I’ve always enjoyed reading. But, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t used to read as much as I should have. Besides being a great way to escape and unwind, reading increases your knowledge, focus, and worldview as a business owner.
It also gives you something interesting to talk about when you’re networking. In short, reading is beneficial in both your personal and professional lives.
But, that’s not the concern. The biggest problem is actually finding time to read more books. I was able to accomplish this by using the following 25 tricks.
1. Don’t make towering reading goals.
If you’re not a voracious reader then don’t commit yourself to reading more books than you can handle. In other words, don’t set lofty goals goals that you probably can’t achieve.
Start by setting a reading goal that is easily attainable – such as reading just one book per month or 20 pages a day. If you’re already breezing through a book a month then jump up to two. When you’re not over-committing, you’ll find that the reading experience is less stressful and more enjoyable. I’ve found a really interesting thing. If your reading is not stressful, you will be able to concentrate and read really fast.
2. Keep your goals to yourself
Now that you have set a reading goal make sure that you keep it to yourself. A 2009 study found that students who wrote down the activities that it would take for them to become psychologists were less likely to succeed. And they were only sharing those activities and goals with the experimenter. Who do you share your goals with?
The control group who did not share these goals with the experimenter actually spent more time pursuing those activities.
The reason? Whenever a goal is shared there’s less motivation for you to work hard in achieving that intended goal. So if you want to read two books per month keep that goal to yourself.
3. Quit early.
I’m sure you’ve been halfway through a book and asked yourself, “Why am I reading this?” Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. But instead of trying to power through a book that you’re not enjoying or finding useful you should just put it down and start reading something else.
Gretchen Rubin, author of bestselling book The Happiness Project has found that the “winners don’t quit” mentality isn’t an effective mentality when it comes to reading. Rubin explains that quitting early gives you “More time for reading good books! Less time reading books out of a sense of obligation.”
4. Read books that you actually enjoy.
This piggybacks on the previous point. But when you read books that you actually want to read, you’ll find it more difficult to put it down. For example, I’m a big Stephen King fan. Is reading the Dark Tower series going to make me a better entrepreneur or father? No. But, I enjoy reading and become so immersed that I have to keep reading.
Wait a minute. Who can actually judge whether reading the Dark Tower series helps me or not. Maybe it does make me a better entrepreneur. Stay tuned for later comments about that.
At the same time, I also mix it-up — not just Stevie-boy King for me. I will read biographies or books focused on leadership. Even though they may help me professionally, I still enjoy reading them.
5. Always have a book on-hand.
You will always have an opportunity to read. You’ll read on your morning commute (well, iBook if you are driving). There is time when waiting at the doctor’s office, or wasting a couple of minutes before a meeting or conference call.
I find I can bear the line at the grocery store much better with a book, while the guy at checkout looks for his card. Instead of letting this time go unused, pick-up a book and start reading.
The only way you can take advantage of short minutes is if you have a book on hand. That’s why I always carry a book with me. And, thanks to gadgets like Kindle, this is even more convenient.
6. Borrow reading time from something less important.
I got it. The thought of reading for two or three hours a day may seem like a serious time commitment But if you borrow time from something else you’ll realize that it’s really pretty easy to devote more time to reading.
For example, do you know that the average American spends five hours every day watching TV? If you fall into that category, then reduce your TV watching to two hours per day and spend the other three hours reading. Try reading first, then TV, the other way around doesn’t work quite as well.
7. Partake in reading challenges.
This is an excellent way to encourage you to read more books because it’s fun and interactive. For example, Goodreads has an annual challenge reading that gamifies your reading goal. You can also discover new books to read by seeing what your friends have read.
You can find a list of reading challenges compiled by Book Riot.
8. Create a distraction-free reading environment.
Some distractions you can’t avoid, like when your Amazon Prime delivery gets dropped off and your dog goes nuts. But there are plenty of other distractions that you do have control over.
Start by reading in a room that is quiet and doesn’t have temptations like a TV. You could also turn your phone on silent or airplane mood for a certain amount of time.
9. Stock up.
Instead of dropping $200 or $300 on clothes or junk that you don’t really need when you have some extra cash, build-up an inventory of books.
It may sound ridiculous at first, but it’s one of the best motivations to read more because once you finish a book you can view your inventory and decide what to read next.
10. Use technology to your advantage.
Personally, I love physical books. Nothing beats the smell and texture of an actual book in your hands. And studies have found that reading print leads to better comprehension and retention compared to computer screens.
But, sometimes carrying a book around isn’t easy or convenient. Today you can read a book on your iPad or Kindle while traveling. Even listening to an audiobook through Audible or iBook, whatever, while working out.
In short, using technology gives you more opportunities to digest even more books throughout the year.
11. Change your mindset.
“The key to reading lots of book begins with stop thinking of it as some activity that you do,” writes Media strategist and author Ryan Holiday. “Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.”