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Reading Is An Action

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
2 min read

And it takes time.

So, why do treat our reading (of RSS, social media, email, books, etc.) in the same way we treat non-active parts of our life?

An aside: I’ve given up giving lifehack-y, productivity tips. As lucrative as they have been for some, I’ve aged out of the whole thing. Yes, that’s possible.

With age and experience, I’ve come to realize that everyone’s brain is very different — much more so than I expected — and everyone’s agency is different. The most logical methods and apps for productivity rarely match the make up of an individual’s brain or agency. This would take an entire book to flesh out, which isn’t going to happen here.

Since I’ve started treating reading as an action, I’ve stopped using read later apps. I’ve started saving articles and newsletters as tasks in projects. I’ve started blocking time for reading. I’ve stopped reading “just in case.” I now read “just in time.”

I won’t get into the technical details of how, because that will differ for everyone. This is just one little switch I flipped last year at some point and it’s really worked so far.

Once you realize you’ve built a project of reading 20 articles on a topic over the course of a week/month, you realize:

  1. I really like this topic.
  2. I spend too much or not enough time reading about this topic.
  3. Is there something I can build related to this topic (a book, post, video) that could help others?
  4. Does this research belong in a greater project to improve an area of my life? Did I just realize, through this re-structuring, that an area of my life is in need of improvement?

There’s no real hack here. It’s just being honest about the amount of information coming into your life, observing how you process information, and being mindful about how it’s being used. The same strategy could be used for video, email, podcasts…anything you regularly consume that takes up time.

Don’t spend much time on processing or organizing it, though, because those are actions as well (actions that tend to take value rather than give). It would be better to automate 99% of this process and just glance at the results.

The technical parts of all this do not matter as much as the overall realization, which is enough for all of our brains to handle for now.