Stop Reading. It’s Bad For You


Yes you did read that correctly. Of course I mean after you’ve read this article πŸ˜‰

I love reading. My bookshelves are overflowing with books. My husband loves to read and our Β son loves to read too. I read fiction, non-fiction, business books and books about running. I hate it when people ask me “what’s your favorite book?” Why? Well, I’m hopeless at remembering titles and authors and I’ve read so many great books that I find it hard to choose a favorite.

If I love reading so much, why am I telling you to stop?Stop Reading

Well, I’m talking about getting caught in the common trap of trawling the internet seeking out the latest and greatest articles and posts from “those in the know”. Downloading the free ebooks that promise you how to attract thousands of loyal clients in your sleep. Why oh why do I get sucked into those catchy titles? I must’ve downloaded over 100 ebooks in the past year. I’ve probably read one quarter of them at best.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some amazing free resources out there. Some are so good in fact, that I don’t understand why they are being offered for free. Well, I do know why. They are offered as a marketing hook, a list building magnet, a client relationship building tool etc.

I’ve also paid for some articles and ebooks and guess what? I’m 100% more likely to read the articles I’ve paid for than those that are free. I know this is true for people who download my freebies too. Less than 50% actually open the first email containing the download links! I don’t know how many of those that open, then read / listen but I bet it’s not 100%! Now this could say something about the quality of my freebies but I think it’s more of a reflection of internet behavior in general.

But why I am saying reading is bad for you? Well, it’s bad for you if you spend waste your valuable time trawling, downloading and skimming articles instead of doing what you need to do to take your business to the next step.

It can also be bad for you if you become so overwhelmed by the abundance of information that you end up stuck and unable to work out which “advice” to follow. You have a university degree worth of information but can’t put pen to paper to write that exam essay!

Finally, it’s bad for you if you if it starts playing with your head. You know “Wow, that’s a fantastic ebook and she’s offering it for free! There’s no way I could produce anything that good. Oh, I’m never going to make a success of my business. No one will want to listen to what I’ve got to say, never mind pay money for it.” Or something along those lines.

I’m not really suggesting that you should stop reading completely but here are a few tips to help you avoid the pitfalls mentioned above.

Limit yourself to one hour per day

I believe in keeping up to date and in continuous learning, so searching for new and interesting ideas is worthwhile but limit yourself to one hour per day maximum. Don’t do it during your prime productive time. Choose a time like lunchtime or later in the evening (instead of or while watching crap TV).

Search for specific articles

Think about what you’re currently working on and what ideas, inspiration or knowledge you need to take the next step. Be disciplined and only search for articles that you can use this week. If you happen to come across something interesting, then flag it or tag to read later.

Learn the lesson and take action

Read the article, listen to the audio or watch the video and take notes as you go. Decide exactly how you are going to apply it to your business. What actions will you take?

Use technology

Use bookmarks, Instapaper, a web reader like Google Reader, Kindle / iBooks and other technology to save time and to organize your reading lists. If you have an iPad, you can then save everything to one of these applications and read it when you have downtime – waiting for the kids at soccer practice, while eating lunch, in bed or at the beach.

Stop negative self talk

If you find yourself slipping into negative thinking as you’re reading an article, stop. Either reframe your thinking and work out how you could improve on the article and make it work for your business or stop reading and move onto a task that you makes you feel good about yourself.

I do hope you’re still reading πŸ˜‰ In my weekly newsletter, I share my top tips, tactics and tools of the week and those that I recommend are definitely worth adding to your favorite Reader.

Do you find yourself downloading freebies but not ever reading them?
Can you relate to the negative thinking?
What tips can you share to make reading for business productive?

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9 Responses to Stop Reading. It’s Bad For You

  1. Sally Foley-Lewis March 10, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I seldom (not never, though) look at others work and think “oh that’s awesome I wish I could do that”, it’s more like, “why didn’t I do that!!!”

    I will put my hand up and say “guilty, your honour”! I have been guilty of masking the notion of being productive under the veil of trawling for information. You could be kind and call it ‘research’ but the reality is, I was procrastinating! I quite consciously put an end to it about 2 years ago (not a perfect track record yet, but very much improved!)!

    Your post reassures me I’m not alone and gives me the kick to not go back to that wasteful behaviour.

    • Suellen March 10, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      Sally I think that too! Sometimes the information is sooo simple and obvious but at least they’ve put pen to paper and produced a ‘product’. The number of times I’ve thought “why didn’t I do that?” is actually far greater than thinking “I wish I could do that”. Thanks for the distinction.

      How did you put an end to your trawling? Did you just decide to stop? Did you put a time limit on your trawling?

      Pleased that my post reassured you. That’s my aim with my writing – to share personal experience and feelings because I know that others are probably behaving and feeling the same.

      Thanks for your ongoing support.

  2. Suellen March 10, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Hi Robin,

    I hear you re business books. I tend to scan them in the bookstore and only buy the few that grab my attention (no wonder Borders is in trouble!). I feel the need to keep up to date. I think it goes back to my consulting days when clients would always ask me “have you read [insert latest book]” and I always felt they expected me to be up to speed on every business book written!

    I loving reading for pleasure and usually have two books on the go at a time. Because we are all avid readers, holiday packing was always a pain for us as we’d carry 10-15 books for a 10 day holiday! Last holiday we downloaded loads onto our iPads and it worked a treat πŸ™‚

    Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Leanne Berry March 10, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Suellen

    Great post – I’ll put my hand up too -IM GUILTY – but when I started skimming them my thoughts were – I know that why did I bother!! – So rather than keep downloading stuff, Ian and I started committing own experiences, knowledge and stories on paper – its a work in progress but watch this space πŸ™‚



    • Suellen March 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

      Hi Leanne,

      Thanks for your comments. Well done to you and Ian for getting your own stories on paper – looking forward to reading them!

      I think that’s the big challenge; taking the action and just getting on with it.

      Talk soon

  4. Helen Crozier March 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Hi Suellen
    Excellent article!! Lifes too short to be reading boring business books/ebooks/ for sure!
    I love good fiction or biographies because I get ‘lost’ in them just like when watching a good movie… As Robin says most if the time reading business books won’t necessarily increase our bottom line. I think the books are read by those not wanting to feel left out (as per Sally) but it’s a good exercise to limit yourself to say one a month and choose wisely!!!
    Technology often adds to the ‘load’ for sure but the world doesn’t stop if you can’t get to even your top 6 blogs for a couple of weeks or more!
    Good luck!

    • Suellen March 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

      Hi Helen,

      Great to have you here. I was thinking about you as I was writing the article wondering whether the technology actually helps us or hinders us when it comes to managing the overload. I accidentally hit “mark all as read” on my Google Reader the other day and went into a bit of a spin and then I laughed at myself when I realised it was probably the best thing I could’ve done at the time πŸ™‚

      Thanks for sharing your views and experience

  5. Ryan Tracey March 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Reading is essential, but it must inform doing.

    • Suellen March 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Absolutely agree and that was really the point of the post. I find myself “losing time” reading interesting (but not always relevant) books/articles.

      I like how you put it – “it must inform doing.”


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