I recently read a great article about how to read (a lot) more books. Lots of famous and successful people (i.e. Elon Musk and Bill Gates) spend a lot of time reading and studies have shown how doing more of it can reduce stress, increase focus and improve long and short term memory. However as we all know, reading is time consuming and I for one am always looking for a few tips on how to increase the amount I read. Here are six practical ways to help you continue to improve your reading habits. Please feel free to pass these onto your family and friends:
- It’s okay to quit. Do you ever feel like abandoning a book because you're not really enjoying it but you continue as you don’t want to be a “quitter”? The Harvard Business Review suggests that you are better served by quitting early and spending that time reading something you like rather than finishing purely out a sense of obligation.
- Hidden minutes. The famous author Stephen King believes that he is successful because he reads so much and is on record for telling people to do so for about five hours a day. This figure probably makes most people throw up their hands and shout “but I don’t have the time!”. Mr King advocates reading on the go or outside his home. At a football game or on the bus or during your coffee break. Those few minutes grabbed several times a day will soon add up and before you know it, you will be a professional at recognising the opportunities to read that exist nearly everywhere.
- Quiet. Science evidently shows that sharing your intentions with others when working towards a goal can sometimes backfire and make you less likely to succeed. I’m not sure that I totally agree with this concept as I often find the support of my friends, family or fellow workmates the very reason that I stay on track. However, HBR believe that if you want to read more, you should express your goal and how you are going to achieve it – even write it down – but keep it to yourself.
- Limit distractions. Some people make this happen at home by banishing the TV for certain hours or even days of the week. A bit like our famous “Unplugged Thursdays” in Junior Boarding where the boys are encouraged to be device free for one afternoon per week.
- ‘Real’ books. This could be another way to limit distractions. Read physical books rather than e-books. We all know how easy it is to wander down the rabbit hole of the Internet and to start checking emails, etc and willpower can be sorely tested if we are reading on a connected device.
- Decision fatigue. Ok. So you have decided that you really want to read more books but sometimes just the sheer volume of choice can be overwhelming. I am fortunate that in my line of work I get to read book reviews practically every day and yet I too can be swamped when I visit my local library or bookshop and have to select something for myself. My tip is to keep a note of any new (or old) books that you may come across in newspapers, magazines, or on TV. The internet is also a fantastic tool for finding reading lists of the famous and not so famous. We always think that we are going to remember that new title or an interesting sounding series but life has a habit of getting in the way and we forget.
I hope that you can commit to using some of these tips to read more books this year and benefit from all the advantages that reading can bring.
DIRECTOR OF LIBRARY SERVICES