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The Read/Review basket

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  • The Read/Review basket

    I have a read/review basket like, I'm sure, a lot of others do, but it consistently gets bigger and bigger. There's mostly trade magazines that I'd LIKE to read, because I think I might get a good idea when reading them for implementing in my current position. All of it, by no means, is necessary to read, but it would be nice to read.

    What do you guys recommend? Should I just trash them because I obviously think that they aren't important enough? I've tried to set reminders every day to process it, but I dismiss it 90% of the time because I think, in my mind, there are more important things to do, even if I have nothing else to do at the moment.

  • #2
    I limit the amount of spacemy read/review basket is allowed to use. Whenever it fills that space, I go through and throw things out until it slims back down.

    I slot things from the read/review basket into my tickler for reading at lunch and so forth. That way at any given moment I only have to choose among two or three items, not the whole pile.

    The read/review stack is, by definition, optional reading. I scan for information relevant to specific projects before things go in there. Because it's all optional, this loose structure works for me.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      When you pick up a document, digital or physical, and you have no time or interest to read it now the question becomes: do I have to read it?

      If the answer is "yes" it goes into your Read/Review.

      If the answer is "no" then it's something else. In your case it is material you might like to read in order to get ideas. You need a digital or physical box marked "Idea Material". Rainy day, want to procrastinate, need to brainstorm? Grab something from the box and breeze through it.

      It's just about giving things their proper place.

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      • #4
        Another possibility is to take it seriously for a week and measure the benefit. Read or browse some of the most useful-looking material and if it's just taking up time with no benefit, stop the reminder. Why have an alert that just makes you feel bad?

        You can also reduce it to once a week, and restrict yourself to three items. If a new item comes in, measure it against the others and decide which you're going to ignore. Then you have the benefit of the read/review, but it's less annoying. Daily reminders often become just a blur unless they mean something, and all you're doing is teaching your mind to take your reminders less seriously.

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        • #5
          I carry a magazine or two in my tote bag for spare moments.

          I've learned that certain parts of the month have more spare moments than others, but even so, I have too many magazine subscriptions. It's time to cut back.

          You may wish to consider dropping a few, even the free trade magazines.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AdamB View Post
            All of it, by no means, is necessary to read, but it would be nice to read.

            What do you guys recommend? Should I just trash them because I obviously think that they aren't important enough? I've tried to set reminders every day to process it, but I dismiss it 90% of the time because I think, in my mind, there are more important things to do, even if I have nothing else to do at the moment.
            Test that gut feeling and try to find these things that are more important. If you can find them, do them. If not, read something. It's all about actions...

            With respect to a read/review stack, I've found that it just tends to grow, so actually I abandoned maintaining such a stack. To get rid of it, it helps to order it chronologically and to keep throwing away everything that passes the 3-weeks-ago horizon. If that is too time-consuming, pack the stack on the middle board of a shelf and start throwing away things from the bottom of the stack when the top of it touches the board above.

            You won't read older stuff anyway, will you?

            Just my 0.02c.
            Rolf F. Katzenberger
            Last edited by Rolf F. Katzenberger; 05-07-2007, 10:18 PM. Reason: typo

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            • #7
              Three Keys to Processing Reading

              KEY 1: EACH READING ITEM GETS A "PURPOSE STATEMENT".
              A purpose statement is an "in order to" statement (e.g. "Read this article about GTD in order to improve your productivity", "Scan this magazine in order to give yourself new ideas about that project you're working on", "Read this email because Sam sent it to you to read", etc.) GTD is all about defining as much as you can on the front-end so you don't need to think about it later. Doing so makes it easier to "step toward" the task. Reading tends to feel like more work because it looks, acts, and feels like a pile that needs to be processed rather than a task that needs to be completed. So by defining the purpose of your reading on the front-end it will greatly increase your chances of reading it. You don't have to keep reminding yourself of why you might want to read something every time you pick up the stack.

              KEY 2: EACH READING ITEM GETS AN ESTIMATED TIME TO READ
              I have basic categories of under 15min, under 30min, under 60min, under 120min, over 120min and I just simply write this on a Post-It Note I attach to the front of my reading along with the purpose for reading that item. So, for example, "@ Computer(under 30min): Read this article to improve your productivity." And each week during the weekly review, I reorganize my stack of reading in order from least time to complete to most time to complete.

              KEY 3: MAKE YOUR READING EASILY PORTABLE
              I still have the same problem of reading piling up, but I'm getting a lot more of it done with keys (1) and (2). I also just keep a Read-Review folder that sits vertically on my desk rather than a tray. This keeps me from letting it pile up too much. It also makes it a lot easier to keep with me. Most of my reading gets done in the in-between times when I'm waiting in line for something, taking public transportation, or going on a long trip. I keep that folder with me and just read what I can when I can. On a two hour train ride I remember blowing through the entire folder in one fell swoop. It was a shocking experience considering the size of the folder kept making me think it would take me weeks to get through.

              That's what's working for me.

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              • #8
                I gave up on DA's recommendation up throwing documents in Read/Review and treating the collection of papers as a de facto list. I find it much easier to triage my discretionary reading with a written context list of article/book/document names. I keep all my reading in a Sony Reader, so books and smaller documents are in the same repository. So when I look at my @Reader list, I can better evaluate whether or not knocking off a full article is a better use of my time than chipping away at a full book.

                Seeing a list of titles in one scan is more efficient, in my experience, than leafing through articles and possibly getting drawn into skimming one or more before committing to read one. As Todd implied above, a pile of reading can look more intimidating than the actual amount of reading really warrants. A written list is a good way to get some perspective on just how much (or little) has been committed to.

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                • #9
                  Hi Adam. A few things that I recommend to clients:

                  o Use the "rip-n-read" technique on magazines/journals so that you're putting only the articles you've decided to read in the basket, not the whole large/distracting issue.

                  o Use a folder instead of a basket, and carry it with you. Allows making progress during "between" moments.

                  o Consider blocking out time on your schedule (AKA "time mapping") for reading.

                  o Consider reading while exercising

                  Hope that helps!

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                  • #10
                    I narrowed my focus of those types of publications to the two that are the most helpful and likely to contain articles of interest to me. I set them in a read/ review stack, along with miscellaneous articles and emails that strike my interest. Once the next issue of the journal or magazine comes in, I move the old one, read or not, onto the shelf for reference. Both publications have an online index that I can reference should I need to research a specific topic. The rest of the publications that come across my desk are unsolicited and therefore of minimum value, so the 2 minute rule is sufficient to dispatch them.

                    It sounds like you have a lot of magazine type material in your read and review stack. You might also want to consider adopting the "one in, one out" rule. Once you add something, take the item from the bottom of the stack and throw it out/ recycle it, without looking at it or evaluating it further.

                    Mindi

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