I'll be talking more about procrastination after I read a second book on the subject. However, my next blog topic, reading, was inspired by Rita Emmett's The Procrastinator's Handbook. She seems to write more about time management than procrastination, and at one point she uses the heading "You Can't Read Everything." "No one can these days," she goes on to say. "Until you accept that fact, you'll be creating a lose/lose situation. Either you'll feel like a loser for procrastinating about all your unread papers, or in the time spent trying to read everything, you'll feel like a loser because you've put off some of the really important things in your life." She ends that section with, "Select what is important to read and don't sweat the rest."
First, I think that there are a lot of people who can't get to all their reading because they don't have time to do it, not because they are putting it off for the sake of putting it off, which is, I think, an aspect of procrastination that makes it procrastination rather than just having too much to do. Second, for many people reading is one of the really important things in their lives. Third, I got kind of excited when I read "Select what is important to read and don't sweat the rest," because I thought that was a transitional sentence, and she was going to discuss how to do that in her next section. But this whole reading thing ended up being part of the clutter segment of the book, and she talked about throwing away magazines and newspapers that have piled up.
Emmett has a point with cutting back on subscriptions for magazines you'll never read and not letting catalogues accumulate. (I don't bring them into the house, myself. The recycling box is in the garage, and I throw them in there on my way in from the mailbox.) However, that's a very small portion of the reading most of us do. You can throw away all the periodicals you want. It doesn't change the fact that there comes a point when we should be reading and must read.
We have two kinds of reading:
Maintenance Reading--Reading we need to do to manage our daily lives. Depending on the person this could include reading about politics, economics, education, and health, just to begin with.
Professional Reading--Reading we need to do to manage our professional lives. For writers this would include reading in our genre to keep up with what is being published and, presumably, read, and in other genres we're interested in writing. It should also include reading about process, in order to always be training in what we do. For writers interested in writing short stories and essays, (like myself), it would also include reading journals and magazines to research markets. Oh, and then specific writing projects may require research, more reading. We also need to be reading about marketing and technology. If we're interested in teaching workshops, we'd probably be doing some reading about that.
For any person, in any profession, there's going to be professional reading. It takes time. Lots of it. Are there ways to try to get some of this reading done in less time? I think so.
Next week, I'm going to discuss Pierre Broyard's How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, which is more about reading than it is about not reading. He writes about the different kinds of reading we actually do, anyway, and knowing we're reading in those ways could help us manage our reading workload.