One of the most common habits shared by most successful people is reading. Extraordinary people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, etc., spend a lot of their time reading. They know that if they want to get better results, they to read and learn.
However, reading doesn’t equal learning. You can read a hundred books, but if you do it for the sake of reading and finishing the book, you will never get the most out of it.
And this is exactly what this article is about – learning how to read books so that you can get the most out of what you read.
Most people know that reading is good. They understand that they need to read in order to gain a better perspective and knowledge to live a better and more successful life.
The problem is that most people have no idea how to really read books. All they do is get a book and read. After they finish the book, they get back to living the same old way and nothing changes.
If you really want to make a positive impact through reading, you need to learn how to get the most out of it.
You must learn the right way to chunk out the knowledge so that you can truly benefit. Unless you are reading for fun, use these 10 tips below to learn the most from reading books:
1. Identify your purpose for reading
One of the most important things you need to do before you start reading is to identify your purpose – why do you want to read the book?
You want to know your objective because when you have a mission, you will expect some form of actions or improvement from reading the book.
It’s like planning. Your plan may not work out, but it is not the plan that really matters, it is the planning. It is the process of planning that allows you to anticipate problems and handle expectations better.
The same goes for reading. When you know the purpose of reading a book, you are giving an instruction to your mind of what to look out for as you read.
It gives you a sense of mission. Your mind will then act like Google and look for the solutions in the book as you read.
2. Stop and ponder
You don’t want to read word for word, you want to stop and ponder about what you have read. If you are just going to read word for word, pages to pages, you are not going to learn a lot from your reading.
The key to improvement is the realization of your weakness. You can’t have a solution if there is no problem in the first place.
Hence, you must stop and reflect the information from the book with your life to understand how the ideas can apply to you.
At different points in your life, things will be different. For example, when you are at your twenties, reading finance and business books may relate a lot to you and you feel the most inspired reading those books about success.
But when you are at your sixties, reading books about finding peace and harmony in life may connect with you the best.
And this is why you need to stop, ponder, and reflect what you have read and try to connect it with your life.
Don’t just skim through the book or try to read as fast as possible. Remember your purpose of reading.
You’re not reading the book for the sake of reading. And you’re not in a competition to finish reading the book as fast as possible.
The purpose of reading books is so that you learn the most from them. Hence, take time to think, reflect, and stop and ponder when necessary.
3. Take notes and write down ideas
How do you get the most out of reading? One simple answer is to take notes and write down any ideas that interest you.
Don’t just skim through the book, you must take note and write down things that give you inspiration.
Hence, always get ready with papers, notebooks, and pens.
I have a notebook used especially for writing down ideas I have learned from reading. And from time to time, I will review those notes that I have taken and sometimes, I may get new inspirations from what I have written down.
Remember, your mission is NOT to read the book so that you can put it down and read other books, but to learn the most from what you have read.
So, take your time to write down and take note of ideas that spark your inspiration.
4. Reread books that interest you
Who says that you need to read different books every time? You can always reread books that interest you.
I have reread many of my books. For example, I love the practicality and inspiration from Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, written by Harv Eker. I have read the book at least 5 times now.
This is because the book is a quick read and full of practical action steps that I can implement in my life immediately. I love the book and I suggest you read it too.
Do you know that Warren Buffett reread The Intelligent Investors written by Benjamin Graham from cover to cover for a few times because the book inspired his investment philosophy?
Thus, don’t just read a book for once. When you find an interesting book, you may want to reread it for a couple more times to really grasp the ideas within.
Plus, reading the same book at a different timeframe in life can give you a different perspective.
5. Do the exercise and take the action steps
Some books are not just about words, there are charts, exercises, and actionable steps laid out for you. Do them.
Do the exercise as suggested by the author. Work on the actionable steps and execute on the plan from the book.
If you are not going to work on the book, you will waste a lot of your time and energy for the sake of just reading the book.
Some books share a lot of practical ideas where you can implement in your business and life. You want to follow through and execute.
You learn the most when you execute an idea from reading one book because it gives a positive impact on your life. There is no point to read 200 books and you do nothing to make a change in your life.
6. Share what you have learned
One great way to make sure you learn the most from reading books is to share what you have learned.
Here’s a great saying from Confucius:
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
We tend to forget what we have read. After all, there are so many things that require our attention. So, plain reading is the least effective method to make sure what you learned stick with you.
The best way is to do it or to share the ideas with someone else.
If you want to create a sharing group and share what you have learned from reading a book, go ahead. It will be a wise move.
But if you don’t want to do that, just share the ideas with your friends or partner. You can casually mention the ideas you discovered from a book when you chit-chat with your friends.
When you share, you tend to be able to connect with the ideas better.
7. Do a quick summary for what you have read
Another good way to retain the information and knowledge you have learned is to do a quick summary of what you have read.
There are many ways how you can do it. You can do a summary for each chapter, section, or the entire book.
The best way is to write down a summary of what you have learned after reading a chapter and create a summary for the entire book too after you have finished it.
Don’t worry about if the thing you write down is wrong because there is no right and wrong, only what you have learned from the book. So, just do it.
8. Set a goal to implement what you have learned from the book
I find this to be powerful. After you have the read the book, write down at least one goal you want to achieve from reading the book. You then want to create a plan and work on achieving that goal.
You will learn something from the book, and the best way to make sure you get the most out of the book is to turn the idea into a goal and work on it.
For instance, after reading the book, Fastlane Millionaire, I understand that if I wanted to be financially successful, I need to operate from a producer’s mindset and not a consumer’s mentality.
Hence, I then set a goal of how I can turn what I do in my career to become more of a producer rather than a consumer. This is how the books I read can positively impact my life.
No matter how many goals you set or how big or small the goals, you need to have at least one goal from a book.
This will make sure you implement and get something out of every book you read.
9. Read 2 books concurrently
Both are great books. I read Content Inc. during day time when I’m able to write down notes and follow through the exercise given by the book. As for The Art of Work, I read it before I go to sleep where I just read the book for inspiration.
I discover that reading 2 books at the same time gives me the best option. When I’m a little tired and just want to read something for fun and inspiration, I will read a book that is more relaxing, and in this case, it is The Art of Work.
And when I’m motivated and on my desk, I prefer to read something practical where I can implement the ideas into my business and career, so, I read books like Content Inc. from Joe Pulizzi.
You can try out this method if you want to. But one thing you need to understand is not to split yourself too thin. Reading 2 books concurrently is fine, but reading 3 or 5 books at the same time will just make the matter worse.
If you find it difficult to focus, then just read one book at a time.
10. Take action and execute
No matter what books or how many books you have read, if you are not doing anything or making any changes, nothing will happen in your life.
Reading books is just a form of potential power. The real power lies in execution.
You want to take action and execute on the ideas you have acquired. You don’t want to read just for the sake of reading.
Yes, it is true that reading is important and beneficial, but reading alone cannot change your life.
If you want success, you must do something. You need to take action and execute so that you will get real results in life.
Now, what I have shared with you is what has worked well for me. You don’t have to apply all the tips above to every book you read. You just need to be flexible and find out what works best for you.
Sometimes, you don’t want to squeeze everything out of reading, and sometimes, you want to get the most out of the time and effort you have poured into reading.
The key is to implement these tips whenever you find necessary. So, do you think these tips are helpful? How do you get the most out of reading a book?