I'm not a great reader.
I still read with a voice in my head. I often have to re-read the page I'm on because I have a short attention span and my mind wanders easily. My wife has long suspected I have ADHD. I just think I get bored easily.
But all of these things -- attention span, reading, not having ADHD (jokes) -- are things that can get better with practice. I believe so anyway.
With the free time I have with the lock-down I decided I want to be a "better reader" (whatever that means).
I remember coming across this video by Ryan Holiday on how he consumes books. He said how writes notes in the margins and highlights lines he likes and then writes out his notes and thoughts on the book afterwards.
I thought this was brilliant (complete noob, pretty sure people who read books are like "umm, yeah, that's normal and lots of people do it").
So I do what I always do when I want to learn something.I googled and searched Youtube for "how to be a better reader".
I got a tonne of results. I have been a consumer of Tim Ferriss podcasts and other writing for some time (never read any of his books though), and I came across one of his videos where he was detailing how he creates indexes in his books, and how he creates a key and symbol for different marks in the book etc.
This is what I'm going to be doing from now on to improve my reading skills and just increase my reading knowledge in general.
I'm going to commit to at least 1 x hour every day to "actively" read a book, make notes and think about that book until I've finished it. I will write the notes out somewhere, or maybe even write a book review so it forces me to be accountable to read consistently and by writing it out, to actively think on what it is I'm reading and what thoughts I have from the book.
Another thing I picked up while watching Tim's video about how he reads books was a thing called "Morning Pages".
'Morning pages' is a writing, and I would say also a meditative, exercise you do every morning when you first get up. The goal is writing 3 pages of whatever comes to mind right there first thing in the morning. The point is not to write some great work of art, but to "sweep out" the many recesses of your mind, and basically purge as much as you can in 3 pages first thing, before your ego or defensive mind sets in and you start being precious about your "amazing thought process & ideas".
Have a look at Julia Cameron's The Artists Way for more information on her writing practices.
I haven't read it myself, just took the morning pages exercise from Tim's video.
I found this idea fascinating and I have been doing it now for the past 4 working days (I take the weekends off). I'll try and get a month down and report back here about what benefits if any I have observed.
So, 2 new things to do every (working) day for at least the next month.
- Reading for 1 x hour every day.
- Writing "morning pages" every working day.
I was going to round it out to a trilogy with this concept I came across on twitter around "Learning in Public" but I might save that for another after I've got the reading and morning journal routine locked down (no pun intended).
I've been putting in some time with my infratructure project recently once the impact of lockdown settled down all around. The infra builds the k8s cluster, deploys service mesh, application, and configures dns all with 2 commands.
Currently in Azure, but going to build in GCP and AWS too, just to feel the main differences. I get stuck too often trying to do smart automations before I've even got the component working and I need to learn to 1) get it working first, then 2) make it smarter.
Let's see how the reading and writing goes for a while and check in again on some progress and direction very soon.