6 Practical Ways To (Actually) Read More Books This Year

 

“This year, I’ll read more.” One of the most popular new year’s resolutions ever is also arguably one of the hardest to keep up: keeping a daily reading habit. You know and understand the benefits of reading, especially in the context of leadership. 

Committing to it every day without fail, though, is another matter. With all the hustle, bustle, and general mayhem of our daily lives, finding time to read every day ends up slipping to the bottom of the priority list. 

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If you’re serious about learning and growing, though, it’s time to stop making excuses. Here’s how you can actually start and finish reading all those untouched books that are just collecting dust in your bookshelves or on your desk.

P.S. Take charge of your learning and growth at work; sign up for SSA Academy’s WSQ course on developing initiative and enterprising behaviour at the operations level today! 

 

1. Know what you’re reading for

People read for lots of different reasons. Some do it just for enjoyment and de-stressing. Others treat it as a means of upgrading their skills. Others read so that they can stay abreast of the latest developments in their field. 

Your intentions for reading play a considerable part in determining how resolute you are in reading every day. It even plays a role in how you choose your reading material. Reading for the sake of reading is still beneficial. However, if, for instance, you specifically want to read so that you can better understand how to motivate the people around you, you’d be more focused in your approach. 

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2. Have a reading list 

You could spend your entire life just reading, but you’ll never finish reading all the books there are out there in the world. This is precisely why it’s important to be targeted about what you choose to read. Ensure that you keep a reading list in some form. You could do this by: 

  • Researching and compiling your own reading list
  • Use existing ones from Bill Gates, Oprah and the likes
  • Find specialised ones online. 

Here’s a pro tip: make full use of digital tools in this regard. Use apps like Goodreads to keep track of multiple reading lists at once. There’s also an entire sub-community of #bookstagrammers you could follow depending on what your reading interests are. 

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3. Keep track of your reading progress

Attempting to practice any habit daily is futile if you’re not conscientiously keeping track of your progress day by day. 

Set a realistic time-based reading target for yourself, for example, reading 30 pages a day, or setting aside an hour in the mornings or evenings (or both) for reading. Then devise a way for you to keep track of whether or not you’re doing it. Some simple ways to do this include: 

  • Using the Seinfeld Method: for every day that you meet your target, put a red cross on the corresponding day on the calendar. Keep going, ensure the chain remains unbroken until the habit becomes second nature
  • Using habit-tracking apps
  • Using Goodreads’ “My Books” function, which automatically calculates how far along you are in reading a given book in terms of percentages, as well as how many books you’ve finished reading so far

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4. Share your reading progress publicly

One of the most effective ways of keeping yourself accountable is to share your reading progress with others. You might choose to have an accountability partner for this purpose. Alternatively, you could start a #30DayChallenge online to share what you’ve read for the day and what you learned from it with your online social circle. 

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5. Stop reaching for your phone or the remote control

Smartphones and screens are addictive vampires of time that could otherwise have been productively spent, especially when you’re trying to read more regularly. 

Most people complain about not having time to read, but they also spend cumulative hours on their phones or Netflix. There is a place and time for everything. For starters, try redirecting some of your screen time to reading. Then work your way progressively upwards until you start instinctively reaching for a book first before your phone or the remote control. 

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6. Have a book with you everywhere you go

Why are smartphones so addictive? Aside from their multitasking abilities and intentional design features like infinite scrolling, a huge reason is that we literally bring them with us everywhere we go. Similarly, if you were to keep a book near you at all times, it’d be that much easier to meet your daily reading targets. 

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