Which one skill do most of us possess but not use enough?

Sarah Healy
Feb 15, 2019 · 5 min read
Are you using this skill? (Illustration by Sarah Healy)

Warren Buffet, a man often renowned as the greatest investor of our era was once asked for his thoughts on the best way to prepare for an investing career.

His answer. Read.

He indicated to a stack of papers and trade reports he had brought with him and said,

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

This provoked me to ask myself “Am I reading enough books?”. And if not, then why not?

I always find I am happier when I make time for reading. I love digesting the bounty of information each book contain. As American author and marketing guru, Seth Godin says

Every book is a bargain.

Yet when a particularly busy period emerges at work or in my personal life reading is often the one thing that gets sacrificed.

If I do not read there is no immediate dastardly outcome. Life continues to march on at the uncomfortably frenetic pace that it does.

But, I feel it.

My brain begins to shrivel, and a little part of me inside dies a quiet death.

So how can I prevent brain depletion and the death of my soul?

Here are three ways you can squeeze more reading into each day that will accumulate knowledge and flex those reading skills.

1. Organize your reading lists.

Thank you to Ivan Kokhno for being the brainchild behind this first method.

Generally, my approach to reading can be really chaotic. I find it difficult to narrow down that fast amount of book recommendations that span the internet and distill choices into a realistic target that will grow my yearly tally.

Ivan Kokhno is currently experimenting with a more organized approach and kindly shared his reading habit with me, which in turn I am sharing with you.

His approach is proactive and focused, with a monthly goal which extends to reading six books in total. Two of which are plucked from a specific genre.

This is the part which interests me the most. I have never distilled my book choices to such a degree. Yet by focusing on one key area for an entire imagine the sheer knowledge I would accumulate. My lack of focus is perhaps why I feel so overwhelmed when choosing from the endless list of book titles.

How to organize your monthly reading list

  • Pick your monthly goal, how many books are you aiming to read
  • If you do not succeed in finishing all the chosen books, they can spill over into the next month
  • Choose which genre you wish to focus on: Spiritual, self-help, fiction, non-fiction — the choice is up to you. It can also be a mix of all of these.
  • Distill your book choices by asking yourself
    - What is it you hope to learn?
    - What skills do you wish to acquire?
    - What direction do you want to go in life?

2. Read 300% faster

Ok, speed reading may not be the most enjoyable way to submerge yourself in a book.

But if you are pressed for time and trying to adhere to a reading schedule it is an option.

This method is defined by the process of controlling fine motor movement and was utilized by the author of The 4-Hour Work Week — Tim Ferris when he taught undergraduates at Princeton University the principles of speed reading at a seminar called the “PX Project.”

The method utilizes a pen as a tracker. Holding the pen in your dominant hand, you will underline each line (with the cap on), keeping your eye fixation above the tip of the pen. This will not only serve as a tracker, but it will also serve as a pacer for maintaining consistent speed and decreasing fixation duration. You may hold it as you would when writing, but it is recommended that you hold it under your hand, flat against the page.

You can read the full article here to see a full breakdown of this method.

3. Read 20 pages a day

That seems pretty do-able, right?

So what does this equate to in a year?

It, of course, depends on your reading speed but let’s say that you can read 20 pages per hour.

This can be broken down in reading for the first hour that you wake up. Yes, this might entail getting up an hour earlier than you usually do. Or you could split the hour up throughout the day
- 15 minutes when you wake up
- 15 minutes during lunch or commuting
- 15 minutes when you get back from work while having a nice cup of tea
- 15 minutes before you faceplant at bedtime.

If you can dedicate two hours each to reading, that will equate to 240 pages a week and will help you hit 52 books per year.

Imagine reading 52 books each year and all the accumulated knowledge that would accompany such a feat.

These methods may seem quite rigorous and destroy the sheer joy of reading. However, I don’t find adhering to a rigid reading routine robs me of the sheer joy of reading. If anything it makes me hungrier to devour as many books as possible.

When time allows I like to whittle away a Saturday or Sunday by reading. There is nothing I love more than languidly lounging on my couch on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon and curling up with a good book. Coffee close to hand so I can revel in its warmth and delicious flavours while scouring the words that reveal themselves to me so unabashedly.

What about you? Do you structure your reading or tend to read whatever takes your fancy?

Even better, I would love to see where you read. Do you have a reading nook that could rival any posted on Pinterest?

I myself have always not-so-secretly coveted those deep windowsills that have been converted into a reading haven.

Someday. I tell myself. Someday.


How to be your best self.

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