Why Are You Reading?
To make reading a habit, the first thing to ask yourself is why you are reading in the first place.
Is it for creative and imaginative escape? To get lost in the landscape of the writer? To learn and educate? My purpose of writing is for self-development, and therefore the majority of the books I read are non-fiction. Make this distinction up-front for clarity; it will help you put the pieces together to form a good reading habit.
You’ll tend to notice that people with an extensive book collection, whether fiction or non-fiction, are generally more creative, knowledgeable and whole than people who don’t. That isn’t a judgement, it’s just right.
To make reading a habit is to make a serious commitment to your human development.
Structure Your Day Effectively
Put a small amount of time aside every day to read. It doesn’t matter how long it is, to begin with, just make a commitment to yourself that you’ll read without distraction.
In terms of productivity, the majority of the time it’s getting started that is the biggest hurdle. By making the commitment to yourself that you will read for a set period, you’ll begin forming a habit. In the same way, if you start going to the gym before work every morning, you wire the mind to make this a regular pattern.
Create a Reading Space
Remove yourself from where you do other things; like watching the television or in bed. This isn’t to say you cannot read in bed. Just that to form a habit, the human brain needs neurological pathways to form. It makes it much easier to develop these links when something is new and fresh. This is why we remember holidays from years ago but can’t remember yesterdays dinner.
Reading in a different place from all of your other activities will give yourself the best chance of creating a reading habit. For example, when I am in Turkey, where I am at the moment, I read in an outhouse. I will do focussed work on the table on the decking, which is a different place altogether. Splitting your efforts into other areas will aid in efforts for neurological links to form.
Put your phone, laptop and any other distractions away. Dedicate the time you have set aside in your daily schedule to focus solely on reading.
Making this habit a ritual in itself will make it sacred to you. Treat your reading as a sacred process, and the rewards will be sacred.
Only Read What Appeals To You
It’s no good picking up a book on modern history if you’re looking to learn about ancient Atlantis.
What I have realised is that books find me. When I intend to learn about a topic that appeals to me, I will either have a book already or seek one out. This will then usually lead me to a couple of other books on the same topic as recommendations.
Like a river, books flow down different routes that always interest me. As an example, I started out by reading books about motivational self-development. This then led me to build businesses and Real Estate, which then brought me to spirituality, metaphysics and more complex psychological and philosophical interests.
As you go through life’s different phases, your likes and dislikes will change. Books will be a mirror of this. One day you might catch yourself reading something you’d never dream of 1 year before. Embrace that development.
So just read what appeals to you now, and things will reveal themselves to you over time. Don’t go out of your way to read something because you think you should. It will put up barriers to habit creation.
Use A Ruler While You Read
This will speed up your reading by limiting the number of words that you can see on the page. Your eyes won’t be able to wander, which focusses the eyes on one line at a time. Moving forward, you’ll be able to read more words on a single line, and your reading speed will improve.
As you become quicker at reading (which isn’t the goal in general), you’ll naturally enjoy the process more because you’ll notice the progression in yourself. Inevitably, this increases habit-forming potential.
Know You Don’t Have To Finish Every Book
Have this in mind from the outset – if a book isn’t holding your attention, you can put it down.
I see loads of people finishing a book just because they have started it. I understand it; fear of missing out on some crucial bit of information keeps you flicking over the pages. If the book hasn’t given you anything in the first quarter, then it is unlikely to provide you with anything in the remaining three quarters.
If something I am reading is not resonating with me, I’ll generally read quicker through a couple of chapters and then go to a website like blinkist.com to see the key insights.
Believing you have to drudge through a poor book will automatically set yourself up for failure. Why would you want to create a reading habit, when the stuff you are reading isn’t appealing to you?
Know that you can put the book down at any time and find key insights elsewhere if needed.
Use Modern Tech
Technology is far exceeding our wisdom and spiritual evolution. But denying the brilliance of some of it would be ridiculous.
Audible/Audio Books is another game-changer. When you are at the gym, walking the dog or going about your daily tasks, you can fill your mind with anything you desire. With an Amazon Prime account, you get a discount on the monthly subscription and a free credit every month too.
Learn How To Retain Information.
This one is a game-changer. I wrote an article called ‘How to Remember Everything That you Read’ – about this topic.
Once you know how to retain over 90% of the information you consume, you’ll naturally get excited to read more. Take a look at the article and see my method for remembering what I read.
It becomes a pleasure because you get a sense of self-growth and expansion. That expansion becomes addictive and begins wiring your brain to have more… like literature heroin.