Get Perspective

I don’t know about you but I really dislike being overwhelmed by reading material. Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of people who feel frustrated, guilty and/or overwhelmed when they see a pile of reading material on their desk (or nightstand, kitchen counter, etc.). I suggest they repeatedly tell themselves, “It’s only paper,” and to not allow paper to make them feel that way. But what also helps is getting perspective on the sheer quantity of material that exists to choose from. 

I’ve selected some of the more telling statistics that I share with my audiences that I hope will give you a better perspective about your reading piles: 

  • The number of titles of magazines available for you to choose from averages over 17,000! If you feel compelled to read them all, you’d have to read 47 per day! (Now doesn’t your pile look small?!)
  • The U.S prints an average of 175,000 titles of  books  PER YEAR and the average American reads just ONE book a year. Where do you fall in the average??   
  • The average # of words in a large city daily newspaper (e.g. NY Times or Washington Post) is 72,000. This is about the same number of words in a regular size fiction novel.  A Sunday edition of the same paper has the equivalent of 5 to 7 novel’s worth of words. Do you really have time to read it all?! 
  • When you read on-screen (without any reading strategies), your reading speed goes DOWN an average of 25-30%. If you are an average reader with 250 words per minute, you are now down to about 187. That’s gear one, or a slow speed.
  • The average American watches THREE HOURS of television per day. Imagine how much reading you could do if you only watched ONE hour, or NONE! 
  • The average cost of a paperback book is around $10, a hardback is $25, an audiobook version is $20-$30. Any amount of time you spend reading . . . is priceless.


Given this enlightening perspective, your best strategy is to choose only the material that provides you with the most value.

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