Reading for –dummies– people with too little time

My tagline is “the more I work on me, the better my life gets” and the best way to work on yourself is reading books.

In school, I’d always feel guilty if I skipped part of the reading. Summaries are all online nowadays to make things worse. Teachers always tell you to read the whole book. Often, they’re wrong.

In a college class I only needed to get two answers right on an extra credit test about a book to convert my grade to a solid “A”. There were 10 questions.

I picked up the book and looked at the cover.
That was everything I needed to read.

I realized I had heard a review of the book and its contrarian theme the week before. I decided to take the test without ever opening the book. I got 6 questions right. It was an easy “A”.

Did I cheat? No! I knew the important part: the author’s bias. I knew his opinion in advance of reading anything. There wasn’t much I needed to know from the book. Only two questions and I got what I wanted. I didn’t even need the “Cliff Notes” version.

You’re out of school. You don’t need to get a perfect score on every test. I’ve heard that you only use 10% of what you learn in college, but you don’t know what that 10% is going to be. That’s why you read the whole book in college.

In the real world, read that 10% (maybe 15% if you want to make sure) and barely skim the rest so you can find it in the future if needed.

Easy 1-2-3-4 to read as much of a book as you actually need

  1. Start with the front and back cover. Is this in an area you really need to learn more about? Read the intro if the book has one. It’ll give you a better idea of what you’d be diving into.
  2. Onto the table of contents. What chapters are useful, especially for the current situation?
  3. Try reading the first and last page (or even paragraph) of every chapter that you’re unsure is useful. Look at any charts, graphs, or other images.
  4. Only read the short list of chapters that you’ll learn the most from. Cutting out half a book is common, especially if you’re well versed in the larger subject area.

“But Bryan, I just don’t have time! Even for that!”

 Me either. So, buy audiobook versions of your books. Then listen to them in the car while you drive. You can’t trim out as much but hearing it in passing isn’t going to hurt if you weren’t using that time already. There is so much time available! Get reading in while you’re driving.

Train yourself. Over the decades, I’ve spent well over $15,000 on training books and videos. That’s before the at least $50,000 I’ve spent on live training. I have no doubt they’re the only reason I’m still in business as a recruiter.

You don’t need a lot from a book. One page, one line. One little idea is all it takes for you to learn enough for a raise or a new job. If you run your own business, one idea can make you millions. You only need to find that one idea.

Admittedly, sometimes that idea is to read the whole book! And maybe several more. It can take a lot to learn a new skill, but it can make you a lot of money in return.

Something To Do Today

 Go find a book related to something you’ve wanted to learn more about. Scan through it like I said. If it’s the one you want, get it as an audiobook and listen to it every day as you travel to and from work.

Working doesn’t make you successful. Working on yourself makes you successful.

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