Want To Be Smarter? Put Your Phone Down And Do This Instead

Aug. 27, 2021

Reading books might seem old fashioned in today's social media world. But it's still a top way to keep your mind sharp.

"In an era shaped by information technology, knowledge and data have become the new gold," said Jacob Villa, co-founder of School Authority, an education website. "And what is one of the best ways to accumulate knowledge and information?"

Reading books, he and many experts agree. Many people might complain they are too busy to partake in the pre-phone pastime. But reading books is still a key to business success and worth making time for.

Reading Books Sets You Apart

It's clear at once to others when you make a habit of reading books. How? Not just by what you say. But also how you say it and the words you use.

Alex Beene, an adult education and literacy advocate for the State of Tennessee, said. "(Human resources) directors ... said to me they can tell in an interview which potential employees read more just by listening to them."

Consider vocabulary, one of many skills reading books helps to improve. "Reading books and printed media exposes us to words and terminology we are not familiar with and have no definition for," said Satya S. Parija, founder and chief medical officer of DoctorSpring, an online medical resource. This "prompts us to look up the definition of these terms" for future reference.

Elevate Grammar Reading Books

The benefits of reading books go beyond boosting your word choices. Reading also "improves your grammar, because you start to internalize the rhythms of speech," said Katherine McCaskey, a content specialist at NetCentrics, a technology provider. "Good writing is a bit musical, even on the page."

By reading books "without knowing it you absorb all these new phrases, clauses and words," said Neil Morton, co-founder of StudioPYBO, a marketing agency in Canada.

Another plus: You become a better writer. That's critically important today, says Andrew Ordover, vice president of Achieve 3000, which provides online instructional solutions for students.

"In our remote or hybrid-work world, where we're face to face less often, our ability to communicate in words clearly and without misunderstanding is crucial," he said. "When you're writing, you get only one shot" to get your meaning across.

Boost Your Focus With Books

Morton contends reading also improves concentration. "When you get lost in a book, you aren't distracted by a phone or anything around you. It's just you and your book. Your concentration level increases, which translates into better quality meetings in the office and online conversations," he said.

How do all these skills come into play in the real world? Perhaps most importantly, they set you apart from the many who don't have them. "The more tools you have in your tool box the more jobs you can take on," said Ordover.

Reading Books Helps Others Read You

Skills gained from reading books teach you "how to (better) convey your ideas and thoughts," says Russell Van Brocklen, a researcher who helps dyslexic students read better.

Cynthia Harlow, founder of Personality Max, which helps companies assess employee strengths, says: "Using the right word makes you a more effective communicator and boosts your self-esteem. This can help advance your career because people will perceive you as confident and efficient."

And don't just limit yourself to fiction. Reading news reports offers many professional benefits, too. "Knowing what is going on in the world, the latest trends and insights into other areas, will benefit (you when you) interact with those individuals already at higher levels" in the company, said Michelle Diamond, founder of Diamond Executive Resumes.

"The ability to hold your own with written and spoken words gives you incredible leverage," StudioPYBO's Morton said. "Professionals want to be around people who make them smarter. They are drawn to that."

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