I’ve never read more than 15–20 books in a year. One of the excuses I had was that I’m a very busy person — with 2 children, a full-time job, a local soccer team I play for, plus a million other things to do.
Last year, I set a goal to read 36 books. My objective was to learn more about leadership, business, product management and, of course, enjoy a few fiction books (sorry, “Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t one of them).
What’s more, I realised my attention span has become shorter due to the constant use of my phone (damn you, technology!) and I intended to fix this by focusing on the long-form content.
In 2016, I managed to read 50 books and the same number is my goal for 2017.
Here are the four factors that helped me develop a good reading habit:
1. Buy an eReader
There’s nothing like the feeling of reading through a page, then flicking over to the next one. When I purchased my Kindle Paperwhite eReader a year and a half ago, I was skeptical about the black, rectangular piece of plastic’s ability to change my behaviour. Well, it did wonders for my reading habits.10There’s nothing like reading a paper book, feeling the texture of each page between your fingers as you flip through. When I purchased my Kindle Paperwhite eReader a year and a half ago, I was skeptical about the black, rectangular piece of plastic’s ability to change my behaviour. Well, it did wonders for my reading habits.
Only a few weeks later, it was obvious I was falling in love with it. Kindle was one of the biggest motivators that enabled me to read a lot more than I used to.
First of all, with Kindle, there’s no delay between finishing a book and starting a new one. Plus, eBooks are instantly available as soon as you purchase them on Amazon and are much cheaper than hardcover or paperback books.
I constantly make notes in Kindle when reading business books. Once a book is finished, I review my notes and create an action plan of what I’d like to implement and experiment based on my new learnings.
2. Join GoodReads
After joining GoodReads, I was inspired by one of my friend’s reading speed and the types of books he was reading. It gave me an extra incentive to spend more time with a book.
It’s also a good way to track all the books you’ve read, get helpful recommendations and get motivated by your friends and colleagues.
Take the Reading Challenge and set yourself a realistic goal. If you don’t usually read books, set the challenge to 1 and get started (I just checked my reading challenge and I’m already 1 book behind schedule. How good is that?).
Feel free to add me on GoodReads.
3. Take Time Off from Social Media
Social networks are eating into our free time.
Have you caught yourself unconsciously refreshing your Facebook feed and stupidly looking at the screen? Yes, I did that many times in a day.
I ran a small experiment and logged out of Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn for just one day. It was funny (and worrying) catching myself clicking on the social icons on my phone on autopilot and staring at the login screen. So I kept myself logged out for a few weeks to control my bad habit and to gain more free time.
Since then, I have considerably reduced my social media usage and spent it instead on reading. These days, I check my Facebook feed just once a day in the evening on Desktop to see pictures of those babies and cats. I’m logged out from most of the social networks on mobile.
4. Find Suitable Places and Time to Read
I usually spend 2 hours on a train each day as I commute to work. This is the best time for me to focus on a book.
Apart from that, I fit in reading time during my lunch break at work and on weekends, while the kids are either doing somersaults on the trampoline or chasing our mini lop for animal experiments. Another useful time is before going to bed — you won’t disturb your partner’s beauty sleep with Paperwhite as you can read in pitch darkness.
Another good way to form a reading habit is to organise a book club at your organisation to help people continuously grow, develop, learn new concepts, and create a common knowledge between different teams. There you can easily read 3–5 books a year.
The impact is enormous. I believe I gained 2–3 years of professional experience just by reading 21 business books in 2016.
Reading certainly helped me to relax and improve my focus and ability to concentrate.
The only scary part is that the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don’t know. But this shouldn’t be a reason to stop reading, right?
Feel free to get in touch on Twitter if you have any questions or find yourself simply stuck!