Reading List Overwhelming You? 6 Tips That Will Help!

If you are self-employed, or even if you are a full-time employee sometimes it is really difficult to keep up with industry books, blogs and articles. In fact since I started my business back in the summer I have a folder on my laptop which contains all the eBooks and articles that I want to read but haven’t had the chance to get through them yet. I am gradually making a dent in these, and here are my tips on how to keep up with reading when you have very little time in your working day.

Read Reviews

If the book you need to read is available on websites such as Amazon or Waterstones then it’s likely there will be some reviews you can quickly read.  By reading the reviews you will get a general overview of the subject and it will also tell you whether you should even bother with the book.  If after reading the reviews you still feel you need to read the book then move onto my next tip.

Skim Read

I do this a lot with books before I sit down to read them.  By skim reading the book, for example looking at the contents (or index) and looking at relevant headings it gives you a good overview of what the book is going to tell you.  This also works with articles and blog posts.  Sometimes it’s not necessary to fully read something to pick up the main points.  If there is a section you think you need to read fully then do so, but it might only take 10 minutes.  You can even skim this blog post and just look at the headings!

Speed Reading

I learnt this particular skill last year, it’s quite easy to explain but I think it will be better coming from a professional so take a look at Speed-Reading: Learning to Read More Efficiently or my previous blog post Time Management Tips where I recommend a great book by Kathryn Redway.  I don’t speed read most things, but it’s useful if you have a long book or article that you must read, you can increase your speed by more than double by learning the technique.

Block Out Time

In your calendar, block out an hour to catch up on recent articles, blogs, eBooks you’d like to read.  Make it part of your working day and you’ll be amazed how much you’ll get done.  If you have to read them for your work, then you should read them in work time, surely?  Even 10 minutes will give you enough time to skim read something so you can put it in the ‘To Read’ pile or not.

Do you have a smartphone?

I am only suggesting this tip because I do it myself a lot, and it works for  me.  It might not work for everyone, but it’s useful to mention it here.  In the evening when my partner is watching the news (in French of course) which I’m not really interested in I sit on my iPhone reading through blog posts and articles, skim reading them.  If I come across something I want to read in more depth then I’ll save a link to it, or put it in iBooks or Dropbox straight from my phone.  Having apps on your phone like this makes it useful to access documents on the go.  So another example would be on long car journeys (when you’re not driving of course) or waiting rooms etc…

Get someone else to read them for you… 

It’s quite possible to find someone who you can rely on to read books, articles and blogs for you and then write you a quick summary report of the key points.  There are websites where you can outsource this kind of work, if you really don’t have time to read a lot then I am sure there is someone out there who does have the time and will be grateful to be earning money at the same time.  One of these websites I would recommend is PeoplePerHour – compared to some of the other websites they have a fair policy around minimum pay.

Ok I’ve managed 6 tips, I’m sure there are more, so if you have any good suggestions why not leave a comment?  I might even use your tips in my upcoming newsletters, you can sign up for these on the right or tick the box underneath the comment box.


  1. I listen to a lot of audio books and CDs while driving. Personal development, Spanish lessons, Improving your vocabulary lessons, that kind of stuff. It a great way of using all that spare time and making the commute more enjoyable!

  2. Great ideas Jo!
    I particularly like the skim reading suggestion. I LOVE reading but I don’t like investing a lot of time only to get three parts through and think “oh well this wasn’t as good as I hoped/expected.”
    Although I read both for business and pleasure I can see how learning to speed read would be beneficial. Who wouldn’t want to get through the ‘have to’ pile so they can get to the great stuff sooner.
    Keep the awesome posts coming!

    • Thanks Caylie, glad you like the ideas! I know some people who have learnt to speed read and can’t revert back to normal speed, luckily I have mastered it… wouldn’t want to speed read fiction, that’s for enjoyment! :)

  3. Great tips… I read lots more blogs since I can add them to google reader and do it on my phone

    • Me too Elaine, I also have them come into my RSS folder in Outlook so I can quickly scroll through and see the ones I’m interested in.

  4. Now that I have a Kindle, and with the ease of access of books, I tend to grab books spontaneously before I’ve made sure I’ll be interested. I can’t tell you how many ebooks I’ve purchased, read the first couple of chapters, then went on to another because of losing interest… Great tip about the iphone app…I’m going to try that

    • I don’t yet have a Kindle but I download a lot of eBooks onto my laptop and never actually get round to reading them. The iPhone is great for catching up on reading when you have quiet time… :)

  5. I find the tip to set time aside really useful. I do that and it’s amazing how many books you can get through if you have a specific time set aside to read for 2 hours or so consistently.

    I also listen to audio books…usually for books that I really want to absorb…I’ll listen to them repeatedly over long drives or on my commutes throughout the month.

    Great insights!

    • Thanks for your comment Steve… I have tried audiobooks before but I tend to drift off a bit and miss what’s going on, I end up doing something else and forgetting I am supposed to be listening to a book.

  6. Yes, I am guilty of the piles of reading material in folders on my computer or printed out to read later. I do devote a certain amount of time per day to go through them, but I like the speed reading suggestion. Thanks, I’ll definitely try that one!

    • I haven’t had to use speed reading for a while, but it’s definitely very useful! I need to take my own advice sometimes, my shiny new iMac is slowly getting filled up with documents and downloads, I must stop before I fill it up! :)

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