Reading is a keystone of continued learning and personal growth… but consistently finding time for it can be a challenge.
When was the last time you put down a great book, with every intention of finishing it, never to pick it back up again? Do you struggle to find the motivation to get back into it after a pause? Life and hectic scheduling make it feel like you just never have the extra time?
That’s been my story for years now, until recently. I’ve had a lot of success countering that struggle with the techniques talked about below. If you find yourself struggling to finish books as well, I’d love to share what’s worked so brilliantly for me.
You can find the time to read more than you think you can!
Reading has always been a challenge for me. Not the capability, but the discipline to do it. Sure enough I would start a book and not long after life would get busy and I’d lose touch with the text. After that it’s almost impossible to regain the motivation to begin wherever I left off.
Over the years I’ve become better at only reading books I actually want to read and picking books based on the challenges I am facing in the moment. But, the discipline is still always challenging for me. In order to conquer this I had to dig into who I am as a person and find the key.
These 3 techniques have helped me move from 1-2 books a year to 12-20, practically overnight.
Deep down inside I am a driven person, but I like to be able to see my progress. I need goal posts to aim for that let me know I am further today than I was yesterday. Here are a few of the techniques I have started using to create a better discipline for reading.
The first struggle is that I don’t always have large sums of time to just sit and read and nothing else. In order to combat this I need to make sure that any alone time I have I am ready to continue reading.
Consume books whenever and however possible
My process is expensive, but it works for me and it’s well worth the knowledge that I gain from the practice. Currently I always buy the Kindle and Audible version of any book that I am reading. This ensures that I can consume this book at any time and in any place.
If I am driving or working out I can listen to it on Audible. If I am waiting for an appointment, in line, or just stealing away a moment here or there I can pull up on the Kindle app on my phone. If I am able to steal a larger amount of time dedicated to reading I can bring out the Kindle itself.
Since all these things sync together I am always picking up right where I last left off. This also means that the large amounts of time that would otherwise be wasted are repurposed for a strong reading habit.
Set daily goals
I love the percentage daily goal. If done well you can rapidly ready through a book. Read 20% of a books daily and finish in under a week. Want to finish it in 10 days then read 10%. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple.
For some, making reading too systematic might not be ideal, but for me these systems set me up for success. I’ve tried all kinds of methods for daily goals. Reading so many pages in a day. Reading at least one chapter a day. But my favorite, and made easy with a Kindle, is a certain percentage a day. But even that is not without its challenges.
Some books are much longer than others and 10% is a substantial sitting. Other books that’s far too little. Also, some books are just simply a harder read than others whether that’s the author’s voice or the subject matter. Because of this I set the percentage for each book on a case by case basis. These are systems after all, not rules.
The way I set daily percentage goals is pretty simple. When I start a new book I just read. I get a feel about how connected I am to the subject matter. I evaluate how the author’s style speaks to me personally. I get a sense of the momentum I am making in that sitting. Most importantly, I see how far I get in that first sitting and set my percentage close to that. In most cases wherever I end up is set as my daily percentage goal, give or take some percentage points.
These two steps do wonders for me to stay on a consistent reading habit, but even with these I can get derailed. Life happens. Things get busy and I can’t find a single down moment to get my reading in. It’s then that I need a beacon. Something to shine the light on reading that beckons me back to the discipline I’m trying to develop.
Display the spoils of war
I like having a reminder of what I’ve accomplished. When I’ve lost my way it’s nice to have something that reinforces what I’ve been trying to accomplish and gently calls me back. That’s why I’ve set up a kind of trophy display on my desk.
Every time I complete a book I purchase a physical copy and place it on my desk for that year. This display of books is the perfect cheerleader. It shows me where I’ve come from and how much more I could accomplish if I get back on track.
That’s not all this little monument does. It also reminds me of the challenges I may have wrestled with this year. The areas in which I have taken strides to grow. At the end of the year as I move the books from my desk to my library it’s a time to reflect on the year and how I hope to grow in the one to come.
##These techniques have helped me read more than I ever thought I’d have the time for. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
Reading has always been a challenge for me, but these systems have made it possible for me to go from 1 to 2 books a year to more like 12 to 20 books a year. I can’t apply all that knowledge right then and there, but it’s sitting in the back of my mind and when I need it I can recall the fragments that need or revisit the books. Each book is a mentor or coach that I know I can turn to when needed. I find that very comforting.
I’d love to hear your feedback. Have you found yourself struggling to find the time or motivation to read? What systems have you developed to help you read more?