50 Shades of Reading – How I Reduced Decision Fatigue

by | Productivity

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Do you have anything in your life that you list out, and the list keeps growing longer and longer, and you don't even know where to start? In 2024, I limited my books to limit my decisions and call it my 50 shades of reading.

I'm an avid reader, and whenever someone asks me what I'm up to on a weekend, my answer is usually “reading a book.” I read about 40 to 50 books a year in various formats – Kindle, print, or audio. Today, I will share my secrets on how I manage this reading frenzy and why I'm limiting my book choices for 2024.

First off, I'm a fast reader. It's a natural talent that's been with me for as long as I can remember. That certainly helps when you're excited to plow through a mountain of books. Additionally, I'm not a big TV watcher. Binge-watching for me means a couple of hours, tops, and I still need a break between episodes. Instead, I choose to read. I read print books in my infrared sauna, but my go-to is the Kindle. It's portable and makes bedtime reading a breeze with its one-handed page-turning. Plus, most of my Kindle books come from the library through the Libby app – a great way to save some bucks!

Now, the Kindle's highlight feature is a game-changer. I mark quotes, passages, and points I want to reference, then export them to my email. This gives me a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet of all my notes, which I revisit after finishing the book. It reinforces what I've learned and provides me with conversation points for book discussions or chats with friends or my husband. Yes, I've returned to re-reading quotes and passages years later – it's like rediscovering buried treasure.

For audio, I rely on Libby as well. Whenever possible, I time it to have the audio and Kindle versions to switch between listening while doing chores and reading when I have quiet time. Non-fiction gets the 1.25x speed treatment, while fiction stays at 1.0.

My reading tastes are diverse, so I usually have two books going at once. During the day, it's business or personal development, and I switch to lighter or fiction reads in the evening.

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My 50 shades of reading for 2024

In my line of work, where I've written three books myself and am working on my fourth, I often receive books as gifts or requests for beta reading. A group of people often does beta reading before the book comes out to give feedback or recommendations. It usually has a time limit of 2-3 weeks to meet the author's deadline. Last year was particularly overwhelming, with 7 beta reads, 14 books given to me by other authors, and countless recommendations.

At the end of December, I pruned my Goodreads ‘want to read' list down to just 50 to simplify and avoid disappointing people. Those are the books I'll be reading – no new additions until those are conquered.

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Interested in seeing what I chose? My Goodreads queue.

How did I choose them? I asked my mastermind group, “Speakers With Impact,” who had books coming out in 2024 – it turns out all five of them. A few friends had their own books launching. I had also committed to reading five banned books simply because the concept of banning a book is ridiculous. I removed books lingering on my list without an apparent reason or any I couldn't recall who recommended them.

Culling my book list wasn't easy, but it was a fun exercise. In fact, it even inspired one of my friends to declutter her reading list.

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I'm not a fan of endless choices, whether it's in my streaming queue or my book list. My Netflix, Apple, HBO Max, or Amazon Prime queues have never had more than 8-10 items. The endless scrolling and adding? Not my cup of tea.

So, does this resonate with you? Maybe not with books or streaming queues, but is there anything else in your life where you'd rather not have a never-ending list of options?

If you want help creating guardrails to reduce decision fatigue and prioritize what truly matters, let's continue the conversation. Send me a message.

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jim west

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