I set a goal this year to read 12 books. Something achievable. So far I’ve read 5 books in the first 3 weeks of the year. This is the fifth blog post I’ve written so far this year, which is 2.5x more posts than I wrote all of 2016. I’ve always been reading, but it’s been blog posts, news articles and social media posts. What changed?
I didn’t magically get any more hours in my day. Honestly, I probably have fewer now. It comes down to reprioritizing the time that I have. Below I’ll explain a few of the tactics I’ve used to get myself reading more this year.
I’ve been reading faster. I used to be so concerned that if I read quickly I’d miss something. I may miss something. That’s OK though. At the rate I was going, I’d never be able to read as much as I can now. There’s a lot of fluff out there, even in books that I enjoy. I try to read as quickly as I can, just on the edge of not understanding what I’m reading. A lot can be skimmed over.
I haven’t gone out and bought a book on speed reading although maybe that would help. I’ve kept it pretty simple. As I’m reading, I ask myself, “Does this matter?” If it doesn’t, I continue to skim. If it does, and it’s something I’ll really want to remember, I’ll slow down and read carefully. Maybe I’ll add a highlight or two.
Put Books Everywhere
I have a paper book on my nightstand, and one in my office. My kindle and iBooks apps on my phone are chock full of books I’ve purchased over the years. I’ve put these books readily accessible so that they are easy to reach for when I have the time. Even a few pages here and there start to add up.
By making a book the default choice for entertainment, I end up reading more. I’ve enjoyed it so much that it’s helped me maintain progress as I’m discovering all these unread books that I have and can’t wait to read through them.
Stop Reading Bad Books
My reading lists are pretty cluttered. There are many books I feel I “should” read. Whether they are classics or something that may help me in my business. I could force myself to read the whole thing, or I could get rid of it and move onto something that’s better. Part of the fun is exposing myself to new ideas and broad topics. However, it’s good to realize when I’m not getting anything out of the book and set it aside.
Set Goals and Track Your Progress
I’ve been using Goodreads to track my reading challenge for the year. I find that updating the currently reading shelf and tracking my percent complete in each book is very motivating for me to keep reading.
What It’s Done for Me
I have noticed a positive change since beginning to read more books. I have always been a reader, since I was very little. It has waned in recent years as other things became higher priority and the number of distractions increased. I’ve replaced Instapaper and my RSS Reeder on my home screen with iBooks and Kindle. Tweetbot is hidden in a folder. This makes my default “consumption mode” reading one of the books on my list rather than scrolling through feeds. While there still are times where I mindlessly look at Twitter or Facebook or catch up on my RSS feeds, I’ve been reaching for one of my current books instead.
Instead of getting angry at current events or being mindlessly entertained, I find that my brain keeps working on what I’ve read when I go back to work or go about my day. I’m much happier than I am if I spend my breaks reading the news or Twitter. I’m learning and achieving a goal at the same time, which really increases the enjoyment for me.
I’ve always enjoyed reading. If you haven’t, you may not get much out of this. If you feel like you’re on a never-ending treadmill of social media and news, switching to reading books may help your sanity.
Photo by Glen Noble.