I teach a Speedreading course, having been lucky enough to be exposed to the practices during high school and having benefitted from the ability a great deal. Despite the fact that the course is multi-faceted and the most attention is given to techniques to help increase reading speed (without losing comprehension), those are not the sections of the course that people rave about. The single most useful concept in the whole course, the thing that makes people come up to me months later and thank me profusely (again!) for teaching them, is the concept that you don’t have to read everything — that you should cull some of the emails and blogs and websites and papers and books and magazines and the myriad other things that are piling up on your desk (both literally and electronically) and JUST LET IT GO. DO SOMETHING MORE WORTHWHILE.

This is how I’ve decided that this is the most important thing that anyone can ever learn:

Be sure why you’re doing stuff

So many people seem to do things without knowing why it will be useful, without seeing that the time saved could be used in so many better ways. Perhaps we all just need to find the preferences page in our minds and change the “Assume everything is worthwhile” setting to something more like “Require proof of worthiness”. Maybe that’ll help us all take back our lives.