How to Cope with Excessive Reading

A very long time ago, I felt sufficiently informed everyday by simply reading The New York Times. Today, however, my brain finds it quite difficult to abide the slightest possibility of being uninformed or misinformed on a variety of subjects.

Hence, my life often looks like this:

I try to keep my number of Chrome tabs under 75, on a good day.

I try to keep my number of Chrome tabs under 75, on a good day.

For years, I have devised and experimented quite a few systems for reading, but until now, I foolishly refused to believe that no technology can enable me to read, digest, and memorize the amount of information that is queued in my systems: papers, blogs, columns, and books. I probably had near-mental break downs every once in a few months. I learned the following lessons by the hard way:

  1. Never queue more reading in your system than you can realistically handle. “I will read it later” is an unhealthy wishful thinking that, depending on how good you are at deluding yourself, may inflict tremendous psychological burden.
  2. Index and outline your reading, because most humans are pretty good at forgetting what they read.
  3. If you don’t have time to take note or outline your reading, don’t read it at all. You could have been watching football as opposed to reading something that you will soon forget anyway. 


(2017 Update) Since I quit political science, my information input has drastically changed, and I myself no longer actively employ the methods described above. Nevertheless, I hesitated to delete this blog entry, in case you, dear reader, may still find these methods mildly useful.