Thursday, December 29, 2016

"Justin, how do you review 80 books in a year?"

Someone recently asked, so here's the answer.
This screenshot of my phone (a OnePlus One) explains a lot:

This is how I recommend spending your work commute, your walks down the hallway to the bathroom, and redeeming the time of chores around the house you'd rather not do: Listen to books, sermons, podcasts, and languages. I never just sit around and listen to a podcast or book-- I do it when driving or walking, to give myself time to do other things in my "free time" (like read other books and articles in print.)

I listen to these with my Mpow bluetooth earpiece which I keep with me at all times; I highly recommend this model as it stays in your ear well and the microphone works well enough for phone calls. (Neat feature of this device is that two Bluetooth devices can be connected to it at once.) Some people stigmatize those who wear bluetooth earpieces-- that's okay, you can worry about your ears while we're happy to be more knowledgeable and more productive than you all day long. This allows me to knock out about a book a week, plus about 25-50 other sermons and podcasts. Oh yeah, you can also stream music or whatever language you're learning. (Arabic at normal speed takes up a few hours of my time each week.) I don't wear this ALL day; I rarely ever wear it at home when I'm not working.

I listen to most books and all podcasts using the Pocket Casts app, which is designed for podcasts but has a Custom_Episodes folder where you can drop any mp3. Pocket Casts let's you speed up the playback and reduces the length of silent pauses-- especially handy for audiobooks and sermons that have long pauses. I've saved literally days of time this year just removing silence.

Here is my dashboard for roughly the last two years. Note that listening to things at 2x-3x speed has saved me almost two months and freed me to do things. I will note this post next year and compare.

I use Google Keep for my notes as I listen. It has a microphone dictation feature so I can dictate notes while I drive without looking at the screen. My book notes look like this, and I type them and add details later.

Listening to your device and talking on the phone is easier in the car if you have this Mpow magnetic device that clips onto your A/C vent. This stays right next to my hand on the steering wheel and makes it easy to keep Waze/Google Maps up as well. I have another device that plugs into the earphone jack that lets me listen to my phone/talk on the phone via my car's outdated sound system. (that way I don't wear the bluetooth earpiece ALL day, it charges in the car.)

See that circle next to my radio's Power knob? That's it. Best $5-8 you will ever spend.

I also always have a book on either my Kindle or Google Book reader for other times when I find myself sitting somewhere with time to fill. These can be read on my phone or my ipad at any time. Both Google Books and Kindle save your highlights and notes to the cloud for relatively easy copy/paste later. Goodreader is a must-have app for reading and taking notes on a PDF if you have an iPad. The Kentucky library system has a ton of audiobooks and ebooks available as free downloads (download them onto your PC then copy them onto your phone/tablet).

So, that's it. The downside? I probably need an intervention. But I try to do all of this as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). See anything I'm missing? Let me know in the comments. 

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