This is part 1 of the series “How to read more and remember what you read” In this part we’ll focus on the importance of reading and how to read more.
Reading Time: 6 minutes
I get asked a lot about my reading habits. “Where do you find the time and discipline to read so much?”, “How do you remember what you read?”, and “what books you recommend?” In this series I’ll share my history, opinions, tips, and everything else related to books and reading that I can think of.
Why read more?
Books have made me everything I am. They have been my mentors in almost every area of my life. They have influenced and improved my mind, finances, health, social life, and everything I do. They correct me when I make mistakes, they guide me through difficult paths, they inspire me to dream and then help me achieve those dreams.
Books have been my critics, my motivators, my teachers, and my entertainers. If books have improved my life in all possible ways, how could I not want to read more?
Reading improves your life. When you read you are exposed to new ideas, see new perspectives, expand your mind, and learn new things. Reading gives you knowledge about the world and helps you find balance and meaning in life.
Books are fascinating. When you buy a book, usually for under $30, you get the knowledge that took someone years or even a lifetime to gather and organize. I’m amazed every time I think about it.
Books also transcend the barrier of time. Through a book you can have a conversation with great minds from the past, even the ones that lived hundreds of years ago. You can learn from their successes, failures, ideas, and knowledge. That should be reason enough to pick up a book.
The people you admire are avid readers. Everyone I feel great admiration for is an avid reader. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe their reading habits are an important factor in their success and their skill level. Being constantly exposed to new ideas allows them to connect them with what they already know. This is creativity. The more you know, the more creative and insightful you’ll become.
Read more to be exposed to new ideas, read to be taken on a journey, read for entertainment, read for pleasure, read for culture, read for knowledge, read for whatever reason you find valid but READ.
If you don’t know where to start, download the free report below “Books to improve your life”. It’s a short list of the books that have made the most impact in different areas of my life and others that have simply been a fascinating read.
How to read more
Reading more can be broken into three parts: Time, Concentration, and Speed.
Time is how long you spend reading. This is the part where people complain the most. You always hear “I don’t have time to read”. It’s usually not time that they lack, it’s discipline. You are not supposed to find time to read, you are supposed to take it from all the useless activities you do everyday.
Concentration is how focused you are while you read. Having poor concentration makes us read slower and forget what we read. Can you remember a time when you read a paragraph and by the time you finished it you couldn’t remember what it said? That’s poor concentration. We start thinking about other things, we get distracted by outside noise, or we try to multitask.
Speed is simply how fast you read. Your reading speed will affect how much you read in the time you dedicate to reading.
Improving any of these areas will help you read more. Ideally you would optimize all three of them but there’s no need to approach it too mechanical. From the strategies we’ll discuss, implement the ideas you like and that work for you. Later on you can go back and implement others.
Remember: You are trying to read more, you want to find what’s sustainable for you, not something that will help you read a lot for a short while and then make you quit because it feels like work.
Let’s looks at some strategies for each component.
Carry a book everywhere. This is the simplest way to get more reading done. Take a book everywhere you go and read every time you have a chance. I read when I am waiting for an appointment, when I’m at the airport, I read on planes, buses, and trains.
I also read at the park, I read before bed, I read while I wait for my food, I once put my kindle inside a ziplock bag and brought it in the shower (It didn’t quite work the way I wanted). I read when I’m tired of doing other things, and I read during my reading time, which is usually about an hour or more a day.
Pretty much every time most people feel the urge to get their cellphone out because they have nothing to do but wait, I pull out a book and read. Carry a book or a reading device with you all the time and instead of being on your cellphone go back to reading your book.
Read a pre-determined number of pages everyday. Something I did a few years ago when I wanted to catch up on my reading was to set up a rule of reading at least 50 pages first thing in the morning no matter what.
I didn’t allow myself to do anything else until I passed that limit. No email, no internet, just breakfast and then read. Once I finished the 50 pages I could start my day. This is probably not convenient for everyone but you get the idea, you can do it so you don’t go to bed until you do your reading, or any other variation. It can also be any number of pages (or chapters) as long as you stick to your plan and you are consistent.
The point here is that if you make reading one of your priorities instead of dedicating it the time you have left, which is usually none, you will read much more.
Read for a pre-determined amount of time everyday. A similar strategy to page approach is dedicating a specific amount of time to reading everyday. You’ll start realizing that reading more is not at all challenging. It’s normal to finish a book in 2-5 days without dedicating too much time to it. That adds to about a hundred books per year. The problem that most people have is doing it consistently. If you read for just half an hour everyday, you will get a lot of reading done.
Whether you chose a page or a time strategy, the most important thing is being consistent. Read everyday. I don’t care if you only read 5 pages or read for 15 min as long as you do it every day. Here’s the way you should approach reading habits and any other habit for that matter: First create the habit then build the intensity.
As long as we are on the subject here’s another good way to create habits, stick the activity you want to turn into a habit, in this case reading, to a habit you already have. For example, if you brush your teeth after every meal, read for 15min immediately after every time you brush your teeth. After some time, finishing the activity that is already a habit (brushing your teeth in this example) triggers the beginning of the next one (reading).
Read, read, read. The more you read the easier it is to dedicate time for reading. You’ll start enjoying reading and it will slowly become part of your life, something you just do.
Avoid distractions. If you can, choose a quiet environment where you won’t be interrupted. As you get more reading practice you’ll be able to concentrate in almost any environment, but for now try to be in a quiet place.
If you are used to reading with music on and doesn’t seem to affect your concentration much you are free to do that. I read while listening to death metal, at this point it becomes a delightful background that helps me concentrate.
If possible, turn off your cellphone and avoid other distraction. Keep whatever you need (i.e water) close to you so you don’t have to stand up or close the book often. You want your reading session to be as continuous as possible.
Don’t try multitasking. Trying to do other things while you read will slow you down and make you forget what you are reading. I’ve seen people trying to text while they read, they stop every few lines to send or read a text. It doesn’t work. If you can only commit to 20min without doing anything else I rather you do that than read for an hour while you try to do something else.
Read, read, read. Another way to increase your concentration is practice. As you read more you will feel that your concentration improves naturally. It doesn’t take me as long anymore to get immersed in my reading or regain concentration when there are many distractions around me.
We’ll cover SPEED in Part 2 of this series.
Put your new reading skills to use, see here 5 Great books to improve your skills and achieve mastery
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