A perceived lack of time usually results in a lack of personal motivation. General ‘busyness’ stops us from getting things done; specifically those tasks that we see as important.
Let’s take reading as a case in point. Indeed, there are a lot of leadership books in my office ‘library’. I bought each one because it appeared to contain lots of useful information. And yet I have often felt overwhelmed by the task of reading them all. A few of you may be raising your eyebrows at that statement. Perhaps you’re a speed reader. And maybe you can read a good book within 24 hours.
If your intention is to digest 20 books every month then I congratulate you on your achievement. On the other hand, if like me you prefer to take a ‘deep dive’ into each book, extract the gems and apply them to your work (and even non-work) life, then that approach just won’t do.
Here’s how I do it:
Firstly I read the book through from cover to cover, underlining phrases that strike a chord. And I make notes in the margins.
Secondly, I go back to the beginning. And I re-read the parts I’ve underscored and dictate those straight into my computer. I now have a synopsis of the key points from the book. These are the messages I have identified as being helpful; the nuggets I can act upon.
Thirdly, I summarise the book in a few paragraphs; a couple of pages at most. As a result I’ll often write a blog post from it – or I’ll write a book review. I derive personal motivation from knowing that you can benefit from the articles I write, without having to spend time reading the books I’ve read – unless you want to of course!
To date this is the best way I have thought of to mine a book. And my learning from this process is that setting a target to read a book a month (never mind 20) isn’t realistic; not given how busy I am already. What I can do, however is to select six books I will read over the course of the year. And I can schedule in the time to do that properly; as well as apply the learning.
So, let’s say we read six books of relevance over a 12-month period. We extract all the value from them. And we apply those principles in business and in life. Imagine what kind of impact that would have on your work colleagues, friends and family. In addition, we would improve some aspect of our behaviour in the process.
Remember, once we understand a concept and buy into it, the learning and change that results is both unconscious and immediate. And here’s another way to make those improvements sustainable.
By the way, if you’re an avid reader and you’ve found a different approach to achieve the same result I describe here – or better; do leave a comment below; and let’s engage in an exchange of ideas.