I only subscribe to 2 magazines: Fortune and CIO. I also read the local Cincinnati Business Courier (weekly).

It seems like I ALWAYS have a stack of magazines backed up on my desk. In addition, I'm in the process of trying to get through Winning and The World is Flat.

You guys that read so much, how do you find time for it? I can't even read a Fortune in one sitting so at any time I have to choose between reading a Fortune or one of the books that I've started, so the result is that I pick away slowly and have a difficult time finishing anything.

tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="Sproket"]I only subscribe to 2 magazines: Fortune and CIO. I also read the local Cincinnati Business Courier (weekly).
You guys that read so much, how do you find time for it? [/quote]

Early mornings (I am an early riser.) I assign time in my schedule.

When at work, I pick up CIO between O3 meetings or during a lunch break. There are other quarterly/monthly publications in my industry that I follow.

I freely admit that incoming volume of material exceeds my capacity to read it all. The ephemeral weekly stuff (that comes free) does not get much attention.

rthibode's picture

I'm not that great at it. My husband and I watch too much TV, which would be the natural place to look for time.

I don't read much for pleasure any more. A weekly news magazine, a couple of hobby magazines, and maybe a book every couple of months. And of course I read these discussion boards (over breakfast). I read lots besides that, but it's because I'm in school part time. And I read work stuff, but it's often aimed at a particular problem, upcoming training session, or research project.

I think you're talking about what I think of as "maintenance reading," the subscriptions and the current books that keep you up-to-date in your field. I subscribe to 4 academic journals in my area, 2 trade publications, and 3 very busy listservs that I consider part of my professional development.

One thing I do to keep the backlog pile from tipping over is to "process" reading material when it first comes in. I flip quickly through magazines, listserv postings, journals, and I tear out or flag the stuff I need/want to read. This makes it easier to focus on what's important when I do have a short time to squeeze in reading.

MsSunshine's picture

BLUF: Schedule this into your schedule if it's important (and it is!)

Find rules that work with your life to make it easier. Mine are:
1. Emphasize quality over quantity in all types. Get rid of the junk at the trash can right away. Unsubscribe from the free magazines cluttering up your inbox. Be selective about the blogs you follow.
2. Of the things you keep, go through and tear out articles you are interested in. Put them in a folder. Take that with you. When waiting for a meeting, waiting for an appointment, etc. pull out one and read through it. I have a notebook for writing down notes from it. Then I throw it out.
3. For on-line articles, I have a bookmark folder "Look at later". I put interesting things in there and follow the same process as for print. I also do print some out and put in my folder.
4. If it's an important book work book, I schedule time in my schedule to read it at work. It becomes like any other task I want to accomplish.
5. If it's a little lighter in content, I'll read 30 minutes before bed. I have two kids and get up early to work out. So, I go to bed around 10.
6. My husband is a sports junkie. But I'll sit on the couch and read so we're in the same room at least after the kids go to bed. But this is usually 9 p.m. so I don't have a lot of time.
7. I love to read but have to be careful about giving time to absorb and practice what I've read. So, I'll buy books and keep them in the waiting queue. I have a notebook with thoughts from books that I tag with different colored flags and read back through weekly to remind myself of things. I have red flags on pages I want to practice. Yellow is for things to review regularly. Green is for interesting thinks to think about.

HMac's picture

I want to second one of rthidobe's points: when I'm feeling behind on my reading, I tear out the articles I really want to read, to save the time and distraction flipping through the magazines again (sometimes I tear out ads, too!).

I carry a set of plastic folders with my in my bag at all times (they're standard size folders, made of heavy plastic instead of the standard manila heavy paper). I picked this idea up years ago, maybe from David Allen's original work on "Getting Things Done". One of these folders is labeled "READ" - and I was surprised at how often during the course of a week I could find brief intervals to read - as long as I had the folder with me!

stephenbooth_uk's picture

On the bus too and from work, whilst waiting for a bus, between meetings (it's not unusual for me to have two or three meetings at the same location away from my base office with 20 to 30 minutes between them) &c. I always have something with me to read, books and magazines. i currently have in my backpack laptop bag (I'm hotdesking):

* Impact (European magazine aimed at IT execs)
* Information Age (similar to Impact)
* emel (UK Muslim Lifestyle magazine, I'm not a Muslim but some of my friends and a lot of my customers are so I pick up about one issue in 3 to keep up to date on what's going on in the Islamic world)
* Harvard Business Review, January and March editions.

* The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker
* Dyspraxia - Development Co-ordination Disorder by Dr Amanda Kirby (I have Dyspraxia and am currently helping a couple who's son was recently diagnosed with it)
* National Joint Council for Local Government Services - National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service (I'm involved in some negotiations around these, I don't so much read them as refer to them)

If there's something specific I need to read (e.g. for a course or prep for a meeting) I'll try to schedule time for it, actually put in my calendar "Prep reading for ...", and find somewhere out of the way to do it (to avoid the "Since you're not doing anything could you just..."). Finding time can be a challenge sometimes.

With magazines learning to skim is very useful. Go through the contents page and pick out the articles that you think are useful to you, maybe pick out authors who you've found tend to write things you find useful or interesting. Skim over the articles you've selected, or maybe just the first few paragraphs and decide if you want to read them in detail. Jut read in detail those articles that you want/need to do so.

I believe that in one of the casts (probably the 'Effective Executive, Efficient Assistant') M&M recommended getting your admin and/or directs to read the magazines for you and then flag up useful/interesting articles, even cutting them out of the magazine and putting them in a file for you to carry with you. This has the additional advantage of getting your directs used to reading above their (organisational) level so helping with their development. I seem to recall that they also suggested that rather than getting a big flashy, expensive, status symbol car you should get the cheapest one you can get away with and use the money saved to employ someone to drive you around whilst you sit in the back seat and read or make calls.


tcomeau's picture
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I have a stack of journals that circulate among my staff and a "sister" branch. If I have half an hour between meetings, I'll pick one up and start reading, usually starting with articles people have recommended. That stack right now includes IEEE Computer, Communication of the ACM, SIGSoft Notes, and INCOSE Journal, so it's my "industry" reading. I do that in the office, during the day, when I have time, and I schedule it just like I schedule reading stuff produced by my staff -- Technical Reports/Memoranda, specifications, interface documents, etc.

I have a handful of nonfiction books that I read when I'm doing something else. I finished "The Big Switch" (and need to write something about it for this forum) by reading it while running on either a treadmill or an elliptical at my gym, in 37 minute chunks. I take at least one book with me when I travel, whether that's a 20 minute Metro ride or an all-day train ride to Boston. I generally don't read while driving, but otherwise if I'm traveling, I'm likely reading. I [u]do[/u] occasionally listen to audio books (between podcasts) while driving, usually classics from [url=]LibriVox[/url]. Those are all public domain, but the catalog includes everything from Jane Austen to Emile Zola.

I have a stack of fiction that I read in the evenings, mostly instead of watching TV. Teela and I read things together, and she's also in a reading group with her mom. That "forces" all three of us to spend time reading, so that we're keeping up and can have discussions about the themes we find. I also read before bed, usually something Mary and Teela aren't reading, though Mary and I do pass stuff back and forth.

One of my peers says she doesn't read, but every time I walk in to her office and she's alone, she's reading a journal or magazine. She also listens to audio books while commuting and while doing stuff around the house.

The real key to finding time to read is to figure out what you're currently doing that is less important that reading, and stop doing that. We all get the same 23.9344696 hours (astronomer joke.) The difference isn't finding time, it's choosing what to do with it.


jhack's picture

Turn off the TV.
Take the time before sleep.
While you're on the treadmill.
While on the airplane. Or in the terminal.
Turn off the TV.
On the "loo."
Over breakfast.
Books on tape (or CD or MP3).
Waiting in line at the DMV.
Instead of watching that DVD Netflix sent you...


TomW's picture
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I have a 40-minute commute each way, so I rely on podcasts and audiobooks.

I usually read a little before bed, but I try to make that "fun" non-work, non-technology, non-business, and non-news reading.

stewartlogan's picture

From 7-7:30am M-F I'm catching up with the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, and Crain's (all online). I'll flip through a couple of blogs during lunch and at the end of the day.

Reading is where I cram a bunch into one sitting. I'll grab a stack of books at Borders or B&N on a day and read two from cover to cover, then decide which looks like a good one and take it home with me and finish it over the next couple of weeks. Repeat after a couple of weeks.

And for those of you who suggest reading while on the treadmill, well, that's MY TV time!

tlhausmann's picture
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[quote="HMacNiven"]I tear out the articles I really want to read[...]

I carry a set of plastic folders with my in my bag at all times (they're standard size folders, made of heavy plastic [...] One of these folders is labeled "READ" [/quote]

I like this idea. Thanks HMac!

eagerApprentice's picture

I can't remember where I heard it, but it's stuck with me for a long time; a quote by a famous instrumentalist in New York City.

When asked how she became so good at her instrument, she answered "Plan negligence".

PLAN to be negligent about everything that gets in the way of your goal (obviously not friends, family or faith, these must be exceptions, but you get the idea).

For example, I have a TV that gets no cable or satellite dish, and I use it only to watch a DVD from time to time.

Other than that, I wake up an hour earlier every morning and get some reading done. :) I have to confess, it's not always business related - sometimes it's something like Harry Potter!

But trade mags like CIO and books from folks like Drucker have done me well in those early hours of the morning. It's nice a quiet too! :wink:

WillDuke's picture
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Magazines are not sacred. When one comes in, scan it for articles you want to read. TEAR THEM OUT. Put them in your day planner or whatever you carry about with you. Then when you are stuck at the doctor, the mechanic, 5 minutes before a meeting, etc., read them.

Use magazines to fill the tiny holes in your schedule.

tcomeau's picture
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[quote="WillDuke"]Magazines are not sacred. When one comes in, scan it for articles you want to read. TEAR THEM OUT. ...[/quote]

I sortof agree, sortof disagree. I tend to take the whole magazine or journal with me -- I just put interesting ones in the back of my laptop bag. There have been many times when I read the article I was interested in, and had more time, and read the next article and found it really valuable.


WillDuke's picture
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Isn't that like channel surfing? Maybe end up reading something that is "sort of" interesting rather than right on? I get about 20 mags a month (free subscription in this industry) so I can be pretty choosy.

Better yet, do as M&M talked about a LONG time ago. Get your admin to pull articles for you. :)

tcomeau's picture
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[quote="WillDuke"]Isn't that like channel surfing? [/quote]

It can be, and I think much depends on the quality of the overall information stream.

TV is largely low-value information, which isn't too surprising since the goal is eyeballs for advertising, not high-value information delivery. Good shows are rare, so the probability of hitting one by channel-surfing is necessarily low.

By contrast, the library here at the Institute is very selective, and the content is largely high-quality. So I often have the experience of going upstairs looking for a Design Patterns book and finding [i]Shadows of the Mind[/i] two shelves up. (That actually happened to me. I know Penrose for his physics, and I had no idea he'd written stuff on artificial intelligence.)

So, you have to adapt to the information quality of the channel. If you're reading [i]Computerworld[/i], it's probably not worth taking the whole rag. If it's [i]The Wall Street Journal[/i] or [i]Science[/i], it's probably worth "page-surfing."



WillDuke's picture
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You hit my nail on the head. The periodicals that come my way are a lot more like TV than what you're apparently reading. :)

It's always a pleasure to read your thoughts Tom. Most importantly they're well thought out. But to add to the value they're clear and concise. I always find value in them. Thank you.

jhack's picture

This challenge crosses all media: how do you find the unexpected but good stuff? "Recommendation engines" tend to give you more of what you already have.

So sometimes I sift through media I would normally shun, and a gem will pop up. And regardless, I've got material for chit chat.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="jhack"]So sometimes I sift through media I would normally shun, and a gem will pop up. And regardless, I've got material for chit chat.[/quote]

Years ago I read "The Popcorn Report" by Faith Popcorn. One of the things she recommends is once a month read a magazine that you normally wouldn't read preferably on a subject that you don't normally read about. The ideas is that it forces you outside of the familiar and your comfort zones. Personally I find it useful as I find the cross pollination of areas to be very effective and it's a good ice breaker at events as there's always someone who's interested in something I've read recently. Plus it's interesting.


pmoriarty's picture
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Better yet, do as M&M talked about a LONG time ago. Get your admin to pull articles for you. :)[/quote]

Ah yes. The famous "deboning" technique. :)

lazerus's picture

Weekends. If I am reading something work related, I don't have to clean the garage. :wink: