I’ve found back my old love.

Who? That’s the wrong question. What? Reading. I used to read a lot while I was younger. But when I went to highschool, I stopped reading. I don’t even know why.

I used to read different books every month, when I was younger. I rented the maximum amount of books at the library and at the end of the renting period I finished them all. That means 7 books in 6 weeks or so. I loved reading. I always went for quick adventures, stories that made me want to turn the page. Stories that made me go for that extra chapter. Before I knew, I could start the next book. But I’ve never read ’informational’ books or biographies. Maybe because I was too young or just because I did not like them.

I suppose that was the reason I stopped reading when I grew older and went to highschool. People expected us to read the news, read books about history and what we were studying. But why would I read those if they did not interest me? But that was not the main reason. I had a busy life playing soccer, going to school, assignments for school, breeding birds and so on. To be honest, it never occured to me that I was not reading anymore. I didn’t even think about it.

Until now. Since last year, I started reading blogposts and short articles. About life, productivity and other stuff. People were blogging about the books they were reading and how they learned a lot just by reading what others wrote down with so many passion. So I started reading the short ebooks provided by those bloggers. Mostly free but with great content. Then I started reading about the things I do at work. About datawarehousing and agile development because I wanted to learn more about what I was doing. But I noticed that this lecture is not the same as reading life experiences and little adventures. I needed to think while reading and store some things in my memory. Those books could not be read in the evening. At least, I couldn’t read them because my mind is tired in the evening after a day of work. So I started reading in the morning at 5:30 AM before I went to work at 7 AM. This works for me. I enjoyed doing so but still those ’learning’ books are not always as easy to read. I like books like ’Getting Things Done’ by David Allen because those books tell a story. They are written with practical knowledge and have that factor that make you go for that extra chapter.

Right now, I am reading ’Mijn Leven, Sven Nys’, a book about cyclocrosser Sven Nys and how he experiences his carreer. This is the book that made me find back my old love. Reading.

My advice? Ask people what books they are reading and when you think ’this is the one’, buy it and start reading. Not as good as you thought? Close it an go look for another one.

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Concentration, concentration, concentration.

How many times it happens you are reading something and after a couple of minutes you’re wondering what you were reading? I guess it won’t only happen when reading but also while talking to someone and even when driving your car!

I have to be honest that it happens a lot to me. Sometimes I have to re-read the same sentence twice because my mind was taking me to another place. It is strange, like my mind wants to go one and I am not ready for it. After a while, you notice that you are in another atmosphere and forgot everything of the last couple of minutes. I’m often wondering whether I am the only one who has this ‘experience’? When I am talking to someone, is he or she also getting lost in thinking about other things or is it just me? It is not that I do not respect what the other person is saying, but my mind wants to take the next step. Even if I am not ready for it. Before moving on, I want to make one thing clear. There is an important difference between losing your concentration in a discussion and just not being interested. When someone is not interested, that person doesn’t even start listening. When you are interested, you listen but your mind does not take note of what is being said. Maybe the other person has said something so important that your brain already starts processing ideas about this topic.

Most of the time, you are not concentrated because you did not empty your brain before starting a new task. Your brain is made for creativity and not for remembering stuff. If you try to remember all sorts of stuff, you’ve got a higher chance of being less concentrated. That is why I jot down my ideas as fast as I can in services like Evernote and Omnifocus. When I think of a topic for a blogpost, I store it in Omnifocus. By doing so, my mind is free to discover other interesting topics and to live with more focus. Need to call a friend when arriving at home, store it in Omnifocus and let it remind you at home. Simple things with an amazing impact! But after all, give your mind a break. In the rushing time we live in, you need to make time to take a break.

What can you do about it?

  • Take a break whenever you can.

  • Read about concentration and focussing on what you are doing at this moment. I recommend blogs like Time Management Ninja by Craig Jarrow and Productivityist by Mike Vardy. Or read the book from David Allen about GTD, this goes beyond our topic but will help you in being more focussed.

  • Do the things you like and enjoy. Passion leads to focus.