“When do you have time to read?” is a question that I’m frequently asked. With the pipe to social media wide open, work, kids, and a steady stream of distractions, there really isn’t much time to think, let alone read.
In 2006 I joined the Audible Gold Plan[Digital Membership], which allowed me one free credit per month. I listened to tons of books, and today I can’t recall much more than a few concepts. Over the last year, I’ve “consumed” more than 2 books a month, and I’ve developed a system that really works for retention and consumption of great content. Just listening to audiobooks alone really won’t cut it. Here are a few tips to make the audiobook substitute really work.
1. Get the Audible App
While you can listen to audiobooks on CD or in iTunes, there are several key advantages to using the Audible App. First of all, and this won’t work for everyone, but immediately adjust the default speed. Listening to an audiobook in 2x speed will cut the full “length” of the book in half. If you are especially courageous go 3x. Yeah it’s a little like “downloading” from the Matrix at 3x, but once you pick up the tempo, you won’t go back. Secondly, use notes and bookmarks, a lot. This is one of the keys to successful audiobooking. When you’re listening to the audiobook, you can quickly tap the app to add a bookmark. You can tap a second time to add a note. If you’re listening while driving, I’ve found it very convenient to dictate the notes. This is key to referencing the relevant points in the book.
2. Whispersync eBook Companion
With Amazon’s acquisition of Audible came one of the coolest features. Whispersync synchronizes your audiobooks with the Kindle version of your book. As Amazon explains:
Switching back and forth between a Kindle book and Audible professional narration — without ever losing your place — is simple. Whispersync for Voice syncs Kindle books with professional narration for an uninterrupted reading and listening experience.
While Amazon touts “immersion reading,” I am more interested in the synchronization of bookmarks, notes and place in the kindle text. After listening to the audiobook, I pop open the kindle version to catch some of the key points from the text. This is also extremely helpful to see some of the illustrations. Of course, this requires purchasing the Kindle version of the book as well as either purchasing an Audible book or using a credit. Occasionally, there is a special offer to buy the Kindle version which you can find by looking at your Audible library in the ebook companion column:
3. Summarize Key Points
Finally, the most important aspect of using Audiobooks effectively is putting the pieces together. Here is my approach:
- Set aside about 30-45 minutes to conduct the “review.”
- Create a blank document.
- Review the Table of Contents of the Kindle version of the book (or look up the TOC through a Google Search) and write down any of the key points that you want to cover.
- Review your notes and bookmarks either on Audible or Kindle and capture all of the key ideas that you highlighted.
- Write a short paragraph summarizing each of the key concepts from the book. This is by no means a regurgitation. I simply want to phrase a few of the key stories that I want to remember and reference where that idea is located in the book for quick reference.
- Save the file in a location with all other quick reviews.
Don’t worry this isn’t a book review. Taking the time to capture this information will cement the key concepts in your brain. This is when the big ideas and themes of the book will gel. Alternatively, you may pick up a book summary (Cliff’s notes as I used to call them) and review the key points. This isn’t really cheating anymore. The point is to not walk away from the book without cementing a few key concepts from the book in your mind. There are a number of business book summaries out there. Here is a WSJ post comparing the various services.
Whether I’m commuting to work, cutting the grass or exercising, I’ve found audiobooks to be a great way to keep up with content. Listening to the books alone, however, misses the key mnemonic necessary to absorb the key information. So, this process allows me both the convenience of audiobooks with the absorption of reading. I’ve found that I can usually complete a book in about a week, so I give it a break until my next credit is received. Listening to audiobooks constantly becomes monotonous and boring for me, so the one credit per month from Audible is a self regulation of sorts. As a longtime user of Audible, I am a part of their affiliate program and they are currently offering 3 months of the Gold membership for $7.49, which is half the usual rate. I’m not pitching that you use Audible or my link, but if that saves you a few bucks to try it out, go for it. I’d love to hear your experience with Audiobooks or better ways to stay abreast of current books. Let me know!