November 15, 2011 2:13 AM EST
In the last 10 years I’ve read more than 500 books, listened to more than 100 audiobooks and a few thousand blog posts. And I’ve learned ways to “hack” content consumption. In other words, I’ve learned some techniques that allow me to learn twice as much in half the time.
How to Consume Audiobooks Faster
Audiobooks are great. You can listen to them when you’re driving, working out and walking your dog. I use the Audible app for iPhone and set the playing speed to 2X or 3X.
How to Consume Podcasts Faster
Mixergy is my favorite entrepreneurship podcast. Andrew Warner interviews entrepreneurs so you can learn from their successes and failures. You can set your iPod/iPhone at 2X for podcasts, too.
How to Consume MP3 Tracks Faster
I use an iPhone app called SpeedUp.
How to Consume Videos Faster
I use VLC Player and set the speed at 2X.
How to Consume Books Faster
I have a few different techniques here:
- Google “[name of book] summary” or “[name of book] review”. The most popular business books are summarized online so you don’t have to read the whole thing.
- Two years ago I learned to speed-read. It’s actually really easy to learn how to do it. Once you have this skill, you can read books in a matter of hours. This is the book I used to learn this technique.
- I’ve hired someone on oDesk.com to read books and write 5-page summaries for me. I pay her $50 a book and she saves me 5 hours per book. Because my time is worth a lot more than $10/hour, this is a great investment for me.
- Once you’ve read a lot of business books, you’ll start finding that there’s an overlap among them. Once you understand a concept, you can skip through it the next time you find it. For example, I know what the 80/20 rule is, so every time a book dedicates a few pages to this principle, I just skip this part.
How to “Read” Blogs Faster
I use software that converts text into audio so I can listen to blog posts while I’m driving or walking my dog. If you have a PC, try Text Aloud. If you have a Mac, try this tip. And if you have an iPhone, try the Speak It app.
The Amazon Kindle reads books to you, too.
How to Learn Something Specific
Books, video and audio are great ways to learn new topics. If you don’t know anything about Facebook marketing, this would be a good way to get started. But once you understand a topic and want to have a specific question answered, such as “how can I get a vanity URL for my Facebook page?”, these are some of the things I like doing:
- Google it! Chances are someone had the same question before, posted it online and someone else answered it.
- Post it to Facebook, LinkedIn Answers and Quora so people in your network can answer it for you.
- If you need the answer to a complex issue or one that is worth a lot of money to your business, hire a consultant. Nine out of ten times I’ve hired consultants, I got so much more value than what they charged me. If it takes you 30 hours to master a skill and someone can teach it to you for $300, it’s a great deal!
What’s your favorite way to consume content?
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