Too much to read? Here’s what I’m doing

In days gone by, I used to have huge stacks of unread magazines piled up in my office. Every once in awhile, when I was tripping over those stacks, I would spend a couple of hours and go through them.

I tore out the articles I wanted to read, staple the pages together (or fold the corners to hold the pages together) and throw out the rest of the magazine.

Much better.

The “to read” pile was more manageable, but the pile was still huge and more often than not, I didn’t read anything.

I knew there was gold in those articles so I started doing something to lessen the load. Every few days, I’d throw a handful of articles in my briefcase, to read at night or waiting in court or at the doctor’s office.

I’d read them and when they were gone, I’d grab a few more. Eventually, that huge pile of articles was gone (until I added more).

It’s been a long time since I subscribed to a paper magazine (or newspaper), but going digital has made things worse. Until recently, I had hundreds of unread articles and blog posts and pdfs in a reading list in Evernote.

I did something similar to what I used to do with magazines.

I set up two notebooks in Evernote. (You can do the same thing with tags, folders, labels, or briefcases if you have paper.)

I put (no more than) 20 articles in the first notebook. Everything else goes in a second notebook.

When I’ve read those 20 articles, I go to the second notebook and move 20 more to the first notebook.

If I find myself with more than 20 articles in my first notebook, I move the overage to the second notebook.

I still have hundreds of unread articles in Evernote but I don’t see them. I only see 20 (at a time).

My reading list is manageable and I get a lot more reading done.

My ebook: Evernote for Lawyers

Do you keep a reading list?

I download Kindle books nearly every day. Some for research, some for fun, and some on subjects I later ask myself, “What were you thinking?”

What can I tell you, I like books.

Most of these books were free but I also buy a fair number. Right now, there are 4663 books in my account, and that doesn’t include the ones I’ve read and deleted.

Is that a library in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

Sometimes I go to read a book only to discover I’ve already read it. Many of these are books that offered no value and I tell myself I need to delete them. But that requires logging into my account and finding the book through the search mechanism and doing that one at a time is not a good use of my time.

So, I’ve started keeping a text file on my desktop: “Kindle books to delete”. When the list has five or ten titles on it, I log in and do the deed. I hope that one day Amazon gives us another way to delete a book (not just remove it from the device we’re using to read it). Until then, my system will have to do.

Now, what about books we’d like to read? A reading list of books we’ve heard good things about but haven’t had time to buy or look into?

For that, Amazon gives us an easy solution: wish lists. We can use them to identify products we’re interested in, including books. I use a wish list as my reading list.

But that’s too simple for many people. This morning I saw an article about the many ways people keep their reading lists. Some use a text file, some use a spreadsheet, and some use apps like Trello or Evernote. And there are many other options.

The article describes how some people organize their lists, update them, and add notes and other meta data. Too complicated, if you ask me. How much time do these folks spend organizing their lists?

I feel the same way about to-do lists.

Some people spend more time making and organizing lists than they do getting things done (or read).

When I hear about a book I want to read, I either buy it or put it on my Amazon wishlist to consider at a later time.

As Sgt. Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer) on the 80’s detective show “Hunter” used to say, “Works for me”.

How I use Evernote to organize my work