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Making It All Work- Reading

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  • Making It All Work- Reading

    I have reading materials in two places--my desk and my email reading folder.

    Desk--Lots of professional journals. Some are current and many are older. I had kept the older ones thinking that I might someday want an article for reference, however, in reality that rarely happens.


    EMail Folder--Lots of professional emails on a variety of topics in my field. Since I'm not sure if I can read the article in under two minutes, it winds up in my PC Read/Review Folder. It seems I never get back there to read and the box just piles up.

    What guidelines do you find helpful in gaining control of your reading materials?

  • #2
    Originally posted by debbieg View Post
    What guidelines do you find helpful in gaining control of your reading materials?
    For paper items like magazines, journals & books I have a set space on my desk for them. When that space fills up I need to either plan to do some reading or dump some old stuff.

    For electronic documents I keep the reading list to under a screen full of titles in a single folder for reading.

    For my kindle I just let them all stack up in the system if I have the book or in the Save For Later on-line for my want to buy books. Most of my kindle reading is for pleasure.

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    • #3
      Put all journals (except for the last issues) in a box.

      Originally posted by debbieg View Post
      Desk--Lots of professional journals. Some are current and many are older. I had kept the older ones thinking that I might someday want an article for reference, however, in reality that rarely happens.
      Put all journals (except for the last issues) in a box, tape it, write the date on the box and put it in the garage or cellar. After one year throw the box away if it was never opened

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      • #4
        Plan time

        This is something I've simply had to start doing. I am quite young and therefore have a lot to learn and consequently, more to read than is probably humanly possible. Lots of things get thrown out, lots of things put into reference (almost a someday maybe in this case) but for the things I simply must read, I have to block out time to read them. Recently my reading has increased tremendously and vie had to block out 1 hour per day just to keep up. On the rare occasion is get through everything I have to/can read in that day, I move back to my lists and keep working.

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        • #5
          You might try spending a minute or two reading the item when it comes in, and then categorizing it into "Want to Read Right Away", "I Guess I Should Read This Eventually", "What the Hell Is This Thing", etc etc.

          I've found it easy to fall into a false economy with trying to process things from the Inbox as fast as humanly possible, while suffering the consequences on the back end.



          Cheers,
          Roger

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          • #6
            Write down the reference

            I'm keeping a word document with an annotated bibliography. Write down the reference, and sentence on why you'd like to read it. When you've read it, replace that sentence with a summary.

            In reality I only read to meet a need. For example, if I've started a project that deals with adaptive management, I'd like to do background reading on adaptive management. So I'll look at my word file, identify all possible related articles, read them, write up the summaries, and it'll be fresh in my mind for the project work. But if I hadn't kept the list of references to begin with, I couldn't do this.
            A colleague of mine uses Endnote software to help with journal articles and references.

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            • #7
              Thanks,,,Another thought...

              Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
              I'm keeping a word document with an annotated bibliography. Write down the reference, and sentence on why you'd like to read it. When you've read it, replace that sentence with a summary.

              In reality I only read to meet a need. For example, if I've started a project that deals with adaptive management, I'd like to do background reading on adaptive management. So I'll look at my word file, identify all possible related articles, read them, write up the summaries, and it'll be fresh in my mind for the project work. But if I hadn't kept the list of references to begin with, I couldn't do this.
              A colleague of mine uses Endnote software to help with journal articles and references.
              Your second paragraph gave me an idea. I could replace the email subject line with the topic, and store them in a folder. Then I can sort the folder by topic quickly and read on a need to know basis as well as delete the oldest ones when the folder gets too large.

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              • #8
                I think you've got a good start by coraling your reading material, but you still need to include those dedicated "stacks" in your choices when deciding what to do. If that's not happening you may need to schedule an appointment with yourself to clear up these materials.

                As far as keeping articles for reference, I suggest you get an Exacto knife, cut out the pages you want to keep, and file them in your general reference system. I subscribe to PC World and have files labeled "PC World - 2010", "PC World - 2009", etc. These are reviewed and purged as needed during an annual review of my General Reference filing system.

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                • #9
                  Reading: a few options

                  Here are some possibilities for you:

                  Digital: In your Read & Review folder, you can establish the habit of using helpful filenames. The goals are to be as concise as possible with the most useful information available. A format that works well is <date saved>-<initials of author>-topic.

                  E.G. My brother (P.D.W.) forwards me an FYI news article about a local event. I may enjoy reading it, but nothing would die or fall apart if I didn't. I tuck the contents away thusly:

                  101008-PDW-article re bridge rehab

                  By using the YYMMDD format in the filename, the newest stuff stays on top. When the folder gets too large for your comfort level, skim through the bottom and clearcut.

                  It takes very little time to store a file in this way, and it is very easy to find when needed. That said, you will find times that your interest in reading it is so low that you don't want to even create the file. In such cases, you may choose to archive the email within the email system itself in the off-chance you later want to retrieve it. Archive beats Delete for old emails if there is any chance you may need it.

                  Paper: in the case of journals you might want to refer to in the future, there is a "utility vs futility" balance between keeping enough information that it is useful and simultaneously keeping that information organized in a way that you can find what you need quickly enough (and also physical storage space and moving considerations).

                  You pointed out that it is rare that you actually go back and read articles from those sources. I can relate to this, as I carried around notes from college for years afterwards ("just in case I decide to brush up on..."). It can be very tempting/easy to keep accumulating this type of material, to the point of hoarding. Where to draw the line is a personal (and emotional) decision that may relate indirectly to a universal human fear of loss. In the end, I found that the Web almost always provided what I needed, and much faster.

                  Imagine a time that you would be looking for information.
                  a) Would you search the paper-based journals, open Google (which may lead you to the journal article anyway), search your computer, or search some other way?
                  b) How much effort is worth it to keep that information available in physical form? (This may relate to keeping it until you change offices, for example.)
                  c) Is there an online database of those journals, that you could search by topic, keyword, or full-text? (If your subscription allows for online back issue access, keeping old copies becomes less relevant.)

                  I have found that moving to digital storage of reference information offers enormous benefits overall (with the obvious disadvantage of not being able to just grab a book and go.) Full-text search, easier organization, multiple backups, availability of information (e.g. portable USB drive), and that more information no longer means more physical volume.

                  If you have very esoteric information on paper that would be hard to find elsewhere, a scanner with text recognition (ScanSnap, etc.) can turn a shelf of journals into full-text searchable PDF's in a day. In odd circumstances, like an odd pamphlet that I may want to read but don't want to take care of in case I never do, I snap a few photos with my phone or camera, and file it away into digital storage, using the format described above.

                  In all cases, it is very important to be sure to have properly processed the information, so that the Read & Review does not contain Project Support or Next Action items. It needs to all be FYI or, at most, slight-chance-of-possible-future-reference-value. Reading material that has a valid chance of future reference value goes into A-Z Reference folders by topic, with filenames as above.

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