadlines and tons of minor tasks for one week, then you'll likely miss something important.
Though, reading can support your memory! Reading demands strong focus, visual processing, and turning on imagination. These processes together allow you to strengthen your memory, learning capacity, and protect your brain from cognitive decline. A Tohoku University study has shown that reading can lower your chances of getting Alzheimer's or dementia.
Reading boosts your brain performance
Work routines often link to solving complicated issues, finding compromises, and making fateful decisions that can affect your career and company as a whole. Therefore, your mind should be sharp as a tack, allowing you to be reasonable and think three steps ahead. These properties will allow you to stand out from your colleagues and competitors and achieve more remarkable results in pursuing your career goals.
Meanwhile, reading is one of the best activities to level up your cognitive abilities. Ontario Institute research claims that reading can actually make you smarter. It improves your vocabulary, gives you extensive knowledge about our world, and boosts your reasoning skills. Moreover, Canadian scientists have discovered that reading fiction stories can enhance your decision-making skills and prevent you from making hasty judgments.
As you can see, reading is a comprehensive tool to sharpen your mind and make you more reasonable. Another great thing about it is that it's way more affordable and time-saving than attending productivity courses. Plus, you can reach for books anywhere, anytime, since most of them are available on your smartphone. Still, we've also prepared some practical tricks to help you read frequently and with maximum benefit to your productivity.
Tips on how to turn reading into your superpower:
1. Take notes
You should know this feeling when you've just read a book but can hardly recall what the main idea was. That can happen when you are reading too quickly or have been too stressed lately. Thus, following Bill Gates' habit of taking notes while reading may help you.
Study claims that taking notes will help you think critically, identify the book's main message, and organize ideas that you found interesting. If you take notes, you'll be able to get back to them anytime without rereading a book.
2. Select the book genre according to your goal
Reading horrors to fall asleep faster or productivity books to let your mind wander aren't the best ideas. That's why you should choose the suitable book genres for your current goals. If you want to destress, reach for an adventure or comedy story since they're more effective in relieving stress. In turn, motivation or productivity books will help you get in your work mode and sharpen your mind.
3. Always keep a book nearby
If you want to turn reading into a sustainable habit, then make sure you have a book at hand. It can be pretty easy to read on your smartphone and a bit harder if you prefer printed books. Still, in both cases, you can remind yourself about the reading session. If you like printed books, put a few of them on your desk or your bedside table. Otherwise, if you prefer ebooks, then you can place a reading app icon on your smartphone's main screen. Plus, you can set a reminder to get back to reading at a particular time.
4. Create reading lists and plans
There are many book recommendations from famous business people, bloggers, and friends that you won't remember even half of them. Who knows, maybe one of those books you forgot to read could change your life? Thus, creating reading lists would be a wise decision. You'll be able to mark the most intriguing books, plan what you're going to read during a month or year and track how many books you've read so far.
5. Set reading goals
If you want to reach specific results and extend your knowledge faster, you should set reading plans and stick to them. For example, start to read 20 pages a day or finish at least five books a month. Though, don't push yourself too far because then you risk turning reading into a stressful process.
6. Prefer textbooks instead of audiobooks
It can be hard to fight the temptation to listen to audiobooks while doing other minor tasks instead of focusing on textbooks. Still, audiobooks won't give you such productivity benefits because they don't involve your brain the way reading does.
7. Create your perfect "reading lair"
Yeah, you still can read anywhere, be it your office or park bench. But you can't compare these sudden reading sessions while distractions surround you to reading in a specially prepared place. You can put some pillows on the windowsill and enjoy your book. If you have a garden, spending an hour there with a book would be like a therapy session for your mind. Plus, you'll be able to focus easily when reading alone in a quiet place. So find one for yourself and turn it into your "reading lair."
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- I’m Bill Gates, Co-Chair Of The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation And Author Of “How To Avoid A Climate Disaster.” Ask Me Anything (2021)
- How Bill Gates Reads 50 Books Per Year (And Remembers What He Learns) (2019)
- Elon Musk: The Architect Of Tomorrow (2017)
- Former Spacex Exec Explains How Elon Musk Taught Himself Rocket Science (2014)
- His Third Act (2010)
- 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics (2019)
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- Candidates' Soft Skills Are Notoriously Hard To Assess, But Following These 6 Steps Will Help (2019)
- Can Reading Improve Your Wellbeing? (2015)
- Brain Science: The Forgetting Curve–The Dirty Secret Of Corporate Training (2014)
- Watch This. No. Read It! (2008)
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- Reading Literary Fiction Can Lead To Better Decision-Making, Study Finds (2013)
- Taking Notes While Reading (2021)
- Read In A Quiet Place For A Better Life (2016)