After the 2019 USA Memory Championships, I finally had a lot of time to myself. One of the things I wanted to get back into was reading. For the previous three or so years, I had fallen off the reading wagon. I could not get myself through any books. I’d have one or two books sitting by my bedside table. I’d pick it up at 11:00pm right before bed and be so tired that I’d literally read the same page over and over again. It almost took me a year to finish one book in particular.
The problem was, I love books and there were so many books I wanted to read. So, I needed to change that.
Around the same time, I happened to watch a YouTube video that talked about how to read more in a year. They presented a simple calculation that said, if I read for 30 minutes a day, I’d be able to finish 50 or so books in a year.
Wow. That really hit me: 30 minutes is nothing. And thinking about all the minutes I spend sitting in an Uber, on a train, or eating lunch, that quickly goes over 30 minutes. And most of the time, in those moments, I’m scrolling through Instagram or doing unimportant things on my phone.
It was time to change that.
It’s almost been a year since that point and I’m well over 50 books. I’ve really made reading a priority in my life, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the last year that helped me manage to read more. Hopefully, some of these can help you kickstart your own reading binge as well:
1. Read for 30 minutes a day — It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes, but set a reasonable time amount per day to read. Start with something that sounds reasonable to you (even if it’s as short as 5 minutes), but STICK TO IT. The goal here is to make reading daily a habit.
2. Stop doing the things that are a waste of time — limit your scrolling, mindless youtube perusing, brain-numbing phone games, etc. and replace them with reading.
3. Carry books with you everywhere — bring a book with you wherever you go. Now this can be a physical book, a kindle, your kindle app on your phone, or even an audiobook (yes, i’m counting audiobooks as reading).
4. Quit books you hate — I’m OCD about finishing books, even if I don’t like them. It took me a long time to accept the fact that it’s okay to put a book down if I wasn’t into it and start another. But do it. No one says you have to read every book you touch. All it’s going to do is hinder your reading progress. Read the things you like. You’ll read more as a result.
5. Read when your interest is piqued — One thing I started doing is if I suddenly got interested in something and found a book about it, I’d start reading it immediately — even if I was partway through another. The reason being that I read more voraciously when I’m all in. And even though I’m putting another book on hold, chances are it won’t be for very long because I’ll finish the other one quickly!
6. Learn a few tips to get you to read a bit more efficiently — I’m not talking about Speed Reading, I’m just talking about getting better at reading. It really is a skill you can improve upon. Use your finger to track your eyes along the page, for example. This helps minimize the amount of backtracking your eyes will naturally do when tired. For more, check out my video on how to read faster (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q0we4LjSws).
7. Rate your reads — start a GoodReads account and keep track of the books you read and what you rate them. I also keep a personal Googledoc where I keep notes about the book I just finished: what I remembered about when I read the book (where I was, what was going on in my life, etc.) and what the main takeaways were that stuck with me.
I hope these tips help. For me, getting back into reading has been a life changer. Not only am I finally getting to read all the things I wanted to, the content I’m consuming is helping me in so many other areas in my life. I also feel so much more productive and my brain is thanking me for it. It all started with the simple mantra of making reading a priority. Hopefully, that can help you get started as well!
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