How to Access the Most Valuable Information in the World: Read

Posted on by Jeremy Daggett

M.G. Siegler, in a post that’s part of his excellent 500 Words series over on Medium:

It has taken me a while to realize it, but the single most important thing I do each day isn’t taking meetings, sending emails, or even writing — it’s reading. Whether it’s news, tweets, books, or any other form of written word, reading remains the most efficient way of consuming and capturing information. And information is the most valuable asset in the world.

But setting aside time to read takes discipline.

I couldn’t agree more. In the living room, the easiest thing to do is turn on the TV. In almost any other situation, the easiest thing to do is to pull out your phone and check Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. If you want to read anything that takes more than three minutes, you need to set aside dedicated time to do that. There’s a balance that goes into appreciating longer form pieces and books—old and modern—alongside the steady flow of “the latest.” There’s value in both, but so often what is happening now is the only thing that warrants our attention. And so the scales are out of balance.

For the last six years, my reflex during any down time has been to open up Twitter on my phone. Granted, I take a lot of pride in who I’m following on Twitter and the collective value I get from my timeline. I do a lot of reading, because the people I follow are pointing me to what’s worth reading.

But it was time to try something new. I’m now twenty days into a 40-day break from Twitter, my goal being simply to develop some new, possibly better habits for that down time. I’m trying to get to a place where the reading I do is not dictated by my Twitter feed. I have other options on my phone: the Kindle app, Instapaper, the thirty Safari tabs that I’ve kept open, thinking “I’ll read that sometime.”

Good writing offers ongoing value, beyond the 15 minutes after a piece is published. That’s the type of reading—and writing—I want in on.