Take Charge of Your Reading to Rise in Your Career

Take Charge of Your Reading to Rise in Your Career

Take Charge of Your Reading to Rise in Your Career

To establish and maintain your reputation as an authority in a chosen field, you need to ingest relevant information soon after it becomes available.

Reading, in particular, is vital to staying ahead in your career. Learning how to master your reading will make this ongoing responsibility less onerous.

Keeping Pace with the Race

It seems nearly impossible to keep up a reading schedule that covers all work- related requirements. In speaking to career professionals throughout the country, I have learned that reading is almost universally regarded as an important component of the job and career. Yet there is seemingly no time, or precious little, allotted for this task.

In addition, the number of quality business, career, and management publications has more than doubled since the mid-1990s, an increase that reflects the growth of market-specific information demanding your attention in the modern world. Add in a daily avalanche of reading materials, Internet information, subscriptions, e-mail, and junk mail and you've got quite a chore. Is staying abreast hopeless, or is there a way out of this information overload morass?

Choose Your Sources

The first step to managing your reading is to pare down the list of required texts. Redefine, or perhaps more accurately define, the type of information to which you need to be exposed, and what type of information can be readily discarded or ignored. You can almost certainly ignore much direct mail material, as well as merely interesting websites, e-mail, come-ons, and other time-consuming enticers.

Key publications and sources of information that specifically supply what you need to know are to be preferred over passive sources, like the daily paper and general interest periodicals.

If you're skeptical about how much time can be saved and re-allocated for active reading by picking and choosing your information sources, test yourself over the next 30 days. Listen only to relevant and intelligent radio and TV reports instead of catching the latest updates on the hottest story of the moment. Set limits on how much time you spend cruising the Internet.

Everyone needs some pleasure reading, but the question is how much and when? Think carefully about what items are worth perusing. You'll appreciate the extra time, and so will your career.

Skimming, Scanning, and Speed Reading

If you didn't master "skimming and scanning" in high school or college, it's not too late to learn. Skimming involves perusing the first one or two sentences of a paragraph within an article to see if the paragraph is relevant to your immediate quest. The basic payoff is that skimming enables you to quickly determine whether or not to invest more time in the article or the publication.

Scanning is a technique used with large volume materials. Scanning involves reviewing the table of contents, index or site map, list of charts and exhibits, and occasional paragraph leads to determine what, if any, material is of interest. The availability of high-speed photocopiers and printers greatly facilitates the scanning process, since you can immediately make a hard copy of the specific information that you need.

Speed reading can enhance both of these techniques. By moving a pencil under the text as quickly as your eyes can follow, you can almost double your skimming and scanning rates. You can learn to read even faster by enrolling in a speed reading course.

Reading at the Office

Many professionals feel guilty about reading at the office. Reading at the desk doesn't appear to be productive; it doesn't cause one to perspire. However, it is erroneous to believe that you're not being productive if you aren't engaging in some form of motion.

The office is often the ideal place to catch up on your reading. Reading is almost always more easily undertaken while sitting at your desk rather than a chair, couch, or even a table. At your desk you have ready access to your PC, fax, fax/modem, printer and copier, and office supplies. I find it useful to start a "clip" file of articles that interest me even if they have no immediate link to what I'm doing, and to review this file later to see what ideas take shape.

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Jeff Davidson

Work-Life Balance Expert

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com or call 919-932-1996 for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars.

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