Update on my reading experiment for 2016


At the beginning of the year, I decided to try a reading experiment. I decided on a list of books on learning investing and I put a plan and dates by which to read the books by order.

So what happened? The experiment was an epic failure. The only book I managed to read was Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.

So, what went wrong with the experiment?

1. The plan was too structured, severe, inhibited my organic style of reading
2. The plan was too aggressive
3. Lacked the freedom to swap the order in which I read books
4. I overestimated my commitment towards the topic.

I like the semi-structured way I read. I pick books depending on what is bothering the most, what will help me the best, at the present time with one or two which catch my fancy. This helps me read and apply what I read. As an example, the concept / problem bothering the most currently is how to work better without working longer hours, what I need to change and how to make room for my other projects which have upcoming deadlines. If I had followed the plan outlined, then I wouldn’t have had the insight I gained by reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport or “Rework” by Jason Fried.

The plan was too aggressive. In retrospect, spacing out the books, one book a month (at the least), or ideally, one every two months would have been ideal. This would have not impeded the organic way in which I read and at the same time helped meet the plan.

I have a perverse streak in me when it comes to schedules. I design and set the schedule myself, and follow it diligently (most often). But every once in a while, I go berserk and rebel against the schedule. The best way, I have learned, is to plan for this, but not schedule the rebelling. One thing which would have helped with this reading experiment would have been to allow to swap books, and to have a few books unscheduled and not planned out, but relevant which I could dip into.

And lastly, I was already doing a whole lot of heavy mental lifting, teaching myself more programming languages and frameworks, preparing for interviews, upgrading my job related skills. Because of this, I didn’t have enough mental energy for reading and learning about investing – basically, I was not as committed to learning about investing as these other topics, and the reading plan didn’t pan out.

Those were my learning from this experiment.

Will I try scheduling my reading again? Yes, sometime in the future, I plan to revisit this idea. That time I hope to incorporate these lessons.

What about you? Have you ever thought about planning your reading? How do you feel about the idea? Did you try it? Do you have any tips for me? I would love to hear from you!

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