Among a number of good habits that can boost your potential on the job, lots of experts are recommending daily reading as a pick-me-up that can do wonders for your productivity and motivation.
No, we’re not talking about reading company reports, or trying to cram sheets of technical specifications into your brain. We’re talking about reading for pleasure. If you’re one of those people who “doesn’t read fiction”, find some interesting non-fiction you can sink your teeth into.
Studies have found that reading for leisure or entertainment for 30 minutes a day can have some pretty remarkable effects on your brain.
Battling Mental Issues
Elective reading can help deal with certain kinds of problems like depression, anxiety and general malaise, while also helping prepare the brain to defend itself against things like Alzheimer’s later on in life.
There are clear neurological and neuroscientific results from elective reading that have to do with the activity itself, and the ways that it stimulates our brains. But there are other effects as well – in its own way, reading functions as relaxation. Just like things like yoga and meditation, it takes our minds away from the always-on rapid swirl of our modern lives, and helps us to re-center and re-orient ourselves. And that’s important for anyone in any walk of life, and with any type of job.
The Human Connection
Another way that reading helps comes down to the need that we have as humans to be part of a community.
In too many cases, we simply don’t think about what it means to be lonely, or how we spend our days, or whether or not we’re tied into something that makes us feel holistically healthy. Reading can help to change all that — by presenting human scenarios in a compelling way, by showing us narratives that help us dream and imagine other circumstances, reading feeds empathy and brings us closer to other people. Such literary greats as Stephen King have discussed the idea of reading as a kind of ‘magic trick’, of a telekinetic link between the writer and the reader. But there’s also the person’s ability to put themselves in the shoes of an imaginary character. All of this boils down to the idea that reading ties together certain types of concepts that make us feel more whole, which is why research has suggested that reading a book can make people feel better than talking to a friend on the phone or taking a walk.
In general, reading of any kind also helps with gaining perspective and knowledge about the world. The liberal arts education emerged out of the idea that learning isn’t just about applying a particular technical set of skills. It’s about making decisions, working with logic, and becoming a critical thinker. Reading almost always helps us do this, by helping us break out of the box and envision something different, or contemplating various problems worked into the narrative or plot line. That’s another way that reading can make you more productive and capable at work — by basically stretching your mental resources, and keeping them limber for whatever is coming your way.
For more on workplace habits, HR issues and hiring, take a look at Full Steam Staffing. We provide staffing services and business consulting to our Ontario, California client base, along with a blog dedicated to speaking out on the challenges of modern business.