An important lesson I’ve learned is that reading a book only makes sense if you can put the learnings into action.
Earlier I would focus on finishing a book. (which I admit is a task in itself). Once I finish a book, a sense of relief comes over. I take a few days break before I start reading another book. What use is the book if you don’t become better than when you started it.
I’ve started to do the following activities that has made my book reading endeavor a lot more useful and worthwhile.
1) I do a lot of research before I chose a book to read. The subject must catch my interest and it should be related to a larger goal am working towards to. For example, right now, am very interested in improving my productivity. A key part is to learn to focus and that’s why I found the book, ‘Deep Work’ very apt.
2) Before reading the book, I watch a few YouTube videos of the book and interviews with the author.
3) I listen to podcast interviews with the author. Watching the YouTube videos and listening to the podcasts gives me an excellent overview of the book.
4) Next, I read the condensed version of the book on Blinkist. I have subscribed to the Pro version and this lets me read and listen to the synopsis of the book.
5) Then I download the audio book on Audible (again, subscribed to the annual package). Audio books have been a game changer for me. I have an impressive completion rate of all the studio books. I still suck at reading physical books and have almost completely stopped buying them. I now swear by Audio Books.
6) I listen to audio books during two occasions. a) During my early morning walks. I walk for an hour and listen to audio books. 2) While traveling in my car or in a cab. Also during flights. I have started the habit of taking notes as I listen to the audio books. I carry a small notebook where I scribble down important points.
7) Once back home from my walk , I expand on those important points and publish the key learnings on my blog. This has helped me revive my long dormant blog.
8) I’m also conducting a workshop on the subject of the book. For example, this Saturday, October 15th, am conducting a 3 hour intensive, interactive workshop on the subject of ‘Deep Work’ and how to use focused concentration to improve productivity. I’m a firm believer that teaching is the best form of learning. 14 years of being a professor has ingrained this view in me deeply.
9) Because I need to conduct a workshop, this gives me the impetus to thoroughly prepare. This motivates me to listen to the audio book for the second time, take notes, create a presentation etc. This helps me to internalize the learnings.
10) Finally, I’ve begun to slowly but surely put the learnings into practice in my daily life. For example, I’ve allocated undisturbed time to blog about the points I’ve learned from the podcast. This very blog post you are reading now is testimony to it. If I can keep up at it daily for a month, it will become a regular habit and I don’t have to put any conscious effort.
Continuous improvement is something I’ve begun to enjoy. This is a work in progress and I’ll continue to share the best practices and important tips which I hope you find it useful too. Have a great, productive day!