Arjan's World: Coping With My Reading Addiction
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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Coping With My Reading Addiction

An addiction is to my opinion something that doesn't give you more satisfaction when you get more of it. For me, this means I'm addicted to tech-reading / learning. Every day I try to cope with 100+ Blog feeds, and several technical articles from MSDN, ASP.NET sites and interesting stuff arriving at my del.icio.us inbox. Well, with the limited amount of time this is undoable. There are of course several solutions to choose from:

  • Give up learning alltogether (*not* a good idea)

  • Go on like this, with more and more items piling up in my to-read directory and Bloglines

  • Acquire a more effective way of reading - e.g. read more in less time


Well, you already guessed I'd like to go for the last solution, didn't you? As a fellow programmer you are hopefully also aware of the necessity of constant learning, just to keep your market value. For me, having received no formal programming curriculum, it's even more important I notice; otherwise it would even be quite impossible to keep up with the rest of the programming world.

So, the urge to keep on reading all kind of different stuff remains. What I'm really trying to accomplish is not to try to read every article and blog items that seems interesting, but to make a trade-off: what will reading this specific piece of information get me in terms of improved knowledge, compared to the time it takes to read it. This means that especially longer articles, taking a vast investment of time (for me vast means more than 30 minutes of reading...), receive a more critical afterthought before they’re being read. Apart from that, the important thing when starting a new article is to come to the point quickly: this normally means quickly discover the introductory elevator pitch, skip it, and get to the interesting things. When after reading for 5 minutes, I have the slightest idea that this won't buy me much, I lay the article aside and go on reading something else.

Another thing I noticed: when I've downloaded something to read it afterwards, I feel more compelled to read it, than when I'm skimming through the article online to see if it's interesting enough to read completely. The best time-saver for me of course is immediately deciding that reading is not worth it, closing the browser window quickly. Furthermore, when something *is* interesting, you can sometimes just skip parts of the article without loosing the pointe. All these measures really help me in reading more in less time.

The whole point in the end is: decide quickly what is interesting, save it, print it out and read it later. Well for me that is.... have another opinion, feel free to tell the other lost soul reading my blog what works for you.

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