The Sticky Note Method for Rapid Reading

If you want to read faster, I'll share a way that will radically change how fast you can read books, and, more importantly, comprehend the information.  You can read faster and absorb a lot more books with a rapid reading method -- the sticky note way.  You can do extreme reading with sticky notes. 

This approach is for printed books and magazines.  I'm a fan of the Kindle.  You can read my Kindle review.  My main scenario for Kindle is instant access, reading fiction, and having books at my finger tips.  That said, I can read and learn faster with physical books, using the "Sticky Note Method."

I read a lot of books each month.  I usually spend in the neighborhood of $300 a month.  Books are my fastest way to learn new ideas, new methods, new techniques that I can test at work to keep growing my capabilities.  Books are the short-cuts for personal development and rapid learning.

Why the Sticky Note Method
Here's a quick story that might help show how it works.  The other day I was looking for a key concept.  I knew which book it was in.  I started rapidly flipping through pages.  I couldn't find it.  I started to put yellow stickies in the book as I flipped through.  On each sticky, I wrote down one nugget of insight -- one key idea or action that was worth noting.  As I wrote down each insight, I put it into easy to understand terms.  I wrote it as a one-liner reminder.   Within 20 minutes, I had parsed my 300+ page book.   It was riddled with stickies, my one-liner reminders, and I now had a personal index, with key take aways.

It was the wrong book.

I took a break and realized I was intently looking the right way, but in the wrong book.  I grabbed the right book, and found the idea I had been looking for within seconds.  Meanwhile, what dawned on me was just how powerful this rapid reading method is.

The sticky note method is powerful because it forces you to internalize what you read, while turning insight into action.  It's simple too.  But don't let the simplicity fool you.

How To Use the Sticky Note Method for Rapid Reading
The steps are simple:

  1. Start with the right question.  Get curious about the book you are about to read by asking, "How can I use this?"
  2. Flip through with intent to use it.  Flip through the book, scanning the information as you go, while asking, "What's the big idea?  What's the surprise inside?  What's the insight?  What's the action?"
  3. Write down one-liner reminders.  As you hit interesting ideas, write down one key insight or action on a little yellow sticky, and place it in the book, close to where the source of the insight is.  These one-liner reminders turn the insight into action, and create little mantras for you to remember the big ideas.  For example, a one-liner reminder from the book, Little Book of Leadership, is Best is a Way of Life.  That one-liner reminder teaches us that excellence is a habit, and that the more we use it, the better it gets, and that it spills over into other parts of our life.

That's it.  I told you it was simple.  It’s simple, but effective.

You will get faster with practice.  When I asked one of my mentors what's the secret to running faster, he said run faster.  I thought he was joking but he was serious.  The same is true for reading faster.  To read faster ... read faster.  But now you have a method to make the most of what you read, as you go – The Sticky Note Method for Rapid Reading.  It works because it forces you to focus, it forces you to internalize information rather than regurgitate information, it forces you to create a personalized, meaningful index into your book, and it forces you to distill information into easier to little insights and actions (one-liner reminders) that turn insight into action.

I've been using this approach for years.  I've tried many ways to read faster, and they all add up, but if I could only share one approach with you, this is the one that will radically change your game and take your reading to the next level.

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