Reading provides you with a window into the minds of some of the most brilliant people who have ever lived. The quickest method to improve your health, money, and intelligence is to absorb the knowledge of the most accomplished individuals.
The self-made millionaire and lifelong business colleague of Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, famously claimed that he hadn’t encountered any sensible person who…
Yet, reading per se doesn’t make you a better person. You may read 52 books in a year and not experience any change in yourself.
Both the content of what you read and the way you read it will have an impact on the quality of your life and the development of your intellect.
I’ve been reading at least one book each week for almost two years now, and I’m always looking for new methods to enhance my reading skills. I recently listened to Bill Gates discuss how he reads books, and he offered some free advice that turned out to be invaluable.
The following are his top three reading techniques, along with instructions on how to implement them:
1. Take side notes
It is tempting to switch attention to the speed of light in our environment because it is so distracting. It is simple to flip between things without even recognizing it when phones are within easy reach of one’s hands.
Taking notes in the margins of your paper is a simple but efficient strategy for maintaining a presence. When you have a pen in your hand, the most natural thing to do is interact with the book that is in front of you. It will be much simpler for you to concentrate on the ideas at hand.
In addition to this, doodling on the pages can assist you in better recalling the information that you have read. You make it a point to connect the newly acquired information to what you already know. This encourages deep contemplation of the ideas presented in the text.
Gates makes it a point to make connections between new information and what he already knows whenever possible. In the event that he disagrees with what is said in writing, he will make even more supplemental notes:
“When I read a book that I strongly disagree with, it might take me a very long time to finish it because I make so many notes in the margins of the pages. It’s really rather annoying to say the least. Please provide a statement with which I am in agreement so that I may continue reading this book.
How to go about it:
Before reading the next book you have, make sure you have a pen in your hand. You should cross off the things that you don’t like and put down the things that you should do instead. Jot down a question if lines are unclear. Write down your ideas in the margins of the page, and make connections between the new information and what you already know.
What personal experiences can you relate to the words that are now in front of you?
Which counterexample could you provide for this page to show how the assertion is false?
Do you have any recollection that supports the argument that we are making?
It won’t be long before you learn that taking notes not only helps you focus but also helps you recall what you’ve read. The more you scribble in the margins of your notes, the more information you will retain.
This method of remembering information is referred to as “elaborative rehearsal” in the theory of learning. You can connect what you learn in the book to what you already know. The more you explain something in detail or try to understand it, the more likely it is that you will remember what you’ve learned in the long run.
2. You should finish every book you start reading
The second guiding concept of Gate is straightforward: go to the conclusion.
Read the whole book from beginning to end. He says:
“I always make it a point to finish what I start.”
Huh? Seriously? It is tempting to ignore this idea since productivity coaches will tell you not to finish reading books that aren’t very good. We can’t afford to make any mistakes here.
There is no suggestion from Bill that you should finish writing a bad book.
Instead, his guideline suggests making a decision about what you will read before you even begin. Before you even crack the cover of a book, ask yourself whether it’s going to be worth your time.
If you follow these steps, you will develop a reading strategy as deliberate as Bill Gates‘. Because it is his policy to always complete what he begins, he will give a book some serious consideration before beginning to read it.
If you make it a point to finish every book you read, it doesn’t mean you have to slog through something you don’t like. Instead, make thoughtful selections and then resolve to see the book through to its end. Even in the event that it turns out to be challenging, contradictory, or intimidating.
How to go about it:
Because of the internet, we have access to the collective knowledge of very intelligent people. For instance, President Obama has tweeted a list of his top books published in 2019, and once a year, Bill gives his choices.
Create a list of all the books that you are interested in reading and add them to the list. You can reach this goal by using list-making programs like Google Keep, Wunderlist, or ToDoist. You can also set up a profile on Goodreads.
I like using Goodreads to keep track of the books I want to read since it allows me to see the cover art and provides an overall rating for each title. I would go over my list one more time before placing the bulk order to choose the following books.
3. Devote a minimum of one hour to reading at a time
According to Bill, if you want your mind to really comprehend a book, you need to set aside at least one hour each time you read it. This is what he has to say:
“If you like reading books, you should make it a point to sit still for at least an hour at a time. Every night before bed, I sit down with a book and read for a little bit longer than an hour in order to get farther along in the one I’m now reading.
Although Bill’s recommendation is relevant for retired billionaires, I would propose changing his guideline to read as follows: “Aim for one undisturbed reading hour every day and also take every extra minute you receive.”
How to go about it:
Reading in the evening before going to bed should be a must, not an option. You may do this by exchanging your smartphone for an alarm clock and going to bed an hour earlier than usual.
You should set an alarm on your smartphone at nine o’clock every evening so that you are reminded to turn off all of your electronic gadgets. Create a firm deadline for yourself by setting a second alarm at 9:20 p.m. and committing to it.
Reading before bed is a regular part of my routine. When I’m in bed, I have the option of sleeping or reading. Using this method, I was able to read one book every week over a period of two years. The earlier in the evening that you turn off all of your electronic gadgets, the more you’ll retain from the day.
It is not difficult, time-consuming, or tiring to adhere to Bill’s ideals.
- On the contrary, adhering to these guidelines will make reading more enjoyable and rewarding.
- Make notes on the side as you read to increase your level of engagement.
Choose wisely, and make sure you give each of the excellent novels you read your full attention.
Make reading part of your nightly routine so that you may have uninterrupted reading time.
Have fun exploring at your own speed, and don’t let the abundance of suggestions for how you might improve your reading ability get you down. Instead, make use of the opportunities they provide. Only adhere to the guiding ideas that have proven successful for you.
Pick one or two new reading routines to follow until you discover a rhythm that supports you on your path to health, prosperity, and knowledge.