A new approach to reading business books

Or “How I read Getting to Yes

For 2017 I have set myself the challenge of getting through my Audible backlog. I set out on a book binge to use up my mounting credits and learn new stuff. This has led to me having a backlog of books I want to capture notes on so I decided to try something new for Getting to Yes – and it has worked really well. I spend a lot of time reading business books so it makes sense for me to look for ways to improve.

Why do I blog book summaries?

I have blogged before on reading business books. In that blog, I cover active reading (or listening) and the benefits of reviewing and recapping. I blog my book summaries because it forces me to read through my scribbled notes. This highlights gaps in my knowledge (and gaps in my notes) while it is still fresh. If I don’t take notes on a book due to my memory in a few months I’ll have forgotten it all.

So the blogs are just a device to force me to review my notes. Having invested the time reading (listening) I want to make sure I get value from that (and not end up as confused as I am with the new season of Game of Thrones having forgotten completely what is going on – the joys of a dyslexic/dyspraxic memory).

Why a backlog then?

I’ve been listening to audio books while out running and while commuting. In both of these situations, it is difficult to capture notes. Coupled with a poor short-term memory this can lead to lots of re-listening.

Audiobooks are not great for recapping on content. I’ll sometimes use a dual format approach: listen to the audiobook and recap with the print version. The downside to this is that my bookcase is full and I have to pay twice for the book.

I’ve got rough scribbles on a collection of books that I want to tidy up. So rough that I didn’t even scribble them in my journal a hang up I really should get over as the rest of the journal is not a work of art. Great books like Messy, Presence, Grit and others all waiting to be written up (and a few others I probably will not write up as the content is not really actionable).

What was different about Getting to Yes?

There was nothing special about Getting to Yes as a book to try something different on. It was simply the next book in the queue. I wanted to try more active listening so I decided not to listen to it while doing something else.

I knew I had a few trips to London coming up that would see me sitting there for hours on end on the bus/train. This gave me the chance to listen while travelling and take notes on the go. I took a lot of notes. I found myself thinking more deeply about the content resulting in more doodles as I try to visualise the content. I still found myself rewinding a lot but it was to ensure I was capturing the nuance rather than to refresh the key points.

This made posting the blog easy. It was essentially just a case of typing up my notes and reviewing I understood it all. Slightly different to my experience of typing up my summary of Grit – I can’t find where I made my notes on the middle part of the book 🙁 It did make the elapsed time from start to finish longer but I can live with that.  And I still have my podcasts to keep me distracted while running. What a surprise – multi tasking is not productive.

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