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@read and organizing to-read piles

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  • @read and organizing to-read piles

    I decided to put the @read context back into my system. The main reason is to add some order into something that really needs more clarification. Currently I have a lovely, big pile of print stuff to read in my office; I also had listed items to read into different context lists - ex: @pc for electronic items to read, @office for print items to read, etc. I now moved them to my new @read context, which is giving me some oversight already.

    I would really like some advice:

    1) for physical to-read piles in the office, would it be best to separate the reading material by must and maybe or? How is it best to set that up?

    2) how do people recommend I set up my electronic to-read "pile" or list?

    2) when I add items to the physical or electronic to-read pile, should I put them in my context list? Can I just put "read 1/2 hour of stuff on list or pile?"

    I have to do a lot of reading and am finding my haphazard and random set-up isn't helping me. What do others do to make certain they read what they need to read?

  • #2
    1). I would split must and maybe. In my busy office I have no time for maybe. When I would like to be remined of maybe? Hmm. Probably never. So I would eleminate that maybe folder

    2). Can't comment. What do you mean by your list setup? Do you mean @Read context or @Office context with to read items in it? Or you mean Project list with your reading projects? I prefer to have To read smth on my Project list with Read 10 pages of XYZ as my next action @Office. All the rest goes on SM list till some better times

    3). I think you can. You would be reminded to read off your pile anytime you open your list. One thing to consider is motivation. Would you be interested in reading something that's not related to any of your Projects? I mean something that doesn't make you closer to your goals?

    In my executive world I also need to read. I have magazines and special literature to read. In the office it's very hard to read something special because of the new inputs (phone, people). I tried to schedule time for reading magazines but the outcome is not clear so refused to do it. As for special literature, I devoted time at home (1 hour from 21 to 22) when I can read in silence, make notes and review. I can also do it at the office, and I do it with some big documents (procedures, contracts, etc) - for that I could have a project and next action.


    • #3
      My physical to read pile is relatively small and includes both for fun and necessary stuff. I have a magazine file on my desk and I put new magazines and papers in one end and take stuff out to read from the other side. If it gets full I do a quick sort, decide if something doesn't need to be read at all and toss it. If I really have to read everything in the box then I make sure to set up some dedicated time to read, usually after dinner instead of watching a movie or doing fiber work. Keeping it to one magazine file of stuff is my way to make sure I get my necessary reading done regularly.

      I also have between 2-4 physical books in my reading pile all the time. It's also limited by space, I have about 4 inches of space between my magazine file of reading material and my flatbed scanner so books I am reading go there along with my kindle. If they are skinny I may have 4 or 5 in there. Fat books means I have fewer. I can't add a book to that space until I finish one already there.

      My kindle is stored here and the charging cord comes out right there so I can keep it fully charged. It's full of both books in process and possible books for future via samples. I try to clear all samples out once a week, as part of the just before weekly review stuff I finish. Books I am reading are either for fun or necessary. I try to have 2-3 in each category going at one time and I flip between them as I get bored or need a break.

      For me limiting the space physically was the way for me to actually get my reading done. When it was scattered all over in shelves and various places I not only didn't finish reading material I had to but also didn't get as much enjoyment out of my fun reading either.


      • #4
        Originally posted by mih View Post
        1). I tried to schedule time for reading magazines but the outcome is not clear so refused to do it.
        If you find a particular magazine interesting or useful or otherwise life-enhancing, why do you need a clear outcome in order to schedule time to read it?


        • #5
          Originally posted by mih View Post
          2). Can't comment. What do you mean by your list setup? Do you mean @Read context or @Office context with to read items in it? Or you mean Project list with your reading projects? I prefer to have To read smth on my Project list with Read 10 pages of XYZ as my next action @Office. All the rest goes on SM list till some better times
          By electronic to-read pile I am referring to a list of the digital magazines, white papers, etc. that I intend to read. A lot of my reading is work-related, but not necessarily project related (I need to keep on top of trends, tools, technologies, methodologies, etc.) I don't necessarily want to create a next action for every item I intend to read/review/scan. I'm thinking of throwing them into a "digital pile" versus the physical pile on my desk.

          I have a s/m list of the various digital items I need to read. My system is set up rather haphazard though, where not everything is listed or identified properly. I also need to better record a next action indicating where I left off and should continue like you mention above.

          ...I think I'm getting a better grasp on how to organize this.


          • #6
            Oogie, I like your idea of physically limiting the to-read pile on my desk and then going through and combing out the unnecessary. If something's there and unread for so long, then why not throw it out.


            • #7
              You capacity is limited. You should have active or active project related reading on your Project list. All the rest should be on SM list. You can add new readings (electronic or paper) to your active list when you have some "free" capacity (feel active and not overwhelmed by your last week activities). Having Project and SM lists help you balance your workload, give you an instrument to measure your overwhelm.


              • #8
                For any stuff you find on the Internet that you want to read, I recommend giving a try.


                • #9
                  re: Getting Reading Done

                  Contexts serve one main purpose: to get you closer to getting something done. When you look at one giant list of 100 items--half of which are not defined--you have to waste your time re-thinking what each thing is, when you can do it, and whether you have the time or energy to do it when you can. But when that list is whittled down to segments of "@ Home", "@ Office", etc. you lose the overwhelming feeling, and get those segments done. Something similar happens with reading, but because it is reading, it requires different steps.

                  What do you need to get you one step closer to getting your reading done?

                  Typically this comes down to:
                  (1) Why/Purpose -- why is it in your pile of reading, what is the purpose for your reading it?
                  (2) Time -- How much time will it take me to read? How long would it take me to read just a section? Can I do that now?
                  (3) Involvement/Ambience -- Is this something I can read on the train or do I need complete silence? Is this light reading or heavy reading? Will I need to take detailed notes or outlines when reading this? etc.

                  Defining those three elements *in advance* for every piece of your reading will significantly improve getting that reading done or eliminated.

                  All it takes is a post-it note slapped on each of your reading material like this:
                  @ Library(under 30min): Read the first chapter of this book so you can become a more effective manager
                  @ Computer(under 60min): Read this article because so-and-so emailed it to you

                  Just adding the time and dividing your reading stack based on estimated time will significantly increase your reading. Try dividing them up into under 15min, under 30min, under 60min, under 120min, over 120min piles. Next time you get stuck somewhere with an extra hour to spare, you won't have to waste your time further by re-asking the above questions. Instead, you can just pull out your "under 60min" stack and get that reading done.

                  Hope that helps.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Todd V View Post
                    Just adding the time and dividing your reading stack based on estimated time will significantly increase your reading.
                    I really like both the define why you are reading and the time needed way of sorting your reading. I think I may try to implement some of the time stuff right away. Although I do get most all of my reading done I'd like to be more efficient. Right now I have spare bits of short time I could do some light reading in but it's all jumbled in with the stuff I will want to take notes on.


                    • #11
                      In a recent thread here discussion turned briefly to reading, and I suggested putting time in the calendar called "Crank Reading Widgets". This way I was scheduling time on a context (because I genuinely felt I needed to catch up with my backlog) but I wasn't specifying what I had to read at the time - the items would all be marked READ in my NA lists so it's easy to pick them out and "storm them".

                      The mental idea of "Cranking Widgets" for reading rather than "get through tedious but necessary documents" made me actually see it as a bit of a challenge rather than a chore.

                      I've since used this 3 or 4 times and have really ploughed through a load of stuff I was procrastinating about. Works for other things too - at lunch I had "Crank Financial Widgets" because following a weekend away and a payday and an upcoming house move, I had loads of financial and budgeting NAs I needed to shift.

                      Another thing I have is I car share to work when I usually am a passenger. So I can leave myself a calendar reminder "Put document X on top of bag to carry to car". Usually I'll have finished it by the time I'm home

                      Hope those ideas help someone


                      • #12
                        I have a preliminary reading set-up set up:

                        1) a limited area for physical reading stuff (attractive basket). I also have a separate s/m pile now. I am not "forced" to clean out the piles more frequently. This alone will lower my stress.
                        2) I downloaded instapaper but haven't used it yet, but it's only been 2 days
                        3) I'm going to schedule or tickle some general cranking time, since it's not too set in stone. I'm only putting really-need-to read on my NA list or else it's endless.
                        4) I also like the purpose and time functions associated with the to-reads. Some things to read need more concentrated effort, others can just use a quick scan. I need to be more aware of them, so that I don't waste my time (too much of it, at least) on that which isn't so important.

                        Thank you for your suggestions!


                        • #13

                          Instapaper rocks!

                          I have a instapaper bookmark in all my browsers (home, work, ....) and have the instapaper app on my iPhone.
                          On my 45 min. commute twice a day, I read whatever I put there.

                          greetings from germany

                          Huibert Gill