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April 2009

Part 1: How to be a More Effective Reader


Do you love to read books but have read so many that sometimes you can't remember specifics of a book?  Or do you sometimes finish a chapter in a book and wonder what you just read about?  If so, you're not alone.  I love to read but my passion for reading multiple books at the same time sometimes gets me in trouble in remembering what I just read.  As I read books,  I enjoy the learning that takes place and the new concepts presented but I find that if I don't apply what I've learned right away, I lose the valuable lessons. 


My objective for writing this article is two parts.  One, I want to share this information with you in order for you to:

1.  Save time and be a more effective reader.

2.  Retain more valuable information and reach new levels of understanding with your reading.

3.  Improve the quality of your life since a better understanding of your reading new good concepts that you can apply to your life will only result in making your life better. 


My second objective is to learn these concepts better for myself by sharing them with you.  Teaching to others what you've learned yourself takes understanding new concepts to a whole new level and I hope you'll follow my example and do the same.


Several years ago I listened to an audio program called Living an Exceptional Life, by Jim Rohn.  In this program, he suggested that you read all kinds of books from literature to history to biographies, fiction, and non-fiction but before you read all those books, he suggested a book called  How to Read a Book, the classic guide to intelligent reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren.  This article shares highlights from this book about how to get more out of your reading.


Two types of reading I want to cover at this point are systematic skimming or pre-reading while the second one is superficial reading.

In pre-reading, one picks up a book and skims it to see if it might be an interesting one.  The following are some suggestions on how to quickly skim a book.


1.  Preview the title page and its preface.  What does it mean to you?  Note the subtitles or any other indications of the purpose of the book.  After you have a good idea of what the book is about, take a moment to index this book in an appropriate category of similar books in your mind.


2.  Study the table of contents to get a sense of the general structure of the book.  Looking at the table of of contents can be likened to taking a look at a map before you go on a trip.  It is your pathway through the book.  Few people read the table of contents to find out what will be covered in a book and how it will be developed.  Examining the table of contents will give you a good idea of the direction of the message that the writer wants to convey to you.


3.  Check the index.  Take a cursory glance at what topics will be covered and the kinds of books the author is referencing. 


4.  Take a look at the dust jacket and read the publisher's blurb.  Most authors put an accurate summary of their book here. 


After taking these four steps, you will have enough information to decide whether this book is one worth reading or not. 


Watch on this blog for Part 2: How to be a More Effective Reader to get tips on how to properly skim the main part of a book. 

Ready, Set Goal!

Here we go.  So, I'm taking a life coaching class called "Attraction" and it's amazing!  It's about the principles of attraction, on how to attract the right people and things into your life instead of going after them, making life so much simpler and better. It's right in line with the mastermind book group I'm leading which will use the book "Attracting Perfect Customers" for the basis of its study.  You can find information on that at:

Anyway, my teleclass leader shared a resource today of 10 steps to easily get your goals and I'd like to share them with you.  And I'd like to give you a real life example of how I'm applying this to my life.

Step 1:  Identify the goal. 

One of my goals is to write a blog post at least once a week as long as I'm not on vacation that week.

Step 2:  Relate it to a value.

Well, I can't just pick one so I'll list some of my top values.  Go to the resources page of my website to take a free values assessment.

My first value is making an impact.  I want to write about my personal learnings so that I can encourage others to apply them and improve the quality of their lives. 

Secondly, I value improvement.  I constantly work to improve myself and I support others whenever I can.  So sharing my thoughts and discoveries improves my life as well as the lives of others.

Third, I value discovery.  When I write a post, I actually discover or learn something new.  That's very exciting.  My thoughts become more clear when I write about it. 

Fourth, I love to dominate and excel at things. I love that saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well.  I can't stand status quo.  If I'm going to do something, I've got to be the best at it.  It's the way I'm wired. Excelling at things and being at the top of my game are HUGE motivators for me.  I'm pretty darn competitive and love to do a spectacular job if I'm going to work on anything.  Ask my mom how many times I started over on projects growing up and staying up in the wee hours of the night if it wasn't "just" right. 

Step 3:  Tell 5 people

Ok, I'll tell mom, Kostya, Nai, Mariana, and Mike.  Wow, that's a powerful one because I don't want to let them down.

Step 4:  What resources are needed?

Time, a working computer, inspiration, energy, a clean office to inspire me, good ideas

Step 5:  What are some time savers?

Writing ideas down as I get inspiration so that I'll have topics to choose from.  Creating an outline of what I'm going to write about.  Choosing topics I'm passionate about.  Keeping it simple.

Step 6:  What are the predictible obstacles?

1. Time- sometimes there are more important things to work on. 

2. Ideas- sometimes I don't know what I want to write about.

Step 7:  What is a single daily action you can take to achieve this goal?

In the morning or at the end of the day, journal about one new thing I learned that I want to share with others.

Step 8:  What support structure can you put into place?

1.  I started a facebook group with my friend Laurie where we post our weekly goals on there, check in at least once a week, and cheer each other on. 

2.  I can reward myself by going salsa dancing or playing tennis after I've written a post.

3.  I can have 2 of the 5 people I've told to ask me about it on a certain day of the week.

4.  I would like to commit to writing something by a certain day of the week- say, Friday.

Step 9:  How will you reward yourself?

I'll get to play tennis, go salsa dancing, or create another fun and rewarding event for the weekend.

Step 10:  What is next?

1.  Tell the 5 people identified of my goal.

2.  Commit to writing at least 1 blog post a week by Friday.

3.  Go salsa dancing tomorrow night because I wrote this post. Yes! 

Do you want more energy?

Create a toleration-free life.

What's that, you might ask?  Tolerations are things that we put up with in our lives.  They are things that distact you from more important things.  They may be little things like a leaky faucet or a stack of papers in your office that you haven't gotten around to fixing yet to bigger things like your taxes.  Tolerations are things that we've left undone or not addressed.  When you identify what you're tolerating in your life and start taking care of them, several things will happen:

1.  You'll have more energy and feel good about yourself that you'll be able to do more.

2.  You'll grow more quickly because you've removed some of the blocks in your way.

3.  You'll get more done because you won't be so distracted and weighed down by the tolerations.  You'll be able to see what's really important in your life.  To paint a picture, think of being in a heavy blizzard and finding your way around town.  The heavy snow represents tolerations in our life.  They distract us or blanket over what's really important in the background for us to make our way.  Removing tolerations from your life is like taking away the snow so that you can see what you have in front of you. 

So, what are you tolerating?  Here are some steps to a toleration-free life:

1.  Make a list of all the things you're tolerating in your life.  Break it down by area to make this easier and start and set a target number of things to for.  For example, areas include:  kitchen, office, bedroom, bathroom, garage, relationships, and work.  Write down at least 5 tolerations in each area.

2.  Schedule or set aside time to take care of these tolerations.

3.  Make requests and take the actions to elimate those items. 

4.  Enjoy the feeling of lightness you experience after creating a toleration-free zone. 

5.  Make a commitment to handle tolerations as they come up to maintain clarity and energy in your life. 

Creating a toleration-free environment takes time.  It's a constant work in progress but as you get used to taking care of things in your environment as they come up, you'll experience more freedom and control over your life. 

This morning, I made my tolerations list for things in my office.  This included:  unreturned emails from being gone over the weekend, going through piles of notebooks with notes and journal entries, getting rid of old books since books were overflowing all over my office, going through bills, getting rid of several piles of stuff around my office.  I feel so much better!  Now onto other zones to free up more energy :-)