Earlier this year, New York magazine ran an article headlined “How to Read 31 Books in Four Minutes.”
Far more abridged than even Cliff Notes, the article included just a handful of ideas from each self-help book.
Maybe the universe will collapse in on itself if I further summarize an already very brief synopsis of some of the books they chose, but I’ll risk it. But seriously, read the whole thing — where else can you get this cross-section of ideas this quickly?
How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less By Nicholas Boothman
• Find moments during a conversation to say “Me, too” or to otherwise establish common interests.
• The next time you’re talking to someone, synchronize your body language with the other person for 30 seconds.
59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute By Richard Wiseman
• If you’re male, arrange to have a female friend accompany you on a night out to purposely laugh at your jokes.
• To be more creative at meetings, lean forward, grip the table, and pull against it. When your creativity is blocked, cross your arms.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business By Charles Duhigg
• Make your bed every morning; other good habits may take hold.
• To start a new habit, pick a specific cue and a clear reward.
Mastery By Robert Greene
• Embrace tedium.
• Mastery is not genius; it is a function of concentration and time.
The 4-Hour Workweek By Timothy Ferriss
• To avoid wasting time, check email twice a day: first at noon, and again at 4 p.m., the two busiest times for binging on email.
• Instead of responding to voicemail by phone, go through email instead. This teaches you, and your contacts, to be concise.
Steal Like an Artist By Austin Kleon
• Start copying. Copy your favorite writer, musician, painter. You’ll get a better sense of how they think and create.
The Start-Up of You By Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
• Create an “interesting-people fund.” Use it to pay for coffee or lunches with people you find interesting.
• Who are the 10 people you’d reach out to if you ever got laid off? Reach out to them now, when you don’t need anything from them.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion By Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.
• Prepare the ground for making a request of someone by doing him a small favor.
• Ask for more than you want; once you’re turned down, ask for what you want.
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It By Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
• Exercise your willpower brain muscles by planting temptations throughout the house—hiding candy bars in plain sight, etc.—then don’t have them.
• Chart your willpower for a week. Then plan your schedule strategically and limit temptation when you know your willpower will be at a low.
How to Think More About Sex By Alain de Botton
• See bad dates the way you see bad weather. Natural parts of life that can’t be prevented or controlled.
• Reframe your view on impotence—not as a sign of inability, but instead as a sign of evolved compassion and kindness.
New York magazine is one of my favorite publications — we’ve pared down our hard-copy subscriptions to eliminate clutter and waste, but this one still makes the cut every year. Check out “How to Read 31 Books in Four Minutes” but also check out the rest of their site, if you’re at all interested in New York or popular culture.