Monday, May 12, 2014

How to get more reading done.

I am a bit crazy. Crazy in the fact that I hate television and try to distance myself from most technology in my apartment. I do this partly out of fear of EMF radiation but that is really not the main reason.

I maintain this blog but I do if from the comfort of my work place or the confines of a nice coffee shop. But the reason I lack the technological comforts of most modern people is because I feel like for my goals it is largely a distraction.

This year has been a year of personal growth and to me internet and television are a distraction. The things I try to focus on are increasing my knowledge base and although both those things are incredible tools they are also an incredible distraction.

Sure I have my phone but even that stays disconnected for the most part because in part I just can't afford to go over my data. Nevertheless the idea from this post is not an original one and I came to the idea for from a post by Dr. Michael Eades, M.D. the author of Protein Power on his blog.

So instead of talking about strength and health I just want to talk about strategies on how you can basically cram more reading into your life and to consume as much information as possible.

Almost none of these strategies are my own in fact they are all borrowed from somewhere else, but, all of them I use or have used to get more reading done.

If you haven't read Eade's post that was link to earlier he talks at one point about bedtime reading where he starts with the most complex book in a stack of books and when he starts to get tired switching to something less complicated.

This is a pretty good strategy and one that I use to varying degrees.

As for following websites Eades recommends a web application Feedly which is really the thing I've used the most from this article and have damn near become obsessed with. Feedly is an RSS reader and I think it has a pretty simply interface though it is frustrating that I can't follow all my favorite sites. Like one of my best friends who writes on MMA over at the MMA Movement but it is how I primarily consume information on the web along with things like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit acting as another source of content.

However, I am not really much of a speed reader yet it is a skill that I am actively pursuing but am not quantifying or putting into numbers. The main reason I don't like to put numbers to my speed reading is because I find that it varies on things like my energy level and diet. If I'm tired, inflamed or having some sort of hypoglycemic issue I am not focusing very well.

Nevertheless, I've adapted a strategy and modified it from Tim Ferriss' "4-Hour Work Week" probably one of the best books I've ever read and only slightly implemented into my life. There was a brief moment where I was in the process of starting my own business and this was crucial but it fell apart and the thing I use the most now from the book are his speeding reading principles.

Basically, when I speed read I don't try to think about going fast if I actively try to speed read then I don't read the book and instead my thoughts drifts to the question "how fast am I reading?" Instead, I basically will follow along reading with my finger and try to keep my reading ahead of where my finger is on the page.

This strategy basically has allowed me to chunk the text into groups that I read instead of going word by word. Ferriss talks about focusing on every second or third word of a sentence and reading from the the peripherals. I find this sort of naturally happens if I just read ahead of my finger. This is great for non-fiction or just books that are boring but you are determined to finish (very un-Ferriss like I admit but there is a certain satisfaction of saying you read something even if you think it sucks... I'm looking at you "Game of Thrones".)

As for speed reading on the net I would have to thank Reddit/r/nootropics for that one.Just basically reading up on some different smart drugs someone was talking about how they use and application called spreeder along with piracetam to increase reading speed.

Spreeder is great and is basically a web application that just shows you words one at a time at a speed set by you to read an article fast. I don't use this app all the time because it looks like some sort of brain washing tool in a 1984-esque future.

Nevertheless it is a good tool and comes in particularly handy if I ever want to read anything written by Jack Kruse whose every blog post tends to be a novella of confusing concepts that I barely can comprehend.

However, as for reading on the web I am also a big fan in the most part of the skimming strategy trying to focus on key concepts and words then the entire article. Basically this is just chunking information and pulling out the most relevant things while ignoring all the background crap and filler words as us journalists do.

This article is probably bordering on boring for some and I know it isn't filled with any sort of blow job references, memes of Putin riding a bear and a hyper-masculine machismo wit I've been trying to incorporate more into my writing but this is really just me trying to educate people on how to... well educate themselves more efficiently.

For me focus can sometimes be an issue while reading. Sometimes your reading and you don't realize you are thinking about something else while staring at the page. This isn't a unique phenomenon and is why I at times I use the above strategy with my finger following along.

However, there is this thing about sitting down that is well not good to do. Basically, it can cause issues with attention, blood sugar and etc if you are sitting all the time. Unfortunately, it appears that most jobs (or at least the ones I've had) require us to be sitting all the time.

Obviously this is terrible for your health and you can read about it why all over the net. One thing that seems to help with keeping focus on what we are reading is possibly standing up when we read. I got this concept from Marks Daily Apple, Chris Kresser and from John Durant's book "The Paleo Manifesto" which is a great book if you haven't read.

However, I find simply standing to be a tad exhausting and feels unnatural despite it supposedly being a habit of some very brilliant people. It is a habit I will probably continue to practice on and off but to me the best way to eat up a book in short order is to walk and read.

You will probably get some odd stares but honestly I find that I am way more engaged in a book when I am doing it simultaneously getting exercise. Jaimie Lewis of the Chaos and Pain (NSFW) blog and supplement line his written about this and is where I got the concept from.

I used the walk and read concept while reading Johnathan Safron Foer's book "Everything is Illuminated" about two years ago and most recently polished off Robb Wolf's "The Paleo Solution" in short order.

It is a strategy I wish I would have never forgotten about and one I intend to utilize during my walking breaks at work for now on.

Finally, the last strategy once again comes from Lewis who has talked about reading in between his sets during a work out. I have a terrible tendency to get very antsy in between sets and end up tiring myself out before waiting for round two of bench, deadlifts and squats. This could be one part heavy metal music and two parts that I am on cocaine... just kidding. However, if I'm not doing Tabatas or any sort of circuit reading for 1-3 minutes is a good way to distract myself until its time to hit it hard again.

Anyways, keep these in mind. I know this was a large unfunny article but I think these are some great strategies. I've written these down not only for your benefit but also so I don't forget some of them myself.

Also Putin Meme:

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