The modern health-care system is, to put it mildly, complicated. So Luis Estevez, MD, the chair of the National Hispanic Medical Association Board of Directors and head of his own health-care consulting firm, Estevez and Associates, has to stay on top of advances and policy changes in medical research, economic and political development, health-care legislation, drug information, and, well, plenty more. It all adds up to 40 or 50 hours of reading per week.
Every night, Estevez takes home a folder full of reading material, with "the most important things on top." He then uses his 45-minute commute via train to start his evening's reading with longer articles and memos, using a strategy of reading "the hardest things first, when I have the best clarity of mind." Once the tougher stuff is behind him, he combats the dread of not getting enough done by reading a slew of shorter pieces: "I have a sense of accomplishment if I get through 10 of 12," he says.
Though medical school prepared him for a lifetime of extensive reading, one of Estevez's most important tools is his willingness to put things aside. To keep himself from getting off track - and from creating an impossible reading list for himself - he has established a set group of reading resources, and he rarely deviates from them. "There will always be much more available than you have time for," he says.
The Constant Reader
For W. Sherman Rogers, a full-time law professor at Howard University and a legal consultant, reading isn't just a part of his day. It's one of the main drivers. His key strategy for getting all his necessary reading done is this: "I don't carve out time to read. I read all the time," says Rogers. "Virtually everything I read is connected to something I do or teach."
The professor's reading list includes about 12 magazines and journals - from the jazz magazine Down Beat to Smithsonian to ABA Journal - at least two daily newspapers, a variety of websites, and, yes, blogs, which Rogers reads "for both business and pleasure."
With such a hefty reading list, he maintains at least some control by emphasizing hard-copy media. Newspapers "have priceless graphs and illustrative drawings that I can use in some of my classes." Those graphics often don't appear in the online version of the article, Rogers says. "Additionally, I don't like to engage in time-consuming mental reflection and strategizing while the computer runs endlessly, emitting radiation throughout the process," he says. "Okay, I know it's not a dangerous level - but it's still radiation." When Rogers lands on an article "related to ongoing research projects and/or related to matters of personal interest," he saves a copy.
As for the separation between reading for work and pleasure, there are no hard lines in Rogers's life: "Actually, my work-related reading involves many life-related activities. Law is involved in every aspect of life, from the cradle to the grave."