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:
- Discussus Interruptus
- You're chairing a meeting, and to your dismay, things get out of hand. People interrupt each other so
often that nobody can complete a thought, and some people dominate the meeting. What can you do?
- Towards More Gracious Disagreement
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or lose points by being wrong, but nobody seems to know who keeps the official score. Here are some
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- Untangling Tangled Threads
- In energetic discussions, topics and subtopics get intertwined. The tangles can be frustrating. Here's
a collection of techniques for minimizing tangles in complex discussions.
- Solutions as Found Art
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Accepting this as a starting point can change our approach to problem solving.
- How to Waste Time in Virtual Meetings
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See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 20: Brainstorming and Speedstorming: I
- Recent research suggests that brainstorming might not be as effective as we would like to believe it is. An alternative, speedstorming, might have some advantages for some teams solving some problems. Available here and by RSS on February 20.
- And on February 27: Brainstorming and Speedstorming: II
- Recent research into the effectiveness of brainstorming has raised some questions. Motivated to examine alternatives, I ran into speedstorming. Here's Part II of an exploration of the properties of speedstorming. Available here and by RSS on February 27.
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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.