Posts Tagged photoreading

Review of 2009 and Plans for 2010. Part 4: Work-life and discipline for goals

This post is a continuation from my previous entry about my review of 2009 and plans for the next coming year. (

Setting and achieving goals is something that has greatly benefit me in 2009. At the start of the year, I did little in the way of forward planning or goal setting.

It just didn’t occur to me that I needed to maintain goals to forward myself from where I currently was. After all, I shared a flat with my girlfriend, had a car each and a reasonably well paid job. It was a comfortable situation and each month I had enough disposable income to buy whatever I reasonably wanted.

That said, there were occasions where I felt frustrated about my situation; some things just never turned out the way I thought they should have done. Working a 9-5 job constricted my free time and I wasn’t meeting new people like I used to when I was traveling or at university. I didnt have the time to see my friends quite as often as I’d have liked and I couldn’t get away for a couple of months at a time because my holiday-allowance at work was too short.

At one point I used work as a scapegoat. Because I was being ‘forced’ to work the best hours of my day away, I consequently was too tired in the evenings to do anything exciting. The weekends were then just time of refuge where I would rest in order to prepare myself for the next week. Because of this job, I was spending all my day on a computer, spending the majority of my day staring at the same screen. I talked to the same small group of people every day. To me it didn’t feel like a brilliant realisation to come to. Programming is my hobby and I was getting to do what I loved, but at the expense of other sides of my life. And after all, I had spent so many years aiming to get to this professional level.

It wasn’t till nearer the middle of the year that I started taking personal development more seriously and started making goals.

By planning out goals and thinking about what it would actually take to achieve them, I began to realise the strength of consciously thinking about what I actually wanted to have; what was realistic and what I thought I wanted but on reflection, turned out to be pretty stupid requests.

One of the most productive goals I aimed for was to have more up-time outside of work time. By getting up at 6:00am instead of 8:00, I found I could make it to work for 7:30am instead of the latest allowed time of 9:30am. And instead of taking a full one hour lunch break I took half hour breaks instead. The result was I managed to finish work at 3:30pm instead of the 6:00pm usual time. This extra time in the afternoons was amazing! I had the time and energy to work more on the things I actually wanted to do outside of work. Whether it be putting my feet up, do some reading or play some games. It was the first time since started professional work I felt I wasn’t time-poor.

Then an amazing transformation happened. I began to realise that I work wasn’t the incapacitating monster I had envisioned.  I began to see work for what I remember it being in high school; a hobby of problem solving and taking on interesting tasks which helped other members of the team achieve their goals in their own work.

Another major goal I worked on was becoming more proficient with reading and in particular photo-reading. Previously reading was a chore for me and consequently I didnt do very much reading. However the last few months have been a real adventure and I have found myself become interested in a larger range of subjects.

For 2010 I would like to continue to work on the goal-setting areas more vigorously. Essentially it is just a simple feedback loop. Consciously discover how things can be done differently and then experiment with making changes to see how it has an effect.

I want to maintain the 6am starts throughout the year, which sets the enables the capacity to do my job and yet still have enough time to work on myself. There are times when I become lazy and I will have a few days or weeks of getting up later, allowing the snooze alarm to get me up at 6:30am or even 7am. Whilst these are still much earlier then my previous wake up times, the lack of free time later in the day makes it a real challenge to be alert and able after work.

For 2010 I need to work on my discipline to keep up challenges I set myself. Maintaining motivation is also another key element to achieve goals, though I am not so worried about any lack of this. The more I seem to do towards personal effectiveness the more I seem to be motivated to do it. Its like a snowball rolling down a slope, gaining mass and momentum all the time. Every goal I set myself and achieve is helping. Whether or not the goal gives the outcome I wanted isn’t as important as having completed the goal itself.

Of course it would be great if every challenge you face gives you immediate satisfaction and benefit but sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan.

My website is an example of this, so far it hasn’t had quite so many views or generated income as much as I’d have expected but I feel I have greatly benefited by sticking at it and writing up content to it.

I aim to keep on looking at ways to improve and set new goals to explore what things can really help me and others.

Experiments I have already started are to try vegetarianism (started from 2nd January 🙂 ) and to look into driving a car which runs on LPG instead of diesel or petrol.

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PhotoReading… does it work ?

I recently became aware of the concept of Photo Reading by Paul Scheele. According to the advertising and youtube video this was supposed to increase your reading speed to over 100,000 words per minute. Impossible! How can your mind actually process that many words; moreover, how can your eyes even move that fast to pick it all up! I dismissed this as internet-myth got back to work. However, later I found someone recommend it and I found myself looking over it again.

This time I decided to have a more in-depth look and see how it works, and perhaps try out a few things.

The end result was different from what I expected it would be. In my opinion you aren’t really reading at 100,000 words a minute like it claims. But it did help me to realise that books aren’t as scary as I once thought, and I can grab the important points very quickly.

Handling my time and thoughts. Controlling the boredom: Concentrate more.

The first thing I discovered about this is that I needed to control my time better to enable me to read more efficiently. Before I would constantly be putting off reading anything, whether it be textbooks in school and uni or for my own pleasure later on. To me, there was always something better to do, such as playing a video game, talking or going out with friends, or even just tidying my room or cleaning the dishes. Reading was boring! The times I eventually gave myself to read were when I was tired, I was pre-occupied with other things in my life. Even when I started getting into the story or the main part of the book, I started feeling uncomfortable in the chair, I wanted to stretch my legs, move my neck, go for a walk. I felt physically uncomfortable just sitting there reading!

However to find out about the photo reading concept, I had to give myself time to at least watch the DVDs. There were 3 of them and the main sections each took 50 mins or so. I found watching a DVD about reading was more tolerable than actually reading itself so I found little difficulty in doing that. Actually I watched each DVD twice over 2 weeks whilst washing the dishes at the same time, watching on the laptop.

I became excited at the thought of being able to read better. When it came time to put into practise what I had watched, I was mentally more ready to begin reading a book. The actual process of photo reading felt more physically active; The first phase requires flipping though the pages of the book, turning pages once every 2 seconds. Then afterwards, going in-depth into the sections of the book that I wanted to. There was also some work done on ‘getting into the zone’ before doing anything, which helped me greatly to concentrate more. Just taking 3 breaths before beginning to read really helped.

Another approach which surprised me was the act of reading a book cover-to-cover in one sitting. I had previously never thought about doing this (especially when it took me a good 20 minutes to read 10 pages, by which time I was ready to die..) Now reading the whole book in one go became the purpose. Books I have read recently have taken 1 to 2 hours. By putting these amounts of time into reading it means I have planned specifically to give this amount of time to reading it, so my mind doesn’t wander as much. I am concentrated on the book and what I have to learn from it. When I read like this, whether I am bored or not doesn’t come into my thoughts; my purpose for that time is to read that book.

The belief that it all works

Some concepts in the programme seem a little far-fetched. My ‘Realist’ mind found it hard to accept some of the ideas proposed. For example, the first phase of reading any book is to flick through the book, a page turn every 2 seconds. The idea is that the information becomes embedded into your sub-concious mind where it lives forever. After that you can use your ‘intuition’ to decide what parts of the book to read to pick up what your subconscious mind has decided you actually need to read; the important bits of the book.

However, I decided to press ahead and try a bit of ‘what if’ scenarios whilst practising this technique. What if your subconscious mind is always there trying to direct you and all you need to do is let it guide you? Just picking random bits to read is its way of directing your conscious mind to where it knows you really want to read.

The result was a mixed bag. I picked up random bits throughout a book, and I feel that I did pick up the general feeling of a chapter by just reading a few lines on each page, however there was the niggling voice at the back of my mind saying ‘You haven’t picked everything up; theres something missing’ One thing I found however is that I didnt get bored at all of reading it. So many times before when I felt that it was a drudgery just getting to the end of a chapter. Not this time. If I felt like skipping a few lines, or a few pages, it was OK for me to do so. Chances are the reason I got bored was because there wasn’t really any new ideas being portrayed in them. Apparently 4% of the words in English text contains the core ideas, the rest is just filler to make the structure. That thought stuck with me. If I can train my mind to pick up the ideas from the 4% of text, then I can skip the rest and whats truly important. Even though it goes against what I believe is real, for now Ill run with this idea because it seems to work for me, despite no real explanation as to why it works.

End results

After watching the DVDs and trying the techniques with a few books, my friend asked me to read a fiction book. She told me she read it in a day, so it would be a nice easy read for me (books never are, for me at least) and she told me it was a nice story.

It was the story of a man who tried to kill himself. But it had the lead up of his life and how things went from bad to worse, beginning with the death of his mother 10 years previously. The final straw was when his daughter did not invite him to her wedding, as he was a trouble maker, drunk, embarrassment to the family. But the suicide attempt failed and he saw his mother, for one last goodbye and a chat about the bad things he resented in his life. In the end he saw the errors in his ways, and lived for another 5 years, making life better for himself and was satisfied with what he had.

It took me an hour and a half to ‘read’ the 200 pages. By the end of it I had the storyline in my head, and I knew key emotional points throughout the book; the moment when he found out his mother died, when he decided that life wasn’t worth it, when he decided it was worth it.

I was questioned later on about the story, I found that I didnt know know what the man’s name was, or his ex-wife. Or in fact any of the characters names. I also didnt know about the little child-hood flashback stories when he was a boy. However I did go into detail about his passion for baseball, which was instilled by his father. How this passion eventually led to his missing the day his mother died, and his failing in the team led to the loss of his father in his life. How he survived the car crash, though he wished he didn’t. And how he turned his life around.

Whilst I did lose certain facts of the story, there were parts I wouldn’t consider to be exciting, or even provide any point to the real story. Subconsciously I cut them out, and I can honestly say I don’t feel that I missed out on anything. And at the end, I read a book in 2 hours which would otherwise have taken weeks of time to read.

I would recommend at least looking at this way of reading. If anything, it shows that as a reader, you don’t have to blindly plow through every single word in a book. Its boring and pointless. You can choose the main points to pick up, and usually those points are very concise and it takes no time at all to pick them up. I have photoread 5 books this week, versus no more than 3 normally read in the last 2 years. I aim to continue learning about speed reading and photo reading and making reading books a more enjoyable part of my life.

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