Hugh writes about the benefits he experienced from getting back to reading actual books, as opposed to being constantly caught up in digital flows of information.
I started to wonder: could training myself to read books again help me manage the digital information stress in the rest of my life? Could the cure for too much information be slower information? In the same way that snake venom can be used to produce curative antivenom, I wondered whether that old, slower form of information delivery—books—could act as a kind of antidote to the stress caused by the constant flow of new digital information. Whether my inability to sustain my focus—at work, home, and on reading books—could be cured by finding ways to once again sustain my focus…on a book.
In the article he talks about the three rules he put in place to help with getting back to reading books, and that this is a challenge we will all have to deal with as an ongoing challenge:
Following these three rules has made a huge impact on my life. I have more time—since I am no longer constantly chasing the next byte of information. Reading books again has given me more time to reflect, to think, and has increased both my focus and the creative mental space to solve work problems. My stress levels are much lower, and energy levels up.
Managing the flows of digital information in the workplace, and in our personal lives, is going to be an ongoing challenge for all of us in the years and decades to come. Digital information flows will get faster and more voluminous. The internet is just a couple of decades old, and we’ve only had smartphones for less than 10 years.
We are still learning how to live in this information ecosystem, and how to build the ecosystem for humans rather than for the information. We will get better at it—as humans, and as builders of technology. And in the mean time, reading books again will help.
– I too live in a digital environment with many inputs. Managing it all – and trying to keep up (which is impossible, I know) – is a never-ending challenge (and burden at times).
– When work / business / life gets too stressful I like taking a “holiday through a book” – sitting on a comfortable chair and getting lost in a good story.
– I have purchased many Kindle books over recent years, but in the past couple of months have gone back to buying paperback books. And making time in my daily schedule to read them.
What’s your experience / reaction to Hugh’s proposal?
(hat tip to Jim Hays for the pointer to this article).