A whole new world of productivity

Ever sit down to read a book on a subject that's as dry to you as a bone in the middle of the Sahara, tediously forcing yourself to flip through the first few pages before getting frustrated and calling it a night?  Here's a simple "life hack" that can boost your reading productivity by nearly 900% (as it did for me):  try listening to books, particularly Audible.  Ever since I started using my smartphone to enjoy audiobooks, I have shredded through not only an unprecedented amount of reading material for me, and a ridiculous amount by almost anyone's standards, but I've also managed to get through some things I would never have imagined possible:  dozens of business books.  

If the concept of reading a dozen or more nonfiction pieces on how to effectively be an entrepreneur makes you shudder, read on.  I'm so grateful to have been introduced to this "hack"; I only wish I had started years ago.

Paper (net weight for 10 books: 30 pounds) vs digital (net weight for 100 million books: 5 ounces)

Paper (approximate weight:  30 pounds) vs digital (approximate weight 5 ounces)
Credit: Mine

Paper is good at times, but the cloud is forever

Reason number one: listen while on the road

This one is super important for me, and ultimately what turned the tide toward me listening to audiobooks vs sitting down to read.  I spend quite a few weekends out of the year on the road, often driving for as many as six hours on a stretch.  During that six hours, I might get through as much as half of a book I otherwise might not read at all.   

Before Audible, I'd listen to the radio (I do have Sirius XM in my car, so I'm kind of spoiled by the 80s on 8), or I'd put Pandora on my phone so I could enjoy whatever songs I wanted to.  Occasionally, I'll still listen to music or news while I drive, but more often than not, I will rip through a book during a weekend trip.  Talk about a productivity boost, and I'm much more likely to keep my eyes on the road and my hands upon the wheel, as Jim Morrison may have said once.  

Reason two: read stuff you wouldn't otherwise be able to get through

Another compelling reason to listen to books, and one that hooked me very early on, is that I can get through those tedious books on running a small business, leadership, entrepreneurship, or even something as awful as the dreaded project management.  There's simply no way I could have possibly read 24 books on helping me run my businesses (I own part of 2 businesses), in spite of me knowing how very important it is to increase my knowledge in these areas.  It's just too tedious to sit down and read these books, and my ADD kicks in with a vengeance.  

If your attention deficit disorder (or just a creative, wandering mind) kicks in while listening to audio books, particularly on the Audible app, just click the "30 seconds back" button, or why not just listen to the entire chapter again?  There's no reason not to go back a little and have a professional read about the subject you most need to learn at your own pace.

Reason three: listen at your own pace

A great feature of the Audible app (and this is true of most media listening services and apps) is that you can adjust the speed of the narration.  When you first start listening, you may want every book at 1x speed (and, indeed, I usually start all books at this pace).  However, if you're reviewing material (a fantastic idea if you're reading either a business book or an educational book, two of my favorites for audio), you may want to adjust the speed to 1.25x or even as much as 2.0x, depending on the author's voice and what you think you can comprehend.  I've even gone up to 3.0x for reviewing some overall concepts, although it's really hard to take in any kind of meaningful new information at this rate.  

If you're in a hurry to finish a book, you can easily calculate how much time is left by looking at the display.  If you need to hurry to finish a book by a deadline for whatever reason, you can simply adjust the speed at which the reading happens.  This is a great feature, and one that wasn't expected or immediately appreciated, but I use it all the time now.