Slower can be better when it comes to accessing information to help your small business

Last week my friend Susan Hammond sent me a link to an article from the Harvard Business Review blog entitled “It’s Time for a ‘Slow Conversation” Movement.” In it, venture capitalist Anthony K. Tjan talks about three resolutions he’s made for 2013 to “swim against the mass connectivity tide.” I highly recommend his article and his suggestions on how to build strong relationships through actual interaction vs. digital interaction.

This article also made me think of something I’ve been experiencing over the past six months that falls into a similar vein. Late last summer, an airline on which I had accumulated about 7,000 frequent flyer miles offered to let me trade them in for free magazine subscriptions. Since I was never likely to get enough free miles on this particular airline to actually earn a free ticket, I decided to order some magazines. In doing so, I realized I was doing something I hadn’t done much of since the advent of the Internet. In fact, Bon Appetite is the only magazine we’ve subscribed to at our house in the past decade and even that relationship has been an on and off one.

Soon, Time was arriving in the mailbox weekly and Money and Inc. were coming each month. What I soon noticed was that when I sat down to read one of these magazines, I was reading much more deeply than when I read articles online. In fact, research shows that most people skim when they read online, looking for the main ideas before moving quickly on to the next blog post or news article. Thus, we take little time to reflect on what we just read and gain its full value.

In contrast, when I went picked up an issue of Inc. or Time I found I was reading articles from start to finish and then, in many cases, taking time to think about what I’d read and analyze its application to my life or my business. Not only was I enjoying the experience much more than when I read online, I was also getting much greater benefit from it!

So I’d like to suggest adding a slow reading movement to the slow conversation movement. I know you may be thinking, “But, Jeanne, I don’t have time to sit down and read a bunch of magazines.” Well, then, take baby steps. Subscribe to just one magazine. It might be Inc., Forbes, Harvard Business Review or a trade publication relevant to your business. Commit to taking one hour a month to giving the magazine a thorough read. (Okay, okay, if you’re getting the Harvard Business Review, you will need more than one hour; their articles are looooong!)

By making this small commitment, I believe you’ll be carving out time to think far more deeply about new information you’re receiving that may help your business than you do devoting the same amount of time to reading online. Reading a printed publication may seem old-fashioned, but it is an experience that, as I’ve rediscovered, has a stronger benefit than dashing through a bunch of articles online. So I invite you to join the slow reading movement. Let me know how you do.

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