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Getting Rid of the Unread Reading Pile

organized magazines
Most of the paper clutter I run into while helping my clients is information – journals, newsletters, magazines, etc. – material they either want or need to read. Often we’ll group these papers together in a pile only to find that a month, even a year later, the pile is still there, unread.

Many of us put off reading as something extra to be tackled in our spare time. Unfortunately, the spare time never seems to arrive. If our reading is truly important to us, we need to use the following strategies for getting it done.

Prioritize Your Reading
If keeping up with the latest developments in your profession is important to you, then plan time for reading those journals, newsletters and magazines into your daily or weekly schedule. If you could only read one journal, which would it be? Start with that one. Peruse the table of contents. If you could only read one article in your journal, which would it be? Start with that one. Favor reading current material over old unless you are looking for a historical perspective.

Use Waiting Time for Reading
I was struck by a recent television show in which the main character (a teenage girl) always carried a book. She even stuck one in her purse when going on a date! Perhaps you don’t need to take reading material to social occasions but it is a good idea to carry a reading folder with you when you go to appointments. Often we have to wait for the doctor or the hair stylist. This wait time can be a good time for reading. Arrive early instead of late when picking up children or meeting people and use that extra time to read.

Use the Table of Contents
Take charge of your reading. You only have so much time to read so don’t waste it on advertisements or useless material. By using the table of contents, you can select only those articles that most interest you.

Find the Best Time and Place for Reading
Try varying when you read until you find your most productive time. Think about your physical comfort as well. You want a place where you are comfortable but not so much so that you fall asleep.

Sometimes It’s Better to Skim
There are times when it is just as important to know that information exists as to know the full content. This is when skimming can be enough. Later, when the information applies to a current project or interest, you can read it more thoroughly.

Recycle Your Unread Pile
If your reading pile is growing instead of shrinking, you either need to devote more time to reading, devote more space to unread reading (please don’t!) or set a deadline and recycle what you haven’t read by that date.

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