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How to Read 31 Books in Four Minutes


• People are paying less attention to you than you might think.

• Expect mistakes, and design a system of choices that works around them.

• When given fewer options, such as with funds in a 401(k) plan, we’re more prone to make a choice.

Make Them Want You:
The Art of Seduction By Robert Greene

From the beginning of time, getting over has been the basic human art—and Greene plucks the best advice from philosophers, playwrights, novelists, and others.

• Treat your reputation like a work of art—something that you have to carefully consider and craft.

• Be hard to figure out. Send mixed signals: both tough and tender, both spiritual and earthly, both innocent and cunning. A mix of qualities suggests depth.

• Don’t be too nice.Charming and kind can grow monotonous. Try inflicting some pain instead. Make your target feel guilty or insecure. The lower the lows, the higher the highs.

• If you make someone the star, he’ll grow addicted to you.

• Be hypnotic. Repeat words, especially ones with emotional content, like “taxes,” “liberals,” and “bigots.”

Make Fun of Your Problems:
The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living By Dr. Russ Harris

A psychiatrist advises to stop searching so hard for happiness—and you might find it.

• To lighten up, voice a negative thought with a goofy voice, preferably one from a cartoon character.

• Thank your own mind as a way of defusing negative thoughts—“Ah yes, the ‘I’m a failure’ story. Thanks, mind.”

• As a way of separating yourself from your thoughts, take ten deep breaths. Let any thoughts come and go in the background. Imagine that they’re passing cars.

• Practice acceptance of difficult moments or thoughts, but say things like: “I don’t like this feeling, but I have room for it” and “It’s unpleasant, but I can accept it.”

Reach Productivity Nirvana:
Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better By Adam Pash and Gina Trapani

The would-be bible of the cubicle crowd aims to teach workers to become one with their computer.

• Devote the first hour of your workday to your single most important task.

• Identify time sinks and eliminate them.

• Practice efficiency with a timer for 60 minutes.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat:
Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better By Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi

The most important part of the game happens before the game even begins.

• Spend 80 percent of your time practicing 20 percent of the skills that are most important to you.

• Give skills a name and create your own vocabulary around it.

• Videotape yourself. Use it to capture real-life situations.

Run Your Life Like a Business:
How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon

Quantify, apply balance-sheet principles, develop a theory of the case, and execute it.

• Make the investment in your family life early, long before the tensions from a lack of care and energy reveal themselves.

• Never give in to the impulse to go against your moral code “just this once.”

• In times of doubt, do it yourself. This will give you the confidence that you can solve your own problems and take pride in the results.

Get Right With Your Right Brain:
Thought Revolution: How to Unlock Your Inner Genius By William A. Donius

Could changing yourself really be as simple as writing with your weaker hand?

• Using your dominant hand, draw a picture that represents your response to the following: “This is my life now.” Then turn the page, take a breath, and draw your response using the other hand.

Lose the Crazy:
How to Stay Sane By Philippa Perry

How to win the war against neurosis.

• Occasionally ask yourself throughout the day, “What am I feeling now? What am I doing right now? How am I breathing?”

• Rephrase seemingly innocuous questions. Instead of asking, “Does anyone want coffee?,” say instead, “I want coffee, and I want you to come with me.”

Learn at Warp Speed:
The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life By Timothy Ferriss

Cook your way to superfast expertise in any field.

• To hand-catch a pigeon, pin it against the ground, don’t grab it.

• When bear hunting in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, aiming for the shoulders will increase the likelihood of hitting vitals like the heart.

• Fruit will make you fat.

Let the Universal Forces Be With You:
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams By Deepak Chopra

The surfing-hidden-currents approach to self-help.

• Maintain silence for a certain period of time every day—one to two hours is ideal.

• Meditate twice a day—30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.

• Let go of the need to convince others that you are right—use that energy to instead focus on more positive pursuits.

Take Your Time:
Wait: The Art and Science of Delay By Frank Partnoy

A scientifically buttressed paean to taking your time when speaking, deciding, dating, operating, investing, etc.

• Don’t apologize until you fully understand what you did wrong.

• If you don’t know what you are doing, do nothing at all.

Reported by Eric Benson, Angela Hu, and Emma Whitford.


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