How to Read a Magazine

Magazines, Connaught Place

Magazines, Connaught Place (Photo credit: prolix6x)

Most people who follow this blog know that I love to read, as I have discussed here. Someone said, “Leaders are readers,” and I have found that to be accurate. Once you are a committed reader, you have to develop a plan for reading and methods to ensure you get the most out of the material.

There are several great books and blog posts on how to read books. However, I have learned that reading a magazine is very different. Magazines can be treasure troves of information. Here’s why:

  1. Magazine journalists are specialists. They typically have an affinity for the subject matter you are interested in. Since they are paid, they typically have studied the subject more than you have. Thus, they give you short cuts to the info that really matters.
  2. The space in a magazine is very limited. Since space is limited, the magazine has to give you essential information, which is typically better than having to comb through endless pages to identify the important material.
  3. Photography is key. Because shelf appeal is so important to magazine sales, they typically capture great photography of the subject. If a picture is worth 1000 words, a magazine’s photography is essential.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of a magazine:

  1. Read for growth, not just entertainment. Most magazines are printed simply to entertain. There may be a place for this, but for most highly productive people, you will not want to simply be entertained, but improved. Don’t waste your time thumbing through the entertainment journals. Zone in on the areas of your activity. This may be a hobby, or a journal that specializes in your area of business. Don’t assume that magazines outside of your interest zone have nothing to teach you. As a pastor, I have learned a great deal from business magazines, whether it be effective prioritizing, staffing, or the like.
  2. Become a good scanner. It is not uncommon for me to grab a dozen magazines off the shelf and quickly scan the covers, table of contents, etc. I do this because I am trying to discern which magazine will be the most worthy investment. If a particular magazine makes the cut consecutive times, I will consider buying a subscription.
  3. Read with “Evernote”. Evernote is a great application that allows you to quickly capture and store information. As you read a magazine you will constantly be finding articles, advertisements, and ideas that you need to store in an accessible location. Evernote allows you to snap a pic of the article, then tag it or store it in a folder for later use.  So, if I am reading a magazine and see a quote or thought that pertains to a sermon series I’m doing or planning to do, I will create a folder in Evernote and save the clipping.
  4. Read with a task management program. I personally use Nozbe for task management. It allows you to create projects, each of which has a unique task list. Magazines are great idea incubators. When I read a magazine I’m often creating tasks, which may simply be reminders to talk to someone about a particular project or idea.
  5. Sync Nozbe and Evernote together for excellent productivity. Thanks to Michael Hyatt for introducing me to both of the programs and coaching me on how to use the two simultaneously. By using “tags” in your project, you will be able to access your Evernote material in your Nozbe task list. So, if I read an article that I think will be helpful for  a staff meeting, I’ll save it in Evernote and tag it “staff meeting.” Then I’ll create a task under my project called, “staff meeting” in Nozbe. Finally, when it comes time for the actual meeting, I have my agenda and pertinent info already compiled.