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I have a huge list of books I want to read (around 70) some of them related to Computer Science (mainly programming) and most of them self-help (various topics). I also have a list of audio books that I want to listen to. Some of the audio books are related to productivity and others are not. I also want to gain perspective from those books (for example, from The Alchemist or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

Even though I'm young (17), I think that reading a lot of self-help books is going to broaden my perspective on life. I'm also going to study for school, exercise, make tutorials (I make programming tutorials).

While these lists seem huge, I want to try to keep them organized and keep up with everyday items.I have Evernote and WorkFlowy to keep things organized. What are some best-practices to implement a system to keep me on track?

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For many of these self-improvement, self-help, self-improvement works you may always have to make yourself clear, that these kinds of books are mainly a huge market and just an income source for the authors. Beware of all the sales or marketing people, management gurus, scientologists and others... – SLN Mar 13 '14 at 11:15

While some of these are well respected books, reading them will not change anything you do...practicing the techniques described in them will.

So don't read them all at once. Read one, extract the techniques that work for you. Practice them and embed them in your daily routines and mental toolset.

Then go on to the next book if needed.

And sometimes a book will have a different effect depending on what stage your mental performance maturity is at - so one which seems valueless as a beginner may be useful later, or vice versa - some may be really good at helping with beginner procedures, but aren't of value further down the line.

So treat books partially as @SLN suggests - they may have value in helping you change your processes, but really they are just excellent money earners. In reality your improvements will come from within, but helped by reading or coaching.

(Ooh - I got a bit zen there)

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Been there, and after twenty years, I am still there actually :)

A bit of Zen wisdom might lighten the pain: most knowledge that are not technical comes from within. If one can understand and accept that, one gets less stressed about the number of books that are waiting to be read.

Remember that books are books, and some tips that make sense, are not practical. Of the books you mention, Getting Things Done, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends & Influence People, The Alchemist are the kind which I would call high-value books. However beware the 1-liner books. By them I mean the books where the author spreads something that can be summarized in one sentence, or one paragraph, to a book, with one agenda: Getting you buy the book so that he gets your money.

Learn to speed-read. Use the technique to eliminate the books that are of the second category.

Also try limiting number of books you put in your to-read queue physically. I used to buy books that I wanted to read. Now I just download their samples, and incredible enough, I buy very few of those samples, because when I am done with the book I am reading, I find another book better than the queued-sample books. Also, you might find that once you finish a high-value book, you are not the same person anymore. So probably the book(s) you thought would be great, no longer fit in well with the new you. (Here physical queue means buying a book. Once I buy a book, I feel obliged to read it. If I put it in a non-physical queue like a wish list or download its sample, I do not feel so obliged anymore)

Decide where your balance of Act vs. Learn is. By learn, I mean learn in theory. Beware that mastering the theory is not sufficient as learning. I would not wanna sit on a plane where the Captain had read all the books there is to read, and took all the theoretical classes, but this was the first time he was taking-off.

Practice makes master. However, doing practice, and making theory turn into practice takes time. So, in my opinion, it is a good idea to read a lot, and find certain things worth to practice, and practice those. It might take ages reading one book, practice it, then move to next one.

But read, read as much as you can. I cannot think anything bad coming out of reading the right books!

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I don't think reading all of them at once will have any benefits. You will mostly forget what you read, and hardly apply all of the informations in these books.

What you should do is to read one or two of them, and try to apply what you learned in your daily life. Give it between 10-14 days, because that is the time you can make a habit from it. Then either read the same book(s) you read again(if you feel that you are not doing something right), or read a neew book, and once you are done, give it another 10-14 days to make a habit from it.

You need to experiment with your life, and things in these books. Not every advice in the book can be applied in the same manner, for every person. You need to get the information from the book, find a way to apply it in your life, and make a habit from it(make sure you don't forget it and use it every day automatically).

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Some suggestions to improve your reading productivity:

  • Focus on extracting value from books rather than the number of books you read.
  • Be exceptionally choosy about the books you read.
  • Read only the parts that are most valuable.
  • Read only a summary of the book (the most popular books have numerous summaries online).
  • Take a book everywhere you go.
  • Consider getting the audio book - you can read it whilst exercising, driving, ironing etc. Note that some books work better as audio than others - I really liked 7 Habits as an audio as I like Covey's voice, but other readers are less enjoyable, and books full of diagrams don't usually make for good audio.
  • Get an audio book player that plays at higher-than-normal reading speed
  • Learn to speed-read.
  • Make notes. Take a notebook everywhere with you, and make it a habit to use it.
  • Take time to reflect on what you read.
  • Practice what you read.
  • Re-read the very best books.
  • Blog about the things that you're learning.

And a couple to track your reading progress

  • Keep track of the books you want to read in an Amazon wish list.
  • Keep track of the books you've read in Evernote or something similar
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