To be a successful entrepreneur, you must increase the quantity and quality of the books you read.
We all hear about about how Bill Gates and Ben Carson would stay home and read books relentlessly. Reading may not be an easy habit to develop, but it’s one that can help you expand your business.
When I first started reading at the age of 21, I would read very slowly and I wasn’t getting the most out of the books. I would finish a book or two per month and not remember exactly what I learned.
My level of comprehension and lack of speed grew into utter frustration.
Recommended: The 7 Books Bill Gates Wants You to Read
One day, I was fighting my way through a chapter and got so mad at myself that I went on this quest to find out how I could read more books, while getting the most out of them in less time.
For the last several years, I’ve been increasing the number of books I read. I went from reading one to two non-fiction books per month to five or more the next month. Soon enough, I was reading six to eight books per month. Now I read more than 10 books per month — which is about a book every three days. I now read well over 100 books per year because of the five techniques that I am about to share with you.
You can use these five tips to expedite your reading speed while developing a deeper comprehension of the material you wish to absorb:
1. Learn How to Speed Read
Attend a course or read a book on speed-reading. You can find many resources on the Internet that will show you how to read faster as well. One of my favourite books on the subject is called, Breakthrough Rapid Reading by Peter Kump.
I use my hand to guide me along the pages. This method allows me to relinquish my sub-vocalisation (reading aloud in your mind). I also force my eyes to read faster. Skimming and scanning helps me do this. Instead of reading 200 words per minute, I now read well over 1,000 wpm. Talk about reading fast.
It was once said that Josef Stalin read 400 pages per day. John F. Kennedy read 1,200 wpm. They aren’t my heroes, except only in reading speeds.
2. Don’t Read Cover-to-Cover
It’s the biggest myth to read every book you encounter cover-to-cover. If you do this, you’re taking too much time on trivial content instead of getting the most out of the book you read.
Average books offer one to two major ideas, good books offer two to three, and great books offer three to five ideas. In fact, most books are average. An average author could write a 20-page book with all of his or her ideas, but that kind of book won’t sell to the public, so they generally add 200 extra pages to fluff it up.
Now don’t get me wrong, great authors do not add fluff to their books. But how many great books can you really find worth reading over and over again?
However, if you were assuming that most books are average, which they are, do you think it would make sense to read one of these average books from cover to cover?
Instead, you may want to skim the entire book within three to five minutes to get the main idea. You will also want to use the table of contents, which will help you understand the ideas dispersed within the book.
Do your best to make notations on the pages you want to revisit. Of course, you would only make notations on books that you own instead of those that are borrowed from a friend or public library.
Next, you’ll want to read more deeply for 30 minutes on your second visit. Only take time the best parts of the books while you do this. This is more like a scanning process that allows you to inhale the material with good understanding.
Finally, if the book is worth another read, take an hour or two to read the book for the third time. If you can read your favorite parts in the book again, you should be able to remember your material for a while.
Imagine that! You’ve just read a book in less than three hours.
The key here is that it’s more important to get the best information from 10 books than it would be from one book.
In an entire year, you can get through 120 books while another person will only finish 12 of them.
3. Set Time Limits
Setting time limits on what you read can keep you focused. Give yourself four hours to read a 200- to 300-page book. Do it with unadulterated focus. Let there be no distraction as you romance your book.
The key here is to know what you want to get out of each book that you read. If you force yourself to get the most out of a book in four hours, I guarantee you will be able to do it. However, if you give yourself one month, there’s no discipline at all, since your attention will be attenuated.
Too many people waste time doing research while they read. If you’re looking up a word or doing research while you’re reading, your attention will shift and you will take longer periods of time to finish the book.
Instead, take control of the book; don’t let the book take control of you. If there’s a section that you don’t understand, make a note of it and return to it soon. Do the same with unfamiliar vocabulary words.
4. Read the Easy Books First
Most of this is about building confidence at first. If you start reading an academic 1,000-plus-page textbook or the King James Version Bible, this may prohibit your reading speed.
Start with a quick 100- to 150-page book. Get a stack of them on all different subjects. Aim to read one to two of them per week and progressively get better. Eventually, you’ll add the bigger books once you build the confidence.
Some books are complicated or hard to digest. Autobiographies and esoteric non-fiction are good examples of this. You don’t want to get mixed up with these at first, especially as you start your speed-reading tour. Start small, then grow big!
5. Only Read the Best Books
Before you begin a book, decide if it is worth reading. Obviously, you picked up the book to find a solution to one of your problems. Within the first 10 minutes, you should be able to decide if the book will help you solve that problem.
Another thing you can do is to rate your book on a scale of 1-10. To rate them approprately, use this score, with “1” being the lowest and worst book that you can read and “10” being the highest and best book.
If you’re on a time crunch, you don’t have time to read any book that’s less than a “10.” If you’re reading a book that doesn’t interest you or bores you completely, put it aside. This means that you should organise your books, too. Line up 10 to 20 books for the month and choose a few out of the stack every month. Always replenish the stack and play with your library accordingly.
Make sure you stay on top of your reading by only reading the books that captivate your attention the most. If you come across a bad book, throw it out. Don’t even take the time to donate it. If it’s garbage, leave it in the trash.
Reading books lead to magnificent experiences. Take advantage of the current books that are available to you. Enjoy the stories, language, jokes, and precepts expounded by your predecessors. Fill yourself up with usable knowledge and wisdom.
Our libraries are paved with gold. You have to know how to use the gold you have. Own your books by buying them and taking notes.
Take advantage of the current books that are available to you. Enjoy the stories, language, jokes, and precepts expounded by your predecessors. Fill yourself up with usable knowledge and wisdom.
Know that all books can solve all the problems and challenges in the world. Even though you aren’t going to read all of the books, you are going to read the ones that help you the most.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.