Excel by Learning the Secret to 'Power Reading'
I’m an avid reader. A devourer of books, if you will. Usually, I read tons of business and personal development books with some sci-fi or fantasy sprinkled in, just for fun.
Before you ask, the answer is a definite "no" -- I don’t spend three hours, every day, reading books. I work out, spend time with my family, write code, work with app companies, go to the beach whenever possible and just have fun. I basically lead a fulfilling life.
Most people that read as many books as I do just power through from one book to the next, pushing out a large majority of the great information they just took in. What a waste. But I am here to tell you -- it doesn’t have to be that way.
There is method to the madness. There is a way to read tons of books and actually learn from them without being some eccentric genius. The first roadblock is how intimidating it is to read that much in a year. I read about 20 books a year. I get asked all the time -- although they are really asking -- "Who has time for that?" But when you break it down into manageable chunks, it’s totally doable.
One chapter a day, 20 pages a day, or whatever works for you. If you keep that up, you’ll be reading a book a month just like that. Add it up. That's 12 books every year and super manageable, if you ask me.
To add in more books, the only thing you have to do is read faster. That may sound pretty stupid, but again, it’s totally doable. Look around the internet a bit, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of information and pointers on how to read faster.
Sadly, I don’t have any magic tricks.But I can say that, luckily, the more you read, the more focus you have when you read. And the more focus you have when reading, the faster you end up reading. That’s it! It’s a beautiful thing.
Now that you know how to read more -- and faster -- how in the heck can you remember in January what you read in July? The key is what you do when you close the book for the last time. Write a simple, one page summary about it.
Whenever I have a marketing problem I’m facing, I don't have to worry. I have about 10 one-pagers to refer to. If I’m stressed-the-hell-out, no worries. I’ve got about five one-pagers to read over and help chill. Not feeling so productive? I'll pull out one of my 15 summaries about getting motivated again.
In that brief window when you wrap up a book, it is fresh in your mind. Something about finishing it makes it easy to reflect back on it all. Just think about the season finale of Game of Thrones, or the ending credit to any movie, ever.
You close that book, and you get the highlight reel in your mind. Take advantage, and write it down. Grab your notebook of choice (I’m a weirdo and like to write in fancy Moleskin’s or use Evernote) and get it on paper.
I like to use a bulleted list and run through the book, chapter by chapter, writing down the key takeaways. The secret is to write down your key takeaways -- not bullets from the author, not from reviews or blogs, but from you personally.
This whole exercise takes me a whopping five minutes. And what I get when I’m done is an easy-to-digest, one-pager of knowledge that will help me for the rest of my life.