How to keep up with your business reading

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Any business person worth his or her salt is a voracious reader. Books are an inexpensive way to learn new skills, get new ideas, and stay on top of your industry without leaving the office. No need to dress up, drive across town (or across country) to attend an expensive workshop. And if you missed something or didn’t understand it, you can turn back a page and reread it.Andrea's reading list

And I love books. Forget shoes, for me there’s nothing better than wandering the isles of a good bookstore. It might even rival a computer store for pure fun factor.

There’s nothing more exciting than having $100 to spend on books. Even a spare $20 gets me going. You can’t get anything really exciting at the computer store for 20 bucks.

But there’s a downside to my love of books. There’s so much to do and so much to learn. I just can’t keep up.

The photo attached to this article is my current stack of non-fiction reading. Each of these books is on the go. Only two are library books. The rest I picked up somewhere along the way. And yes, I understand the irony of having Getting Things Done be one of the books I haven’t quite managed to finish.

These are all great books. I’m enjoying the read but I’m not getting through them. One of the library books has already been renewed once. I just spend so much time reading – emails, RSS feeds, websites, my own work – that I just can’t bring myself to read non-fiction for long periods of time.

Hence the stack of on-the-go books.

However, I have discovered a secret to getting through books faster. Audio books! I love them. I get one, upload it to my mp3 player, and boom, I can multitask. I can listen at the gym, in the car, while doing the dishes. Suddenly wasted time becomes learning time.

I didn’t expect to love audio books so much. In NLP parlance, I’m a visual communicator. I have to “see” things to really understand. When I was in school during tests I would actually visualize the page in my notebook that had the answer.

I thought audio books would just be noise, and nothing would sink in. But I was wrong. All the years of watching tv while doing the Sudoko or listening to the radio has primed me for audio books.

Yes, there are things that I miss the first time through. However, I can usually listen to a good audio book twice, faster than I can read a print one once. Sometimes, I zone out in the middle of a section, but my mp3 player has this nice little feature called rewind. Sometimes I even have to pull over and make a note of something amazing I just heard.

Where do you get audio books? At the library, the normal bookstore, iTunes, Audible all have audio books available. Not every book you want will be available, but if they are, great. I recently picked up a book and headed to the checkout at the bookstore. Then I stopped to check if they had the audio version. They didn’t have it in stock but agreed to order it for me. I paid for it and in a couple of days the CDs were in my mailbox. I finished the audio version way before the print version would have been cracked beyond chapter two.

Will I give up the paper version for technology? No. I love the feel of a book. I love the smell. I even love the stack next to my bed. But for getting through business books, give me an mp3 every time.

Andrea J. Stenberg

How do you keep up with the information you need to have to run your business? Please leave a comment and share your tips.

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