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How much did you read yesterday? If you’re anything like me, you probably read news articles, blog posts, commentary, reports, and maybe squeezed in a few chapters of a book.

In addition to the reading we do for work, the typical social media user consumes nearly 300 pieces of content daily.

According to Forbes, if you were to read 20 articles a day, 25 pages of a magazine, one book a month, and get through all your normal reading such as email or texts – you’d have to set aside two hours a day just to keep up!

So, what can you do to reduce your reading time?

Here’s a quick tip I’ve found to be tremendously helpful that you can try to get through content more efficiently and still be a productive reader.

Ask Yourself Why

Not all the reading we do is created equal. With all the information out there, it’s important to remember that not everything you read is necessary.

For example, if you’re hunting down quotes about a story you’ve already read, it’s not essential to read all the background information again in the sources you’re checking. On the other hand, skimming won’t work if you’re expected to summarize an important report for a presentation.

One big change you can make is to ask the obvious question: “Why am I reading this?”

When you clarify your goals before you begin reading, it allows you to process information with a purpose and in turn, make you a more productive reader. In other words, it helps to create expectations for yourself.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • What information do I need to find?
  • Why is this information important for me?

Once you know why you’re reading, you can focus on the way you need to read. When you have a purpose in mind, you keep yourself from spending time on things you might not want (or need) to read.

Developing this habit should help you avoid wasting reading time, focus on what’s important, and teach you to read more efficiently.

Want to learn more about productive reading?

There are a lot of other helpful strategies for learning how to read more efficiently. Productivity experts like Tim Ferris or Clay Johnson have explored this topic in depth. Bill Cosby even wrote an essay about using techniques such as skimming and previewing to read faster!

Image Credit: Abhi Sharma

Do you have more advice about reading productively?

We’d love to hear your favorite tips in the comments! You can also find us on Facebook or @flow_reader.