One of the most popular topics here is reading efficiently, including How to read a lot of books in a short time and A reading workflow based on Leveen’s “Little Guide”. Using Leveen’s terminology, I have a candidates library of at least 50 books (i.e., purchased and in my bookcase), and a pre-candidates list of around 600 (kept on Amazon, but it’s not perfect). So I really want to read a lot (actually, to learn a lot), but the problem is my eyes are bigger than my stomach, and I’ve fallen behind. This is in spite of outsourcing voice note transcription .
(FYI, I read five books a week.)
You donâ€™t need to read every word.
You donâ€™t need to devour every page.
You donâ€™t need to understand every concept.
Just get the key ideas.
(See his post for details.) I have to say, it’s great to reminded of the basics, but humbling as well.
So in true Ideamatt fashion I decided to try an experiment: I would read five books, one hour per book, for five days straight to test and cement the idea. (This is really just a straightforward application of Parkinson’s law, commonly “Work expands to fill the time available,” a principle I’ve avoided before now.)
Guess what? It works. The one hour limit really focuses the mind, and makes it a challenging kind of race. To be honest I’ve only tried it for three days, but so far I’ve read:
- Time Management is an Oxymoron (thanks to reader Frank M. for the birthday present!)
- Organizing Your Home Office For Success: Expert Strategies That Can Work for You
- Hello, My Name is Scott
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, but which – frankly – seemed too long for the ideas involved. Very useful book , though.
I hope to keep this pace up.
Does it apply equally to every book? No; some clearly are worth further study. But can it be applied to every book? Sure! An hour will still give you a good sense of the concepts, and whether the work warrants more time. (Note that this philosophy is an nice application of The 80/20 Principle, which says not all books are of the vital few. Many books – esp. time time management books at this time – are in the trivial many.)
Up for a challenge? Try it for a week and share your results! Here’s a summary of the steps:
- Choose a nice reading spot.
- Block out an hour of uninterrupted time.
- Calculate briefly how fast you’ll need to go. A simple baseline is average time/page. For example, a 250 page book means you can only spend about 15 seconds/page! Clearly skimming skills are crucial.
- Gather your supplies – timer/watch, water, book, note-taking tool.
- Start your timer and dig in using your favorite reading method. I had good luck with SQ3R, though a teacher friend of mine was able to rattle off six from the top of his head.
- As you read, keep focused! You are a machine, enjoying pushing as fast as necessary.
-  Matt’s Idea Blog: The 4-hour workweek applied: How I spent $100, saved hours, and boosted my reading workflow
-  And yes, he’s apparently been blogging since January, 2003!
-  Check out A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD: How You Can Be More Creative, the Ball of Whacks (I’ve been having fun with them), and Von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack. (Hey – how can I resist someone who uses educational playing cards? I’m actively working on a set of Personal Productivity Playing Cards, starting with a recent LinkedIn question How do I go about producing custom educational playing cards?.)
-  Here are a few good resources: Adam Richardson’s Read this book: Made to Stick, lifehack.org’s book discussion, and their multi-part workshop series (start with Part 1).
Original post here: Matthew Cornell