Why Effective Reading is important
I mentioned in my previous blog post about how to balance your input and output activities in learning business skills. Today we are going to touch on one of the input activity which is effective reading. We know the importance of reading, but we don’t pay enough attention on how to effectively read books. Time is precious for everyone, and effective reading will empower you to gain knowledge from the books that you read within a limited amount of time.
Stop Speed Reading
There has been a trend on speed reading to improve the productivity of gaining the knowledge. It is true that speed reading improves efficiency as you are reading those books in a shorter amount of time. Personally, I do not encourage speed reading for English books. The reason is that if English is your additional language, it may be difficult to grasp the context by speed reading. In many countries, books are not translated from English to your mother languages. In these cases, we will need to rely on English books to get the knowledge. I would recommend to people who has very high level of English skills or native English speakers to try out speed reading. Otherwise, you may read fast but may miss the complete picture of authors intention.
Read Variety of Books In Limited Amount of Time
As we understand the time constraints in our lives, we want to make sure to gain the valuable context and the knowledge from books. This means that we want to read variety books as much as possible. Therefore we need to learn a technique of effective reading besides speed reading. Let’s see how we can master effective reading in our daily life.
1. Set Objective of Reading
The first thing you must do is to clarify your purpose of reading. What do you need to know? Are there other ways to get the information? Maybe you just simply like reading books. You must have an objective to understand and the goal of getting the information you require. Make this clear, and I do recommend to write them down so that it will be much easier for you to follow further steps.
2.Select Books From Topic
Second, you need to select which book to read. When you want to learn something from books, make sure you select from the topic. The first step will help you to pick the book you need. Check reviews and table of contents whether it matches with the topic you intend to learn. I check at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.jp to search for the topic I want. The reason why I use three sites is that when you search for the topic, it will give you different results. Then I can see a variety of choices to check the books that I should read.
Make sure you don’t just jump to authors to look for the books you need. If you select your book based on author, it is either you have read the author’s book and wanted to learn more from this author. I also have experience that when I meet a good book, I would check the author and search for the books that author is writing. You must be careful about this approach because I want you to go back to the objective of reading the book. Did you get what you want from the first book you read? If yes, what is the meaning for you to spend the time to read the author’s other books? You can see that we make these decisions because we don’t think about why we are reading books. Again, we have limited amount of time. It is necessary for you to gain other skills or knowledge as well. If you still want to read the author’s book, that is still fine. Go back to the first process to set the objective.
3. Is Best Seller the Best Choice?
Many people read best seller books. If you think carefully about this, best seller books are read by many people. It must be a topic that everyone is interested and also it must be interesting to read. However, when your objective is to get knowledge about niche area, best seller books may not fulfil your needs. For example, a best seller for business strategy, would be for beginners and not for CEOs. Therefore you would again need to reflect back to the objective and check whether the book you are going to read match with the goal of effective reading. You may not always want those books which target average readers.
Nowadays you can check online and read the reviews on Amazon. Although you may not buy it at Amazon, you should understand how people felt about the book. In most cases, reviews reflect why other people intended to learn from the book and whether they were able to achieve that objective. Do not just judge from the starts because readers will assess books are one or two stars if the book did not match what they wanted. For instance, some people want more detail or higher level of observation of the topic where the book may focus on basics. Therefore it is necessary for you to take a little bit of the time to confirm the reviews. This effort is much better than to buy the book and waste your time reading it. You can avoid this in just a couple of minutes.
5.Check Table of Contents
You must test the table of contents before your buy the book. This is one of the things a lot of people know but do not do it. Most people will judge contents in the book from the titles and summary on the back. Good books will provide enough information for you to understand the structure of the book itself. Sometimes the title and the contents do not match. This is why you must check the table of contents and get the image of the structure of the contents, and confirm whether at least one chapter covers the topic you intend to learn. Do not buy the book unless it includes what you need. Most people fall into the trap based on how people evaluated the book itself. You should only focus on what you need not from others.
6.Check The First Chapter
In most of the business books, there is a summary in the first chapter. Read the first chapter carefully, and if the first chapter does not seem to meet your objective, you may have made the wrong decision to buy the book. If you also invest your time, that is going to be worse. The difficult thing for is to make a decision not to read the books we spent to purchase. Therefore you must make a decision whether you are going to invest your time to continue reading this book. There are a tremendous amount of books in this world. Some of them may not be good books to read or may not meet with your reading objective.
7.Focus on Facts
As a business professional, I am assuming that at least you have read a couple of books. There are different ways of effective reading depending on the type of the books and the stage you are in your career. When you are reading the book related to business skills, don’t read the entire book from the beginning. Most of the case you will not find 100% of new ideas or knowledge from the whole book. There are conceptual contents and facts, which elaborates on the concept or providing examples of case studies. Focus on facts and examples. The concept can be difficult to understand in the beginning because ideas are typically vague. However, if you learn the facts and examples, then you will get a better image of the concept.
8.Don’t Read Contents Irrelevant Contents
Also, it is important to skip to section or chapter which is not relevant to your objective. As I mentioned earlier, it ‘s hard to make the decision NOT TO READ. However spending your time reading about the contents which do not provide anything is worse. Although the book itself may be useful and fun to read, there are cases that just reading will be waste of time. Strategically make a decision NOT TO READ these contents because if you get one or two ideas and new knowledge from the book, it is worth investing your money and time.
9.Do Output Activity After Reading
After reading the book, you may feel that you’ve got the knowledge you wanted. This is just the beginning of learning. Now it is time for you to use that knowledge and challenge output activities. After or while you are reading the book, you can take a couple of notes or highlight the key portion. Then summarise in a notebook what you have learned. This does not have to be a structured memo, because for now, you are the only one who is going to read it. You can also write a review in Amazon to summarise what you have learned. Then people are going to see your review, and they will also give you feedback whether they agree with your review or not. Writing a blog about your book can also be another option. Some people join reading clubs where people read the same book, and after reading, they give feedbacks or exchange opinion about the contents. These output activities will help you to understand what you want to learn from the book.
How was this blog post about effective reading? I hope this will help you to improve your way of effective reading and become a better learner.