First off I added a Mentions page to the blog, and you should definitely check it out.

I spend a lot of time reading. Mainly I read books and blogs. I read about a book a week and I don’t know how many blogs I read every day… I’d say it’s somewhere in the tons. Metric tons, even.

But I had an epiphany not too long ago, and it’s changing the way I consume information and the way I blog.

I said to myself, “Self, you read all of these blogs and books but are you actually learning anything?”

And I realized that the answer ranged from, “Well… No. Not really,” to “Yeah, I highlighted a couple sentences in that book.”

A couple sentences in an entire book? Wow. What a colossal waste of time.

I was reading those books just because people say they’re good books. And for the most part, they ARE good books. But they’re just not really anything that I NEED right NOW.

For example, I recently started re-reading the 4-Hour Workweek. It’s a great book that changed my life in 2007 when I first read it. But a couple dozen pages into it, I thought to myself, “Why am I reading this again? I’m already convinced! This is the lifestyle I already want!” I realized that my time is better spent doing things and learning things that are immediately applicable.

Let’s go back to reading blogs for a bit. I guess there are reasons to read and comment on blogs even if you don’t learn anything from them. An important part of blogging successfully is building and maintaining those relationships with other bloggers. But there’s a point where you’re just not benefitting any more, a point where the amount of time you spend is taking up time that you should be spending taking action. Don’t get to that point! Stay away from that point!

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t spend all your time just reading blogs or books that you “should” be reading. Make sure you also spend time 1) learning something that will start benefiting you and/or your readers immediately, and 2) actually putting into action what you learn about.

So what have I been doing differently? Well, I spend a handful of hours every week learning about CSS. It’s something that I’ve got a basic understanding of (enough to customize my Thesis theme), but it’s something I think I could really benefit from if I understood it more. I could build better blogs and customize them to better suit my wants and my readers’ needs.

It’s a skill that will make me a better blogger, not just information that is kinda cool.

I’ve also been going through Inkscape tutorials recently. Inkscape is the free and open source equivalent of Adobe Illustrator. In other words, it’s a vector graphics program. In other OTHER words, it’s a fancy drawing program.

I’m fairly comfortable with Illustrator, so why learn Inkscape? Well, I’d like to create a how-to-create-infographics course, but I realize that most people don’t want or need to spend a few hundred bucks on one piece of software. By learning Inkscape, I’ll be able to create tutorials for this great FREE software that anyone can use to create infographics.

These are no-nonsense, minimal-fluff things that I can actually put into practice. I’m not just reinforcing concepts I already know. There’s a time to read stuff to get psyched, and then there’s a time to get stuff done.

Let’s shift the balance more from “get psyched” to “get stuff done.”

So my questions to you are…

  • Are you actually learning anything useful?
  • WHAT are you learning that is useful?
  • What are you going to start learning?
  • What are you going to DO with your new knowledge?