If I could remember even a tenth of what I've read in the books I own, I'd be a lot better off. But that's only a part of the problem — I own books I've never even read. I bought them with good intentions, but somehow I never got around to reading them. You probably have some too — our bookshelves are smarter than we are.
If you like to browse bookstores, you probably know the thrill of new ideas, new perspectives, and clear thinking that only a book well savored can provide. When I find a book worth reading, I want to own it, and that's how it gets to my shelf.
This phenomenon is so widespread that in the book business, the "self-help" category is sometimes known as "shelf-help."
We probably would sit down to read if we had more time, but we're so busy that only the essential or fascinating reading actually happens. Since we do read if we have time and motivation, here are some tips to help you read more of what you really want to read.Many of us are
so busy that we
don't even read
the directions on
- Avoid reading what you don't want to read
- Electronic mail can really waste time. Report all spam to your postmaster, and make sure that your private and company spam filters are up to date. If you have an assistant, ask him or her not only to screen out unwanted mail, but also to make batches of related nonurgent messages.
- Return unused books to the company library
- Return to the company library any library books you rarely use. Another library user might make better use of them, and if many people do this, you might find something better in the library.
- Listen to books on tape
- Some books are best "read" on tape during your commute, especially those you read for entertainment. You'll get through a book, and you'll be less bothered about your commute.
- Organize a book swap
- Nearly everyone you work with has unread books, and some of those books are so interesting that you actually would read them if you owned them. Organize a book swap with the people you work with. On the designated day, all of you bring books to swap, and you're sure to find something even more fascinating than the books you now have.
- Organize a lunchtime book club
- Book clubs help keep you honest. Once you promise others that you'll read a book, you're more likely to actually do it. And you get more out of it when you discuss the book with others who've just read it, or who are reading it along with you.
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 5: Downscoping Under Pressure: I
- When projects overrun their budgets and/or schedules, we sometimes "downscope" to save time and money. The tactic can succeed — and fail. Three common anti-patterns involve politics, the sunk cost effect, and cognitive biases that distort estimates. Available here and by RSS on October 5.
- And on October 12: Downscoping Under Pressure: II
- We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.
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