I love to read. I always have. And, if you’re like me, we have plenty of smart cookies in our ranks of the readers. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were addicted to both reading and their libraries.
However, there is a point where reading – blogs (other than this one), books, articles, and watching videos – however well intentioned begins to interfere with actually getting things done. You are, to paraphrase greater thinker than me, living the thoughts of others rather than developing and acting on your own.
Curiosity about ideas can and does sometimes eclipse action. And, if you want to accomplish things in your life, make money, help others, and support yourself and your loved ones then action is essential.
So, to help me both maximize the pleasure of reading non fiction and get the most real world benefit, I have developed a process that really helps me to get results.
This process has developed through the years and changes with time. There are many people to credit including my Grand Mother and my parents through the most recent contribution form Eben Pagan. And, while some of this may seem obvious or may already be second nature just play along and get to the end. I promise a few “keepers” as ideas go.
First, when I start, I read the flap, and the chapter headings and sub headings as well as any checklists or chapter reviews at the end of each chapter. This gives you the structure used by the authore and alerts you as to what to mine from the book.
At this point I ask myself: “As I read what ideas can I discover that can make me… (insert here – more money? greater happiness? a better spouse, parent or friend?” You get the idea. Discover and articulate your reason for reading this particular book and you will engage the reticular activating system of your brain and you may discover unexpected surprises.
Then, I read in more detail and put a post it note by important passages or ideas. I use a red note for information or research I might want to cite in an article or blog. I use a green one for ideas that I want to implement that should increase profitability. These might include marketing ideas, product or service ideas.
I put a blue tag (or highlight if that is your thing) by any passages or ideas for my personal life suhc as places to go, things I want to attend (perhaps a tradeshow or annual meeting is mentioned). Finally, I also note quotes that I like or want to use.
I am always myself and making a note of what persuades me as I read. Notice the persuasive techniques and language of others. And, I note what is important to me. I know, that I am not my customer but many of my clients and customers have similar interests.
Finally, and this is where we transition from just reading to getting real world benefits, I have a “HIT LIST” sitting by my side. This is a list of specific actions that I will take when I am done reading for the day or when I am done the book.
When I am done for the day I always evalute the list. Sometimes, something that seemed great in the heat for the moment seems silly or difficult to implement upon reflection. But, of the items that I am committed to doing, I always schedule time – right then and there- in my calendar to do them. That is, I have already taken an action. I have built momentum. The thing seems more real and important when it is in the calendar and you are more likely to act.
That is, in fact, how this blog entry got done. I set time aside last week to do it after I read a passage in Changing the Channel.
There is more to this process but that is enough for now.
Photo Credit: Lee Nachtigal