How Successful People Read Online

how successful people read onlineIn the last year I’ve thought a lot about how people in our society take in information.

We get most of our information from reading. The problem is that we retain almost none of that information due to how shallowly we read, not to mention that there’s a collective lack of follow-up and repetition.

  • Reading a ton of tabs +  shallow skimming of text + no repetition or follow-up = unproductive online reading habits.

In 1958 a guy named George Millner wrote a paper called The Magic Number Seven – Plus or Minus 2. You can read the paper here. The name of the paper refers to how much (little) information our short-term memory can store: only 5-9 bits of data per second.

This means that we can’t keep more than 5-9 things in our heads in the short-term (ca 30 seconds). You can test this yourself here.

What are the Implications?

Since most of us take in a ton of information from many different sources every day, this means that we are wasting time reading online. We think we’re being productive, but we’re really not.

It doesn’t matter if you consume a ton of great information if you can’t remember it and use it to your advantage when you need to.

But fear not friends, all hope is not lost.

Reading online isn’t an inherently useless or inefficient activity, it’s just that the way most of us do it must change.

My Generation has been Ruined by the Internet

I go to university.

I see many people in my generation ignoring the professor during class to scroll for notifications on Facebook, check forums, or skim useless news sites.

They’re disrespecting themselves by not valuing their time.

What’s the point of going to class if you’re not going to pay attention?


It’s a waste of time. And it’s a weak and haphazard way of conducting your life.

You either go to class and take the responsibility of becoming fully engaged, or you spend your time doing something else. Don’t be haphazard about it. Don’t go to class from a sense of moral obligation.

Go there because you’re going to learn, and use that time to the best of your abilities. Ask all the question’s you’d like to. Squeeze as much information as possible out of that class.

But, most people my age don’t understand this, and they’ve got another even bigger problem. They simply cannot handle using the Internet responsibly.

In group work they routinely interrupt their workflow to check social media or watch YouTube videos, completely oblivious to what it does to their concentration.

They’re mindlessly searching for useless information and entertainment, and their cravings never stop.

Their cravings only get worse.

Many of them would be better off smoking crack than having an Internet connection.

So, this is obviously an example of what you don’t want to do.

But what is the right way to go about reading online?

How do successful people read online?

What do they do differently from the masses?

How Do Successful People Read Online?

For starters, they are very selective in what they will and won’t read. There are three things in particular that successful people do:

  • 1. Successful people are very selective in their online reading.  Successful people have trained themselves to filter out useless information to a higher extent than ordinary people. They avoid forums where the signal to noise ratio is high and trustworthy information is tough to find.
  • 2. Successful people preemptively set deadlines for how long they will read online to avoid Parkinson’s Law. They know how easy it is to get swept away and drown in fascinating information if they don’t have a time limit for how long they allow themselves to sit by the computer.
  • 3. Successful people read with the end goal in mind. This stands in opposition to the norm of casually reading or browsing for stimulating news stories. Successful people read to solve problems or fulfill goals. They direct their reading at a purpose. They don’t read for entertainment’s sake or to kill time. They don’t fall for the temptation of reading a compelling headline if it doesn’t seem related to what they’re specifically trying to accomplish.

Everyone knows about number 1.

Some people make use of number 2.

But how many people actually abide by number 3?

What Do Successful People Do Differently from the Masses?

What is it that differs between ordinary and successful people when it comes to reading online?

If we are to believe Nick Carr, author of The Shallows, we easily get distracted by hyperlinks whilst reading online.

Successful people understand and respect this phenomenon. They have strict principles that they abide by when it comes to reading online.

Successful people keep their impulses to click on irrelevant hyperlinks in check by finishing what they started before reading something new.

They do this because they know that if they begin the process it can be very hard to stop – taking them further and further away from the initial problem they set out to solve.

I call this entering hoarding mode.

Successful people avoid entering hoarding mode at all costs.

The Online Behavior of Successful People

You could sum up the online behavior by successful people in one word – responsible.

In addition to having a responsible Internet behavior, successful people consistently do three things to get the most out of what they read:

  • 1. They leave comments to connect with similar-minded people. Successful people know that there is little to lose, but much to gain by commenting on good posts.

You never know what sparking up an initial interaction may lead to. Successful people understand this and don’t fear being the first to comment on interesting posts. Ordinary people are afraid to go first, they need someone to follow.

  • 2. They write down key points and summaries. Successful people know about the weakness of their short-term memory and therefore don’t trust their brains to store all the useful information that they take in. As a result they have formed the habit of jotting down the key takeaways. Perhaps in their commonplace book.
  • 3. They implement and practice the key points. Successful people know that despite having already written down the key points, they might still not remember it. So they seek to put the information to practice as soon as possible and measure its efficiency.  This is a really fundamental difference between successful people and ordinary people because it prevents the former group from reaching a state of information overload and experiencing decision anxiety.

These three things have one thing in common:

They raise the degree of mental investment put into learning the new information.

This has the effect of making the information more memorable, and it also gets perceived as more important.

It’s simple really, the more time, effort, and emotion we invest in something the more important it will be perceived to be by the brain.

This is why depth is the way to go about online reading. Not breadth.

Key Takeaways

Stop consuming unnecessary information.

What isn’t put to practice is waste.

Drop your online hoarding habits

Develop a responsible Internet behavior by not keeping too many tabs up at once and avoiding the temptation of clicking all the compelling hyperlinks.

Don’t read more than you can use, or you will start suffering from information overload.

Begin with the end in mind and conduct your online reading to solve a problem or fulfill a goal. Don’t aimlessly browse social networks or blogs to kill time, because it quickly becomes a negative habit.

Don’t trust your short-term memory. Write down the key takeaways and implement it in your life as soon as you can. invest in a whiteboard and write down the key takeaways so that you’re reminded to act on it ASAP.

Over to you

I leave you with the wisdom of Uncle Ben from Spiderman:

With great power comes great responsibility.

The question is whether people can act responsibly or not…

What are your online reading habits like?


The Ultimate Commonplace System:

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  • Build a commonplace from scratch
  • Work from your phone (if your job deals with info & ideas)
  • Store everything you learn & never lose an idea
  • Create an archive that grows in value over time
  • Stop stuffing your head with trivialities
  • Organize your life & work to save +10 hours per week

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  1. Thomas Enstrom says

    Gee, I hope I remember all this stuff along with the framework for learning stuff. These exhaustive articles can really be exhausting, especially at 2:30 in the morning. (-o-)

  2. “Many of them would be better off smoking crack than having an Internet connection.”

    Great line.

  3. This post inspired me to comment. I never comment on blog or anywhere else for that matter.
    I’m a long time lurker on internet and I think it’s about time to start contributing to forums and blog posts, since all I ever did was take value and not giving anything in return. Thank you Ludvig.

  4. Hi Ludvig,
    I found your site through Bold & Determined, and this post is solid gold.
    I always thought I understood the power of taking notes, and then taking action on those learnings but is really sums it up perfectly.
    In fact, I have taken a page of notes based on your post and I’m going to put this into action right away.
    So that’s enough reading for today; going to put down the iPad and do something productive.
    – Luke

  5. Thank you a great article, exploring very useful ideas. You motivated and inspired me a lot, made me trust my opinions and thoughts cause that is also my personal beliefs you are exploring here.

  6. This with other posts on your Blog ( like the ones about common placing) have changed how I browse the internet once I implemented them.. I retain a lot more since I now block off 3-4 hours once a week to read and take notes (Thanks Feedly and Pocket) which I act upon more (Implementation with a purpose). when I’ve applied this to all my reading habits I find I’m executing more and reading less low-quality books,websites. Thanks Ludvig!!!

  7. Stephanie Somers says

    Amazing insight. I am much shamed by this because online and off I am a braggart about my terrific breadth of reading. I always have at least eight tabs open and I am a hyperlink-following fool. I recognize, upon reading this article (I followed the hyperlink from the Reading effectively article) that I am doing myself a disservice with my online reading habits. Thank you for this post and I look forward to being much improved by the reading and application of your writings. Keep up the good work!

  8. Walt @ Found Success says

    You make a valid point, but I don’t think you should always read only “key takeaways” or “skim to the important parts”. Sometimes the additional content helps amplify the actual message what the author is trying to push on.

    PS! You’re the only other active blogger who has put Streamline into a good use, kudos! I was debating for quite a time between OJ/Blue/Green and green would’ve had been perfect if it just wouldn’t be so ..bland – but you put it to perfect use.


    • Thanks Walt. I noticed you are also using Streamline, but pretty much how it comes originally.

      I am somewhat happy with how the blog looks right now. (I will fix a few things when it becomes a good investment of time.)

  9. Jeremy Truvillion says


    Good post. I agree with most of the points you made here.

  10. Well I’ve really pondered over what successful people read and after research, I’ve shared it in my blog. Thanks for your comment, there, by the way. But… I have also thought like how they read? How successful people gather information? And this of your post tells the details of how the readings goes on in a successful mind. Thanks so much for meaningful words.

    After reading this post, I’m committed:

    1) Not to read any unncessary information

    2) To stay updated with the world’s must-know events

    3) To record what’s worth-getting-back at. [I do it through book-marking though]

    4) To increase connecting with like-minded people (like you)

    Thanks so much for lessons again :)

    Looking more from you

    • Abdul,
      Thanks for reading, and I’m glad what you took away from the post were the most important things!

      As for “the world’s must-know events”, that seems to me like a highly arbitrary/individual concept, but for sure you know what it means to you better than I do.

      • Yeah, Ludvig, the world’s must-knowe events is highly personalized. It’s totally upto someone’s own mind and aptitude. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Wow,the most beneficial article i’ve read in days,it’s time to let go of bad internet use habits…thanks ;-)

  12. You make some great points. It seems like being a more active reader would make your online experience better. You can’t just passively read things that don’t add much value to your life. I know that there have been times I’ve clicked on a link through Facebook and realized half way through the article that I really wasn’t getting much out of it – it was just a way to waste time. It bugs me when that happens. I’d rather take an active approach to my online reading and make all that effort worthwhile.

    I guess that goes with what you said about having an end goal in mind. That’s probably a good idea overall online and not just with reading. I know too many people who spend hours watching cat videos or playing casual games like Candy Crush. Those can suck up so much time. I’d rather not start with them since I know I have so many other things to do.

    • Steve,
      I share your opinion on just about everything you said.

      When it comes to Facebook and social media the best solution I’ve found is to ask myself “Ok, Ludvig… What will you accomplish on Facebook? Who will you send a message?” Then I go in and I do that and get out as quickly as I can — before I get sucked into looking at people’s photos and such..

  13. Great post, Ludvig!
    I have been browsing a lot of blogs of this sort lately, but with no real plan for incorporating the new information into my life.
    I now take notes to summarize the main points of every post I read. In addition to coming up with concrete ideas of how to implement what I have learned, it will also force me to be more selective with what I choose to read because of the increased effort I must put into each article.
    Good job man, best wishes.

    • Darien,
      That’s exactly what it’s all about. Like you say, you’ll use it better when you commit/invest into it.

      You’ll read a lot more selectively and find that you don’t waste time as much as before. No longer reading for the sake of reading/boredom because you now hold yourself to a higher standard.

  14. Awesome post Ludvig!

  15. This is something that has crossed my mind as well. For my upcoming ebook – it’s about productivty in spite of lack of motivation – that I’m writing as much for myself as anyone else, I decided to make my first chapter “Don’t Kill Time” because the implication made is that time is something invaluable, something to be wasted, while it is your most valuable – and can even be argued to be the only real – currency. One thing you always nail is guiding people to using it for growing, instead of just letting it waste away.

    I’ve been focusing on reading about and watching talks about philosophy and psychology as a substitute for my previous wasteful TV Watching, and I’m even finding myself more entertained and engaged, instead of less.

    Then there’s my reading of personal development and other kinds of blogs. I have gotten better at narrowing down what I read, but I definitely need to start setting deadlines for how long I should read(or watch).

    Another thing I will start doing is to repeat and summarize for retention, and outlining what can be done to harness the knowledge in my own life.

    I already comment, and I spend time interpreting the material in the post or article so that I can formulate relevant ideas, or questions. Something that probably helps with retention, although sometimes it can go a bit overboard in time expenditure department.

    My end goals are, expanding my knowledge about the human psyche as part of developing myself as a writer and marketer. With philosophy and personal development it’s about developing on a personal level, getting a broader perspective and learning how to deal with emotions and situations better.

    • Ragnar,
      Way to go buddy. And as far as commenting goes, you are the man, and I could learn a thing of two from you.

      As for time…Time is precious, and it serves us right when we forget it. We have no one but ourselves to blame when we become disconnected from what truly matters in life. And that’s tough to face for some people.

  16. “Many of them would be better off smoking crack than having an Internet connection.”

    I really hope you get famous so one day this can be one of your quotes.

  17. “Successful people read with the end goal in mind”!


    It reminds me of the first self-improvement book I`ve read. Good old Steven Covey.

    “They leave comments to connect with similar-minded people”

    This part was a hard one for me to learn. I was always consuming articles, but never giving back. To overcome this behavior, I implied a simple rule to my life. “If you like an article, try to add some value with a good comment”

    • Sebastian,
      Yes. It’s exactly like in Stephen Covey’s book (I’ve read it like 3 times). It’s one of these general principles that can and should be applied to everything we do!

      Leaving comments adds up cumulatively. It’s one of those things that doesn’t do much at first, but after a while you see nice benefits – such as traffic, connecting with like-minded people, or getting interesting replies.

  18. As soon as I read the title, I knew this was going to be a good one.

    And found myself taking notes while I read. Halfway through the article, I’d forgotten what the first half was. How quickly our minds dance about!

    • Indeed.

      We tend to overestimate our short-term memory / working memory. At first it’s a bitch to interrupt your reading to take notes because it ruins the flow, but after a while when you get used to it (as with other habits) you’ll realize how much more you actually learn and can apply.

      And then once you see the positive results, it gets further reinforced that : “THIS is what I’m supposed to be doing!”

  19. Hey Ludvig,

    Your recent posts really inspired me to make the most out of my online reading :)

    Just wanted to add a few quick tips, to help people that are struggling with information overabundance. I myself was struggling with clicking on links and opening new tabs ad infinitum and these tips, although very simple, helped me out immensely.

    1. Stick to the “one tab rule” – when I’m searching for information on the internet, I make a really big effort to keep only one tab open. I DO NOT allow myself to have more than one tab open (the only exception to the rule is the google docs tab/document).

    2. Create triggers for your mind – train your mind to associate certain events (like having a ton of tabs open at the same time) as triggers, that will bring your awereness back into the present moment. Every time I fall into a multi-tab trance, my uncounscious automatically registers that I have a ton of tabs open and this immediately bring my awareness back into the present moment. The only way you’ll ever be able to put reins on a bad habit is by being mindful. Following the one tab rule really helped me hardwire that trigger into my subcounscious.

    3. Go easy on yourself – look, there’s no point in feeling bad about yourself if you fall for your bad habits. If you just found out that you’ve spent two hours scanning the web without aim, don’t get frustrated. Just resume doing the task you were supposed to be doing and be mindful, so that you won’t fall victim to your bad habit again.

    Hope someone will benefit from these tips as they’ve certainly helped me get rid of my bad browsing habit.



  20. Nicklas Kingo says

    Extremely useful post.

    I think it was Tim Ferriss I read talking about conserving useful information until you actually found yourself in a context where you needed said information, because you’d end up having to read again anyway when you needed it.

    I remember when I was setting up a website and I started reading loads of articles on SEO before I even bought a domain, and now I have to read it again anyway because I hadn’t had hands-on experience with the concepts and so the info didn’t stick back then.

    // Nicklas

    • Very true.

      I did the same thing when I set up this blog on and bought domain etc.

      I still have probably 50-100 pages of information about blogging, SEO, running a webpage, and other stuff. 90 % of it is useless to me now. But that’s just the thing, when you’re a newbie it’s very hard to filter out what’ll actually be the important things. To know what’ll be the 80/20-activity to spend the majority of your time doing.

      Thanks for the comment Nicklas.

  21. Great post, Ludvig. It’s funny, some of the issues you mention with online reading are very similar to the way I used to watch TV until my television broke. Now, I tend to do more reading and only watch particular things online and usually with a specific reason in mind, no more just sitting down after work and vegetating in front of the screen. It’s interesting to see how successful people adopt the same kind of habits toward their online reading. Some very useful information in this post, and some good tips I’ll be looking to practice, thanks.

  22. Successful people know that there is little to lose, but much to gain by commenting on good posts.

    Very true!

    Man, this was eye opening. Reading through the list of irresponsible reading habits was like looking into a mirror. Lights started clicking on in my head, “That’s why you’re distracted when you XYZ.”

    I need to go back to writing and editing my posts in Word/offline, and then only connecting to the internet when I’m going to post them.

    Thanks for the swift kick in the ass, my friend.

    • Thanks for the input Remy.

      It’s a sign of strength that you can admit those things. Most people would probably not do that.

      I write all my posts first as drafts in my commonplace, then once I feel passionate enough about the idea I’ll put in a word document and write it to a full article.

      A great tip for writing, without interrupting your flow, is to use the words (TK) whenever you’re unsure about something. For example, if you’re writing and you KNOW you’ll need a source to back that up, or you don’t know exactly what. By doing this you can easily press CTRL + F and search for all the (TKs) when you’ve gotten the idea out of your head.

      This will save you tremendous amounts of time over a longer period.

      • Matteus Åkesson says

        Great tip! What does TK stand for?

      • Matteus,
        It doesn’t stand for anything. The reason you use the letters TK is because there is no word that begins by it, which means that it’s impossible to find anything else when you search for it. This makes it easy to later go through the post and add the sources.

      • I use “XXX” for a missing date, datum, or citation. There are cases where “XXX” would otherwise appear in English, but I don’t write ads for porn sites so it’s never been an issue.

      • Kanye Smith says


  23. Good points, Ludvig.

    It reminds me a bit about keeping a commonplace book: similiar to reading online, reading books becomes to some extent “useless” if you do not keep some of the content stored in your mind, e.g. with the help of a commonplace book.

  24. Derek McCullough says


    I first saw your content over at Bold And Determined, and I found it very interesting. Then today I saw you commented on an article over at Develop Good Habits and it brought me back here.

    I think you deliver a great message. I really enjoy your content and will be sharing it with my readers.

    That said, I think the above is really useful information you’ve brought to light. I admit that I frequently spread myself way to thin when reviewing all the information updated out there almost daily.

    I started to just leave my mouse alone so I can’t click on links that’ll take me away from a post before I finish. It’s been working and I find I actually absorb much of the information in front of me. Here’s to new levels of knowledge in 2014!

    • Thanks for the compliments Derek, I appreciate it.

      Yes. SJ is a friend of mine.

      Most people who read on this blog are of a a type that are rather conscious about their behaviors, including their online behavior.

      But the majority of people are NOT the least conscious of their computer behavior, and for a person like me to watch them, it’s like I’m watching a zombie almost. They’re completely oblivious to what they do, and they don’t realize that the shit they’re doing leaves imprints on their brains.

  25. Michal Stawicki says

    I read several blogs regularly. I always leave the comment after reading (unless I just look for specific info and put it to use immediately).
    I also read several blogs of my friends. And I leave the comment every time. Just to keep our bonds alive.
    I immunized myself to the large number of tabs. The nature of my work force me to do an internet search a few times a day and I open multiple tabs and then go through them till I find the answer.
    In fact I have always about 10 tabs opened. It saves time when I refer to the same material or online app over and over again.
    And I think you overdid with point #3. Successful people are usually creative and creativity needs new impulses from time to time.

    • “I read several blogs regularly. I always leave the comment after reading (unless I just look for specific info and put it to use immediately).
      I also read several blogs of my friends. And I leave the comment every time. Just to keep our bonds alive.”

      —>I do the same.

      “And I think you overdid with point #3. Successful people are usually creative and creativity needs new impulses from time to time.”

      –> I see. Thanks for the feedback.

      Thanks for the comment Michal :)

  26. Matteus Åkesson says

    I think readers who benefit the most from their reading online do one thing most of all:

    They build thoughts with it. They connect the pieces of information independently of the source and use them to develop their own, dependable knowledge and understanding.

    I do this but, perhaps regrettably, I don’t document my own thoughts.

    • I agree with you Matteus. I’ve actually got a post coming up about this some day (I don’t know when). The post would probably be called “meditative reading” or “inspired reading”.

      In my opinion there are MANY ways of reading. And practicing each type of reading is like physically exercising different parts of the body. You get better at it with time.

      And as for connecting pieces of information, I do that a lot in my commonplace.

  27. This post is awesome man. Great job Ludvig. I mean this helps me a lot. I got a lot of bad habits when it comes to online reading. One of them you kinda pointed out.

    “This is a really fundamental difference between successful people and ordinary people because it prevents the former group from reaching a state of information overload and experiencing decision anxiety.”

    I suffered from this one lot of times. Well now the days are over.

    Thank very much man and keep up the good work.

  28. What do you mean ” successful people”?

    My grandma is very successful because she is the happiest person i know and she doesn’t even read or go on the Internet.

    Maybe you should think a little bit more carefuly before you make a fool out of yourself and show your ignoranse.

    Success has nothing to do with reading online!

    • Hi Minnie, it’s not so much about “successful” or not. It’s more about learning how to consume information that we read, and putting that new-found knowledge efficiently and effectively!

      Your grandma is indeed very successful in her own right for being the happiest person that you know, but that is irrelevant to the article! :)

    • Minnie, I’m glad you have a successful grandma.

      And I agree with what Jeremy is saying.

      • Ludwig are you trying to be smart or something!? Jeremy no One asked your opinion! I decide whats relevant or not, you dont run my life!

    • Minnie, I have some sincere advice for you:

      1. You’re a bitch. Why would you post a comment in a public forum if you can’t stand for people to reply? Are you the kind of girl who asks questions and then shouts people down when they try to answer? I bet you are.

      2. No one here cares about your grandmother, except maybe for you and you’ll probably get over it in a week when she croaks. She’s obviously better at being happy than you are, but that’s not necessarily the only thing other people want when they pursue “success”.

      3. For your grandmother, success may have nothing to do with reading on line. Maybe for you, success is getting two shoes from the same pair onto your feet at the same time. Many people are neither you nor your grandmother; this is really a good thing for all concerned.

      4. Grow up or shut up.

  29. Hi Ludvig.

    This was an excellent article!

    When I was a student at University the World Wide Web had only been around for the masses for about 2 years, so we used to access the Internet through desktops and laptops. Smartphones and tablets were not around then (boy I feel old now! :-)), so we couldn’t access the web during lectures.

    As you described in your post, I can just imagine how easily students who are not disciplined would get distracted and have to constantly check their devices.

    Regarding your tips about successful online reading, I guess when I look for information I usually have the end goal in mind first, and then go and search for what I need.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you Hiten.

      You look younger on your picture!
      I’ve gotten pretty good at realizing just WHEN my so-called hoarding instincts kick in, so I try to avoid it as much as possible, and set clearly defined and written goals before I sit down at my computer.

  30. I did that test and I failed the 6th trial, haha! Anyway, truly a thought-provoking post, I have been thinking of a similar subject.

    Leaving good relevant links on your articles is still a good way to enrich your content though. I usually open something I think might be worth reading in a new tab for later, and only decide if I will actually read it once I’m done with the current article.

    I actually abide more to how successful people read in point 3, but less so of point 2. I tend to take in lots of information and the more I take, the more it reminds me that I have to be taking massive action for all that knowledge to be done any justice. And that knowledge really is power. I realise I can do so much.

    Your quote is awesome, but the one that strikes me for this particular scenario is this one by Marianne Williamson.

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

    By the way, I admit I did that test in the beginning, but hey, it just takes a minute! :P

    • “Leaving good relevant links on your articles is still a good way to enrich your content though”

      —> Sure. You (as the creator of the content) are under no obligation to help the reader unless you want to. It’s the reader’s own responsibility to do these things. Not yours.

      “And that knowledge really is power. I realise I can do so much. ”

      —> Indeed.

      “By the way, I admit I did that test in the beginning, but hey, it just takes a minute! :P”

      —> Haha! Well, it served the point of conveying the message more credible didn’t it? If so, I’d say it worked.

  31. Kanye Smith says

    Funny test. I started failing when it got to 10 digits.

    You know, this hoarding mode isn’t very strange at all evolutionarly speaking if you think about it. We humans have not had an advanced society very long compared to how long we have been hunters & gatherers. So I think we are bound to want to collect things to feel good about ourselves and feel safe.

    Think about it… Couldn’t you say that piling up a bunch of tabs when you read on the internet is the same as gathering things? You feel like you have all of this good information on your hands. But the problem is that you never take the time to read them all, you just get fatigued and end up reading one or two and the rest you just click the X button on!

    • I’ve read something similar. But I don’t remember where.
      Good points Kanye.

    • Good point. The hunter-gatherer (and for that matter the Medieval man) probably benefited from any and all knowledge about his environment that he could possibly acquire. Primitive people are well known for their intensive and intimate knowledge of their natural environment. How many modern people can identify even a dozen species of tree on sight, or know when the moon will rise tomorrow?

      Modern man has access to far more knowledge than he can assimilate, so he has to ignore some of it. What most people do is ignore anything that seems difficult to understand or challenges their preconceptions in any way.

      I am very much a hoarder of (among other things) knowledge; some of it turns out to be useful sooner or later and a lot doesn’t but it’s often hard to know in advance what is irrelevant. Except for pop culture, I ignore that entirely, and I stay out of topics where I know I won’t get far enough in my lifetime to be useful (modern particle physics for instance).

  32. Good post.. I’ll start practicing ASAP!!

  33. I also go to university, and i must say i agree with what you’re saying. It is indeed tragic. If you sit in the top row you’ll just see 90% of all the students looking at things on their computers, completely preoccupied with it. I guess i was the same a couple of months ago, but like you i have also realized how idiotic it is to act this way. I don’t even bring a computer with me to class anymore, i do all my notes with a pen and paper nowadays. Honestly, if i brought my computer with me i’m pretty sure i too would feel tempted to check “interesting news sites” whenever the class gets boring.

  34. Were the five hyperlinks in your article a test of my ability to resist temptation?

    I’m not sure about the 5-9 “bits”. A single character conveys about 6 bits of information and I’m pretty most people can memorize more than one character and do it in less than one second.

  35. Wan Muhammad Zulfikri says

    I feel ya Ludvig.

    I see people read waste their time surfing he internet when they are working and studying.

    Then after they finished their work or studies, they complain why they arent getting that raise or promotion and maybe why they arent getting that grade they wanted.

    I was in a graduation ceremony once and there were three people of high status invited there. They are the ones who were supposed to give me and my friends the graduation scroll. All of them sat on the chairs on stage and everyone can see what they are doing because there are two huge screens. Many people didnt realize but I saw that one of them kept playing with their smart phone and showing to the person besides them.

    I told my friend “He must be showing his friend the picture of his grandson while on Facebook.” We chuckled.

    But still if a person who has a top position in an organization can do that even though he is watched by everyone, then others can do too.

    We are simply too distracted thinking in terms of Parkinsons Law that their time is plenty and they can fill it up with the things they are supposed to do slowly.

    And I agree with you on the hoarding of links. One perspective I can give is that most of us has this innate curiousity that we need to know everything thus clicking all that hyperlinks and reading all the articles seem to satisfy them.

    But thats not the way. The better ones would be after we read anything we must first apply them like you said. It can be retained in our mind and not just some floating knowledge seeking a host but still cant find one.

    Anyway great post and a great reminder for me too, Ludvig.

    • Wan,
      Yes. It’s really about quality over quantity.

      “But still if a person who has a top position in an organization can do that even though he is watched by everyone, then others can do too”

      —-> Talk about leading by example…

  36. Great post Ludvig. I think the major takeaway from this post for me is to respect Parkinson’s law – that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

    I often just sit online and read things without setting any form of deadline and get completely lost in what I’m reading about or browsing, then I realize it’s NIGHT TIME and I haven’t done anything except. I can barely remember what I was doing during all of that time. I guess I had fun, but like you say, I can’t retain the information very well…


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