There are literally thousands of books, tapes, seminars and magazines out there on personal development that can be used to improve yourself. But, how do you get the most out of each reading?
How do you actually internalize that information and USE it in your life? That is something that most likely we have all struggled with.
If you have every picked up a book on personal development you very probably pretty quickly realized that it was different than a mass market paperback fictional novel. These books need to be read differently and they require some work to really comprehend.
So how do you READ a book on self-improvement or positive mental attitude or self-help?
Well the first thing to do is realize what kind of book you are reading and consciously slow down your reading speed. This is actually more difficult than it sounds because you read as fast as you read, you don’t even think about it you just do it. To slow down that rate of speed requires focus and attention and even then you are going to have to go back and reread a paragraph and slow yourself down.
Once you realize that you are about to read something important and consciously slow down that thought and reading process the next thing to do is grab a “reading kit.” A reading kit consists of a pencil, highlighter, stop watch and a notepad which when used consistently will help internalize what you are reading and enable you to actually implement the thoughts and ideas into your life.
For those of you that are over the age of say 25 you will understand this statement: it has taken me literally years to be able to write in or highlight the books that I read. When us older folk were growing up we were taught that books should not be marked up in any way, well guess what…every book I read comes away looking like a 3 year olds been coloring in it because I NEED to comprehend what is going on in the book and I can only do that with the help of a pencil and a highlighter. Get used to it and just do it once or twice and you will notice much deeper comprehension and retention.
So now you are ready to begin actually reading, sit yourself down with the book and your reading kit and set that stopwatch to 15 minutes. Why 15 minutes? Because that is about how much time most people can actively concentrate before their mind begins to wander. Go ahead and read for that 15 minutes and when the timer goes off, find a convenient breakpoint (end of chapter, new heading, something) and take a 5 minute break or if need be stop reading for the day at that point. When you do this and you come back from that little break your mind will be fresh again and ready to really comprehend what is being read.
Anytime you read something that really sticks out in your mind (you know what I mean here; one of those ah-ha moments or a hmph?) grab that highlighter and highlight the passage. This enables you to quickly go back and forth in the book and find the areas that popped out at you and reread them.
Use the pencil and notepad when you come across a thought or idea that intrigues you but needs further evaluation. Also use it when a question pops up about something the author is saying and you don’t want to interrupt your reading to dig around in the book and find the answer. Lastly, use the pencil and notepad (but a different page) to write down any random thoughts that pop into your head about things outside of the book that you need to remember. This allows you to not forget that thought but also to not dwell on it and lose focus on the book.
Once you hit your limit for the day (whether it’s one 15 minute session or four of them) go back through what you have read that day and reread the highlighted passages and if they still impress you and/or make you want to ponder it more then write that passage down in the notepad for further review and thought. Then go through the list of questions and comments on the notepad and see if further reading was able to answer the questions completely or if still further reading and research is required to fulfill that area.
Rinse and repeat this method until you are finished with this reading of the book. Yes, reread self-help books many times because each and every time you will learn something different!
Once the reading is completed, look back through your notes and see if you were able to completely answer all of the questions and comments written on the entire book. Also glance through book rereading the highlighted areas for further insight. When you are completely satisfied that you have gotten everything out of this book that you can at this point in your life, then and only then put it and your notes away for 6 months or a year and then start it all over again.
Does this method take effort? Yes it does but it works if you work it and since you are reading a book on self-improvement my guess is that you are looking to improve yourself so do the work.
Last comment, take a break from this kind of book every now and then and read one of those fictional novels that you like to read. I have found that if I don’t do this every four or five books I read then I am unable to maintain my focus and basically stop reading for a period of time.
Until Next Time