I know you can read. You’re reading this, aren’t you? (If you’re not reading this, never mind.)


But are you productively literate? That is, when you read, do you learn anything that you can apply immediately to your life, or do the words and ideas just bounce around your brain’s pleasure areas for a while before disappearing like so many wisps of morning fog?


Not that there’s anything wrong with reading just for pleasure now and again — by all means, grab a novel and hit the beach. But too often we read important stuff — how-to manuals, business and personal development guides, science and current affairs treatises, and yes, even personal productivity blogs with the same mindset. We read to make us feel good, about what we’ve done or what we could do or what others have done — even about what a smart person we look like reading such a smart book on the subway — and not as an exercise in personal growth.


This post is inspired by Seth Godin’s post, How to read a business book, which I linked to earlier this week in our link round-up. Godin — the author of quite a few business books — offers these three tips for reading productively:

我之前在一次链接汇总的时候提到过Seth Godin的《怎样阅读商业书籍》,我这篇文章也是受到了它的启发。Seth Godin本人也写过一些商业书籍,他在提高阅读成效方面提出了三点建议:

Commit to making at least three changes in your life as a result of your reading.


Create todo lists as you read, instead of notes.


When you’re done, give the book away, so someone else can learn from it.


Godin’s advice applies to more than just business books, I think — imagine committing yourself to making at least one change a week based on your reading at Lifehack, for instance.


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