When reading anything, we want to prepare our mind. Mindless reading is like mindless eating. Be intentional and discerning in reading and application. Consider this simple approach for assessing the quality, credibility and relevance of what we read: Scan, Read and Relate.
- Before reading, scan the article or white paper to check its title, source, date, author name and bio (if there), figures and picture. This gives a sense of the rigor and shape of the article. It also answers, “is this current?”
- I scan books, journals and magazines, too, and check the table of contents. This gives me a better feel for the material and its potential relevance.
- While reading, focus on the theme and main ideas. Where does the supporting evidence come from (e.g. data, research, interviews, opinion)?
- After reading, relate the “value” in the article to your interests or objectives. Ask, “how is this relevant to me or my firm?”
We don’t need perfection in our reading. However, we do benefit from intention and discernment. If we’re chilling on the porch with Beaverball or Family Circle, that’s one thing. If we’re reading a national newspaper, a proposal or a white paper, we gain time and advantage with a systematic approach.