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This Business Trip: Curate a Deliberate Reading List

This Business Trip is a regular column that looks at how small changes can help you better optimize your business travel time.

The Challenge: Information Overload

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently shared that every two days we now create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. Each day another round of articles are published from blogs, magazines and newspapers. We are living in a state of information overload and effectively navigating through it all is daunting.

Yet, in our knowledge economy effectively replenishing ideas through regular reading is essential. Regardless of the work do, your long-term professional development, industry insights, awareness of business and career opportunities are all be shaped by what you do or don’t read – but most of us either don’t do it enough or approach it haphazardly.

In addition to the business benefits of reading there is also a growing body of research showing that reading reduces stress, slows the progress of dementia, improves focus and concentration as well as lowering blood pressure and increasing the sense of tranquility

But getting started can be overwhelming: what topics to focus on, what sources to go to and then how to stay up to date? So how does one become more considered and proactive in how they curate their reading?

The Opportunity

Travel, especially business travel is a common time to try and catch up on reading: planes are relatively distraction free and being away from home also means more evenings free from chores or homework help.

“Most of us have a vague sense that we should be reading more and that there are idea-based discussions we should be following for our business. Investing in a deliberate approach to how we process that mountain of content is the best way to actually apply the value of those ideas to our work and lives as well as to share with others.” says Rana Sarkar, National Director for High Growth Markets & India at KPMG & Board Co-Chair & Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs.

Getting Started

Establish The Key Areas:

Start by creating categories for what you need and want to read. There are numerous ways to do this – dividing by subjects, themes or thought leaders that you need to keep up with.

This can get overwhelming so I recommend limiting your key areas to about five major categories.

Mine include:

  • Work
  • Self Development
  • Pleasure
  • Big Ideas
  • Current Events  

Get Clear On The Why:

Figure out what kind content you need to get from each category and why.

For instance, my self-development reading is focused on material to help me become a more effective parent. My work category is focused on material related to industry trends and potential business opportunities.

Create A Source Short List:

Create a short list of your seven to 10 trusted news, industry and big idea information sources. This is the best way to streamline and focus your content.

Next identify your five to seven top Facebook and Twitter friends who can act as curators against each of your key subject areas.

“Reading more nonfiction is one of my areas of focus in 2016 and business travel is a huge opportunity to honor that goal,” says Consultant & Corporate Director & Tamara Paton.

“For new book suggestions, I rely on social media, particularly threads tagged with #fridayreads, @ceoreads and @nytimesbooks. Podcasts focused on my favourite niche subjects are also good sources.”

Effectively Use Technology:

There are numerous apps available to help you better manage your reading list, some of the best include:

  • iReadItNow: a free app to track the books you own, have read or are reading.
  • iBooks: lets you browse, download, manage and read an extensive library of new releases and also add notes, annotations, highlighting and bookmarks.  
  • Pocket: is among the top “read it later apps” alongside Instapaper and Readability – all of these let you easily file away articles and reports for a more convenient time.
  • Evernote: is the digital filing cabinet for your information life. If you want to keep a copy of a story this is the place to do it.

Schedule The Reading Time:

The best way to use your newly curated list is:

  • Schedule and book it in: a 30-minute slot or two 15-minute slots daily.
  • Change your commute: if you normally drive, swap out your car a few times a week for public transportand so you can read.
  • Enjoy. Few things are quite as satisfying and letting yourself get absorbed in thought provoking piece or escaping into a novel.

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Reva Seth is a bestselling author of two nonfiction books – she regularly writes on nudge changes to better living and working. Find her @RevaSeth or revaseth.com

Published Tuesday, March 1st 2016

Header image credit: Getty Images

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