These past few weeks at college reminded me about a useful tool I discovered in high school, and I thought I might share information about the tool since it has been coming up in conversation so often.
The post comes from Tim Ferriss' Blog, and for simplicity's sake, I would recommend you go read the article over on his site: Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes
Once you've read that article, you are probably intrigued but still a bit skeptical about the efficacy of this method. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it works. I don't remember exactly by how much the method improved my speed, but I definitely notice a difference between the times I use the technique and those when I do not. Although I don't often use this method for novels, as it somewhat takes the fun out of reading, and does not completely allow you to savor a book in the same way as normal reading does, the method has proved invaluable when reading academic works. I used the method in all of my AP classes back in high school, and it never seemed to fail. So far, it worked well in college too, however I haven't been using it that often, since the books I have been required to read are mostly so enjoyable I prefer to savor them.
From a practical standpoint, reading three times faster may be extremely useful, however it does draw into question the pace at which we choose to live our life. Although optimizing the systems we use to work towards our goals is often a necessary step towards success, sometimes it can be better to just take a step back and savor the moment. Perhaps the time saved by reading faster is useful, but what about the time saved by walking at a faster pace to class? or eating meals faster? At some point, this tendency to speed through life has to stop, or you face the risk of burn out and many other unhealthy side effects.
Personally, I struggle with always feeling like I need to bike as fast as possible when going somewhere on campus. I'm not sure if this feeling arises from only biking as a means of sport for the majority of my life, or if it has to do with my tightly packed schedule, but either way, I can often use a reminder to slow down and just enjoy the brisk Chicago wind or the sun shining on the main quadrangles.
Regardless, I hope the Tim Ferriss article can help you in some way. Feel free to pass this post or his guide along to a friend. I was actually surprised to find out that no one else here knew about it, since it seems like it would be really useful for academics, and also since Tim went to Princeton, I thought his work would be popular among Ivy-Leaguers and the like. Guess it just goes to show that even some useful method you might utilize that seems obvious could turn out to be quite unique, and it's probably worth it to try and share it with your friends in the hope that it might help. Feel free to leave descriptions of any such systems in the comments below!
Photo is of the D'Angelo Law Library at the University of Chicago. It has been a really convenient place to study since it lies between my dorm and the dining hall, and possesses quite unique architecture.
I've been on a book reading binge lately, as often happens when the weather gets cold in Ohio. Aside from dog walks, my time outside is limited and it allows me to do some reading. Upon the suggestion of Dan Andrews, I bought the $0.99, 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love.
I chose it because both my kids are now in school at the same time, and three hours, three days a week*, I get to work on some projects. The low cover price and high title promise made the purchase an easy one and I was not disappointed. I would read a book like this every week. It was the perfect scope and length for the issue of writing more.
The book is based on three tenets that Rachel Aaron found as the keys for writing more:
Aaron writes, "If you want to write faster, the first step is to know what you're writing before you write it." I slapped my forehead at this, not because of how obvious it is, but because how universally it can be applied - but I wasn't applying it. I'm always living a better life when I'm planning meals out for the week instead of scrambling (eggs), I have better days when I know what to do, and when, and I have better meetings with my students when we have a structure to begin our conversations from. On pragmatic terms, I've recently switched to using WorkFlowy to manage what I do next and it's worked beautifully. I've lost the meandering time I once had when wondering or deciding what to do next and just jump into my list. After realizing this Aaron now spends five minutes on laying out plans for what to write.
Mixergy - Andrew Warner- Andrew is probably the best podcast interviewer that I have ever listened to. Andrew interviews entrepreneurs in the tech space about how they grew their companies. He does pre-interviews with his guests and he always asks the tough, uncomfortable questions. His most recent interviews are free but are behind a paywall if you want to download them (which I highly recommend; I am a Mixergy subscriber). Most podcasts are one hour in length.
The Tim Ferriss Show - Tim Ferriss - I've been a long-time follower of Tim since he wrote the Four Hour Workweek. He had a similar podcast type format called the Random Show with Kevin Rose. My gripe with the Random Show was that the hosts were always the same (Tim and Kevin) and it was always unscripted and ‘random’. Tim’s new podcast is great - he has short form recommendations that he writes beforehand and reads off (10-15 minutes in length) and long form interviews with incredibly interesting guests whom he asks very penetrating questions (typically 1-1.5 hours in length). Guests vary but typically revolve around the quantified self movement.
Less Doing Radio - Ari Meisel - Ari’s podcast focuses on how to optimize, automate and outsource tasks in your business and personal life. Efficiency and productivity is a specific niche but one that I believe is growing quickly. If you are an efficiency geek like me, this podcast will be right up your alley. Typically 30-45 minutes in length.
Art of Charm - Jordan Harbinger - One skill that every human being needs is building rapport and connecting with people. Jordan’s podcasts are long form interviews with experts in the networking, espionage, and business communities. Jordan has a tendency to talk too much but he is very good at getting detailed, actionable answers from his guests. Interviews range from 30 minutes up to 1.5 hours.