Reading books — Something most of us know we should do more because we kinda feel like it is important. But, we just do not have the time for it since we are simply waaay too busy…
At least for me, it does.
In the past, I would buy a book and excitingly read the first few chapters. Then, for some reason, days go by and I never touch the book again. Even when I really liked the book!
This happened two me three times with the book Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniël Kahneman. I got so caught up with other things that reading just wasn’t on the menu anymore.
Pretty frustrating…as I know how valuable reading books can be. Luckily, I managed to find a solution!
In this post, I will share with you the method I use to overcome reading procrastination. And that it is actually not that hard. It is simply a matter of employing the right strategy.
I realized that for effectively creating a daily reading habit, is essential to identify the ‘Why’, ‘What’ and ‘How’ of reading:
The ‘Why’: The motivational foundation for reading books. Why do I want to read books at all?
The ‘What’: The best knowledge and information that you want an need. What books do I pick to read?
The ‘How’: Tips and tricks for creating a daily habit. How do I stop my reading procastination?
The ‘Why’ Of Reading Books
Let’s get some perspective for a moment; human civilization has developed slowly over thousands of years. Historically, the most important knowledge has always been written down in some form of a book. This way, the following generations were able to build on and implement that knowledge.
In other words, books are the backbone of human progress. Thousands — if not millions — of concepts and ideas, have been transformed, adapted, and refined by authors through time, so that they become practical and relevant within their specific cultural context and time frame.
With this in mind, let’s get a real pragmatic definition of a book: The ideas, mindset, and experience of another human being conveniently packaged in a portable collection of papers. The best portable collection of papers are written by people who are already massively successful in their fields.
How did these people become successful? Wait for it… by reading other BOOKS. They have absorbed and combined the ideas from other authors and implemented them in their lives to create their own success.
A nice little piece of statistical information: 88% of self-made millionaires have reported reading at least 30 minutes a day! Also, these millionaires tended to read 3 types of books specifically: biographies, personal development, and history (non-fiction).
But even if you do not have the aspirations of becoming a millionaire, it is so incredibly useful to read about the experience, mistakes, and advice of other people. There is so much useful knowledge available that you can implement to improve your own life.
For just about 15 bucks you can learn the lessons that took a person years (or an entire lifetime) to understand. Quite the bargain I would say…
The ‘What’ Of Reading Books
Alright, got a little hyped on reading books? Maybe you already have a reading list, maybe not. Either way, let me give you some tools for finding some worthwhile reads.
My first recommendation is to use a website called: GoodReads
Goodreads is an extensive database of books of all different types of genres. You can find great books in the recommendations lists, create your own reading list, set reading challenges, and also find highly detailed reviews of other readers. Moreover, you can follow the authors that you liked, and see what books they’ve read and liked!
There are also fanatic readers out there that share their reading lists online. Worth scrolling through is the website of a guy named Derek Sivers. He has also written summaries of the books, so you can get some spoilers and see whether a book sparks your interest. Same goes for Nat Aliason; Great reading list including summaries!
Still not sure where to start? I’ll share some personal favorites of mine that I think a worth the read:
- Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
The ‘How’ Of Reading Books
Now, let’s get practical. We all have very busy lives, and it is hard to find time for reading. Often, even when we do have the time, it is hard to find some leftover mental energy to really get into a book. Therefore, let me give you some tips for finding the time and energy.
- Start reading first thing in the morning, or just before you go to bed. Either way, actively plan your reading session. If you sporadically pick up a book without a system, the chances are you will not follow through with it.
- Do not read too much at once! Picking up a habit takes time, and expands over time. Start by reading just 10 pages every morning for example. You will see that after a few weeks the reading will become easier because you get used to the routine. After a while, you can then expand your amount of pages.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn your phone on silent and put it out of sight. Your smartphone is an infinite source of distractions and always begs for our attention. Just a little sound or look is enough to keep us from reading effectively. A so-called attention residue remains stuck even if you continue reading right away.
- Externalize your motivation. Make yourself accountable to someone else. Tell someone about your new reading habit and goals, and talk about your progress. This will create a little social pressure to keep up with the reading. And it’s fun to discuss new things you’ve learned!
A final personal tip: When we read good books, we have a couple of that ‘flashing light-bulb above our heads’ moments. Something we learn about something that is game-changing.
Then, some time passes by and we can only recall a vague idea about what it was. The idea does not stick effectively because we have read the information only once. Just like learning for a test, for something to be really remembered in the long term, we need some repetition. Coming across a new concept just one time in a book is not enough.
Therefore, here comes the tip; it is my recommendation to always keep a pencil nearby while reading. It might be unorthodox, but I always underline the most powerful concepts that I find in a book.
Then, after a reading session, I take the time to type it over in a digital document. This way I repeat the information and I won’t have to reread the entire book to get back to the most important ideas.
After all, If you do pay those 15 bucks, why not maximize its utility?
Good luck reading!