The average businessperson today is reading thousands of words of e-mails, reports, news stories, business information, magazine articles, and other data. To be successful today, you have to keep current with your reading requirements. We live in a knowledge-based society, and one key piece of information can have an immediate effect on your work and your decision making. Take some time to be selective about what you read. The best time saver in the world of reading and keeping current is the Delete button on your keyboard. Use it early and use it often. Resist the temptation to spend time reading things that are not of immediate value or relevance to your life and work.
How to Read Faster
You cannot avoid all of the incoming information, but you can sort it and go through it at a time and place that makes sense to you. One of the most important skills you can develop is to learn to speed-read. If you have never taken a course in speed-reading, you should do it now. This one course will allow you to triple your reading speed and level of retention, probably in the first two lessons. The technologies that have developed in speed-reading are quite phenomenal, and anyone can learn how to read 500 to 1,000 words per minute with high levels of comprehension.
- Bunch Your Reading
When you come across valuable items, summaries, or pieces of information on the Internet, print them out and put them into a file, or put them aside in a separate digital file on your computer for reading later. Instead of “task-shifting”—that is, switching away from the work that you are doing to read a recent piece of information—put it aside to read at a later time. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will be amazed at how much more you read, and how much more attention you can give when you do read that material. With regard to newspapers especially, you can either have the most important information published in newspapers come to your computer on a daily basis, or you can read the paper version. In either case, skim quickly and read only what is relevant to you. In news reporting, the most important information is usually in the headline and the first paragraph. Very often, you do not need to read all the details in the story to understand exactly what has happened.
- Read Selectively
Magazines are designed and crafted in a way to get you to read through the magazine page by page. This is so that you will get the maximum exposure to the advertisements in the magazines. (It’s the same with newspapers.) For this reason, you must read magazines, journals, newspapers, and newsletters selectively, reading only what is relevant and important to you. Review the table of contents and go straight to the articles of interest to your life and work. A great technique for printed materials is called “rip and read.” Rip out the articles that you want to read, put them in a file, and carry the file with you to be referred to later, when you have “downtime.” Review books carefully before deciding which ones you want to spend time reading. You can subscribe to book review services, both in print and online, and get the very best ideas from any book in just a few minutes.