Most people will agree that it is good to read, but not all reading is equal. Some people get a tremendous amount out of their reading and others get very little. Here are some tips for making your time spent reading as productive as possible.
1. Take notes.
Even if you never refer to your notes again, the process of taking notes helps you sort out what you feel is important and will help you remember it. You’ll have to choose between pixels or paper for your notes. Using something like Evernote or DevonTHINK will make it easy to find your notes later by subject or search. On the other hand, many people feel they recall information better when they had to write it by hand the “old fashioned way.”
2. Don’t be afraid to give up.
If you are like me, once you commit to reading a book, it is very hard to give up until you’ve conquered it. Given the number of great books that are available and our finite lifespan, it just doesn’t make sense to read a book that you aren’t getting anything from. I made it about half way through The Sound And The Fury before I realized this and decided there were far better uses of my reading time.
3. Variety is good.
While you don’t want to give up on a book that you are benefiting from, it is important to give yourself some variety by reading topics and styles that are not what you’d pick up naturally. We all tend to get into intellectual ruts of reading the same type of thing. Picking up a book at random or intentionally looking for something different than what you normally read can be very valuable in giving you a different perspective.
4. Review what you’ve read.
Reading a book is one thing, but actually recalling the knowledge when it is needed is something else. If you want to remember what you read, take the time to review. This is where your notes can help you. Ideally, you want to review things at ever increasing time intervals. When you finish a book, set yourself a calendar appointment to spend 15 minutes skimming through your notes in 2 to 4 days. Then 2 to 4 weeks after that and then 2 to 4 months after that. This will help solidify the knowledge in your mind and keep it easily retrievable when it can be helpful.
5. Discuss what you read with others.
One of the best ways to get more out of your reading is to discuss it with others. If you can talk with people in person, that is ideal, but don’t overlook the power of the Internet in connecting people with similar interests but different geography.
There you have it. Five tips for getting more out of your reading. What about you? Do you have any recommendations or things you do that help you get more out of what you read? If so, please share them in the comments.