I consider myself a bit of a rebel when it comes to consuming content.
A conversation with a creator friend the other night highlighted to me that I have come to view content consumption fundamentally different from most people.
It all can be traced back to the time I read Sonkhe Ahrens's book How To Take Smart Notes and was introduced to the Zettelkasten Method. There was one idea that stood out to me that confirmed my rebel suspicions about how I have come to consume content.
If you are not familiar with the book, it introduces the Zettelkasten Method which was created by Niklas Luhmann, A German Sociologist & academic who over his career penned over 70 books using the method. He was not a typical academic in the way you might brainstorm something to write about, outline the important points and then start researching. He turned the whole process upside down. Beginning by reading and collecting notes, following his interests on all manner of subjects through different texts and books, and then develop notes and outlines from his reading.
Because he was following his interests in both the reading and writing process, he never worked on anything uninteresting. If something wasn't peaking his interest, he would find something else to read or another paper or note to write. That way the work itself was always interesting because there was always something interesting to read or write about.
We've been conditioned to think reading multiple books is bad. Our teachers and parents encouraged us to start a book, read it word for word, and finish it before we start another one. When we were children this was probably sensible advice, teaching us some kind of lesson. But for most of us into adulthood, it can stop us from reading for multiple days, weeks, months & even years.
I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day who has been in the recent Melbourne lockdown and I asked him, what he had been reading lately. He told me he hadn't been reading because the current book he was in the middle of was quite heavy and he wasn't in the headspace to read it.
Because the one book he had was 'too heavy' he had stopped reading altogether. So, I suggested he just start another one. What a radical idea? Because isn't it better to stay interested & consistent in your reading habit, than to stop altogether? If it keeps you interested in the habit of reading, then does it really matter how many books you have on the go?
Why do we feel like we have to 'push through' a book? Will we get some kind of badge because we lasted through a boring book, but our soul was literally sucked out in the process?
I'm not buying it. I'm not some naughty school kid being assigned a book to read in class and neither are you. So, this is your permission slip to read multiple things on the go. Follow your interests and revel in the words and the texts... until you don't. Then move onto something else.
What is our obsession with having to read the MOST amount of books, to beat our record and the record of others? I know there is a lot of things to consume, but what are you really accomplishing by rushing through all those books.
I'm not obsessed with the quantity I read anymore. I'm not tracking the number of pages I read per day, or the number of books in a month or year. My only outcome when consuming content is to simply extract the gems.
If that means I read one page today that resonates and lights me up inside and causes my mind to explode with new ideas, then that's all I'm reading today. Goal achieved.
Instead of focusing on quantity, I consume content to extract the gems.
I often get asked, if I read multiple books at a time don't I get confused as to which ideas come from which books? The answer is no. Because I'm not consuming to try and fit everything into neat little piles of information.
Most of us read like we need to hand in a book report on Monday morning, when in reality that is rarely the case for many of us. The best way to read as an adult is to take the ideas you are reading and mix them up with what you already know. You'll remember & apply more doing it that way.
Instead Of Creating Neat Little Categories Of Ideas, I consume To Find The Magic
Another question I get is if I keep stopping to take notes, don't I lose my flow in reading. Again, I came to dance with the ideas, not write a book review. If one paragraph sparks a new idea, then that's totally ok with me because that is the whole reason why I showed up.
Instead of finding a reading flow, I consume to dance with the ideas.
Is it time you reconsidered some of your consumption habits? Is it time you stopped trying to live by made-up rules and fell in love with the habit of reading again? Dumping anything that doesn't serve your outcome and following your interests.