How to Read and Achieve More

At the end of 2012 I was disappointed with how few books I was able to read over the year.

I resolved to find a way to finish more.

The trouble was that on a day-to-day basis I was already spending hours reading. My daily reading included essays (my own and others submitted to ETR), products created by my publishing partners, subscriptions to over 20 newsletter and magazines, and of course, dozens of emails.

The only way to read more was, of course, to schedule it like an appointment. I decided to implement reading a chapter per day into my morning Inspirational Document review.

Here’s a photo of everything that I read over the course of an hour each morning.

This daily review is performed after I’ve spent 90 minutes writing and just before my daily meditation. The daily inspirational review takes 30-60 minutes.

My review starts with reading and internal reflection. I cover a couple of pages from Dr. Gay Hendricks’ book, “A Year of Living Consciously“, and then I study Stoic philosophy via “A Guide to the Good Life: Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” and “The Art of Living by Epictetus“.

After that, I work through my Gratitude/Achievement journal, a review of one Kekich Credo, and then all of my daily documents. You can learn more about those here:

Finally, I get to read the book chapter. I recently finished (and highly recommend) Cal Newport’s, “So Good They Cant’ Ignore You”. Newport’s thesis is that chasing your passion is the wrong way to a rewarding career.

Instead, there are 3 traits that make you love your work:

  •     Creativity
  •     Impact
  •     Control

To achieve these traits, you must first develop valuable skills that earn you career capital. It is only when you have career capital that you can take control of your life.

To develop career capital, you must spend time in serious study where you stretch your abilities at an appropriate level and provide immediate feedback. This is done through deliberate practice of working on activities that matter.

According to researcher Anders Ericsson, deliberate practice is defined as, “Activity designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.”

One subject of the book, Mike, a Cleantech VC director, tracked every hour of his day, down to the quarter hour increments, on a spreadsheet. He wants to ensure that his attention is focused on activities that matter. Another success story from the book, Mike Jackson, says, “Spend time on what’s important, not what’s immediate.”

And as Newport concludes, “It is a lifetime accumulation of deliberate practice that again and again ends up explaining excellence.”

That is the #truth,

Craig Ballantyne

“Share your success with others. Build others up, it will only make you more successful. If you are the one to lead and help and try to out-give the Universe, people will gravitate towards helping you in return.” – Craig Ballantyne