Week 0 – Become a little smarter everyday

When you start reading self-improvement books and you start experiencing its benefits, it becomes addictive and you only want to read more and more. And then you find yourself spending more time reading and getting excited at all the tips you will implement in your daily life while having no time nor the will to actually do it yet because you are too busy reading!

While I was busy piling up on my nightstand table all the books I was receiving from Amazon, this advertisement came out of nowhere (it is kind of scary how well Google knows me though):

Blinkist lets you read the key lessons from 1500+ nonfiction books in 15 min or fewer. Start your free trial today and find out how.

I went looking for the App (which is available for iPhone and Android) although you can also connect on your computer, and found a clearer description:

Blinkist distills the key insights of 1,500+ bestselling nonfiction books into powerful 15-minute reads or listens. Boost your knowledge and gain new perspectives to become a better, smarter you. Over 1 million users treat us as a companion on the most noble and challenging journey we know:

  • Fulfilling your human potential. #AlwaysLearning
  • Sharpen your professional skills with the best business books in your field
  • Explore your many-sided self with the most impactful self-improvement titles
  • Discover new perspectives on the world with bestsellers on economics, science, history & culture
  • Stay on top of the latest trends and ideas in your professional field


By the way it was named one of Europe’s Hottest Start-Ups in 2016 by Wired!!

I started with a 3 days free trial during which I listened to maybe 20 books and was so happy I sent the link to all my friends.

Although I was skeptical at first, I tested for the first time and loved the concept of audio books which allow you to slip learning into your day while stuck in public transports, at the gym, in the car, or doing chores. Also, when I listened to a particularly compelling book I would right down the main points in a note-book and the fact that you can switch between audio and text anytime is perfect to write down the key points you just listened to.

Everyday I also received a personalized reading list and I could listen to the books offline by uploading them in advance.

Although I am always interested in reading the full story behind a concept, summaries get you straight to the point and leave you with major lessons that you can assimilate easily and implement quickly into your life. I also use the summaries as a smart way of filtering out the books that are worth buying (there is a link to Amazon if you want to purchase the book you just read) and those for which listening to the key points is enough. In fact so far I just purchased 2 books (The Art of Happiness which I reviewed in my post Week 0 – How I went looking for the secret of Happiness and the 4 Hours Work Week a life changing best-seller that I’ll be reviewing later on) but was satisfied with just listening to the summaries of all the others. So you might have guessed it, once the trial expired (by the way no credit card was required during the free trial so no worries) I chose to pay to use it longer and had to choose between 2 membership options:

  • Blinkist Free – you can still read one pre-selected book per day forever!
  • Blinkist Plus – For $49.99 (or €49.99, if you’re in Europe) per year, you’ll get access to their entire library of 1800+ summaries, which is growing at 40 books per month. With a Plus subscription, you can highlight important bits and read all your summaries offline.
  • Blinkist Premium – For $79.99 (or €79.99, respectively) per year, you’ll have all the plus features plus the audio versions, when available. Even better, you can sync all of your highlights to Evernote and send book summaries straight to your Kindle.

Note: there is a 30-day money-back guarantee so I really recommend to try it.

Obviously I went for the cheapest version, Blinkist Plus but then I realized that I could only get one audio book per day, the Blinkist Daily Pick. So next day I switched to Blinkist Premium which has the Audio option which I find it extremely useful as I like to multitask.

blinkist.pngIf you think about trying it I summarized here-under my personal Favorites and also listed  some of the books that you can find in my reading list:

  • Get some Headspace: written by creator of the Headspace App that I presented in my previous post Week 0 – How I decided to learn something new every Day , the book gives an easy path to understand meditation and its benefits and how we can practice it 10 min every day. Meditation is being conscious of how and why we feel the way we do and appreciate what we are already doing instead of feeling overwhelmed with all the things we pressure ourselves into doing. Accepting your thoughts without judging and letting go when spiraling into negativeness will lead to a calmer state of mind and to become a more compassionate person.
  • 13 things mentally strong people do: it holds the answer to breaking the cycle of non-achievement and living the life you want through 13 ways to improve your mental strength. Make the best of things you cannot change and forget about self pity because the world doesn’t owe you anything (accept you cannot control all the outcomes), don’t depend on what others think of you and stop trying to please everybody in fear of not being liked, to implement change divide it in small steps that are less scary than a BIG objective and stop worrying about your pasts mistakes (we also tend to overestimate risk), don’t expect instant reward and commit to your objectives by changing small bad habits one by one, stop comparing yourself to other peoples (especially based on what you see on social media) and accept that you do not necessarily need the same things as others to be happy,  shift your negative thoughts into motivation to develop mental strength.

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping that it will kill your enemies” – Nelson Mandela

  • The miracle morning: this books describes the 6 crucial steps we can take every morning to help us jump-start our days and get us well on our way to a fulfilled life. The common mistakes people make are: dwelling on the past and thinking that who you used to be is who you will always be (Rear-view Mirror syndrome), treating events in your life as if they are disconnected from the rest but in fact making an excuse once (not going to the gym) is affecting the person you are becoming as well as your commitment to it (Isolating incident syndrome), hitting the snooze button in the morning and with your life which implies that you have no purpose for the day and are not excited to wake up. You can change this first by increasing your Wake Up Motivation Level: before heading to bed affirm to yourself that tomorrow morning you will feel refreshed, put the alarm to the other side of the room, do not get back to bed when it rings but brush your teeth and drink a big glass of water. Once you know how to get up set your alarm one hour earlier every morning and start this new routine: 10 mins of purposeful silence/meditation to think about things you are grateful for or just relax, read out loud your list of “affirmations” you have noted previously and that clearly express what you want from your life, visualize your ideal life and goals, do some morning exercise (preferably on an empty stomach) like 20 mins of Yoga, read 10p of a book on personal-growth (you can also listen to the summary of a book on Blinkist which I do every morning in the bus), write for 10 mins about lesson learnt & new commitments, things you are grateful for.
  • Eat, move, sleep: the key to living a long and healthy life is implementing many little habits daily. Have an healthy diet with more proteins and less empty carbs, eliminate added sugar, not only increase the time you are active but limit the time you are inactive (spending more than 6 hours per day sitting on your desk increases your chances of death to a rate similar to the risk of smoking), have at least 8 hours per night of good quality sleep.
  • The Pomodoro technique: Chop your work down into “pomodori” (25 minutes long periods of time) during which you work totally uninterrupted in order to make it manageable and keep your concentration. Pomodori help you stay motivated so that you get stuff done and get rid of stress. There is no such thing as a “half-pomodoro”: pomodori are always 25 minutes long so never interrupt it. You must take a 5 mins break after each pomodoro: breaks are not optional! After 4 pomodori you need at least a 15 to 30 mins break. All you need to get started is a timer and the list of all activities you have to do, split in a number of  equivalent pomodori.

More readings:

  • Magic words
  • The 4 hours work week
  • Rise from darkness
  • Organize tomorrow today
  • Finding your element
  • The happiness project
  • the power of habit
  • Hard wiring happiness
  • How to sop worrying and start living
  • The 80/20 principle
  • Crush it
  • the art of communication
  • The power of No
  • Mindset
  • Flow
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway
  • The art of happiness
  • 7 habits of highly effective people
  • Living your top 1%
  • Bulletproof diet
  • Felt Time
  • The gift of imperfection
  • Here comes everybody


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