Effective reading is essential for you as the busy executive if you continually want to progress down the path of success. Joseph Addison quoted “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”. Truman quoted “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”. The challenge with the busy executive is finding the time to read. Reading is one of those important but not urgent activities that eventually gets sacrificed for more pressing matters.
There are 3 aspects to effective reading.
- The first aspect is reading consistently. This includes finding the necessary time and clocking the desired hours.
- The second aspect is to read material that adds value to your life. Note that Facebook browsing also constitutes a form of reading but may not be adding significant value to your life.
- The third aspect is to increase the reading efficiency. This includes being able to read faster and comprehend better.
The following are 10 strategies that you could use to boost your reading effectiveness. These are strategies that would be beneficial to the busy executive who has a variety of reading material to cover.
- Effective Reading Tip # 1 – Keep Track of Your Reading in GoodReads
- Effective Reading Tip # 2 – Read Digitally
- Effective Reading Tip # 3 – Consolidate Your Reading Material
- Effective Reading Tip # 4 – Conduct a Weekly Review/Planning of Your Reading
- Effective Reading Tip # 5 – Build a Reading Routine
- Effective Reading Tip # 6 – Avoid Mindless Reading
- Effective Reading Tip # 7 – Set Reading Goals
- Effective Reading Tip # 8 – Learn to Speed Read
- Effective Reading Tip # 9 – Listen to Audio Books
- Effective Reading Tip # 10 – Read Book Summaries
Effective Reading Tip # 1 – Keep Track of Your Reading in GoodReads
Keep track of the books you have read, are currently reading or plan to read by using a mobile app called GoodReads. Goodreads can recommend books of interest based on previous books you have read. You get better recommendations if you rate the books you have read. For GoodReads to work effectively, you need to engage with it. This includes rating the books and reading reviews.
Benefits : GoodReads keeps track of all your reading statistics and gives a good overview of your overall reading. It allows you to validate the worthiness of reading a particular book by reading user comments.
Effective Reading Tip # 2 – Read Digitally
Sign up for Kindle or Scribd. These are some of the worthy services that provide access to EBooks. Both allow an annual paid service which gives you access to a large number of books. Some books require a separate purchase.
Benefits : Digital reading enables you to sync your books across all mobile devices. This provides you access to your books at times when you are very likely to have idle time such as waiting in queues. This increases your opportunity to read.
Effective Reading Tip # 3 – Consolidate Your Reading Material
You should organize your reading material into the following 4 locations;
- Physical books
- Ebooks (Kindle / Scribd / etc.)
- Physical Folder – Loose articles
- Digital folders – Evernote Notebook / Pocket
Benefits : This ensures that all your reading material is in a single location. You can find the material you need with minimum mental effort. Having reading material all over the place without knowing how much there is to read, can overwhelm and numb your mind.
Effective Reading Tip # 4 – Conduct a Weekly Review/Planning of Your Reading
Spend 15 minutes to review your reading for the current week and planning your reading strategy for the coming week. Reviewing your current status will help with planning for the coming week. This should include the exercise of estimating how much you want to read and when you expect to read. You should also ensure that the material you want to read will be found in the appropriate reading folder.
Benefits : This exercise will set the expectation for the week. It will also calm your mind and assure it that you have your reading under control. It will also focus your reading efforts thus avoiding haphazard reading.
Effective Reading Tip # 5 – Build a Reading Routine
Your reading effectiveness will increase tremendously when you build a routine around it. Find a routine that fits into your lifestyle. You could decide to read for an hour before you sleep, as Bill Gates does. You could also decide to read in the train as you commute or over lunch. Do what works for you but it must be something that you can turn into a routine.
Benefits : A routine will help you bring consistency into your reading. It reduces the mental effort of looking for reading time. Once you know your routine, you can also judge the number of reading hours you can spend in a week. This helps set better expectations and you will eventually know exactly how much reading load you can manage in a week.
Effective Reading Tip # 6 – Avoid Mindless Reading
Most people say that they can’t find time to read. What they are actually saying is that they can’t find time to read material that will add value to their lives. Reading mindless material puits a tremendous drain on your time. This includes browsing Facebook and newspapers. Be selective in what you read. This is why a weekly review of your reading material is essential. Use apps like GoodReads to find material that is in-line with your reading goals. You can also read the book reviews before you commit to invest in a book.
Benefits : Spending time researching what you want to read can greatly save you time and add to the enjoyment in the long run. A lot of people buy books on impulse and feel obliged to finish reading since they spent money on it. They feel a sense of loss if they do not finish reading the book. Avoid this at all costs. Your most valuable resource is your time.
Effective Reading Tip # 7 – Set Reading Goals
Set your weekly and monthly reading goals. As mentioned earlier, this sets the expectations for the week and month. Assess your reading status with regards to your goals when you do your weekly reading review.
Benefits : Goals will focus your energy towards your reading efforts. You will definitely be able to get more out of your reading by setting these goals.
Effective Reading Tip # 8 – Learn to Speed Read
Speed reading will increase your reading efficiency. This is the last step towards increasing reading effectiveness. The fastest way to increase you reading speed is by reading with your eyes without pronouncing the words. This will give your reading speed an immediate boost. Increase your speed further by consuming chunks of words rather than single words. There are many speed reading programs available.
You could also increase your digital reading speed by using speed reading apps. These apps flash words from an article at a certain speed. You could increase the speed of words flashed as you get better. You should eventually be able to read at a 1000 words per minute. Examples of such apps include ReadQuick, Litz and Rush Reader.
Benefits : Speed reading will boost your reading ability as it allows you to consume large amount of information.
Effective Reading Tip # 9 – Listen to Audio Books
Audios of your favourite books are readily available via services such as Audible or Scribd. This is a fantastic way to take you reading to the next level. It allows you to use your least productive time to listen to audios of books. You will find that this one strategy alone will free up tremendous additional “reading” time. It is a must for the modern executive. Most people spend about an hour a day commuting. You could easily complete an average audiobook within a week. This gives you the opportunity to read an additional 50 books a year.
Benefits : Audiobooks free up tremendous additional “reading” time. You could use your conventional reading time to read web articles and reports. You may find that audiobooks could fulfill all your reading goals thus freeing your conventional reading time for other activities.
Effective Reading Tip # 10 – Read Book Summaries
Consider reading summaries of your favourite books. Some books have a lot of fluff that could be condensed into a 5 to 10 page book summary. Services that provide book summaries include GetABstract, Blinkist, Executive Book Summaries or Business Book Summaries. Note that not all summaries are of the same quality.
Benefits : Summaries can extract the gist of a book into 5 to 10 pages. Provided that the summary is done well, you get the book’s key message which you could probably read in 15 minutes. You could also use summaries to identify books that appeal to you. You could then choose to read the longer version.