Are You Consuming Too Much Too Fast?
An argument for reading slow, listening to audiobooks and podcasts at 1x speed, and slowly consuming courses
Many years ago, I heard about Steve Pavlina, a personal development guru, who consumed audiobooks at 4x speed. That’s four times the normal speed! Imagine consuming a four-hour audiobook in one hour. Before learning about Steve, I was consuming audiobooks at 1x speed like a chump.
So I endeavoured to increase my speed — first to 1.1 and then to 1.25 and then to my current speed of 1.5 times the average speed. It’s no 4x speed, but it means I can listen to a 1.5-hour audiobook in an hour, saving me half an hour.
It’s not just for audiobooks or podcasts I do this. I read books like a maniac — aiming for one book a week. I consume online courses, with a couple of hours a week devoted to Masterclass, Udemy, Teachable, LinkedIn Learning, and other sites.
Except recently, I received a newsletter from a top writer who advocated for slowness.
- Consume one book at a time
- Listen to audiobooks and podcasts at 1x speed
- Watching videos at 1x speed
- Not rushing to read 50 or 100 or more books a year
At first, I thought this was BS. Who doesn’t want to consume and learn more? Who doesn’t want to make effective use of their time?
But as I thought about the idea of slowness, it makes a lot of sense. Our brains can’t absorb that much (I mean think about what you had for breakfast one week ago). So out of the 50 books you might read in a year, how many of those books do you remember? Or more importantly, what takeaways did you incorporate in your life? I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can do, let alone remember, 50 things every single day.
Being able to say you read 50 books last year is a vanity metric. You look good to others. But isn’t it better to say you read, deeply understood, and incorporated 12 (or fewer) books last year?
If you’re currently like me listening to things at 2x speed or reading as many books as you can, stop and ask yourself: what can I realistically absorb, reflect on, and incorporate in my life?
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