Reading is fundamental. At least, that’s what I was taught growing up. Plus I love to read. I’m an avid reader of all types of books, and belong to a book club to boot. I also enjoy reading about business news, especially since I started my own business. Since my profession is organizing offices, I find it fun (really!) keeping up-to-date on the latest and greatest tools for organizing, whether they be tactile or digital. I sometimes drink my morning tea or coffee perusing websites, or I read the Business Journal over lunch. It’s kind of relaxing to me because I see research as a little break from work.
Or, maybe I should be using past tense. It WAS relaxing, I USED to find it fun. And I realize it’s because I USED to have more time to do it all.
In the past month, I have gotten B-U-S-Y. I enrolled in 2 business classes that have a lot of work involved with them, including reading. I have discovered other sites with lots of information for my business I need to be reading regularly. My client base is beginning to increase. And oh yeah, I’m traveling more often. I might have bitten off more than I can chew.
As I think of ways to potentially cut my workload down (which I really can’t), or maybe back out of one of the classes (which I won’t), I realize this is a great learning tool. It’s my profession to help people find the time to do the things they need to do. I need to do all of it. So I need to make it work. (kind of a “duh!” moment for me).
First, I list all of the magazines, websites, and newspapers I need to read on a regular basis. I have things like the Business Journal, some tech blogs, Inc Magazine, etc. Then I list all of the emails that are business related that would drive me to their website to read their stuff. Finally I list the things I like to read that are not really for my business but more of a distraction. I stop listing these because there are too many.
For the first list, I start assigning times to each piece about how long it takes me to read it, and how often it gets printed/updated. The tricky part is that, let’s say, the Business Journal gets printed every 2 weeks, but their website gets updated almost daily. Very similar to most printed materials now that have a website. But it’s not necessary to look at it unless I’m following a particular story, in which case I will get an email from the Business Journal informing me of such. So my chart is starting to look like this:
Biz Journal – 1 hour to read – every other week
Inc Magazine – 1-2 hours to read – once a month
Mashable and other blogs – 3 hours – each week
And so on and so forth. My list began to get pretty long, but I started to look more critically at what I was once reading and discarded the stuff that never really gave me anything worthwhile. I went through the same process with my emails, except this time I created a rule that automatically puts them in a folder – out of the inbox where I will be tempted to read it on the spot.
I then made a calendar of when each piece comes out (daily, every other week, etc) with the time I need to read it all. The total time I need to spend reading still looked a little overwhelming, so I broke it down to make it more manageable. Now I assign myself times during the week to read specific things, and I give myself 1.5 hours each day. Sometimes I break that 1.5 hours up and do 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at lunch, and 30 in the afternoon to help break up the day. I allow myself a little flexibility in an increasingly structured work day/week.
I’m now more relaxed about getting everything done, and not missing out on news that can help me further my business. And with the time limits, I find myself wandering less to other sites that are not important (you know how it is, you’re reading something online, you click a link, read something else, click another link, and before you know it, 34 hours have passed?).
I have 30 minutes leftover in my time allotment today, so I've got to go read Cosmopol...er, Entrepreneur Magazine. Gotta stay on top of this!