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Beyond Test Taking: Learning to Handle Information

Beyond Test Taking: Learning to Handle Information
Books

    I read lots of books. I follow several blogs. I take classes. I’ve learned enough new information I want to incorporate into my work that I know I haven’t got a chance of remembering it all. There have been times that all that information consumption has felt like a waste, because the human brain just isn’t built to remember so many details and act on them. Not just a waste of time, either — my college classes cost enough to make the thought of missing even one abhorrent.

    It’s worth my while, then, to make the effort to process the information that I learn and apply it in real life. All of the tricks I have for learning new information when I was still in school just don’t work out in the real world. So many learning techniques focus on a test or classes where you have a clear chance of how to build on specific ideas. We need more practical solutions.

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    Create tasks.

    As I read, I try to keep the question of how I can apply my newfound knowledge. I want specific things I can do to follow up on a given piece of information. My actions can vary a great deal: if I’m looking at a blog post about ten tricks to improving a website, I might just move each of those ten tricks directly on to my task list. If, however, I’m reading a biography of Mark Twain, I might write down specifics as ideas for blog posts or articles — which wind up as tasks slated for a certain date.

    I’m ruthless about my tasks, though. I try to avoid adding tasks that aren’t going to help me. Even then, I have to keep a task list dedicated to ideas and tasks that I know the odds of getting too aren’t so great. I consider those tasks my “rainy day” list: when I don’t have anything else worth doing, I pull a task off that list.

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    Pass on information.

    There used to be people who hoarded information, usually for the information’s own good. Monks saving libraries from marauding barbarians, a nobleman hiding an important tome in his library: these are archetypes we recognize. But the Internet has allowed us to move past them to a certain extent. Sites like Digg and del.icio.us are based on the idea that we want to tell our friends about all the cool stuff we learn. Even better, I’ve found that if I learn something, pass it along to someone who will find it useful and promptly forget it, I still feel like I’ve done something worthwhile with that information. Passing along a link or making a copy of a file is a great action item, I think.

    Organize your notes.

    Even if you’re on the ball about getting rid of material you don’t need to keep, some notes will probably accumulate. Some people don’t need to go much beyond keeping their notes — they’ll be able to handle any necessary research from their stack. Some of us, however, need some method of organizing our notes so that we can find them again easily.

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    I know plenty of people are vehemently against handling information anymore than they absolutely have to, but I do find filing my notes to be a great opportunity to review them and check for any new action items I can develop, or information I can pass along.

    Prepare to forget.

    If you aren’t willing to flat out forget some information, you can go crazy. And there are plenty of things that are worthwhile to forget. Forget, here, really means that you don’t need to make an active effort to remember. You’ll probably remember plenty of things that fit into these categories — the human brain is funny that way. But if something slips out, you’re still okay.

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    Facts you don’t need regularly — I know that at some point, I learned a whole list of facts about Honduras, including the total area of the country. My apologies to any Hondurans reading, but I just don’t need to know that. I know that I can easily look it up if I need to know it.
    Things you’ve already written down — There’s no need to actively try to forget upcoming tasks, but once they’ve hit paper (or the electronic equivalent) there really isn’t a reason to actively try to remember them either.
    Details you pay someone else to remember — Some of us are lucky enough to have a secretary or administrative assistant (while others of us have just worked as secretaries). Assuming you have a capable assistant, leave the details that they are paid to handle with them.

    Please note that I didn’t suggest forgetting about things that don’t relate to your current projects. I’m a big believer that interdisciplinary knowledge is the real clue to breakthroughs, whether you have a case of writer’s block or you’re designing a new house.

    Prepare to remember.

    All of my suggestions for forgetting aside, there are plenty of pieces of data you need to remember. You may have a big presentation coming up, or an interview on a certain section. Heck, you may even need to write a term paper. Instead of stressing out about remembering details, however, I’d like to suggest a simple tool: the review.

    I set aside material that I know I’ll need for a given project and, when the project is actually near enough to be worth working on, I review my information. I don’t prepare for presentations weeks in advance, because the information may not stick in my mind. My ideal prep time is much closer to a week — long enough that I have time to practice and review as many times as I feel necessary but not so long that I run the risk of forgetting necessary material.

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    10 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs

    10 Best Time Management Books Recommended By Entrepreneurs

    We all know that the most precious resource in life is time. Once lost, you can never rewind the clock. For entrepreneurs, this pressure is enhanced.

    Having an idea and a vision for a business requires courage. Launching that business in a world where many are satisfied with their comfort zones requires guts. Once you’ve launched the business, the goal is to be consistent.

    Success is directly related to consistency. Consistency is the direct result of how you manage your time.

    Here are 10 awesome time management books that have been recommended by successful entrepreneurs.

    1. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

    This is an awesome resource that jolts everything you’ve ever learned about the time needed to build a successful career. Personally, I was shell-shocked when I first heard of a “4-hour workweek.” At the time, I could hardly get through the typical 9-5.

    I read the book and my life has never been the same. I’ve managed to escape the rate race, work less hours, and live life to the fullest.

    Joel Bomgar, founder and CEO of Bomgar, had the following to say about the book:

    “The productivity principles and philosophy of productivity and effectiveness encompassed in [The 4-Hour Work Week] are powerful. I read it a few years back and it was one of the most life-transforming books I’ve ever read.”

      Get the book here!

      2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

      This is another fantastic resource that shifts your paradigm and mindset. This book taught me that income-generating assets usually provide healthier bottom-line results than even the best of traditional jobs. This might not always mean millions of dollars in your bank account, but it may give you that priceless time freedom.

      Dane Maxwell, founder of an incredible resource called The Foundation – a community of over 60,000 entrepreneurs – had this to say:

      “It all started when I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I’m not a typically really super intelligent guy so I really appreciated the simplistic way that Rich Dad, Poor Dad explained financial wealth. He talked about passive income and not exchanging time for money.”

        Get the book here!

        3. No B.S. Time Management For Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy

        Being an entrepreneur is tough. You’ve got to set some serious targets upfront. You might not achieve them all, but you have to gun for them.

        This book gives you three incredibly powerful tips and targets:

        • Self-discipline is the magic power that makes you unstoppable
        • Avoid the time vampires that want to suck you dry
        • As an entrepreneur, your time is worth $340 per hour

        It is impossible to start as $340-per-hour entrepreneur. But, it should certainly be your target as you grow.

        Paul Gallipeau, Digital Marketing entrepreneur, has this as one of his highly recommended reads.

          Get the book here!

          4. In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

          We live in an unnecessarily fast-paced world. In Praise of Slowness advocates for the reversal of a fast-forward mentality and lifestyle. It entrenches a culture revolution against the notion that faster is always better.

          For any entrepreneur, this is a must-read.

          There are too many opportunities out there. There are opportunities within opportunities. In the midst of all these opportunities, you need to slow down and have a clearly defined vision that will help you avoid growing into a chaotic entrepreneur.

          This is a resource highly recommended by Joe Griffin, co-founder of iAcquire.

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            Get the book here!

            5. Priorities: Resources for Changing Lives by James C. Petty

            This book addresses time management from a spiritual perspective.

            I’m a huge advocate for the idea that less is more. I truly believe you can get more done by doing less.

            The success of this theory all lies in your ability to prioritize. Not everything that screams for your attention is important. You need to proactively ignore things that are not your most urgent priorities.

            With this resource, James C. Petty helps bring focus into frazzled lives. Using the “Assessing My Priorities” worksheet, he walks you through the process of organizing time under the categories of God, the people of God, and God’s work in the world.

            With sound biblical advice and practical applications, this booklet demonstrates ways in which you can reduce unnecessary stress, identify true priorities, and begin to get your overbooked schedule under control.

              Get the book here!

              6. On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca

              Recommended by Tim Ferriss, the incredible entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, this resource highlights that we have more than enough time to live our lives to the fullest.

              Unfortunately, we waste much of it.

              The book teaches how you can live a more fulfilled life by tweaking your perspective on time management.

                Get the book here!

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                7. Organize Yourself by Kate Kelly

                Shifting your paradigm and mindset is important. That’s the reason why most of these books are geared at changing the way you think about the relationship between time and entrepreneurship.

                This book is about shifting your thinking about execution. Before execution, you need a plan. You need to be organized.

                This book will help you get organized by providing you with essential rules for better time, money, space and paper management.

                It reveals a professional organizer’s proven techniques for streamlining daily life.

                It provides fast, effective methods for dealing with common clutter, along with helping you to overcome procrastination and other organizational ailments.

                  Get the book here!

                  8. Time Efficiency Makeover by Dorothy K. Breininger

                  We all are prone to procrastination at some point or other in our entrepreneurial journey. When things are not going quite according to how you planned, it is all too easy to get distracted.

                  This book will help you decide whether procrastination is a real problem or if you are experiencing other life challenges.

                  For true procrastinators, this book is filled with step-by-step guidelines on how to stop putting off those home and work projects, unpaid bills and neglected relationships. You will understand what is holding you back and how to keep focused and motivated on present and future events.

                  A must-read for anyone who wants to improve the efficiency and satisfaction of their lives.

                  Phil McGraw, an American television personality, author, psychologist, and the host of the television show Dr. Phil, highly recommends this resource and has the following to say:

                  “These guys really know how to get things set up to maximize your time. They absolutely can create time that seems to come from nowhere.”

                    Get the book here!

                    9. How Did I Get So Busy? by Burton Valorie

                    I was once a busy bee and quickly realized that being busy was not necessarily the most effective way to reach my destiny. As the editor at Run For Wealth, a Nike Run Club Coach, and an online marketer, I have to constantly have to find the true balance between business versus productivity.

                    I highly recommend this book because it’s a simple and effective way to rediscover your true priorities, shift out of overdrive, and reclaim your life and schedule.

                      Get the book here!

                      10. Aligned Thinking: Make Every Moment Count by Jim Steffen

                      Ultimately, we all want to live a fulfilled life. Having a great paradigm shift and being organized means nothing if you can’t make every moment count.

                      This book, written in the style of a simple fable, helps you to develop practical ways to focus on what’s important now and make the moment count.

                        Get the book here!

                        Conclusion

                        As an entrepreneur, you’ll come across many challenges. But, the biggest challenge will often be the issue of using your time effectively – especially early on in your entrepreneurial journey. This is the time when you’ll feel obliged to make everyone happy.

                        Time is a precious resource. For those who truly understand its value, it often seems like they are living in a cocoon.

                        You are not living in a cocoon. As an entrepreneur, you are in the minority, but it’s fine. I hope this list of resources will help you find comfort in the fact that being in the minority probably means you are well on your way to a fantastic and successful entrepreneurial journey.

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                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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