On Self-education: Reading With Purpose

On Self-education: Reading With Purpose.
Our education system is beginning to crumble before our eyes. With a devalued four degree, students racking up an average 37,000 dollars in debt and an overly generalized curriculum, today’s graduate has an uphill battle in the modern age. It is because of this crisis that we have to take education into our own hands and utilize the power of reading to better ourselves. We live in an odd era, information is at our fingertips but, busy activities gnaw at our attention every second of the day. Reading a full book can be a daunting activity. But it is doable if we utilize robust strategies. Today is the single greatest time in history to self-educate, you have not only the means but the responsibility to further your education on your terms.
Getting started, the toughest part of anything, going From Zero to One.
It is time to do some research and the internet is the obvious place to search for material. The New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists are a good spot to get a general consensus of what is being read. But we can do better, look to sources you already utilize, most blogs you visit have some book recommendations and are typically more tailored to your palate. Don’t forget to use those you interact with, there are many closet readers out there. A simple Google search for reading list is also a great place to get an idea, one of the first results is Ryan Holiday’s list and it has a wealth of books and authors to get you started.
Narrow the search by finding a solid author. Finding an author is a better place to start, more so than looking for just a topics. The author is what makes or breaks a topic if you think this a cliché, pick up any high school history textbook, then pick up a Robert Greene book, and the point will be made for you. Once you have found someone you like, begin to buy all of their books, as Austin Kleon notes it is wise to have another book to start once one ends. Once that author is out of material search for some of their associates, good authors attract other good authors.
Think like a true detective, this does not apply for fiction unless you are content with spoilers. Investigate the author, read his or her biography , read the overview of the book, read articles the author has published on the web or in magazines. Listen to interviews with them, listen to excerpts of their book on or better yet just listen to their book, then read the book. If you are trying to learn it is best to gather all relevant information on the book and the author. Drain every drop of information you possibly can.
Supplies, you will need more than a few books.
Note cards, these are going to block out words the words beneath the line you are currently reading. It is imperative that you are focused on one line at a time, the eyes are always moving and this is a great way to minimize the wandering eye problem. Use a second note card to mark the last page you want to read as a way to keep your page quota in sight (more on this later).
The pen, this is going to keep your eyes moving from word to word across the page, remember your eyes tend to fidget, keep them on track, author, and entrepreneur Tim Ferris uses this tactic. Now, remember, you bought the book that is all the author really cares about, so he or she is not going to care if you defile it now. Underline anything that is noteworthy, if you find yourself underlining more than a paragraph dog-ear the page (more on this later).
The prep
Set a quota, a page count is the best way to make sure you are reading regularly. Set the page count low at first, IBM utilized a notoriously low sales quota in order to encourage sales. It seems odd but sales people did not fear getting started because the end was in sight. And remember put a notecard at the end of your quota. Always remember that reading just one page is incalculably better than reading nothing. If you want to read a book in a week simply divide the page count by seven and read that amount of pages each day. The quota is crucial.
Setting the mood
Clear the mind, this is where reading in one sitting shows a colossal advantage. A brief moment of meditation or a focus exercise will help you get in the zone. Having other things on your mind will only take attention away from the task of retaining information. Single-mindedness is your advantage when reading.
Engage physically, reading is an activity for the eyes or hands if blind. But we can utilize more senses when reading and turn it into a more synesthesia experience. Sight, utilize the pen to keep your eyes on the words you are reading and also make use of the low or red light as a way to obscure the details of your surroundings, offering you fewer distractions. Touch, flip through the book it is a simple task but it works like a card player shuffling a deck, preparing for the ensuing game. Sent, have a candle in the room or make use of an aromatherapy machine, it is noteworthy that sent has the strongest connection to memory. Taste, enjoy some tea or an adult beverage and every page you read consume a sip, a small reward for your good behavior. Listen, preferably to relaxing music without lyrics and more preferably the same tracks every time, some readers and writers go as far as to listen to the same song on a loop to set the right mood.
Finishing the book
Congratulation, you never have to read another book again! But that would be boring sweetheart. Once done review the book, outline what you liked, what you disliked. Retention is a difficult task especially when you are continuously reading. Go through the book and read what you have underlined, dog-eared or wrote in the margins. Do not feel odd about rereading a book immediately after finishing it, this will take you far less time and you have the added bonus of having most of the details still fresh in your mind.
Chain smoke, the reason you bought several books in the beginning was to read them one after another, with NO breaks. Austin Kelon notes that many artists will have projects lined up back to back as a means to keep them moving forward, adopt this tactic and you will never run out of material.
Take Note, particular you writers out there.
A fascinating way to take notes on a book is to utilize what writers Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday refer to as The Notecard System. These authors take notes on digestible 4x6 notecards and fill a container(Fit Packer on Amazon) with their observations. This system can be organized tighter and tighter, for example, put the note cards in a security envelope, and use paperclips to divide the note-cards within the envelope. Even just a few notes on what you have read will prove invaluable later in life.
Books are at odds with all other media and entertainment, why should we be reading? Because the greats read, from Warren Buffet to Elon Musk, they loveto read. Reading is a skill that delivers a huge return on investment, in some cases with a dollar you can read the personal journal of the Emperor of Rome, the biography of New York’s city planner or countless others, this is incalculably powerful and it is within your grasp. Slaves from Ancient Grease to 1700’s America were turned into human machines, doing tasks from picking cotton to accounting for their masters, one skill that was typically kept from slaves was literacy. Reading is a skill utilized by those who wish to improve their status in society, this is powerful skill , use it wisely.
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