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Archive for the ‘Reading’ tag

Success, Ambition, and Morning Routines (Sunday Reads #18)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of (mostly) weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.  I’m posting this on Saturday this time to make sure email subscribers get this on Sunday.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

On Working Creatively

I found this post on LinkedIn by a fellow Amazonian to be particularly insightful about what the “secret to success” really is.  It’s not clear all of these are learned traits – but there isn’t a single one of them I disagree with.  Being tenacious, constantly observing and analyzing, having high integrity, and being predictable aren’t things you see on lists like these often enough.

Along those lines, the Six Habits of Ambitious People piles on.  One thing both articles have in common: you are the company you keep.

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Written by Mike Torres

August 29th, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Embrace Grit, Enjoy the Journey, and Always Be Reading (Sunday Reads #11)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

Getting Creative Work Done

If you struggle to declutter your magazine pile, a technique called ABR – Always Be Reading may be for you.  As someone who spends many hours a week focused on helping people read more (with a Kindle preferably) this approach sounds interesting, and is actually pretty aligned with what I personally do.

Are you a manager?  Your late-night or very early-morning emails may be hurting your team.  Being always-on hurts team results in a big way.  I’ve been in the habit for years of delay-sending the email I write after 6:30pm on Friday or over the weekend until late Monday morning.

If you’d like to form successful habits, you need to know what motivates you.

A recent study showed that heavy cellphone users report higher anxiety levels and dissatisfaction with life than their peers who use their phones less often – and another showed a correlation between stress levels and the barrage of alerts and notifications.  This app automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone or iPad each day and helps you set limits.

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Written by Mike Torres

March 22nd, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Creativity Myths, Decision Fatigue, and Gluten-Free Fanatics (Sunday Reads #10)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads on Refocuser, a collection of weekly links from around the web to help you do incredible things.  These links span topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, nutrition, and positivity.

Join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.  If you’re receiving this in your email inbox, spread the love and forward it to a friend.

On Creative Work

If you still think you couldn’t possibly be creative, the 5 Creativity Myths You Need to Stop Believing should help.

One of the most important thing you can do for lifelong learning & creativity is to read a lot.  According to Warren Buffett, knowledge builds up like compound interest and reading is the mechanism to enable it.  This article introduces the 10% Rule; a new system for reading more books on Amazon’s Kindle.

Omar Shahine tells us how to hit Inbox Zero every time you check your email.  I bounce at zero daily most days, but I haven’t tried this approach yet.

Children are natural born mindfulness practitioners.  So perhaps you could learn mindfulness by watching a child.

Great write-up on Farnham Street on Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset research.  If you’re a parent, you need to read this.  Everybody else should as well 😉

A short analysis of INTJ, a specific Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that I just happen to be.  “They tend to be both methodical and perfectionistic, and they have the drive to put their ideas into action and the persistence to realize their dreams.”  I’ll take that.  There are articles on other personality type indicators linked from that article as well.

Could your company have 9-5 hours, a full hour for lunch every day, 5-7 weeks of annual vacation, and zero email on nights and weekends… and still thrive?  Tony Schwartz believes so.

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Your Microbiome, Bone Broth, and Fancy New Fitness Gadgets (Sunday Reads #2)

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Welcome to Sunday Reads #2 on Refocuser, a collection of my favorite weekly links from around the web spanning topics like creativity, performance, focus, exercise, and positivity.  I’m posting this on Saturday this time to make sure email subscribers get this on Sunday.

Speaking of which, join thousands of other readers by subscribing to this blog and email newsletter or by following @Refocuser on Twitter.

On Moving, Eating, and Sleeping

The healthy human microbiome is the new frontier.  All the more reason why I’m surprised I didn’t know about uBiome (10% off with that link!) – it’s similar in spirit to WellnessFX and 23andMe.  They send you a sample kit for only $89 (!) so you can learn more about your body’s own bacteria in an effort to improve your overall health.  Don’t need to twist my arm to do this – I’m in!  We’re super early in this citizen science movement but I love it.  You can also learn more on Fast Company.

Mark Sisson challenges some of our common misconceptions when it comes to calories (part 1part 2).

How does exercise really affect our brains and how does it really make us happier?  Fast Company set out to understand the science.  Turns out addiction to exercise isn’t a crazy concept since BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) and those ever-popular endorphins have the same characteristics as nicotine, heroin, or morphine.  Big takeaway: Daily exercise of just 20 minutes is all it takes.

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Written by Mike Torres

January 10th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Books, Kettlebell Swings, and the Goal-Gradient Effect (Sunday Reads #1)

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Welcome to the first edition of Sunday Reads on Refocuser.  In an effort to both engage with my readers and have a complete archive of awesome stuff I’ve been reading, I’m going to start filtering the web for things that are most applicable to Refocuser subscribers.  This way you get the most out of subscribing to this blog and email newsletter.

These updates will consist mostly of links to other sites with minimal commentary, and will vary in length and depth.  They should be easily consumable… and should be fun.  Here we go.

Reading is Fundamental

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, believes in the power of reading books.  He says, “I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”  I agree 100% and have joined his book club to follow along.

More on reading books: Reading in the Age of Amazon is a great profile of the people I work with every single day at Amazon and our mission to empower the world to read more every day.  In short, reading is good for you and, of course, Kindle is the best way to do it.

On Fitness, Nutrition, and Sleep

“Optimized meat products higher in omega-3″ reduce body fat more than “optimized” products lower in overall fat. This implies that if we’re going to be eating meat, we should seek out the grass-fed variety. (via Mark Sisson)

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Written by Mike Torres

January 4th, 2015 at 11:53 am

Great Books I Read In 2009

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Click for Photo Every year I work to increase my reading output by figuring out unique ways to squeeze more books into my schedule.  It isn’t always easy, but I do view reading as a priority given the clear benefits (and joy) of learning and growing as an individual.  Americans in general are reading less every year; the last stat I saw said less than 40% of the population read at least one book last year.  Yikes!  Each year it seems as if our reading behavior becomes more fleeting; more geared towards the mindset of impatience in a world filled with 140 character ramblings.

The hardest part about sitting down to read a book these days is that there are so many other things competing for your attention, almost tricking you into believing you’re actually reading.  As an example, on a typical day, I could read 350 Facebook status updates, 75 Twitter updates, 250 emails, and 75 blog posts.  The first two types of “reading” are completely passive – days go by before I learn anything interesting about myself (or others for that matter).  The last one, blogs, are far more useful in that many times full ideas are presented in a clear, coherent manner.  Most of the bloggers I follow have unique and interesting things to say, and I value the time I spend reading their work (and if I don’t, I don’t follow them). 

But blogging is still what I’d consider “short-form” in that most blog entries are fewer than 5,000 words.  While still far more than the 140 characters of Twitter, they aren’t (usually) long enough to form a complete “story” about a topic.  They don’t always go into any reasonable depth on the research they cite, and many times they don’t do their own research like published authors do.  You just can’t always learn as much as you can from a well-written book.  Most importantly, you can’t get lost in a blog entry.  It’s awfully hard to find any sense of flow while reading a 2,600 word blog post.  And I value flow.

So I read books.  I appreciate the depth.

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Written by Mike Torres

January 11th, 2010 at 8:08 am

Posted in General

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How to Read 3 or More Books a Month

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Click for more infoMany people I know are frustrated that they don’t have the time to read more.  Between a commute, a time-consuming job, family responsibilities, and other hobbies, there just isn’t enough time in the day to start, much less finish, the book sitting on your nightstand.  I’m certainly no exception – far too often I start a book with good intentions, just to have it collect dust next to my bed until I just give up and put it back on the shelf. 

Sometimes it’s natural – not all books are worth finishing, and if you feel like you’ve already received 99% of the value in 10% of the time, sometimes it’s best to just move on.  But oftentimes it takes a while for a book to get interesting, and giving up too soon means you’ll never know.  Yet if you stick with it and don’t actually make the time to read, it could take 2-3 months to actually make it through – which means you may get to read just 3-4 books in a year.

There’s a better way.  Note that some of these tips are clearly for people who a) want and love to read, and b) are frustrated with the amount of reading they can do.  If you enjoy taking your time reading through a novel, ignore this post – but if learning and self-improvement are your goals, these tips can work wonders.  Most of the books I read are non-fiction: self-help, fitness, productivity, business profiles, motivation, and so on.  With books like these, I’m not looking for an experience, I’m looking for tools and tactics.  And the more quickly I can synthesize and incorporate the information into my life the better!

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Written by Mike Torres

March 4th, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Posted in Productivity

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