Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Are You Reading? Getting The Most Of What You Read

If you are following this blog, investing in real estate and/or seeking to become financially independent, the chances are you have read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Perfect! Since you've read it, can you tell me what are the 6 lessons that Robert teaches in the book?

No? Huh.

Actually that is not a surprise, according to the cone of learning I had previously discussed on the post "Analysis Paralysis" we will only retain about 10% of what we read. Webinars, and seminars are a great way to get access to information orally and visually but for many of us, we mostly rely on reading books, blogs and articles to learn new things on real estate investing and other related subject. So in this post, I will offer a few tips to help get the most out of your books and hopefully be able to retain more then just 10%.

First of all, selecting what you should be reading. I will leave it up to you to figure out what you wish to learn about or which topic you would like to read more, but there is a lot of information out there and some may not pertain to your situation. No need to spend a lot of energy reading everything out there. This is where speed reading comes in. When you come across a new written source of information, scan it quickly. Read mostly the chapter titles or table of content. Is this information you wish to know more about and is it useful to you? If not move on. Our time is precious and might as well use it to further help us along. If it seems like something that may be of interest; do a quick scan of a few paragraphs, picking out and understanding key words and concepts. This will give you a broad overview of the information provided and that may be all that you need to know.

If the information, however is something that is worth studying in greater detail, I would still recommend that you first skim the material to get an overview of the subject. This gives you an understanding of its structure, into which you can then fit the detail gained from a full reading of the material.

Now that you are going to read written material you really want to learn, have a look at your environment. If you are easily distracted, reading in a high traffic area may not work well for you, you may want to find a comfortable quiet spot and read there. That is why I enjoy the library, they always have comfy chairs in quiet corners, or on the couch with a blanket once the kids are in bed. Also pay attention to your energy level, if you are tired, you will not be able to concentrate and just may end up falling asleep, if hit myself in the head many a times because of that and you end up loosing your page. If you are on a caffeine high, you may be too restless to sit down to read. The perfect set up may never happen and I certainly do not recommend that you do not read if you can not create that set up. But if you are able to, this may help maximize the quality of your reading.

Active reading will help emphasize the information in your mind. Using a highlighter (only if you own the book) on key information, or stick tabs to point out important passages, and taking notes as you are reading. Taking notes forces you to comprehend what was read and rephrase it onto your notepad (or if you want to easily relocate those notes at a later time, use Penultimate) making you reach the active part of the learning cone. You will retain 70% of what you say, taking notes is like doing a presentation to yourself.

When taking notes, be sure not to simply recopy what you are reading, this would keep you in the automated thinking. Rephrase what you have read in your own words making sure you understand the concept. Also avoid when possible the list making types of notes. Go multidimensional. Doodle graphs and charts, refer to certain areas of your notes with arrows. Try to use the half side of your page when your taking notes so that you have room to go back and further explain certain parts. I came across an article describing a technique called Mind Maps that puts those ideas to use.

The last point I will bring up is, be judgmental on what you are reading. In the real estate world there are a lot of different opinions on which is the best techniques. Some information that will be provided to you will be opinions but can be delivered as if a fact. Just because it is written down, it does not make it true. Think for yourself and form you own opinion.