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Productivity / Time management tips

Removing obstacles to learning

By removing obstacles to learning, I have discovered many time saving benefits for both myself and my business and now you can too!

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Like other soloists, I consume a huge amount of reading material in a typical week, including books, reports, articles and emails. Nowadays, though, reading takes up far less time than it used to.

Ever since Uni, I’ve been conscious of the amount of time reading took up. I calculated that annually, I’d spend around 1200 hours reading. This realisation prompted me to look for a more efficient method.

I’d heard that speed reading enabled you to double your reading speed whilst maintaining comprehension, so I decided to try and learn how to do it. I studied a speed-reading course. But it didn’t work!

As a result, I announced to people that speed reading didn’t work. Imagine that, blaming the skill itself for not working! I’m not sure what was running through my head in those days but I probably also thought that getting fit didn’t ‘work’ and sleeping didn’t ‘work’, just because I wasn’t a keen exerciser or a good sleeper.

I wasn’t alone. I’ve met many people in recent years who have made blanket statements such as “Speed reading doesn’t work.” or “Setting goals doesn’t work…I’ve tried it’.

"Clearly a lot of people blame various tools and techniques and don't seem to consider that they have obstacles to learning and need to persist and adapt to make things work for them."

Clearly a lot of people blame various tools and techniques and don’t seem to consider that they have obstacles to learning and need to persist and adapt to make things work for them. We’ve all heard that a bad workman blames his tools. I was guilty of this way of thinking and it’s cost me 100s of hours of my time per year!

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

A couple of years later, I’d had enough of hearing that so many people were enjoying the benefits of speed reading. I decided to remove my obstacles to learning and became convinced I could make it work for me, too. So I tried again, determined to persist this time. I altered my approach until I got the same benefits as them. I decided that I wasn’t going to settle for it not working for me.

The result? It worked. Sorry…I made it work! Very quickly I more than doubled, in fact I nearly tripled my reading speed whilst maintaining full comprehension. I now teach others to do the same as part of my work.

I don’t speed read everything I come across, but 99% of what I read I’m reading much faster these days. What once took 1200 hours reading a year would take me nearer 600 hours. This translates to four months of working 9 to 5 for five days a week. I could have taken four months off work and achieved the same work results! Of course as a soloist, this has extremely high value.

The important lesson, as with many processes, skills, or techniques, is that it’s not the tool’s responsibility to get you results, or the teacher’s. You need to remove your obstacles to learning and make the tools work if you want the benefits. You must select the right tool for the job and learn to use it in the right way.

Only then can you turn theory into practice, see the results and feel the benefits. It’s necessary to explore and experiment when learning something in order to make your own adjustments and get things working.

The people who do so tend to stand out from the people who don’t.

Perhaps you can think of some more time saving skills or tools that you have got working for yourself and your business? If so let us know in the comments below.

Mark Moore

is the Director of Excelerated Performance International. He helps people to close the skills and knowledge gaps that they face, much faster, and manage themselves more effectively in order to achieve their business goals.

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