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 non-urgent 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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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Most of us get too much email. Some is spam, but even if we figured out how to eliminate spam, most
would still agree that we get too much email. What's happening? And what can we do about it?
- Working Lunches
- To save time, or to find a time everyone has free, we sometimes meet during lunch. It seems like a good
idea, but there are some hidden costs.
- Organizing a Barn Raising
- Once you find a task that you can tackle as a "barn raising," your work is just beginning.
Planning and organizing the work is in many ways the hard part.
- Accepting Reality
- Those with organizational power can sometimes forget that their power is limited to the organization.
Achieving high levels of organizational and personal performance requires a clear sense of those limits.
- Bottlenecks: II
- When some people take on so much work that they become "bottlenecks," they expose the organization
to risks. Managing those risks is a first step to ending the bottlenecking pattern.
See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 12: Effects of Shared Information Bias: II
- Shared information bias is widely believed to lead to bad decisions. But over time, it can erode a group's ability to assess reality accurately. That can lead to a widening gap between reality and the group's perceptions of reality. Available here and by RSS on December 12.
- And on December 19: Embarrassment, Shame, and Guilt at Work: Creation
- Three feelings are often confused with each other: embarrassment, shame, and guilt. To understand how to cope with these feelings, begin by understanding what different kinds of situations we use when we create these feelings. Available here and by RSS on December 19.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.