Reading was always important for me growing up. From reading the Hardy Boys to Harry Potter, books gave an outlet to explore different worlds or learn something new. But as time passed, the love of reading became almost nonexistent in my life as my attention turned to other pressing needs.
I realized over the couple years the sheer value reading can bring in my life. Not only does it help me learn, but it also helps reduce stress, increase cognitive thinking skills, and improve concentration.
Reading is now something I prioritize as a daily routine, but I’ve learned some very tangible ways along the way to read more often, read longer, and knock out your personal reading goals.
Whether you want to read a full book for the first time since your school days or read 12 more books than last year, here are some very tangible ways to flip the pages faster.
1. Always have a book on hand
If you can pick up your phone and play a game or look at Instagram stories when you’re bored. Or, even those small moments where you’re waiting for someone, you can pick up a book. No matter where I am, I always have a book on me. I prefer to have a paperback handy, but at the minimum, I’ll have an eBook downloaded to my phone or tablet. The beauty of reading books is that even if you only have a few minutes to spare, you’ll often remember what happened. In fact, it will be shocking how much you retain by reading in short bursts.
2. Start your day right
Throughout the day, I constantly add to my to-do list. As it grows, I tend to substitute reading in favor of these tasks. I’ve realized that if I wanted to prioritize reading, the best approach is to try reading in the morning. This was a definite shift in my then-rushed rituals, but the payoffs were endless. Reading in the mornings are a perfect time to give your mind a chance to wake up and feel refreshed. It allows you a chance to escape life’s distractions and focus time on yourself. Plus, it can greatly improve productivity throughout the day.
3. Read two books simultaneously
When we think of reading, we often view it as a linear transaction where we must finish cover-to-cover before a new book starts. But doing so can be hard sometimes, especially if the book is dense and forces the reader to move at a slow pace, which may discourage them from completing the book. Instead of placing ourselves in these situations, we should treat reading books like how we watch Netflix. One day you may feel excited to watch the much-talked-about crime documentary, while the next day you end up binge-watch The Office.
The key to reading multiple books at one time, though, is to read those that differ vastly from each other. For me, that includes reading a detailed biography of former president Ulysses S. Grant while also reading an easy fiction book on my tablet.
4. Use trusted curated lists
Every year the publishing industry pushes out over 50,000 books each year – and that doesn’t count the 1.8 million books self-published each year. Do you have time to sift through thousands of new books each week? Nobody does, and it’s why we use certain proxies like Amazon reviews to figure out our next book. However, while retailers may be a good source to understand what is popular, it doesn’t always provide a great barometer towards finding your next great read. For me, I find joy seeking recommendations from friends or curated lists from others who may share your interests. Some of my favorite reading lists include Bill Gates and Tim Ferriss.
And finally, the most important point of them all:
5. Put your phone away
I’m serious. Often the biggest “time-suck” for many of us today is our phones. We often feel like we need to always stay connected. That feeling can quickly chip away at our free moments and can cause us to lose out on time dedicated to reading. Plus, picking up your phone while reading can break your concentration and force you to go back and reread pages or chapters. So, instead, put some music on and get your phone out of arm’s reach. Or just simply keep it in the other room.
Your reading goals will thank you.