To Take Your Reading to the Next Level: Use OPIR

One Take from the Week #8: OPIR

I cannot recall how many times I have found myself bogged down in the middle of a book that either lost my interest or was not pertinent to where I was in my life. Unless it is for pleasure (fiction before bed), I generally only read non-fiction. This is for the dual purpose of learning and growing. If I am not getting anything out of the book, then I consider it a waste of time. As William Penn once said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” My goal is not to have time as something I use the worst.

How can I make the most of my time and prevent a loss of it through wasted reading? I could quit the book like I mentioned in yesterday’s post. This would allow me to discontinue my investment in an underperforming asset. But there is another way. This week I listened to a Living 4D podcast with Paul Check and Ben Greenfield. In this episode, they discussed a method I have heard of from other prolific readers but have never tried personally. It is called OPIR, a way to know what you are reading before you invest (or waste) the time it takes to read the whole thing.

OPIR – Overview, Preview, Inview, Review.

*This strategy was designed to use speed reading techniques to get through business manuals. However, I am not a speed reader. I have tried it and never liked it. It might keep me behind the curve, but I prefer to read at conversational speed. Because I am not a speed reader, the following is my adaptions to the original design.

Overview

  • Start with the cover.
  • Look at the front and the back.
  • Read the information inside the jacket.
  • If you are not familiar with the author, then read the bio.
  • Look at the table of contents. Are you still interested? If yes, then move on to the next step.

Preview

  • Read the foreword and the afterword.
  • Go to each chapter and read the first couple of paragraphs. Skim the rest of the chapter and highlight anything that stands out to you.
  • Is the book worth the investment in time you are about the make? Proceed.

Inview

  • Read the book.
  • Highlight content.
  • Make notes.
  • During the overview and preview, you read the table of contents and glimpsed each chapter. Was there one that you did not find relevant or interesting? Skip it. If at the end, you feel like you missed something, you can always go back to it.

Review

  • Go over your notes and highlights.
  • Take any actionable steps.
  • Hopefully, this book changed your life in some way. The review process is intended to solidify those changes.

Using this process to read a book might cost you a day’s worth of reading. Compare that to a week or a month’s worth wasted in a book that was not beneficial to you. This strategy will improve the value of the content, keep you from wasting your time, and give you a greater ability to retain the information. Give it a try. If you do, I would love to know how it worked out for you. Leave me a note in the comments.