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My process for reading and digesting books final part 3

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To get the most out of this make sure you have read Part 1, Part 2.

Now onto the last part.

People fail to get the most out of a book because they don’t have a system in place to get the most and best info from the book and carry out the key ideas from the book that will benefit their lives. I have two systems, one for extracting key ideas and principles from the book and placing them in a system so they are not lost and another system to integrate new ideas into our lives. This is why I have come to the place of being ok to put a book down if it is not good in my opinion. My time is too valuable to read something that is not full of benefit for me.

The first step is to capture key ideas and principles. Fortunately, there are some tools available for use which can be adapted to help in capturing ideas. Personally I prefer to use a Evernote to capture ideas and principles from the books I read. The result is a collection of easily searchable notes I use to integrate new ideas and principles into my life.

The second step is to have a system to carry out and integrate those ideas into my personal life. Knowledge without application is useless. It’s only as we allow new ideas and principles to change our lives that we become wise. There is nothing that will cause you to grow more than when attempting to put new ideas and principles into action. I do this using a “Action list” which I review daily. I review this list every morning to orientate my day and I then attempt to apply some of these principles throughout the work day. I do this until new habits are formed. Usually around 21-30 days.

Other strategies I use to help with implementation are:

1. Teaching others these new ideas and principles. To teach is one of the best ways to learn and clarify new ideas.

2. Create reminders and check ups, in my calendar.

To integrate and apply what we learn requires us to be intentional, setting aside time to practice, experiment and apply new ideas. To systemise then I use the following key principles:

1. Extract key ideas and principles from the book.
2. File them into a system so they can be easily located when required.
3. Use a system, a step-by-step approach, to carry out and integrate these new insights into my life.
4. Set a deadline for the implementation.
5. Develop reminders, questions or even posters to keep you motivate and focused.
6. Teach what I have learned to others.
7. Experiment with the ideas and principles as I wrestle with implementation.

My Process for reading and digesting books part 2

If this post is of interest to you click over to part 1 and read first.

Now that you have read my selection process lets continue with what I do while I read.

I am what you may call an “active reader”. To read actively you need to engage with the book, to do this its usually better to read a book in numerous short sessions, ranging from one to two hours, rather than in a single sitting. Question and extend what the author has to say. You are likely to know something the author didn’t when he wrote that. Many books I am reading now have “stood the test of time” so they have been around for 10+ years, so some things have been superseded by new technology and techniques. Look for them and fix them. Sometimes I argue with a book and I write a note about why I do. Sometimes I put in notes to google a subject for more depth later.

Get in there and wrestle with the book, that is what being an active reader is all about.

Some suggestions for highlighting important ideas and principles as you read, include:
* Use a highlighter.
* Use coloured pencils, this allows you to colour-code your highlights.
* Use a pen or pencil to make notes in the margin. If reading an ebook this is what i like about reading on my iPad through my kindle app. It allows me to make notes and they store in my Amazon account which people may follow or share notes in.
* Indicate why the highlight was made, using the following notation:
? = Research this further
” ” = Quote
! = Technique, process or new way to integrate into my work or life
www = web site to look up

These are just a couple of mine, which ones do you use?

If you find that little in what you’re reading impacts you, it usually means, at least for me, that the book is not worth completing and I put it aside.

My process for reading and digesting books

I am known as a large consumer of books. I posted a blog post titled How my iPad has helped me read more where I share how I have been able to go from reading 80 books a year to 105 books a year. Since this post many have emailed me along with several of my coaching students asking how do I select and process all the info that I take in through books?

Great question and here is my response to this question.

Book Selection Process.

When selecting a book it’s important to remember that the impact that a book has on your life is greatly affected by the current season of your life and where you are in your personal journey. I do have a reading agenda that I create and for the most part I stick to it with the minor exceptions of adding another book or two to the list. I have written out guidelines of how one book may replace another or the new book must be added as an extra book read at an additional time.

Some of the criteria I use when selecting a book to invest my time and energy in are:

– I select a book based upon what do I need to learn or develop, given where I am in my personal journey.

– I select books from authors that have previously affected my life and with whom I connect. For me some of these are authors like Jim Collins, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Peter Drucker, and Posner and Kouzes, etc.

– I select books that will help me grow in areas critical to my role as a children’s pastor, leader, parent, spouse.

– I read books recommended to me by people I trust and respect. I keep an ongoing list in Evernote which I will add to when I get another recommendation.

– I do not read books just because they are popular or make the bestseller lists. When I select a book to read I select them with an understanding that this is an investment of my time from which I expect a return!

I will continue my process in future post.

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