The most successful people from all walks of life are usually avid readers. Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk or Bill Gates – no matter who you idolize, they all admit that reading books made them better people and helped them achieve more.
But reading by itself, is not enough to progress in life. No doubt, it is a great habit but if you want to make the most of all that you read, you must remember what you read and apply those ideas and knowledge in practical and real-life situations.
Entrepreneur, author and podcaster, Tim Ferris shares the following easy tricks to make sure you are able to apply the knowledge acquired through reading, in your daily life:
- Create your own index
Ferriss is a supporter of taking notes while reading. Be ready with a pencil (or just your finger to highlight an e-book) to take notes when reading. It helps you process the content so that you remember its gist and to make it searchable, you can create your own index to your favorite passages on the front or back empty pages of the book.
- Star-mark the passages you find most useful
To keep your indexes cleaner, you can also star-mark the portions of the book that inspire you the most. You can use different colors or different star formations to denote different categories of ideas. You can also revisit the book like Ferriss does for “how to” books – post applying an action the book professes he returns to the book to mark the ideas that were most useful to him.
- Be an omnivorous reader
A lot of people tend to gravitate towards specific genres when reading – some prefer fiction over non-fiction, prose over poetry or biographies over self-help books. The key to extract most from reading is to read all types of genres. Each category has its own treasures and striking out a gem is not advisable.
“I liberally will borrow from nonfiction… and I will also borrow liberally from fiction, say Dune, and try to copy and paste lessons learned about leadership as an example into so-called real life,” – Tim Ferris
- Use Kindle for a swift review
If you love reading books the traditional way, you’ll find Ferriss in your team, but that doesn’t stop him from highlighting the advantages of Kindle when it comes to extracting and preserving ideas and insights from the books he reads. When you read on a device, it gives you the tools to extract your notes and easily store them in another program like Evernote, which makes them easier to search. This way you can review your notes from a book in just a few minutes.
- “Box out” prospective actions
To complement his indexing system and star system, Ferriss also suggests drawing box next to the index to write down prospective actions or experiments that his reading might suggest. For example, when Ferriss wanted to use advice on utilizing storytelling, jokes and PR to propagate brand awareness as suggested in “In Pursuit of the Common Good” by Paul Newman – he boxed out some of these ideas and borrowed them for his work and ended up raising millions of funds through an extremely successful campaign.