Spending my mornings learning

I fell into a trap a few years ago that I have been slowly digging myself out of, bit by bit. Being all consumed by my working life, I left little room for reading and learning. I don’t claim to have resolved this issue, but I do feel I made substantial progress this week with one tweak to my morning routine.

The root cause of the problem: I wasn’t prioritizing reading and learning in the morning. For years I tried to do this at night. But with the fast paced, high stress, and definitely mind consuming work that comes with being a part of two very successful startups (Dyn & Fastly) in the past seven years, I was simply fried at the end of my work day. My mind would endlessly drift any time I tried to read a book or focus on a learning project in the evening.

I had tried shifting my reading to the morning before, but I could never make that schedule stick either. Maybe it was because I don’t drink coffee. Maybe sometimes I take a little bit longer to get out of bed to make my way to the couch where my iPad normally sits…if I made out that far before I had to rush to get ready for work.

This past week I have tried something different: placing my iPad next to my bed and reaching for that device in the morning when I wake up, not my iPhone.

Something about this workflow change has made me priorities. When I wake up in the morning now, I prop up my pillows and reach for my iPad. I immediately open iBooks and start reading, even in my semi-awake state. With this, I have already finished two books this week I had been reading for over a month with little progress previously.

Because my mind is activating quicker from reading in bed during the morning, when I make my way to the kitchen to begin breakfast, my brain is begging to learn more. So I now turn on a podcast in the morning when I make/eat breakfast, usually one that focuses on teaching its listeners something. In my case, for the past week I have been catching up on the awesome Seeking Wisdom podcast. My notes file this past week has filled with little tidbits and thoughts from these morning podcast sessions.

In the end, this seems to be going well because of a simple workflow change: placing my reading device (an iPad) next to my bed, which somehow triggered my brain to want to read. Let’s see if this continues!

Amazon Kindle

I look at the Amazon Kindle and think: are we going back to the 80s for electronics? More importantly, I agree with others that hope it will be a flop.

It looks big, it looks ugly, it looks bulky, there are too many buttons, enough DRM to make the suits earning 7 figures happy (which is never good), and the potential to nickle & dime its users to death (you have to pay to subscribe to blogs…think about that for a moment). Why the heck would you want EVDO (even though it is free) on a reading device devoted solely to books? It isn’t like it is rendering complex pages. Plus how the heck do you backup your Kindle purchases? With all of that DRM plus no syncing with your computer…it will be pretty hard to do that!

I look at the iPhone and think that has serious potential to become an e-book device in the future. Think about it. Instead of tons of buttons, a simple flick of your finger to flip a page. Can easily zoom in/out on text, with full color photos for those people who love pictures in their books. With a few taps you would be able to go on the iTunes Store (either directly from the phone or from your computer) and get whatever books you would like. EDGE or Wifi ensures that there will be a signal anywhere. No worrying about the cost to subscribe to a blog or news site, your monthly data plan already part of your iPhone plan (and switching to WiFi when available), and so on.

I have always been fascinated with the idea of e-books…so much potential, but no one can figure out how to do it right.