How I Read The 4-Hour Work Week in 4 Hours

4-hour-work-weekOkay, this is actually really easy, but is great for people like me who are really slow readers… on paper.

I’m a very fast reader under the right circumstances… So, what are the circumstances that allowed me to read a 320 page book in 250 minutes? (I realize that this 1.28 pages per minute probably doesn’t seem like it’s all that fast, but it’s probably twice my normal reading rate*)

4 Factors:

  1. Audiobook
  2. 2x Speed
  3. Attention/Focus
  4. Forehand Knowledge

Yes, at first this seems like a cheap tactic – like exploiting a glitch in a video game. But, it is a cheap tactic that just saved me 4 hours and 10 minutes – more than enough time to write this blog post, and work on a fantasy basketball draft guide. And, I further believe that examining each of these factors will actually lead to further insights.

1. Audiobook

Yes, having someone read to me is much faster than reading myself. But the point I want to make here is that while I’ve been waiting for a hard copy of 4-Hour Work Week from the Chicago Public Library for nigh on a month, I was able to place the downloadable audio version on hold and get it onto my iPhone in less than a week. Bigger fish. Smaller pond.

2. 2x Speed

This is something that you get for free when you have an audio book on your iPhone (or iPod Touch, I would assume). Something that’s important to note, however, is that not all audio books are created equal. For example, the ones I download from ChiPubLib have a “type” of Audiobook, so the iPhone knows to treat them as such and will automatically remember my place as well as being able to play at 2x speed. Ones that are imported from Audio CDs (also available at your library), however, usually don’t get classified as audio books by default, so you have to do that yourself. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy, and definitely worth the few minutes it takes.

3. Attention/Focus

Playing the book twice as fast as normal would be nothing without focusing on listening and paying attention. As luck would have it, I listened to 4-Hour Work Week on a Sunday while my wife took a nap, then while I walked to the store to get groceries and do some other unplanned shopping that I’d planned to do (that’s a concept for a whole different post), and then for a bit while I just sat in my office chair. A key to note is that while I was doing my unplanned shopping, I paused the audio book because, while my unplanned shopping was fairly mindless, it did still require some of my attention, and as such I knew that I would miss parts of the book and have to go back to re-listen. (I know this from the experience of having tried to listen to other audio books while doing menial tasks)

4. Forehand Knowledge

I haven’t done enough split testing to know if this is a definite prerequisite for my plan to work, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. But what do I mean by Forehand Knowledge? I mean, you have some idea of what the book is about, and perhaps even know some of the content from other sources already. The 4-Hour Work Week was great for this because I’ve read books like Getting Things Done, Talent is Overrated, Making a Good Brain Great, and I Will Teach You To Be Rich, all of which contain pieces that are also present in The 4-Hour Work Week. This allowed me to avoid frying my brain with 4 hours of intense focus, lightening the load somewhat by lowering the amount of concentration required to absorb the information.

* Just to make myself feel better: I do have excellent reading comprehension. I always did really well on the SAT and GMAT reading comp. sections. I probably should have learned to read faster at that point to save myself more time so I could have done better on the other sections, but I didn’t want to sacrifice one of my stronger areas for what might or might not have actually helped me in other areas.

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Posted on August 17, 2009, in Productivity. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on How I Read The 4-Hour Work Week in 4 Hours.

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