Create your own briefing book

I went and saw Karl Rove speak at CMC last semester; one of the things that struck me about his speech was when he described the President's daily routine. The President's time is divided into fifteen or thirty minute blocks, each allotted to a specific group, with little time in between for preparation or formality, and the President is expected to be prepared for each group, each question, and debate that might follow. He gave examples - one minute the President might be in a discussion of whether states or the federal government get the rights to sell permission to drill offshore in certain areas, and he'll need to know the background and make a decision, and the next the President could be consoling the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, and he'll have to know their names and details. Every night, Rove said, the President gets a 200-page "briefing book," full of twenty different things that the President needs to know about, and he gets about 2 hours to read it before bed, so he'll be ready for the next day. Now my schedule isn't as full as the President's but I loved the idea and I've started to implement my own version. I mix together any and all of the following: - Reading assignments for class (or SparkNotes summaries) - Lecture notes from last class - Lecture notes from classes I took today - Magazine articles (New Yorker, Atlantic, Economist etc) - John Mauldin (a well-regarded financial writer) - Long blog posts (Becker-Posner in particular, Scott Sumner, others on occasion) - Reading from my shelf And I try to split it into chunks of less than ten minutes (any more and I start getting restless). I read this in the time after dinner and before bed. Thinking of it as a "briefing book," that will prepare me for the next day, helps me get through it, and it gives me an idea of how prepared I'm going to be for the next day. Furthermore, the mix of for-pleasure and for-class material is another way to help get through it.

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